Sunday, September 25, 2011

October 2, 2011

Scriptures for October 2nd: Exodus 20:1-4,7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4-14; Matthew 21:33-46; Theme: World Communion Sunday; Song: When we all get to heaven – UMH 701

Philippians: The principle lesson of Philippians is that Christ is the center of our lives and of all that we are. Paul gives an impressive list of accomplishments, yet says that they mean nothing in comparison to giving his life to Christ. We are flesh, we can’t help but to live in the flesh. And the reality is that we all work hard in the flesh. When we work for something, we want to be acknowledged for it. If I worked 12 hours on a project, I am not going to donate my pay to the church, I am going to put it in my pocket. I earned it. And yet Paul reminds us that if it had not been for Christ in our lives, we would not have the strength to work, so we need to acknowledge Christ in everything. We have to remember, that no matter how hard we work, we will never be perfect. As long as we are in the flesh, we need to strive for what it right, realizing that we will not be perfect until death.

Matthew: In his last days, Jesus has taken on the tasks of tasks. To challenge the thinking of the religious powers that be in hopes that they will respect his teachings. When he realizes that is probably not going to happen, Jesus hopes to at least get them to think about what they are doing. To at least add another perspective to their thinking. Not only are they not willing to listen, they want to kill him. That is why he tells the parable of the people who kill the son of the landowner. People get violent when you try to tear apart their raquet. When you tell them to give up their unfair advantage over others. Jesus knows that in the midst of the dialogue, there are some people who are listening and taking what he says to heart. Are you one of those people?

Questions: How has knowing Christ changed your priorities in life? What things used to be really important to you, which now are not as important? How did knowing Christ change Paul’s priorities? Is there something we can learn from him? When does being a righteous person become a burden? Is it possible to be so righteous that you start to destroy the faith of other people? How do we heal the people that we have heart in our zealousness?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sepember 24, 2011

Breaking Open the Scriptures
Scriptures for September 25th: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32; Song: Trust and Obey – UMH 467 Theme: God has a plan for us, if we just follow it.

Philippians: Paul has one major theme in all of his writings – that theme is Christ. Specifically, it is life in Christ. Christ is life, and anything else is death. Today Paul talks about what it means to live in Christ. It means living in community with people that are not like us. Christ will give us what we need in order to overcome our differences. The theme for today’s reading is unity. As Christians if Christ is our center: then we can be of the same mind, same love, and on the same accord. Paul uses a familiar hymn to remind the congregation of what it means to be one body of Christ. What are the songs of unity that we sing today? We sing them, but do we really live them out. Do we love all Christians? What stands in the way?

Matthew: By what authority is Christ allowed to work in your life? Do you give Jesus permission, or do you trust the will of God? As Jesus begins his teaching ministry – those same questions are asked of him – who gives you authority to do what you do? Jesus knew that any answer that he gave would be the wrong answer for the crowd. So he gives a parable instead – a parable of obeying the word of God. He was pointing out that sometimes it is those who think the most of God, who do the least of what God tells them. They (we) get so caught up on our own understanding that we forget that God is not in our minds and our hearts. The word of God is in the bible, and we have to constantly check our actions and our thoughts against the word in order to truly obey God. And that we need to be more concerned about our own actions than the actions of others.

Questions: What situations in our congregation require us to be on one accord? What do we need to do in order to get there? Is Christ really the center of the church? Does Christ have authority to work in our lives? By what authority to we do our work in the world?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 18, 2011

Scriptures for September 18th : Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16; Giving us what we deserve; song: UMH 130 – God will take care of you.

Exodus: Apparently, being set free and put into the promised land is not enough to free our souls. Now we have to survive from day to day, and we don’t know how to do that. Why would God free us, only to kill us by not taking care of us? we all have our moments when we are concerned and ask for God to take care of us. The Isrealites were able to exit Egypt. They saw the amazing salvation of God. But now they felt that they were in the middle of no where. They had no idea of what to do. God challenged them to open their minds and to think in a brand new way. To learn to trust in a brand new way. Eventually they were fed and taken care of even in the midst of their doubt.

Matthew: This scripture challenges our idea what it means to be fair. In a world that is fair, it is a world where we are unequal. If I work harder than you, then I should be given more than you. This is the story of workers who have been given a job. Some worked 8 hours, some worked an hour. All got paid exactly the same. That is what is fair in God’s world. That reminds us that God’s grace is not something that we can ever earn, it is something that is freely given. It is not in how hard we work, but in how much God cares for our needs. If God gives us grace, we are we to give to others?

Questions: When in your life have you followed God’s leading, yet questioned whether God would see you through? How long did you fear? When has God provided for your needs, when you could not care for yourself? If you had to use God’s measure of fairness and not your own, how would that change the way you treat people? Are we treated fairly in work? How do we address this injustice?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 11, 2011

Scriptures for September 11th : Exodus 14:19-31; Exodus 15:1-11, 20-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35; Theme: How we treat one another as a church; UMH 560 – Help us Accept Each Other

Exodus: This text is about the departure in the Red Sea. This is an important text no matter what our faith. Because if God can do this for the Isrealites, then God can do it for us. God does it for us ever day. God sets us free from our burdens, God prepares a way in the midst of no way. This is the moment where the great I am proves to be more than the God of the ancestors. This is the God who is in charge of the wind, the sea, the heavens and everything in between. This is the God who will use all of that and more to give us freedom and salvation. This is a week for remembering that God is a God of the Christians, Jews and Muslims. If that is so, then as people of faith, we have to love and live with all kinds. In the name of Gods love.

Romans: We are still reading text that tell us how we should treat one another in the church. And Paul says that we should treat everyone with mutual respect. The church is not a group of like minded people, the church is a group of faith minded people. We don’t always think alike. We don’t always agree on the same things. And Paul is saying that is okay. We need to be careful in how we judge people to be wrong. Only God was that power. We have to leave everything up to God. Our task is to figure out how to put differences aside and live as one body of Christ. Carrying on the mission in spite of ourselves.

Questions: How does God continue to lead us out of bondage today? Who are the leaders that God sends to lead us out of bondage? How do we become a people of faith that honors all of those in the God family? How do you treat others who seem to live their faith differently than you? Where do you draw the line on who follows God in the right way? Who or what is the judge of the right way to be faithful?