Saturday, December 9, 2017

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for December 17th: Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28; Third Sunday of Advent Isaiah : Isaiah is the prophecy the foretells the coming of Jesus. When Jesus talks about fulfilling the prophecy, he uses the worlds of Isaiah. In the book of Luke, when Jesus starts his ministry, he gets up in front of a synagogue and tells them that the Spirit of the Lord is upon me to do ministry to those in need. Isaiah uses these words to tell us of the shepherd King who has been sent to help the people in need. He is the messiah, a man who is both gentle and powerful. He will help the people to build a new world that brings joy. He is a man after God’s own heart, because he is God’s own son. We can rejoice because this man cannot change the world alone, it takes his followers to work with him. They must also love God and God’s plan for the world. John: John, like Mark last week starts out the good news by telling the story of Jesus cousin John. John comes to set the stage for the messiah. John came to call the people to repentance. He baptized them, but told them that they needed to be better people. Last week Isaiah said that the way needed to be prepared for Jesus to come. This third Sunday of Advent, we too need to prepare the way. We too need to repent of our ways. We need to listen to the words of John the Baptist. John is the one who knows Jesus’ mission the most. He is the closest witness to the work that Jesus must do. The gospel of John says that John the Baptist was not the light, he was to testify concerning the light of the world. Questions: What are the ways that Jesus proclaimed good news to the poor? How do we continue on in that work? How do we continue the legacy of the shepherd King? Why is John’s message of repentance relevant today? How are we fulfilling John’s testimony to the light? You can view Breaking Open the Scripture online at https://breakingopenthescriptures.blogspot.comYou can view Pastor Harriette’s sermons online at https://aplaceforshalom.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 10, 2017

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for December 10th: Isaiah 40:1-11; 2 Peter 3:8-15; Mark 1:1-8, Psalm 85:1-2,8-13; Second Sunday of Advent Isaiah : Isaiah is calling for a catastrophic change in the ways of the world. God is the only one who can make that significant of a change in the order of things. So this passage speaks not of earth, but of heaven. God is speaking to the angels about what is going on on earth. God says to the angels to bring comfort to my people, they have suffered long enough. When God comes into the world and makes a change, there is no mistaking that God is present. There will be no room not to believe in God, because God will turn everything upside down, there will be chaos and confusion, but finally there will be order. Isaiah is preparing the people, so that they know when God comes into the world. But we do not need to be afraid, we can have hope on that day. Mark: This is the first chapter of Mark. Mark never talks about Jesus as a baby. Mark says that the beginning of the good news is that the prophecy of Isaiah will be fulfilled. How Jesus came into the world is not important to him. He starts out with a prophecy from John the Baptist. John is going out into the countryside to tell people that the day of the Lord is coming, because the messiah is present and about to start the work of changing the world. John’s concern is to make sure that we welcome Jesus into our world by repenting and changing our ways. Even Jesus responds to John and begins his ministry be being baptized into repentance. Questions: What kind of comfort does the people of God need today? What ways are you seeing God’s presence in the world? Why is repentance important in our lives? What do you need to repent and turn away from? What does the world need to repent from?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

December 3, 2017

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for December 3rd: Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37 – 1st Sunday of Advent Mark : Even though this is the very beginning of the Christian year, we continue our journey through the apocalypse. Jesus tells us what the last days will be like. Once again he says that no one knows when it will be, but he tells us to make sure that we stay awake. That is what advent means – staying alert and preparing ourselves for what is to come. The is no cute birth story in Mark, Mark starts out by telling us the good news of Christ coming in our lives. Mark wants us to be prepared and ready for the coming of Christ and to realize what that means for us – salvation. Mark is very much an adult story about real life. Mark is telling the disciples that he will not be with them much longer, but they have no idea of what he is talking about. Isaiah: This is also an apocalyptic text. The people of Israel have been sent into exile and they are appealing to God to change the world and to once again set them free. They are describing their misery and terror in this very strange life in a very strange land. They are apologizing to God for the faithlessness that got them into this situation in the first place. They are praying to the God who has always delivered them. This is a very moving prayer to God. It is fitting for the beginning of advent to ask God to turn everything upside down, so that it can start all over again. Questions: Have you ever been in a situation where you felt there was no hope of escape? What do you think the end of times will be like? How will you stay awake this advent season? What do you situation in the world do you hope God will intervene in and change? Are you afraid of the end of times? You can view Breaking Open the Scripture online at https://breakingopenthescriptures.blogspot.comYou can view Pastor Harriette’s sermons online at https://aplaceforshalom.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 26, 2017

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for November 26th: Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24; Psalm 100, Ephesians 1:15-23, Matthew 25:31-46 – Christ the King Sunday Matthew : This is the last Sunday of the Christian year, it is the day that we are to think of Christ in all of his glory. This is also the end of the book of Matthew. Jesus is fortelling what will happen at the end of time. He wants to make sure that his disciples are prepared to face those times. The Christ will return to the earth in all of his glory. The angels will be with him. He will have the authority to judge people, but he will also have the task to love people. The criteria that we will be judged on, is how well we were willing to help others. The holiday season is coming up, it is time for us to meet the needs of those around us and show the love of God. Ezekiel: This too is a scripture of the endtimes and the judgement. God talks of being the shepherd and gathering together all of those that the human shepherds let go astray. All those who have been neglected in life, will be fed and taken care of. They will live in a nice, comfortable place, they will live in peace. Being a shepherd is a big responsibility, and we will be help accountable. Jesus tells us that we all have a responsibility to shepherd and take care of those around us. That is what it means to be a person of faith. We have to make sure that we do not say or do things that will scatter the flock. Questions: What do you do to help others? What do you think about the second coming of Christ? Do you see the needs of others around you? What does these scripture say about our modern politicians? Are they doing their job?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

November 12, 2017

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for November 12th: Joshua 24:1-3,14-25, Psalm 78:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13 1 Thessalonians : Paul was able to convert many gentiles in the city of Thessalonica by telling that that Jesus was coming very soon. People changed their lives thinking that they would not have to wait very long for the end of the world. They stopped working, they did not even worry about living faithful. Then they got worries, because more and more of their Christian sisters and brothers started to die. What was the point of being a Christians, if there would be no community. What was the point of going to heaven, if they would not be there. Paul wrote back to assure them that all faithful people would be in heaven. But he also wanted them to know that our faith will always be rewarded. None of us know when Jesus will come. But we don’t need to know an exact date in order to live in faithfulness. Paul says in the meantime, keep waiting, but wait in hope not in anxiety. Joshua: It is a new day since Joshua has taken over for Moses. The people are scattered and divided. Joshua tells them that in order to go forward, everyone must be unified under one cause. Joshua believes that cause to be God. If everyone would just serve the same God, everything would be okay. So Joshua gathers the people together and asks them to make a covenant to God. He starts with his own family, and tells them as for me and my house, we will serve God. But that each and every family must make a conscious decision. He says Choose you this day whom you will serve. Will it be God or will it be man. But each household must make a pledge – a pledge to serve God. Questions: Do you think the end of the world is coming soon? Does that change your behavior to others? To God? How do you encourage your family to serve God every day?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 29, 2017

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 29th: Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46 Matthew : The religious authorities of the day had been trying to trip Jesus up for days. This seems to be the last argument that they test him with. Everytime they ask Jesus about the law, Jesus is able to prove his argument. Everyone would have known about the Love of God. Everyone would have known that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord Your God with all of your being. But there is also a law not to do what you hate to your neighbor. In other words, love your neighbor. The authorities are still trying to understand what authority Jesus has to teach all of this. Jesus goes back to the Hebrew scriptures and answers perfectly. David called the son of God “Lord” – Jesus has an answer for everything. Who else would have these answers, but the Lord? Deuteronomy: We have reached the end of the story of a great prophet. This is the end of the book of Deuteronomy. This is the end of the first five books of the bible – the Pentateuch. This is the end of the law of Moses. The final chapter of anyone’s life is death. Moses takes a walk throughout the land by himself (he is with God). God shows him all of the land that he promised to the Hebrew people. But God explains that even though Moses led the people to this land, he would not be going himself. It was time to turn leadership over to Joshua and to start a new adventure. The people find Moses’s body the next day. No one lives forever, we are just a piece of the story. But more importantly God’s plan is bigger than any of us. We have to be aware of the legacy that we leave behind, and those who will continue to journey that we started. Scripture says that there will never be anyone like Moses again. But we all have a part to play. Questions: What does it mean to put the love of God into action? What does it mean to love God with all of your being. What does that have to do with loving your neighbor? By what authority does Jesus speak in your life? Is he Lord? How does Moses work continue today? Have we reached the promisedland? What work for the Kingdom of God still needs to be done?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October 22, 2017

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 22nd: Exodus 33:12-23, Psalm 99, 1 Thessalonians 1:1010, Matthew 22:15-22 1 Thessalonians : This is one of the first letters written by Paul. Our scripture for today is the introduction of the whole letter, where Paul tells them that he is grateful for their faith, but reminds them that they have to put their faith into action. Thessalonica is a large metropolitan city with a lot of diversity. In some ways it was a home base as Paul bought the message to the Greeks. Paul reminds them that they started out as gentiles, but became an example of a church for all people as they professed their faith in Christ. He encourages them to be a beacon of what it means to be united. And to remember that the whole point of faith is to believe in the salvation of Jesus Christ. Exodus: By now, Moses has led the people out of Egypt, he has led them through their complaining and they are starting to understand what it means to be united as a nation. A nation united behind God. God has been giving Moses commands all along. Now Moses is asking for God to show God’s face. He wanted to personally know who he is talking to. God reminds Moses that God’s glory is too great, so the devises a way that Moses can see the shadow of the backside of his glorious face. God wanted Moses to know that as God told Moses what to do, that Moses was not alone in doing it. God was present and working alongside of Moses. God has a plan for Moses, for the Israelites and more importantly for us. It is important for us to have a personal relationship with our maker as we go through life. Questions: How do you put your faith in action? How is your church an example of a place for all different people to gather? What is your personal relationship with God? How does God communicate with you? How can your church be an example to other churches?