Sunday, November 29, 2009

December 6, 2009

Scriptures for: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79, Phillippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6
Songs: Angels from the Realm of Glory – UMH 220; Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates – UMH 213; He Who Began a Good Work in You – TFWS 2163

Malachi The temple has been rebuilt, society is at peace, and people have began to get too comfortable with their worship. The priest have gotten too comfortable with their job. Something or someone has to come along and shake things up and put them back into order. But exactly who is the messenger that Malachi refers to? Who will come back and purify the worship experience? Many believe that this announces the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus did indeed correct what he saw wrong in the temple? What refines us today? A failing economy? A mission to tell others about Jesus which seems almost impossible? What about a desire to know and love God?

Philippians : Paul is bringing blessings and love to one of his favorite congregations. He is also giving them instructions on how to behave in the endtimes. He tells them that the work of God has already begun in them. They are the beginning of salvation. But not as individuals, as a community. There are many who heard Gods word for the first time and choose to respond. And now there are making a difference in the world. God is using their church and ours to transform the world and our community.
What does the fullness of time really look like? Can this world really be saved or are we destined for disaster? How do you see God at work in your life? How is God using you to make a difference? How would you like to be used?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 29, 2009 - First Sunday of Advent - Year C

Scriptures for November 29th: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1- 10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36
Songs: People Look East – UMH 202; Come thou long expected Jesus UMH 196; Lord I want to be a Christian UMH 402

Jeremiah: This is the first Sunday of a brand year, but before we are free to think about a new beginning, we must realize the full effects of the end. In the last weeks, we have gone through the little apocalypse, the medium apocalypse, and today is the big one. All of the scriptures of advent are designed to fit together in a common theme. The theme for this Sunday is unity, and the importance of a tree. Jeremiah is a prophet in a time of destruction for the Hebrew people. And yet he tells them that a branch, a righteous branch will survive and will carry on God’s love to the rest of the world. The other themes of the day are justice and righteousness. God will be fair to those who have remained loyal to what is right?

Luke: It is easy for us to become distracted by Christmas. We can get caught up in what the rest of the world is doing to celebrate. Jesus pulls us aside and reminds us that is not what we are about as God’s people. The events of the day don’t mean what everyone thinks they mean. They mean the Christ is coming back. Christmas is Christ coming back to us to remind us of why we are faithful people. The signs of the times are not an ending, but a beginning. The beginning of Christ’s reign not only in our lives, but in the world.

Questions: What justice is needed in the world today? What does it mean really for us to be righteousness? What role does God have in the process of doing the right thing? What does advent mean to you? What does it mean to have a new beginning of faith? What things in your life do you need to address in order to be right with God? How can you stay alert to God’s presence this advent?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 22, 2009

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for November 22: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-12; Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
Songs: Soon and Very Soon – UMH 706; We Will Glorify the King of Kings – TFWS 2087; He is Exalted- 2070

Revelation This is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Christian year. This holiday was first instituted in 1925. This was a time of great turmoil- when it became okay to question the power and authority of the church. Christians needed to be reminded that indeed Christ is our king. One of the foretold signs of the endtimes is that the culture of Christ will be in direct conflict with the culture of the world. Have things gotten any better today? Revelations reminds us that Christ is not only in charge of today, but that we are waiting for the second coming, when Christ will indeed be in charge for all people.

John: All of the gospels record this conversation between Jesus and Pilate. Jesus goes on trial for his prediction of last week that the temple would be destroyed. Pilate must now ask Jesus – Are you the King of the Jews? Why has Jesus become so arrogant to pass judgement on a whole nation? But is this a question for Pilate or for Jesus? What is being asked here? What answers does Jesus give? Is Jesus our King?
Questions: What do Methodist believe about the second coming? Jesus wept – what is it about our lives, about the world that makes us cry? What reason did you come into the world? What purpose to you have to fulfill? How can Jesus help you?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 15, 2009

Scriptures for November 15: 1 Samuel 1:4-20, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18), 19-25; Mark 13:1-8
Songs: O God, Our Help in Ages Past – UMH 117; Come Thou Font of every Blessing – UMH 400; The Family Prayer Song – TFWS 2188

The Bible is full of stories of women who are at first barren, and then have a child: A special child who is a blessing to the world. In this story we learn about Hannah, the second wife of Elkanah. She prays for a son every time that she comes to the temple. The Priest notices her prayer and prays with her. On the next visit, she dedicates her baby to the Lord, to be raised in the temple. In chapter 1 we read Hannah’s story, in chapter 2 we hear her song. A song that not only celebrates her fortune, but the fortune of the world. This song is the precursor to Mary’s song celebrating the birth of Jesus. Is it that time of the year again?

It is indeed almost time for advent – a new year, a new beginning, a new life. So it makes sense that Jesus would start to talk about the end times. But is the end that Jesus speaks of the same one the so many in the world are predicting? Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple . An event which indeed happened before, and indeed will happen again. That was the end of life as the Hebrews knew it. And each time they had to recreate themselves and redefine their identity, and go on with life. That is the same with us, advent is a time to understand what has been destroyed and what we must begin anew.

Questions: There is a point in every life where we are indeed trying to make it and even though progress is being made, it appears that it is not happening. We can only see darkness- when has there been a time like that in your life? What was it that got you through the tough time? What was it life to finally see light at the end of the tunnel. The disciples ask Jesus when will they know when the end has come – Jesus does not answer – yet gives them signs that the end is near? Have you seen any of those signs? What do they really mean?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 8, 2009

Scriptures for November 8th – Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Psalm 127, Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44

Lineage was very important for a Jewish family. If you could trace your lineage back to the twelve tribes, that was important. In Jesus lineage, there are 4 women names along with the fathers. Ruth is one of those women. And Ruth is not Jewish, she is a foreigner. But her story is about the definition of dedication. She refused to give up her connection to her mother in law, even though her husband was dead. At that time women were nothing, they had no definition in society at all. In order to survive, she had to remarry into the family. A distant cousin, Boaz is willing to take on that responsibility. They marry and live happily ever after. Their son, is the grandfather of David – the greatest lineage of all – the lineage of Kig Jesus.

Jesus has lots of problems with the politics of the temple. He feels that the religion of the people has tended to favor the rich and pass over the needs of the poor. The Pharisees get credit for being important and the people are belittled. The rich are rewarded for what they have donated, the poor are marginalized. Yet one woman comes and turns the tables for Jesus – a widow with very little to give, but she gives what she has and she gives it faithfully. And she makes all of the difference in the world. In God’s eyes, the people do matter. God rewards our faithfulness, not our pocketbooks.

What does it mean to be a part of the family? What are the duties? What are the responsibilities? What does it mean to be a part of God’s family? Do you really have to do anything special? Who are the poor who give all that they have today? When has what you have been just enough?