Burn It Down (Heretic’s Guide for Sunday August 18th, 2013)

Bible Cliff’s Notes (My dog ate my Bible!)

First Reading
Isaiah 5:1-7
The prophet compares the people of Israel to a vineyard planted by God. The vineyard was supposed to yield nourishing, healthy grapes, but instead yielded wild fruit. Although God established Israelites to seek peace and righteousness, they have turned the bloodshed and suffering. So Isaiah prophesies that God will turn God’s back on them, and they will suffer the inevitable consequences of their own actions.

Jeremiah 23:23-29
The prophet Jeremiah delivers a word from God, reminding the Jewish people that God is ever–close, and not far removed from our lives. God warns the turning of the people of Israel toward the prophets of false gods (Baal), and reminds the reader that the true word of God will cut through all falsehood and burn it away.

Psalm
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19
A song of praise to God for delivering the Jewish people from the land of Egypt and preparing a place for them called Israel. The psalmist uses the same vineyard metaphor as Isaiah, thanking God for provision and protection, and bowing that God’s people will no longer stray from the path laid out for them.

and
Psalm 82
A song of mourning from God’s perspective about having given particular stature to the Jewish people, effectively placing them on level ground with their creator. However, they did not live up to their honored status by behaving in a godlike manner. They acted selfishly and without regard for the poor and vulnerable. They did not show compassion to their neighbor in the same way that God showed compassion to them. So God, with a heavy heart, welcomes judgment upon them for their shortcomings.

Second reading
Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Paul lists many stories throughout the Bible in which people of faith persevered and emerged victorious because of the faith in God that they demonstrated. He also notes the many martyrs who have suffered or even died on behalf of their faith. He reminds them that they are part of a greater body, which he calls the great cloud of witnesses, who are there to help us endure the struggles and stay on the righteous path. Run the good race, he says. Stay focused on the final goal, rather than being distracted by the hills and valleys along the way.

Gospel
Luke 12:49-56
Jesus harshly criticizes the current for not recognizing the state of the world right in front of them. He labels them as hypocrites for speaking of one set of values, while living out another. Although people believe he has come to bring peace, he turns that notion on its head, noting that he is, instead to bring division, even to families. 

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