Saturday, December 26, 2009

January 3, 2009

Scriptures for January 3 – Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12. Songs: Gather us in – TFWS 2236, Star-Child – TFWS 2095; I want to walk as a Child of the Light – UMH 206

Ephesians: Paul suffered a lot in the name of the gospel. He was beaten, run out of town and put into prison. But for Paul these were all good things. These things made him not only a stronger person, but a better Christian. Paul started his career as a Jew, as someone who persecuted Christians. But he became the apostle to the gentiles. Anyone who was not a Jew, was considered a gentile. Paul believed that it was a “mystery” that gentiles were a part of the family of God. Today, we have managed to separate ourselves in so many different ways – and Paul reminds us that it really doesn’t matter – we are united in Christ. We too can look beyond our differences to see who Christ calls us to be.

Matthew: This is Epiphany Sunday – the day when it all comes together and it seems to make sense or does it? We have no way of knowing who these guys were who came to visit Jesus, or even why they came. The important thing is that they came – and that they are a part of the gospel message. They were “gentiles” who wanted the savior to know that they too were indeed in need of salvation, that they too could say thank you. And they too would carry the gospel message on so that others could see it.

Questions: Why are there so many Christian denominations? Will there ever be one true church? How do we begin the task of uniting? What if the wise men had never come to visit Jesus? Would the story be any different for us? How do we identify with people of other religions to bring them into the family of God?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 20, 2009

Breaking Open The Scriptures

Scriptures for December 20th – Micah 5: 2-5a; Luke 1:46b-55; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
Songs: O Come, O Come Emmanuel – UMH 211; O Little Town of Bethlehem –
UMH 230; Tell out My Soul – UMH 200

Hebrews The writer of Hebrews explains that worshippers have been doing it all wrong. They have been thinking that worship is a sacrifice, that it is supposed to hurt and be a hardship. But Jesus says that God does not want your sacrifice, God wants your heart. God does not want you to give because you have to, God wants you to give because you are blessed. The gift of the baby Jesus to the world is not a sacrifice – it is an offering of love. God’s way of showing us that we are cared for, and that help for all of our problems are on the way. This is a whole new way of thinking, how can we change our thinking to act in love and not obligation?

Luke: We hear the advent story backwards. For two weeks we heard the message of repentance from John the Baptist. Today we hear of the encounter that his mother has with the mother of Jesus. This is before both were born, while they were still in the womb. The older Elizabeth wonders why she is important to be a part of the transformational time in history. She blesses Mary for what she is about to do for the world. Mary also sings a song of celebration of how the world is about to change. What songs do we sing for being a part of this transformational moment? How do we celebrate the change?

How do we deal with change? Are we open to doing things in a new way? What is God asking us to do differently? How is Mary’s dream a lived reality today? Do you see evidence of Mary’s dream in your own life?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 13, 2009

Breaking Open The Scriptures

Scriptures for December 13th – Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
Songs: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming – UMH 216; Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice TFWS 2089; Hark the Herald Angels Sing – UMH 240

Zephaniah: Zephaniah is not the last book of the bible, but he is one of the minor prophets. The book contains nine prophecies. In the first 8 the prophet talks of judgment for Judah for all that the people have done wrong. But God will not destroy them for their mistakes. The section for today- the song of Zephaniah is a song of celebration. Life always goes on, no matter how tough the trial. God has a deep investment in our lives, God wants us to win, but God wants us to be disciplined in our winning. This is the official Sunday of joy in advent – our joy always begins with our repentance and God’s forgiveness.

Luke: The messenger is a big part of the Advent message. In this case John is the messenger for us. He preaches to same message of the Hebrew Bible, but to a different generation. For John the bad times are not behind us, but in front of us – tough times are coming. But if we are prepared, then that is not bad news for us. Because the one who will make everything right is also coming. First we must repent, and next we must have faith, and the second coming of Christ will transform us and our situations.
Questions: Next week we focus on peace, how does repentance bring about peace in our hearts? How does that peace within become peace out in the world? Who is the messenger for us to day? And what is the message of repentance that we need to hear today? What is it that we have to celebrate in praise and worship today?