Saturday, March 31, 2012

April 1, 2012 - Easter Sunday

Scriptures for April 8th – Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; I Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8; Easter Sunday; Song: Lord of the Dance Mark: Of course the resurrection story is the center of all of the Gospel books. But each of them tell the story from a different perspective, even with different characters. In Mark, a whole group of women have gone to the tomb in order to put spices on the body. They wonder how they will be able to get to the body, with the stone in the way. But when they get there the work has been done for them. The angel tells them not to worry what happen, but to just go and tell others what they have seen. But scripture says that they were not able to move, they were stuck in the moment, overwhelmed by the awe of it all, not able to speak at all. It is interesting that these words are the every end of the gospel of Mark. The rest of the story was added because later Christians felt that something was missing, there had to be something after the empty tomb and the resurrection. I agree with Mark, that there is not. We should live our lives in awe of what God did for Jesus Christ, and the that wonder and mystery extends today to our lives. We should also remember that of God can raise Jesus from the dead, then surely he can give us life. Acts: During the Easter season, we read from the book of Acts, not the old testament. The scriptures are preparing us for the season of Pentecost, when the gift of the Holy Spirit came upon the church and the church grew. We have a lot of consultants who are willing to come to church to talk about what we need to grow. When the truth is all that we need to really do is the read and understand the book of Acts. In our scripture for today, Peter is talking with Cornelius, a Roman soldier who is seeking Christ. He has been instructed to let Peter stay in his household. Peter is telling him what he knows about Jesus. Acts 10 is a proclamation of who Jesus is as the Christ, and what difference it makes to us all. Jesus shows no partiality, he died for everyone everywhere at all times. Jesus spread the message of salvation. He got rid of the devil in all of our lives. Because He is lord of all, Christ will judge the living and he dead, the faithful and the unfaithful. There is no way for us to escape the salvation of Christ. It will find us, even when we try to escape. When we sin, Jesus forgives, it as simple as that. Questions: What stones need to be rolled away in your life? What obstacles stand in the way of you being the person Christ wants you to be? Are you trying to roll them away on your own strength? Or are you trusting in the holy spirit? How would the church be different if we trusted in the spirit to help us to grow?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

April 1, 2012 - Palm Sunday

Scriptures for April 1st – Mark 11:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2,19-29; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 14:1-15:47. Theme: Palm/Passion Sunday; Song: When I Survey The Wondrous Cross – UMH 298 Isaiah: This is the description of the suffering servant. Someone who is totally devoted to helping his community, and yet receives no regard for his work. It says that the suffering servant is a teacher, a teacher who takes his instruction from God. But who is intentional in giving people what they need to sustain themselves. What does he get in return – ridicule and shame. But because he has a relationship with God, he is able to be sustained. What better way to acknowledge the passion of Christ, than to understand the example that he was following. He spent his career teaching people and telling them what they needed to know. And he was rewarded by betrayal and cruxificion. And yet we all know that it was God who resurrected him and gave the suffering servant the victory. Philippians: This is thought to be a hymn of the early church. It reminds us that we should be like Christ in our service. He did not elevate himself, neither should we. Jesus did not have to elevate himself, because God chose to elevate him. Since God elevated him, he is indeed worthy of our praise. This is an appropriate scripture for Palm Sunday. It was been a part of church’s reading for this day for ages. This helps us to understand who Christ is for us, but is also helps us to understand God. The mystery of God. The relationship of Jesus to God. Questions: What is the significance of Palm Sunday for us? Are we just like to crowd, acknowledging Christ in public, while in private criticizing him? How can we be an example of a suffering servant in our lives? How do we deal with the criticism? The violence? What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? How does the mystery of God sustain us when we are down?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 25, 2012

Scriptures for March 25th: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33; Theme: Keeping our Covenants with God; Song: Lift Him Up Jeremiah: Have you noticed that the scriptures during the season of lent all have a theme. The theme of the old testament lessons has been our promise with God. Or should I say, God’s promise with us. Along with that promise is God’s contract to be in relationship with us – that is called a covenant. In Jeremiah, he is telling us that God is about to make a new covenant with us. In order to make a covenant, something has to be cut. God says that this new covenant will not be written in stone, but will be written on the hearts of the faithful. Instead of cutting into stone, does that mean that God will cut into our hearts? Does that mean that we will understand that the new promises require something of us? Will we understand that if God changes the covenant, that God will make the sacrifice for us? if God loves you, what does it mean for you to love God? John: Jesus has always said that his job is to save the Jewish people, so when Greeks come to him and ask question what does that mean? How does he respond to them? Does he extend to them the gift of salvation? Yes, Jesus tells them the truth, just as he has shared with his disciples. He predicts that things will get worse for him, but that is okay. Because he is the sacrifice, not just for the Jews, but for all of us. If a grain of wheat does not die, it does not produce. He is that grain of wheat. But it helps us understand what it means to follow him to the cross. We too have to sacrifice our will for God’s will. If he be lifted up, he will draw all people (Greek and Jew) to him. Lenten season is about waiting for new life, but the only way we have new life is to experience death on the cross. Good Friday is still before us. Questions: What does it mean for the covenant to be written on our hearts? If it is not our hearts, what is it that is being sacrificed inside of us? (our sinful nature) What difference does forgiveness make in our lives? If Jesus can share so easily with strangers, why is it so hard for us today? What are you doing to lift up Jesus? What difference will the resurrection make in your life?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March 11, 2012

Scriptures for March 11th – Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22; Theme – A Covenant requires rules to obey; Song: The Old Rugged Cross – UMH 504 Exodus: This is the story of the Ten Commandments, or the “ten words” as the Jews call them. In the season of lent we are looking at the promises of God and our response to those promises. What does God ask of us? The Ten Commandments are about freedom, or freedom. It is ways that God says that we are free. The first 3 commandments have to do with our relationship with God, the fourth establishes the Sabbath rest, and the last five have to do with our relationships with God. Before giving the commandments, God states who he is, and why that is important to us. This is the God who bought us out of slavery. We should take this freedom and live it out in every aspect of our lives. Keeping or covenant with God touches every aspect of our lives, and all of our relationships. John: Passover for the Jews comes at sunset on April 6th. As we approach Good Friday, they will be entering into Passover. Passover was a special time for Jesus; it was in this time that he lost his life. It was in this time that he needed to observe the holiday with his people. It was in this time that he found something wrong. God’s house was a house of prayer. But it seemed that people were more concerned about consumerism then they were about prayer. Jesus repeats the words of Isaiah – you have made this a safe house for thieves. Wow! Those are pretty strong words – a safe house – for thieves. What would Jesus say about the church today? Who are we harboring? And for what reasons. But Jesus says that he can rebuild the temple in three days if you let him. The Jews felt his words were blasphemy – but how can we allow Jesus to rebuild our church? What about our lives? Questions: Do you make a commitment to live by the 10 commandments in your life? Does Jesus require us to live by the 10 commandments? Are there moral dilemmas today that the bible does not help us with? What are they? When we have no sense of direction- what do we use to make moral decisions? If Jesus visited our church today would he be pleased? What practices would Jesus overturn and restructure in our church? How would Jesus feel about the way the church handles money?