Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 28, 2011

Scriptures for August 28th: Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6; 23-26; 45c; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28 Theme: Treating others as holy
Exodus: We are continuing the story Moses. Moses was responsible for leading the Israelites into a new era of history. He led them out of slavery into the promised land. But he also led them to have a deeper relationship with God. From birth, he is special because he has connections with both the Israelites and the Egyptians. He must have known that God had a special purpose for him, but he did not know what it was. Until he has a direct encounter with God and the burning bush. In that conversation, God also reveals God’s name. I will be, who I will be. God is constantly creating the future, a future and a plan for us to step into. Moses is willing to step into the plan, not only for himself but for his people. I think it is beautiful that he sees God’s purpose as he steps on holy ground. How many times in our life have we stepped on holy ground and not realized it. Probably every day.

Romans: Paul’s words of advice to the church have deep meaning. He is telling us the importance of being united. We are all individuals, but when we come in contact with Christ – we are not ourselves, we are the body of Christ. We have to be mindful of the way that we treat one another, and how we are view by the rest of the world. He tells us to let love be genuine, hate what is evil, love one another, do not lag in zeal. In other words, the way in which we treat one another does really matter. In a relationship it is very easy to disrespect someone, but that we are the body of Christ have to rise above that. If you call someone a friend, there has to be a reason. You have to have something in common. In order to call yourself a Christian, you have to have something in common. That commonality is Christ.

Questions: What is it that makes something holy? Have you ever had an encounter with the holy? How do you know? All of us have a calling from God, all of us are special people – who in your life pointed out that God really needed you and that you were special? How do you treat other Christians? Do you ever get angry at them? How do you resolve that anger? How can Christ help you in having a better relationship? Why is unity in the body of Christ important?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 21, 2011

Scriptures for August 21st: Exodus 1:8-2:16; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20 Theme: Who do we define as the other?

Exodus: This scripture begins with the much used words – A new Pharoah took over the land of Egypt, who did not know Joseph. That scripture is used for the day when things change. The day when what used to work in the past, no longer applies. I think God has been warning us for some time that things are going to change. Are we really prepared for a change? Probably not. The first thing that we do when we are not ready to change, is to start to judge other people. We start to rank ourselves, who am I better off than? Who do I deserve to do better than? Who are the people that God loves less than me? If that is a strange question – that is the point of this text. We are all in different circumstances, but God loves us all just the same. In God’s eyes, there are no other people. And yet the story of the Egyptians making slaves of the Israelites, is a story that repeats itself over and over again. Jesus’ mission in the world is to undo the damage of degrading other people. He created a promised land for us all. How are we working to include all people in the church, so that they can all enter the promise land?

Matthew: Jesus talks about his mission of taking away the division of Jews and Gentiles. In previous chapters, Jesus has made it clear that his mission is to save the children of God. As he continues his mission, he comes to realizes that God’s mission is bigger than that. God has a lot of children, from a lot of different places. He asks his disciples ( and us) the important question, who do people say that I am? If we are able to recognize him as the messiah, then we have to power to be saved. If he is a prophet, or just a nice person, then we miss the point. If Jesus is the messiah – then there are no other people. We are all brothers and sisters. We are all a part of one family. We work for unity, not division if we are doing the messiah’s work.

Questions: Does slavery continue today? Does oppression happen today? Why does that seem to be a universal story, no matter what country we live in? How does Jesus help us to do something different? Who is Jesus for you? Have you heard others say that Jesus is just a prophet? What is your response to those people? What can you do to continue Jesus work of unity? When is there a time when unity is not a good thing?