Saturday, January 30, 2010

February 7, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for February 7th: Isaiah 6:1-8(9-13); Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11 Songs: Lord You Have Come to the Lakeshore UMH 344; You Alone are Holy TFWS 2077; O Jesus I have Promised UMH 396

1 Corinthians
This is the end of our continuous reading of 1 Corinthians. Paul is trying to give the Corinthians a foundation on what it means to live in community. He reminds us not to put our gifts above one another, to love one another unconditionally; and this week we are reminded that we are here because we are all sinners, and because Jesus Christ bought salvation for us all. Christ died, Christ Rose, Christ will come again – that is not just what we say every Sunday – it is the reason we come to church. Because we depend on that fact to save our lives. Paul was a witness to the fact, even though he was not there when Jesus was crucified. Christ came to Paul and Christ comes to each of us. If we only believe.

Jesus encourages his disciples to go fishing. Or not to really go fishing, but to just let down their nets and to take in the bounty. They don’t have to do anything or have any skill – just listen to Jesus. The Greek word for obedience means a willingness to listen. Obediance is not an act, but a way of life. The disciples were discouraged and seemed to get no results. But Peter listens to Christ and things start to turn around. How well do we listen to Christ? Are we obedient? What results do we get from our fishing? What results are we really looking for?

Questions What does it really mean for Cornerstone to be the body of Christ? How do we say thank you to Christ for forgiving our sins? What does it mean to be obedient to Christ? How do we listen to what Christ is saying to us? What results do we see in our lives of our faithfulness?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 24, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for January 31st – Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30 Songs: Lord I Lift Your Name on High TFWS 2088; Holy, Holy, Holy – TFWS 2007; Here I am Lord – UMH 593
Jeremiah says that he felt that he was called by God to serve the people, even as a child. He notices that everything in his life, even in the womb was directed at this moment and this call. Many prophets felt that it was their job to serve the leaders of the nation. Jeremiah felt that his call was to work directly with the people. Jeremiah felt that he could not do what God was asking, because he did not know what to say. He did not know how to speak well. God took his fear and turned it into an asset. He had no idea how to live out this call, but he trusted that God would lead him. He led his people through the worst crisis they had ever saw – and them helped them to rebuild their lives in the midst of hopelessness. What insurmountable task has God given to us, for such a time as this?

1 Corinthians
If you have attended a wedding, you have heard this text. This is the love chapter of Paul’s letter. In reality, Paul is not talking about romantic love (even though the same principles do indeed apply). He is talking about the love of a congregation. It is important for us to keep in mind that it is the love of our baptism is what keeps us together and allows us to work together. We have all heard this scripture before, but how many of us actually take this to heart? What intentional practices do we have that show the love of God to one another? Paul too continues his conversation about what it means to live out our call to God – to not only love one another, but most importantly to respect one another.
Questions What is God calling you to do in your life? How are you fighting what God is telling you to do? What do you need to get beyond that block? If Jeremiah was called as a child, do we nurture our children and listen to them in a way that allows them to listen to what God is calling them to do with their lives? How do we show the one’s closest to us the love of God? What do you hope to understand better when you are face to face with God?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 24, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for January 24th – Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21 Songs: My Life is in You, Lord (sing twice), TFWS 2032; Open My Eyes, That I May See – UMH 454; We are Called – TFWS 2172

Nehemiah The people of Israel have gone through a lot by this time. They were kicked out of their country. They held onto their faith, so that they could return to their homeland. And now that they are back, they want to be reminded of the ways of God, so that they can live with God at the center of their lives. The way to learn the ways of God, is to read the scripture. So they have the scribe read to them. He reads all day and all night. As they listen, they realize that what they thought was faith, is not in the scripture. Ezra explains to them how they should be living. This book is named for Nehemiah – the governor of the region. He makes a commitment to help them to rebuild their city, their temple and their lives in God.

1 Corinthians Paul is sending this message to the Corinthians to correct that wrong understanding bought out in the Hebrew Bible reading. The importance of reading the right scripture- it to do right living. Last week, Paul explained that a community has many different gifts. But he also wants us to know that no one gift is ever more important than the community. When we recognize the gifts that God has given our community, it is important for us all to be willing to work together. We need to understand that we are all a part of a universal body. And we have to learn to be together. That is the challenge of Christianity – you can’t do it alone. You have to do it with people who encourage you, and those who don’t. They are both a part of your development.

Questions What is the importance of reading the scripture in your life? Why is it important to read scripture aloud in worship? How is that different from reading alone? What gifts has God given you? How has the community supported you? What gifts has God given to Cornerstone? Who do we use them? How to we bury them?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 17, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for January 17th – Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11 Songs: I am Gonna Sing when the Spirit says sing – UMH 333, Great is Thy Faithfulness – UMH 140, Many Gifts, One Spirit – UMH 114

I Corinthians
Paul had a very interesting relationship with this very interesting church. The Corinthians were faithful Christians who wanted to be who they were supposed to, but Corinth was an urban city with many belief systems competing for their attention. Yet Paul had faith that this church was very special. Paul tells them that each church is unique, each church has a personality, and God has given each church a set of unique gifts. He encouraged them to start looking for those gifts and to put them to use. A church doesn’t just have a budget, they also have gifts to be used as a resource in their ministry.

As Jesus has been able to articulate his call, he tells his followers that there is more to come – to just pay attention. Obviously his mother was paying attention to this. Because this is Jesus first miracle. The family is at a wedding, and his mother tells him that they need more wine. Jesus tells her that his time has not come – and that he is not the person to ask for such a thing. We all want to wait until we are ready, and God tells us all that the time is now, the place is wherever we are, and the thing is to do what God tells us and to be who God calls us to be. Jesus was called to be a savior for the people. He does that by pointing to the power of God in our lives. This is the first of many signs on that journey to get our attention.

Questions What gifts has God given to Cornerstone? What Ministry has God given to Cornerstone? How can we put our gifts to use? Have you ever experienced a miracle in your life? What signs is God giving to you now that point to what God wants you to do? Are your listening?

Friday, January 1, 2010

January 10, 2009

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for January 10th – Isaiah 43:1-7, Psalm 29, Acts 8:14-17, Luke 3:15-17,21-22
Songs: I Was There to Hear you Borning Cry – TFWS 2051; Wade in the Water TFWS 2107; Spirit Song UMH 347

Isaiah This scripture is a word of comfort for the exiles. They have been taken from their land, but are about to return. They are frightened because there is not a lot of them – they as a people feel that they have no power. The prophet reminds them that no matter how small they may be, they are still God’s people and God has a plan for them. They will succeed in returning as the remnant of God’s people to carry on the work of God. We read this on baptism Sunday, because in order to return home the people have to go through the desert, over a river with no bridge, and through the wilderness. In the midst of their trials, they are reminded that God is there. God will carry them through the time of trial to a better time.

Luke By this time we should be very familiar with John the Baptist. We have heard about the response to his ministry of repentance. It would be easy for people to feel that John is the messiah and that he is the one who is transforming the world. John reminds us and them that there is one much greater than he who is to come along. Jesus the Christ. Jesus even though he is aware of his divine purpose, still comes to John to prepare him, He takes the repenter’s baptism and makes it so much more – he makes it a baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is present and speaks to us all. We are to listen to Jesus – because he is well loved by his father. What does that mean for those of us who have been baptized?

Questions What does it mean to say that we are 'claimed' by God? What trials have we endured on our journey to our destiny? What proof do we have that God is with us on the journey? What happens at baptism? Is baptism an ending point or a beginning point in our relationship with God? What difference does baptism make in our lives?