Saturday, May 29, 2010

June 6, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures

Scriptures for June 6th: I Kings 17:8-24; Psalm 146, Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17 Songs: O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing – UMH 57, My Life is in You Lord – TFWS 2032 (sing twice); I’m Gonna Live so God Can Use Me – TFWS 2153

I Kings: We have entered into ordinary time of the church calendar. The presence of the Holy Spirit is old news, it has been with us for awhile. As a matter of fact it is with us all of the time. Now we have to think about what to do with this gift. We now focus on the ministry of the prophets. In this story, Elijah is instructed by God to go to Zarephath – a city truly in need of God. He is not told to teach, or the preach, or to even to tell the people that they are wrong. Just to be present. To live with a widow, to get the know the people, and to meet the needs of this widow’s family, as she takes care of him. The widow’s son dies – and Elijah brings her most precious gift back to life. What does the presence of God do to bring us back to life in the dead spots of our life?

Luke: On the surface this is a similar story to the one in Kings. a widow’s son dies and the prophet comes and brings him back to life. Jesus uses this story for a very different reason. This son is a young adult, who is responsible for taking care of his mother. A widow has no other way of being cared for but the man in her life. She too will follow her son in death. But Jesus has sympathy for her. Jesus teaches all of his disciples (including us) to respond to injustice, the help those who are not able to care for themselves. Jesus makes sure that she will live, by bringing her son back to life. We are reminded that it is time to get in mission, to see the widows in our community who are in need.

Questions: In the ministry of presence what role do you play? Are you the prophet listening to the needs of the people or are you the one instructed by God to help the prophet in order to get your own needs met? How many signs of God do you miss because you are not listening? How do we show support for those who lose their means of support? How do we help those who lose a family member or a job? What does compassion mean for this community?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 30, 2010

Scriptures for May 30th – Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8, Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Songs: Spirit of the Living God UMH 393; Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise – UMH 103; Standing on the Promises – UMH 374

Proverbs: This is our first Sunday back into the Hebrew scriptures. This is one of three proverbs which celebrates wisdom. Wisdom cries out in the streets and asks for us to listen. Sometimes we wish that God would just speak to us, not realizing that God finds all kinds of ways to speak. And we find all kinds of ways not to listen. In this passage the wisdom that has been with the world since the beginning of time, is personified as a women – Sophia. She helped in the creative process of creating the world. The wisdom of the Word also comes to us in the life of Jesus Christ, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. Today wisdom comes to us in the form of the Holy Spirit.

John: We are still focusing on the last teachings of Christ. And he is still telling us that the Holy Spirit is coming to make all things clear. The Spirit of Truth is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the wisdom out in the world, speaking to us in the streets. John’s passage says that the Holy Spirit guides us, declares what is to come, glorifies God and speaks what is so. What is the Holy Spirit saying to us now, and how do we take the time to listen?

Questions: How is wisdom different from knowledge? What things is Jesus saying to you that you are not able to hear? How does the Spirit of Truth help you deal with difficult situations? What forms does wisdom take in your life? How do you respond when you recognize wisdom?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 23, 2010

Breaking Open The Scriptures

Scriptures for May 25th: Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:14-17, John 14:8-27 Songs: As a Fire is Meant for Burning – TFWS 2237; O Spirit of the Living God – UMH 539; Because He Lives UMH 364

Acts: We have been waiting on God’s promise of the Holy Spirit all Easter season. When Jesus was resurrected, he promised that the Holy Spirit has come. We have seen evidence of those appearances all throughout the scriptures. Now it is time for us to look for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our live and in the world. This is Pentecost Sunday – the birthday of the church. This is the day when all of those appearances come together and is manifest in all nations. The Jews who were present on the day of Pentecost represent 16 different nations. They were probably people who were exiled and were returning. They represent the unity of the body of God. This day shows us that we can do much more as a group then we can as individuals. The gifts of the Spirit are for the community, not for us to keep for ourselves. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the community to reach out to others, not for us to enjoy in our own circle. Now that that Spirit is here, we have work to do.

Psalm: God is the source of all life. God’s spirit allows us to move, and love and be. God’s Spirit is life. We say this psalm on Pentecost to remind us of what we are waiting for the breath of God to renew us and give us new life. With God we can do nothing, and yet God is willing to give us everything - his Son, his breath. In verse 26 Leviathan who is the devil of chaos is portrayed as a playful whale; Reminding us that our deepest fears can become a source of joy, if we are in touch with God’s spirit. Even death can become an opportunity for life if God’s spirit is present. That is the message of Easter.

Questions: When has God crashed into your life with power to get your attention? How often do you take time to witness the wisdom in God’s creation? Where do you see the face of the ground renewed through God’s Spirit? What does it mean to be the body of Christ? What are ways that we can reenact the Pentecost experience and move in unity with one another and the spirit of Christ?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May 16, 1020

Scriptures for May 13th – Ascension Sunday – Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47,
Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53
Songs: All Hail the Power of Jesus Name UMH 155; You Alone are Holy – TFWS 2077; Lord I Lift your Name on High – TFWS 2088

Acts: In many ways, the scriptures is a continuation of the Easter readings, we still hear the story of the Holy Spirit and the work that it does. But in other ways this Sunday marks a new period. Jesus has been appearing to the disciples all throughout the Easter season. This is Jesus’ final appearance. But the disciples still don’t understand why – is he coming to bring about the Kingdom of Israel? Jesus tells them that the kingdom of God is much bigger than that. God’s kingdom is for everyone – everyone in the whole world. And the work of the spirit is to empower us to reach out to everyone, no matter who they are, and where they are.

Luke Acts is a retelling of the events of Luke. Jesus has been on the earth for 40 days after the death event. He has been teaching his disciples. This is the final teaching, it is time for him to ascend into heaven. He tells his disciples the good news that must be spread out throughout the whole world - teach the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the key to our salvation. All we have to do to help others understand what it means to repent is to tell our stories – stories of how we have seen Jesus in our lives, stories of how we have been forgiven, stories of how the Holy Spirit is still in the world 2000 years later, still making a difference.

Questions: How do we focus on what is going on right in our lives, and not look up to heaven expecting a miracle? Why is the message of forgiveness so hard for us to hear? How does our church witness to the risen Christ? Where have you personally seen proof of the risen Christ? How does Jesus bless us to spread the gospel? Why is the Ascension important to our faith?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 9, 2010

Scriptures for May 9th: Acts 16:9-15, Psalm 67, Revelation 21:1-10, 22-22:5; John 14:23-29
Songs: Happy the Home when God is There – UMH 445; Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise – UMH 103; We’ve a Story to tell the Nations – UMH 569

Acts: Paul gets a vision to go to Macedonia to serve. The verses today teach us a lot about visions, and a lot about ministry that is guided by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul has been traveling all throughout the gentile land, telling people about Jesus. Sometimes he is accepted, and other times he is chased out of town. But yet and still Paul has a message from God. It is a two fold mission of giving and receiving. He is collecting money for the widows in Jerusalem, and he is saving souls for Christ. In Macedonia, Paul meets Lydia, and is able to baptize her entire family. In return the Macedonian church eventually gives more than any church to help. They are grateful for what God has given them, how we do show God gratitude for the good news?

John: Last week, Jesus gave the commandment for us to love one another as we have been loved. In his farewell speech he continues to speak of exactly what that means. It is hard to be reminded to love the one that are closest to you. We are reminded that the Spirit is coming to give us guidance on what that means. The Holy Spirit guides us in all aspects of living as a Christian. Iit is so important for us to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is telling us. The Spirit can speak to us through dreams, visions, and even our church family. We just have to be able to expect it. Jesus says that he is telling us what will happen, so that when it happens we can understand what is going on.

Questions: Do you believe that the Spirit speaks to us through visions? What visions has God given to you to serve? Did you take your vision seriously and act upon it? Have you ever experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit? How did it feel? What practices can you put in place that will allow you to know when the Spirit is speaking to you?