Saturday, February 27, 2010

March 7, 2010

Scriptures for March 7th: Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9 Songs: O Jesus I Have Promised – UMH 396, As the Deer (sing twice) TFWS 2025, A Charge to Keep I Have UMH 413

This verse comes from third Isaiah – the last version of Isaiah. The people have returned to their homeland from captivity. But they are still a little leary. This passage invites them to the feast. They don’t have to dress up, they can come as they are. They can bring tears, concerns, sadness and all – God will take it and invite us to trust God. If they are hungry for God, they will be fed. Then they are reminded of the promises of God that we will be taken care of. Then we are given access to the promises. That access is our faith and our righteousness. We will see God’s love for the world clearly with those two things.

Psalm 63
Water is an important luxury and experiences of abundance in a very dry land. Not only do the faithful long and pant for God – but when it comes we are so excited. Water is not a luxury, water is a necessity. In this season, we are looking at the promises of God, but how we are able to praise God when we witness those promises. Worship is the fulfillment of our thirst for God. It is believed that David wrote this for the people when they are in a wilderness to remind them that they would be with God again in their lives.

Questions: When was the last time you experienced the lavishness and abundance of God in your life? When was the last time that you invited someone to the feast of worship, how can they experience the love of God by coming to worship? The psalmist thinks of God in the darkness of the night, when do you think of God?

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 21, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures

Scriptures for February 28: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17 – 4:1 Luke 13:31-35 Songs: Saranam, Saranam – UMH 523; O Sacred Head Now Wounded – UMH 286; Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley – TFWS 2112

This is a continuation of the story of the Covenant between God and Abraham. He has promised his descendents, now God promises that they will always have a land a home. A covenant requires something of both parties – both need to provide proof that they can be trusted. The sacrifice represents what we give to God. Today we fulfill our covenant through our baptism. Abraham wants to believe that God will be faithful – but he does not see how at this time. Not only does he not have land, he has no kids, but no prospects of having kids. His wife is getting older and older. Time reveals to Abraham that God does indeed fulfill his promises.

Lent is about us being willing to confess that Jesus Christ is indeed our Lord and Savior. It is about confessing our identity in Christ. It is in realizing that there are times in or lives when we are going to have to make a decision: A hard decision to claim Christ. A decision to do what we have to in order to serve as we are called. This is one of those moments for Jesus. As he confesses his identity, he knows that he has a job to do. The job can only be done in Jerusalem, that job means only death. And yet he starts out on that journey. Are we willing to go with Jesus to Jerusalem this lent. If we go, what happens to us? The same thing that happens to Christ?

Questions: How do you keep your faith when your prayers are not answered? What are the promises that Jesus has made to you? How do you keep hope as things are being worked out for you? What evidence do you have that things are indeed being worked out? Jesus wept over Jerusalem, if he were to visit Chicago, what would he weep over? What would he change? What things would be a threat to his safety?

February 14, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for February 21: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13; Songs: Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days – UMH 269, It is Well with my Soul – UMH 377, On Eagle’s Wing - Insert

Romans: This is Paul’s reminder that Jesus Christ set out to make sure that salvation is available to all people. However, confession is a prerequisite response. We have to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives, above all things. We have to not only believe that in our hearts, we have to be willing to proclaim that to the whole world. Confession can take many forms – we say a confession on worship, we confess the things that we know we have done wrong to those we trust. But confession is also a way of life. It is being willing to show that we love Jesus in times when we may suffer because of it. But it doesn’t matter- because there is nothing more important to us then showing our love of Christ in all situations. We have to be prepared to confess our identity in Christ to anyone.

Luke: The first Sunday of lent means that we hear the story of Jesus’ temptation. The repetition reminds us that no matter how much we practice, we can never step away from temptation in our lives. The determination to rise above temptation is a lifetime job. The Luke story does not happen in the wilderness, but in the everyday life of Jesus. He is tempted with food, authority and power. But he is able to rise above these desires of his own heart, by confession his identity in Christ. He is the son of God. That means that he has power and authority over all things. But it also means that he does now need depend on that power and authority to live.

Questions: What are the temptations that haunt you every year? What do you need to do to overcome them? What are the things that we use to take the place of Christ as our Lord? When have you had a chance to claim your identity on Christ? Did you do it well or avoid the situation?

Friday, February 5, 2010

February 14, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures
Scriptures for February 14th: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-43 Songs: Come Away With Me – TFWS 2202; Be Thou My Vision UMH 451; Shine Jesus Shine – TFWS 2173

2 Corinthians
It is easy to wonder who Paul is talking to as we read the words of Corinthians? Is he talking to Cornerstone Church or Corinthian Church. If Paul lived so long ago, why is it that human nature has not changed? Why are these words so important to us? When Paul talks about reading scripture under a veil, he is talking about an even older tradition. Today is transfiguration Sunday – the say when Jesus appeared different to those who witnessed him praying that day. Moses also looked different after he spent time on the mountain with Jesus. He used a veil to talk with the people, because they could not bear to see him for what he was. Traditionally, people starting wearing a veil when they read scripture. Paul wanted us to realize that is not necessarily. We can open our eyes and see God for who God is. We don’t need to use nice words to tell the truth – we can speak what we feel. God loves us for who we are, where we are- even in the midst of our imperfection.

All scriptures for this week lead us to the transfiguration event. Jesus takes his disciples to what is believed to be Mount Hermon. After a night of prayer, Jesus’ form is transformed. He appears to be glowing. Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, which means that what Jesus must do in the future, is deeply grounded in what has already happened in the past. Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets. After the meeting he goes down and continues his ministry. It is all down hill from here. He is on his way to Jerusalem to meet his destiny – and to save us from our sins. So that we don’t have to be ashamed to make the changes in our lives – and have others see that since our encounter with Jesus, we have all been changed.

Questions: Should Christians expect to appear different to others? How do we answer the question that you have changed? Where do we experience Jesus? Do we have to go to the mountaintop? Or do we see Jesus in our everyday lives? What role does the veil play in our faith? Do we need to hide from Jesus and Jesus word for us?