Saturday, May 30, 2009

June 7, 2009

Scriptures for the week of June 7th: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-17

Romans 8 is one of the most important passages in our faith. Paul gives words of comfort. He also uses comparison to help us understand the difference between life in the spirit and life in the flesh, between life and death, and between slavery and adoption. He reminds us that we are children of spirit, life and adoption. This is a good text for Trinity Sunday, because it speaks of the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We encounter this passage many times in our study of the lectionary. It could be one of the most famous passages of scripture. Nicodemus, a learned scholar comes to Jesus, a lowly carpenter for spiritual advice. “For we know that you could do the things that you do, only if you are in touch with God”, says Nicodemus. He only knew what he had heard about this man, and he needed to see for himself, but he wanted no one to see what he was doing. What about you, do you seek Jesus in the light, or in secret. Jesus is always both places in or lives.
Questions What do Isaiah's theophany and Nicodemus's conversation with Jesus teach us about the Triune God? Where do we encounter God in three persons in this week's Trinity Sunday readings? Compare the function of Isaiah's live coal to Jesus' baptism by water and Spirit.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 31, 2009

Scriptures for the week of May 31st: Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:22-27, John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

The story of the first day of church is a well known story, but we don’t always know that meaning behind the story. This was the first time that believers got the chance to declare their faith in the salvation of Jesus Christ. Their were many languages that were spoken because devout Jews came from 16 different areas of the region. For many, this was the first time that they were allowed to return from exile and to worship in Jerusalem. No matter where they came from, as they worshipped, they spoke a common spiritual language. It continues to be a miracle that each person is able to hear the voice of God in the context of their lives and their situation.

The simple message of this scripture is that that power of God is contained in the scriptures. As we look at the suffering of life, we can also wait for the Glory of God to appear. It always does. Not only the faithful, but all of creation awaits that wonderful day. The presence of the Holy Spirit is our down payment on the full glory of God. It also brings clarity to our prayers.
Questions How would you explain the message of Pentecost in one sentence? What practical, accessible illustrations come to mind when you attempt to explain how the Spirit of God continues to move among us? Have you ever experienced the groaning of life, as a sign of rebirth?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May 17, 2009

Psalm 98 This Psalm is designed to help us to remember that God reigns. The message is the fact that justice and righteousness is a part of God’s will for us. God’s love is a desire that all of us are taken care of, personally and as a community. In a troubled world, it is good for us to be reminded of what God has done for us. If we know that we are loved, then we are to sing God’s praises. The greatest version of this psalm is the song “Joy to the World”.

This scripture is a continuation of the message of last week. It continues the theme of God is love, that if we know love, then we know God. And we show that love to others by abiding in God’s love. Jesus has a very personal relationship with God, calling God – Abba or daddy. Often we are taught to have a formal relationship with God. Yet this verse reminds us that God is our friend, going through every step of our life with us. Only a friend who cares, would give life for us.
Questions Are we friends or servants to God? Is God friend or servant to us? How do you know? When John Wesley encourages us to go on to perfection, what does that mean? What does John mean when he says that God gives us perfect love? If salvation and justice are signs of God’s love; How does your knowledge of salvation lead you to do acts of justice for others?

Friday, May 1, 2009

May 3, 2009

Scriptures for the week of May 10th: Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 22:25-31, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8

1 John We learn love from our parents, the way our mother treated us as a child. But true love comes from God. We on earth would never know anything about love, if God had not defined it first. Our journey on Earth is to learn what love is. We all have different experiences, but should all have one conclusion. We are children of God, because as Christians, we are called to recognize love. Jesus asks how can you say that you love God whom you have never seen, if you don’t love the people you see everyday.

A scripture about connectivity is perfect for Mother’s Day. If we are the fruit, then our mothers and loved ones are the vine. It is through her care and nurturing that our character is formed. Jesus is also the vine of our faith. God us the vinedresser the one who made it all possible. This is a metaphor which would have been very familiar with the listeners in Israel. They saw lots of vines around the countryside. It is also used to refer to Israel in the Hebrew scriptures. Branches which are severed from their source have no chance of survival. What happens to us, when we are severed from God and the love and care that guides our actions?
Questions How do we know love in our lives? How do we learn to love? How do know the difference between knowing and learning love? What is our relationship with Jesus? How does the vine help us understand what it means to have a savior?