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Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Christian Formation for Aug 4 - Hosea 11:1-11; God's Compassion & Israel's Ingratitude

August 4, 2013 – 11 Pentecost
Hosea 11:1-11
God’s Compassion Despite Israel’s Ingratitude
Background: The book of Hosea is appealing and difficult; appealing because it is the only stand-alone text of a Northern prophet remaining in the Old Testament. Difficult because the message does not always translate well and the prophecy is harsh. Yet, the text provides a special insight into the Northern tribes of the Nation of Israel. A difficulty in this passage is God’s apparent ambivalence and God changing his mind with respect to Israel.
Theme: This passage begins with an image of God as loving parent and Israel as willful and disobedient child. This is in contrast to the opening 3 chapters of this book. God explains how God can justifiably punish Israel for their disobedience yet because God is God Israel will not be punished forever. This passage retells Israel’s history – not only as a sign of hope but as a sign of justification.
Questions to Ponder:
* Briefly describe the situation in Israel: the political, social, and religious dynamics of the nation.
* How does the image of God as parent and Israel as child resonate with our experience of God? How much of this image do you think is descriptive and how much of the image is proscriptive?
* Why do you think the prophet was given this image by God to share with Israel?
* Why might God compare Israel’s willful faithlessness to God’s loving faithfulness? Do you think Israel should have been aware of the juxtaposition of faith in this case? If so, why should they be aware and if not why not?
* Why do you think the prophet recounts Israel’s history in verses 3 and 4? What purpose do you think that serves for interpretation and understanding?
* How does verse 5 strike you when reflecting on God and what we know of God’s promises? Why would God “act” this way?
* How do you view verse 6, specifically: who is God punishing most for Israel’s willful disobedience? Why might that party be punished so badly?
* Do you think God’s punishment, either as warranted or as enacted, was meant to be permanent and eternal? How is this feeling supported or refuted by this passage?
* Verses 8 and 9 seem to indicate that God is vacillating between justifiably destroying Israel and fulfilling God’s promise to never forget Israel. How do you view these two verses? Do you think the intent of the passage is to show God changing God’s mind or something else?
* How does God justify God’s reluctance to destroy Israel completely?
* Describe your feeling about the imagery presented in verses 10 and 11. How does the image presented by the prophet depict Israel? Does this depict Israel as a co-equal with God or as a little child (not unlike someone who is afraid of thunder)?
* What do you see as the good news for the Israelites in Hosea’s age?
* How can we present this story as good news in our day?
* What applications do you draw from Hosea, God, and the Israelites in this passage?

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