Saturday, January 6, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for January 14th: 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51; Theme: Come and Follow Me John: John’s purpose is to show everyone that Jesus is the Messiah. The main question of John is what are you looking for? The messiah can meet the needs of all that you are seeking. Very early in the story of Jesus, is the story of the disciples. Jesus seeks each one and persuades them to come and follow him. He shows them that he can give their life a purpose. And they do indeed follow. This is the follow story of Philip. Philip persuades Nathaniel to follow. When Jesus speaks to Nathaniel, he says that Jesus is the King of Israel. He also says that he is the one that the scriptures talked about. Jesus tells them both that if they follow him they will see great things. They will understand what it means for Jesus to be the King of the Jews. Samuel: This is the call story of Samuel. Samuel’s mother left him in the care of Eli. Samuel was much younger than the sons of Eli. It did not take long for him to see that they were training to be priest, but they were not very nice people. One night Samuel hears a voice calling him in the night, Eli tells him that it is God calling and that he should listen. Samuel grows up to become one of the most influential priest of Israel. He grows up to consecrate David as King and to advise him on how God speaks to the world. God always speaks in unexpected ways to unexpected people. That is why it is important to hear the background stories of the key people in the bible. Questions: What are you looking for in a savior? What will Jesus need to say to get you to follow? How is God speaking to you? What is God calling you to be in your life? Are those who are ordained sincerely representing the word of God for you?
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for January 7th: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12; Epiphany of the Lord Isaiah: This verse is about living in the light, the light of God. Chapters 58 and 59 talk about the darkness of life. The people know that God loves then, but in that love God holds them accountable. Many of the exiles have returned, and they are clashing with the people who have been in Jerusalem all along. Things are not going so well. So in chapter 60 the prophet announces that their light has come, God is with them. Instead of resenting Jerusalem, people will come to Jerusalem to see how things are done. They will know that the presence of God is there. With God present, things will start to look up and get better. Matthew: Mark does not speak about the childhood of Jesus, so we have to look at Matthew’s story. This is the story of the arrival of the three wise men, a year or so after the baby was born. By this time Mary and Joseph are back home. The wise men follow the star, because this announcement is not just for Jews, but for the world. A King of Kings has been born. They come to give him gifts. But they also realize that King Herod is not happy about this birth, so they do not want to encourage him, they go home another way in order to avoid him. That is a sign that things do not always go as we planned, but they always go God’s way. Let us focus once again on Jesus presence in our lives, not the gifts of the wise men. Questions: In our world, are we living in the darkness or the light? What are the struggles of the day? What are the celebrations? Why is it important for us to see darkness in order to see the light? What gifts would you bring to the new King? When was there a time in our life when you had to resort to plan B to achieve your goals?
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for December 31st: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21:1-6; Matthew 25:31-46; New Year’s Eve Ecclesiastes: It is appropriate for us to think about time on New Year’s Eve. At the stroke of midnight, everything changes. King Solomon wrote Ecclesiates , he was writing out of frustration. He felt that life was hopeless, because no matter how hard you tried to accomplish anything, it was all up to God. In some ways he felt that time and effort was wasted. But he gives some important truths in the midst of his frustration that all things happen in God’s time. And that there is a time and more importantly there is a season for everything. In order to know how to respond to that season, we have to have a relationship with God and know how to listen and respond to God’s leading. Revelation: This is another appropriate verse for the new year. It is time for old things to pass away and for new things to come into existence. This is a vision of what life will be like when God comes to live in our world. Presently this is a world of sorrow, or sickness, of need of want. It is a time of darkness where we have to wait for the sun to come up. Revelation says that when God comes it will be light all of the time. We will never cry because our needs will always be met. The starting of a new year is preparation for that day. We can put aside our problems, our cares, the things we have been struggling with all year. We can let God come in and take care of it all. Questions: What time is it in your life? Is it an up time or a down time? What it God telling you about the time in your life? What are the burdens that you have been carrying that you can let go of in the new year? How is God working in your life? 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, December 16, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for December 24th: Isaiah 9: 2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20; Christmas Eve Luke: This is the only gospel account of the birth of Jesus. All of the others begin with Jesus as an adult. The words of Luke 2 are immortalized in the nativity scene. As a matter fact, all that we know about Christmas is contained in these scriptures. We are very familiar with Jesus coming into the world in a barn because that is all that available. Jesus not only knew what it meant to be human, he knew what it meant to be a needy child who moved from place to place, because his father was trying to keep him safe. He knew that he was also divine and had favor with God. The prophecy was right about this one. This was a child who made all the difference in the world. When we read, we become a part of the story. We too get a glimpse of the Holy We can have hope for a better tomorrow. We can watch as the child grows up to start his ministry. Isaiah: This is also a part of the prophecy. We have been caught in a very dark time in the world – 14 hours of darkness a day. They say that we meet God in the midst of the darkness. In darkness, we are better able to see light. Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus can transform. I love that we learn the names of Jesus. We learn what Jesus is going to do for the world. This is actually my favorite Christmas verse . It reminds us that there is nothing new, Jesus has already been there. Jesus will come again. There is work that needs to be done. Isaiah even believes that this is it for him. But Jesus is a light that is bright enough for everyone to see and to know that this is the son of God. Questions: Do you believe in the Christmas story? Which is your favorite character in this scenario? What are some things in our world that need to be straightened out. 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, 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
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
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