Sunday, November 27, 2011
Scriptures December 4th – Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2,8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15; Mark 1:1-8; Theme: Second Sunday of Advent; song – There’s Something About that Name – UMH 171 Isaiah: We are preparing for a breakthrough from God. God is coming in our lives, and everything is going to change. This verse was written for the exiles. They were oppressed and felt that there was no way out for them. The prophet gave them words of comfort, that everything was going to be okay. They were going to achieve their goals, with the help of God – the intervention. Not only will God deliver us, God will take care of us in the process. There is nothing else for us to do, but to prepare for his coming. But we also have to be prepared for the fact that when we return, we return to chaos, not order. Everything we know has been destroyed. We have to be prepared to not despair, but roll up our sleeves and obey God. 2 Peter: The lesson that we learned from the Thessalonians, that when people learn that the end is coming, they can easily give up their lives and forget what they are fighting for. They can easily think that it doesn’t matter what they do, because everything is over. The biggest problem of a riot is not the rebelliousness of the people, it is the looting. They assume that there are no consequences for what they do, and they do anything. Peter talks about what it means to live in the endtimes. He talks about what will happen when Jesus returns. But the message is that righteousness must also prevail. As the faithful, we are not to look at this as a time to give up and not care. We are to continue to do what’s right, as a matter of fact righteousness is even more important. We are to show others, and most importantly Christ that we have been waiting for him. Questions: What are the conditions of oppression for you personally today? What are the conditions of oppression for us as a people? Who is it that is offering the voice of comfort along the way? Where is the highway that we must follow? How does God make our journey easier? How will advent be a new adventure for you this year? How can you teach others the righteous ways in the meantime before Christ comes?
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Scriptures for November 27th: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37 theme: the first Sunday of Advent; Song O Come Emmanuel Isaiah: In the first Sunday of advent, we start out with the way the world is. We start with why we need Jesus. We start with the plight of the people. We start with the understanding that God is going to come into the world somehow and turn things upside down. We don’t know how he is going to do it, but we know that it is going to be BIG. Everyone is going to see it. We are also reminded that at present we are a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. We are sinners, and it is our sin that has made the world what it is. But we are also people who want to change, and the big change will change us on the inside and the outside. At the end of Advent, this will all make sense and we will see God clearly. Mark: The gospel lesson continues to explain the way things are and why. In a lot of ways the end of the world did come for the Jews. Their temple was destroyed, their way of life was destroyed. And they are trying to understand why God would do such a thing and what are they supposed to do now. Jesus tells a parable of the landowner being gone from the land and preparing to come back. We cant get too comfortable while he is gone, because he is coming back. The whole point of advent is to remind us to keep awake, and clean up the house before the owner comes back and gets upset at the mess. Questions: Have you ever realized that God’s coming is your only hope? How bad has the world gotten? Are we capable of helping ourselves, or do we need a divine intervention? How does God answer your prayers and cries? What things do you do now, that you would stop if you knew the end was near? How can focusing on God’s return help your discipleship?
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Scriptures for November 20th: Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46; Theme: What does it mean for Christ to be King?; Song: My Hope is Built – 368 Ephesians: Paul is writing to a church of both Jews and gentiles. The debate over whether you need to be circumcised in order to be a true Christian is still fresh in their minds. If Jews are special, then how are all of these heathen gentiles to be accepted into the family? Paul reminds us that if Christ is the head of our lives, that is not our problem. If Christ is the head of our faith, then we have an inheritance in his kingdom. We don’t have to learn to live in Jewdom, it is not the same place as the kingdom of God. We can hope for what is ahead, not worry about what is behind. God demonstrated what he did in the resurrection of Christ, we have that same power. God’s power is indeed the greatest thing in the world, that is what we have faith in. Matthew: Christ reign is about righteousness, not about power. That is why this text is appropriate to think about for Christ the King Sunday. We start out picturing heaven and Jesus role in heaven. This is judgment day for the faithful of the earth. Jesus is the judge, who lets some in and others are condemned to hell. What is the criteria for making it in? What did you do for the normal people in your life? When you passed someone who was hungry, or in need of clothes, or medicine – who did you respond? The needy are the chosen face of Christ on earth. Whatever we do for or to them, we also do it to Jesus. This is the last public teaching of Jesus. It is called the Great Assize – or the great judgment. The great question for all of us – how can I help the needy? Questions: What hope does being a Christian bring you? How have you seen God’s great power demonstrated in your life? What have we inherited as the children of God? Are the promises of God from a Christian, the same as the promises God gave to a Jew? What does it mean for Christ to be King of your life? Who are the “least of these” today? What do you do to help them? On judgement day, what will you say to Christ? Are you a sheep or a goat?
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Scriptures for November 13th – Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30 – Theme: Using our talents for God; Song – I am going to live so God can use me – Faith We Sing – 2153 1 Thessalonians: Paul gave the message to the Christians of Thessalonica that there was not much time to waste. Christ was returning soon, so they needed to prepare themselves and their lives for eternity. There seemed to be an awful lot of people who were willing to hear that message, but there were also a lot more who were not. As a matter of fact, Paul also had a lot of enemies. He had to get comfortable in serving within that balance. Paul still had a message, not to get so caught up into the peace of the world, that you are not prepared the coming of Christ. Our dreams for the future are not for the night, it is for the day. We still have work to do. But our work is about who we are as a community. Therefore we have to encourage one another, particular those who are just becoming new Christians. Matthew: We hear about his parable a lot, it is the parable of the talents. But there is so much more to this story, then the commonly understood. As a matter of fact, Jesus intentional tells stories that leave a lot of room for interpretation. For instance, this is the third parable that Jesus tells about the distant landowner. He is preparing his disciples for the fact that he will not be with them, and they will need to be able to “keep the faith” in his absence. There are three servants who do what they can with what they have. When the master returns, he rewards his servants for their efforts. And yet he is also not afraid to pass judgment on the servant who is not doing enough. Many times we are that worthless servant – because we don’t give our own to God. In fairness we are afraid, and don’t want to lose what we have. God reminds us that what we have is never our own to keep. Questions: How does our faith help us to shape our priorities in life? When we judge others, who are we keeping out of the kingdom of heaven? In what ways are we too seeking the peace and security of the world? Where do we spend our energy- building our kingdom at home or God’s kingdom on earth? What has God entrusted us with? How do we give it to others?