Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 29, 2009

Scriptures for the week of March 29th :Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-12, Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-33

Hebrews This book is also written to second generation Christians going through a crisis. The message is that Jesus is a merciful and faithful high priest. He is both a representative of the people and the divine. We don’t have to think about our salvation, Jesus has done all of the hard work on our behalf. In that act, Jesus has done more for us than any priest in the past. He should be honored for that,

John Throughout the time of lent, all of our gospel lessons have a very distinct message. Every lesson has a prediction of what will happen to the Son of Man. Different people have different reactions to that “promise” of what is to come. In this story – a voice foretells the future – not Jesus. Those who hear it thought it was thunder, or an angel. Jesus responds that he will not fight the voice – but accept it as his destiny and of the world’s destiny. This is the first time that Jesus speaks to Greek speaking believers. Philip and Andrew not only hear his message, they become disciples.
Questions How important is repentance for forgiveness? What does it mean to lose our life in order to gain it: what are we losing? How does suffering bring about a greater good? What is the significance of Greeks seeking out a Jewish rabbi? What is the hope of multicultural talks today? Why would it e significant today if a Muslim visited the church to learn more about Jesus? What would you teach them about Jesus?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 22, 2009

Scriptures for the week of March 22nd – Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21

Ephesians First generation Christians lived with the belief that Jesus was going to return at any moment. When that did not happen, second generation Christians had to change their thinking a bit. Even though Ephesians was written in the name of Paul, it was most likely written by a student of Paul to address this new audience and these new expectations. They had to take the direction of their lives more seriously. The writer says that we are saved by God’s gift of grace, but the gift is not complete yet. There is still work for and for God. Experiencing life as suffering, can be interpreted as life away from God.

This Gospel is written at the same time that Ephesians was written. John felt the need to write about the messiah of faith, not the messiah of tradition. In John, Jesus encounters conflict with the Jewish authorities very early in his ministry. And they remain very hostile to him until the day of his death. Jesus not only predicts his death, he also predicts the importance of the cross – saying that the Son of Man must be lifted up. The cross forces all people to ask a question – how to I focus my life on the things of above? How to I realize God’s intention for me? Why is God so intent on saving us, when we are so intent on sinning?
Questions In Ephesians, The writer says we are saved from something for something – what are you saved from? What are you saved for? What dark parts of your life need the light and love for of God’s love and presence? What does God’s grace mean for you? How do we gain spiritual vision on order to see the things of God? What does it mean to be born from above?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 15, 2009

Scriptures for March 15th Exodus 20:1-7, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2:13-22
All of our lessons for lent, are simple lessons that we learned as children. Lessons that we already know, but we are being asked to take a closer look at. The Exodus passage includes the ten commandments. The deeper message is learning to live with one another. Commandments 1 through 3 teach fundamental things about being faithful people of God. The fourth commandment teaches the principle of rest. Commandments 5 through 10 teach us mutual respect. We are commanded to respect human life, to respect marriage relationships, personal property, and even our neighbor's reputation! Exodus 20:17 offers a more challenging principle: not only are we to respect everything belonging to our neighbor, but we are also warned against intense desire for (coveting) anything that belongs to him or to her. How might we apply these principles to life with our neighbors, both local and global?
Jesus has been planning this journey to Jerusalem, the center of his religion for some time now. Once he arrives, his focus in on the temple – where all Hebrews travel to sacrifice and worship God. Once he gets there, he gets upset with what he sees going on. He throws out the money changers and those selling animals. It is not that they are doing anything wrong. This is a needed service for those who come far distances. But neither are they doing anything right. God’s house should be a place of prayer, not commercialism.

Questions: Do you know the ten commandments by heart? What do they really mean to you? What covenants do we have in place of how we treat one another? Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple twice in his ministry – who would he attack in our modern society? Do we as the modern church get too caught up on making money and forget to be a house of prayer?

March 8, 2009

Scriptures for March 8th – Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38
Our theme for this Lenten seasons are the promises of God and the requirements of discipleship. Genesis talks about the second promise that God made to mankind that the entire world would be blessed through the blessings of Abraham. Paul picks up that promise and points out that Abraham is the faith father of all believers. But that this promise was fulfilled through Abraham’s faithfulness, not just because God loved him. When we are faithful disciples then we enter into family of Abraham, thus the family of God. Paul wants us to understand that we all have a right be to included in the family.
Jesus is painting a very scary picture of what it means to be a disciple. It is way too much for Peter to understand. God wants us to be happy, not suffer. Being the messiah is about victory, not about a painful death. Jesus is taking the messianic secret a step further to include what will happen to him in Jerusalem. Jesus starts to call himself the Son of Man. He has being praying to God for a long time to understand the fulfillment of his life. God has made it clear what he must do, and he is ready to accept the challenge. The crowds still gather to hear from Jesus, who is teaching the distinction between human and divine understanding. We as humans will preserve our lives in any way – God says that in order to gain true life, you have to be willing to give up the one you have.
In old times, in order to accept a covenant, you changed your name. In older baptism practice that was the point of naming a child at this time. How do we acknowledge and accept God’s promise for our lives today? What does it really mean to take up your cross and follow Jesus? How do we become sons and daughters of Abraham today?