Saturday, April 30, 2011

May 8, 2011

Scriptures for May 8th – Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35 Theme: Finding God along the way Song: Blessed Assurance UMH 369

1 Peter: Peter wants us to rejoice in our salvation. To know that we always have something to be grateful for. We can be grateful that the ways of the world that we have inherited no longer apply. God knew that the world and we who live in this world were headed for destruction. So Jesus was sent to give us a better way. In the old way of life everything, including ourselves will perish. In the new way we have eternal life. It is through Christ that we learn to trust God and to love one another. We must also remember that this gift comes with a price. God sacrificed his son. In order to have the power of love – we have to be baptized and follow the ways of Christ.

Luke: This story happens on the very day that Jesus has died. Some of his followers are in mourning and travelling to Emmaus, when a stranger stops them along the way. They assume this stranger must be the only person in the world who does not know that the master has been killed. But how would Jesus know, if he is the master, and he is the one who has also been resurrected. It is not until they eat with him that they realize who they are talking to. It is in communion that we come to know who Jesus is for our lives. It is only after the resurrection that we see Jesus in all of his glory clearly.

Questions: Today is Mother’s Day – how is God like a mother to us? How does God take care of us? What are the old ways of life that we don’t need any more once we become Christian? How is Christian love different from any other form of love? How do you trust in God? What does taking communion do for your faith? In what other ways can you share a meal with Jesus? What ways has Jesus been with you this week and you didn’t even recognize it?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

May 1, 2011

Scriptures for Acts 2:1:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
Theme: Witness to the miracle of resurrection; Song: He Lives UMH 310

Acts: Pentecost is a Jewish holiday, there were thousands of people in Jerusalem. Peter uses this opportunity to tell those people about Jesus. To tell that that Jesus has been resurrected and is alive. We will be reading Peter’s sermon for the 50 days of Easter. The church grew by leaps and bounds because of Peter’s testimony. The people wanted to hear the stories of this resurrected messiah. They say what faith did for Peter, and they wanted that faith for themselves. Peter reminds them that all of their other heroes, David, Moses, Elijah, did wonderful things in life, but they are dead now. Only Jesus does great things in resurrection! Jesus is still making miracles happen today.

John: Jesus makes several resurrection appearances to his disciples. They do not recognize his face, but there is something in his voice that makes the recognize him. When the disciples saw Jesus, they went home, they could not understand what it going on. Jesus appears to them in the upper room. Thomas needs proof that this is really Jesus, and he gets it. We may never see that proof for ourselves, but do we need it in order to know that Jesus Christ is Lord?

Questions: How do you recognize Jesus in your life today? What can we learn from the early church as far as telling our story and getting people to believe? What does resurrection mean for you? How do we help others to believe? What proof does the world need that Jesus is alive? Are we afraid to make the world see what we see? How do we inherit God’s power?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 17, 2011

Scriptures for April 17th: Matthew 21:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26-14-27:66 Theme: Palm Sunday Song: Were you There UMH 288

Matthew: This is palm Sunday – the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, depending on how you look at it. Lent is over, but it is not finished. Now we enter into Holy Week. Now we start the walk with Jesus to the cross. Now we relive the story of Jesus passion, in going through the most painful part of his life in order to being us salvation. We start the story with Jesus gathering his disciples together to share a meal. He initiates our communion practice of sharing his body and blood. He also tells the disciples that one of them will betray him. The passion story is told in all of the gospels. But only Matthew takes to time to explain the relationship of Jesus and Judas. Only Matthew tells of the struggle that Judas had in making that decision. It tells of how that decision and the guilt of betrayal is what killed him.
Only Matthew records the conversation with the soldiers, with Pontius Pilate after Jesus is arrested. We contemplate Jesus response, we listen for the guilt of Pontius Pilate, why would he do this? Pontius Pilate is one of the few people who had an extended conversation with and is not converted. He goes on with his life, totally clueless as to whom he is speaking. He even asks Jesus, are you the king of the Jews? But doesn’t understand that Jesus is the king of us all! He will rise above this situation. Matthew is the only person to talk about what happens when Jesus dies. He records the earthquake, the tearing of the temple curtain. Surely this is the Son of God. Matthew knows the names of the women who came to bathe the body. And this is the only gospel which explains that the guards are at the tomb to keep the followers from stealing the body and just claim that he is resurrected. That is where the story for palm Sunday ends, in anticipation of what happens to the body, if the guards were trying to prevent this from happening. We can celebrate that all things are possible with God. All burdens are boundaries are transcended in order to bring transformation to the world!

Questions: What have you learned about Jesus this Lenten season? What have you learned about yourself? Your faith? What effect does the passion story have on you? How do you feel about Judas? What about the reactions of the other disciples to Jesus? Do you see yourself or your own actions in those of Judas? Have you ever betrayed Jesus in your actions? What would your life be like if there was no transcendence of death? How will your life change with the resurrection this year?

Friday, April 1, 2011

April 10, 2011

Breaking Open the Scriptures

Scriptures for April 10th – Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45: Theme: Jesus can do anything! Song: What Wondrous Love is This? UMH 292

Ezekiel: Death is the subject for this week. Our death; not the death of our bodies, but the death of our souls. Without Jesus we are all dead and in need of resurrection. God shows Ezekiel a field of bones; Bones of people who may have died in battle. God explains that He does not need us to praise God, because he can rise up these bones and make them praise God. This should be a message of hope for us. Whatever the suffering, whatever the pain, whatever the burden that we are carrying, God can heal our soul and restore us to full life. We just have to let the spirit into our lives.

John: This is another one of those long gospel lessons for the season of lent. Once again the theme is our death and resurrection. Jesus finally comes to visit the house of his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But they think that he has come too late to save the life of Lazarus. Not only is he dead, he stinks as his body decomposing. What could Jesus possibly do now. Jesus is not worried about the preconceived notions of the people, Jesus is not worried that we have gotten to the point that all hope is lost. Jesus can do anything at anytime. We are never so far gone that Jesus cannot save us. Jesus calls Lazarus to come forth, Jesus calls us to come forth; To come out of our tomb of sorrows and distress and to live. How do you answer?

Questions: Name some places in your life or your community that remind you of the valley of dry bones? Have you witnessed a resurrection of a place that was once dead? What did it take to revive the situation or to give it new life? How was God at work? What will it take to revive our United Methodist churches? What areas of your life have you lost all hope that things will change? How can you give those areas over to God and trust the Holy Spirit? What type of life do you think that John lived after he was brought back to life?