Category Archives: Uncategorized

Autumn in the Roanoke Valley

It’s about Pumpkins

Do you love Autumn?

Front of St. John Lutheran Church in Roanoke.

I’m Famished, Are You?

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So, Esau despised his birthright.

Meditation: Isaac married Rebecca who gave birth to twin boys. Esau was the firstborn and Jacob was born second. In ancient near east cultures, the law of primogeniture (first-born son) prevailed.  As the first-born son and legitimate heir to Isaac, Esau would have been the ancestor of Jesus, the Messiah. But, the line of succession changed.

One day, Esau returned to camp after a time away in the open fields, probably hunting. Esau saw Jacob cooking red lentil stew. Identifying that he was famished, Esau asked Jacob for stew. Jacob’s response was that he would give Esau the stew if Esau swore an oath to give Jacob his birthright. Esau swore the oath in exchange for lentil stew.

Someone in the camp may have heard Esau’s oath to transfer his birthright to Jacob. Despite the tumultuous relationship between the two brothers, Esau never denied that he traded his birthright to Jacob.

Consider the difference in value between a bowl of lentil soup versus being the heir to a wealthy father. Obviously, Esau cheapened his birthright. It wasn’t valuable to him.

Men and women today are famished for someone to believe in, someone to trust. Jesus’ behavior to his human brothers and sisters is diametrically opposite from the behavior of Jacob. Jesus invites each of us to come to him and live with him. We don’t have to barter for Jesus’ blessing.  Freely, he nourishes us with himself and his words, i.e., “the one who feeds on me will live because of me” (John 6.57).

Reflection: You don’t have to barter for salvation, for immortal life with Christ. He gives it to you free-of-charge.

Copyright 9/1/2020: Carolyn Adams Roth 

Rooted in God

Drunk on Wine

The Word of the Lord

Genesis 9.20-29: Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.” After the flood Noah lived 350 years.

Meditation

 After emerging from the ark, the farmer Noah planted a vineyard. In the ancient near east, grapevines were valued. From grapevines, individuals made wine, ate fresh grapes,  and dried raisins to eat during times when food was scarce. Despite the clear value of vineyards, often the grapevine didn’t elicit positive images in the Bible.

Frequently, when Old Testament prophets referenced vine or vineyard, they spoke about judgment that God would bring. Noah made wine from the grapes. He drank the wine and became drunk. This  Bible story as old as 5000 years recounts the effect of over-indulgence in alcohol.

My discomfort with this Bible narrative in which Noah became drunk and his offspring ridiculed his nakedness,  is that the righteous Noah took no responsibility for his own actions, i.e., over-indulging in alcohol to the point of drunkenness. Instead, Noah cursed his grandson, Canaan, for displaying and ridiculing Noah’s nakedness. True, Canaan’s actions weren’t admirable; but, neither were Noah’s in the matter of drinking wine to the point of drunkenness.

So many things in our world are intoxicating, even addicting,  besides alcohol. It is possible to be addicted to things that we don’t eat or drink. We can become addicted to television programs, pornography, romance novels, praise, money, shopping, etc. I wonder if an accountability partner can assist us to be free of addictions.

Reflection: Have you ever over-indulged in alcohol (or something else)? What happened? Did you harm yourself? Do you have regrets? Where does blame lie?

Copyright: 7/17/2020

Good News in Nature Book Trailer

Are you malicious?

Zilla spinosa plant

The Word of the Lord

Genesis 4.17-24: Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah. Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

Meditation

In Genesis, individuals are named after plants and plants are named after individuals. Zillah, the second wife of Lamech, was named for a relatively ugly, spiny plant with beautiful lavender flowers. We know little about Zillah; perhaps she was ugly in words and actions. Alternatively, she may have been like a lovely flower.

We are told that Zillah’s husband, Lamech, was a murderer. He admitted to his wives that he murdered a young man because the young man injured him.

A brier that Ezekiel identified is associated with the zilla plant. Briers are ugly with sharp spines that can tear skin. Ezekiel wrote, “No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns (Ezekiel 24.28).

The maliciousness that Ezekiel referenced means a desire to cause pain, distress, or injury to another. Malicious isn’t an inadvertent causing of pain, distress, or injury; it is intentional. When Lamech murdered a young man, he acted with purpose and was malicious. Equally true, adjacent countries’ peoples treated Israelites maliciously, that is, intentionally ugly.

Recently, a dear friend told me that a mutual friend’s words hurt, i.e., she believed the friend was intentionally ugly to her.  At about the same time, the mutual friend shared that she was hurt by my dear friend’s malicious words.

Ponder the best response to each person’s belief that the other was malicious. Dear Abby would advise that you tell each friend to talk with the other. The question is what should be a loving Christian response?

Reflection: Let’s each look at our own behaviour. Do you ever act in a malicious way to another individual? Think about those comments you post on social media.

Eternal God, you do not change. You have revealed yourself to me in your Word. You call me to worship you in spirit and in truth. But I confess that I often worship not your true self but who I wish you to be. I too often ask you to bless what I do rather than seeking to do what you bless. Forgive me for seeking concessions when I should be seeking guidance. Forgive me when my worship shapes you into what I want instead of shaping myself into what you want. Help me to meet you here, that I might bow before your unspeakable majesty and so live for you now and ever, in Christ. Amen.

Copyright 6/16/2020

Fruit of the Soil

 The Word of the Lord

 Genesis 4.1-7: Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

 Meditation

Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was a farmer and Abel herded sheep and goats. Both Cain and Abel brought thanks offerings to God. Each set of gifts reflected their vocation. As a farmer, Cain offered fruit from labour in his fields.  As a herder, Abel offered the fat portion of the first born of his flocks. God rejected Cain’s offering, but, accepted Abel’s offering. Many of us wonder why God rejected Cain’s offering. Both offerings were from the brothers’ toil.

Some Bible scholars suggested that God rejected Cain’s offering because Cain didn’t shed blood, i.e., sacrifice an animal, to make the offering. Others identified that the discord was an allegory for the conflict that occurred in early times between farmers and herders.

Careful reading of this Genesis story suggests a different perspective. Notice, Cain offered God some, but not necessarily his best, crops. In contrast, God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because Abel gave the best from his flocks, i.e., fat portions of the first born of his flock. Perhaps, God didn’t accept Cain’s sacrifice because he didn’t give his best to God.

Have you ever wondered where Cain’s best crops went? Would Cain have taken them to his mother, Eve,  who doted on him as her first-born son? Because of Eve and Cain’s close relationship, Cain may have wanted the  best for his mother.

Very likely, Eve never told Cain to bring his best crops to her; but, Eve praised Cain when he offered her succulent, beautiful produce. Perhaps, Eve’s influence on Cain was emotional, she appealed to his heart. Cain may have wanted recognition for his hard work. That recognition most often came from his mother.

Reflection: We shouldn’t put anyone or anything before God and surely not encourage loved ones to put us before God. What do you put before God?

Copyright 6/16/2020

Parables Illustrated By Plants