Wednesday, November 21, 2012

December 2, 2012

Scriptures for December 2nd: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36 Theme: first Sunday of Advent; Song: O Come, O Come Emmanuel: Jeremiah: During the season of advent, all of the Old Testament lessons point to a promise that God has made to the people. The prophet Jeremiah is talking to a people who have lost everything that has any meaning to them. They have lost their land, their identity, their religion. They are still alive, and yet they feel as if they have died. That is why the prophet used the metaphor of a tree to explain their life as a people. Even when cut down to a stump, the tree is not dead. The roots are still growing underneath. God has plans for the people, in the midst of their appearance of being dead. Out of that stump will come a new branch, that will grow just as strong as the original tree. God promises that their fate and faith will be restored. For us, winter is a time of death of appearances, yet God is working underneath the surface. Our faith in God and its outward expression will be restored, if we are willing to hold on. Luke: The New Testament lesson for advent always shows how the promise has been fulfilled through Jesus Christ. At the beginning of the year, we don’t start at the beginning of the story, we start at the end. The tree which Jesus refers is the fig tree. The fig tree is known for its rich life and its big leaves. Jesus wants those we are disheartened to know that they should not lose faith, because things appear to be dead. He is encouraging them to observe the signs of the times, to know that the end is near, but for the faithful, the end is just a precursor to the beginning of new life in Christ. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He knows what awaits him, but he also knows what awaits us – if we are willing to endure. The fulfillment of the promise must occur. That is okay. Advent is a time for us to be aware of what God doing. We are to get excited about what is to come – The death, and resurrection of our lives, through the Easter acts of Jesus. Questions: How does life appear to be dead to you right now? How does the church appear to be dead? What must happen for there to be new life? What are the signs of the times that give despair to our faith? What are the signs of the times that give hope? What does it mean for us to endure a time of trouble? What are the things that you do during Advent in order to prepare for Christmas? How do you prepare for Christ?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 18, 2012

Scriptures for November 18th: 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Hebrews 10:11-25; 1 Samuel 1:4-20; Mark 13:1-8 Theme: God’s abundance in the midst of Man’s scarcity; Song: O God our help in Ages Past – UMH 117 1 Samuel: We are getting closer to Advent, we are getting closer to the day when the world will be turned on its age. Today we hear not about a widow, but about a wife who cannot bear children. Once again, even when married, a woman without a child is nothing. It looks like Hannah will have to live a life of misery. But she prays constantly to God. As a matter of fact, all that she prays for is for a son. When she gets a son, she gives him over to God. this is her song of celebration to the God of reversals. God reverses her fortune. This song is a precursor to Mary’s song of celebration of reversal not just for Mary, but for all of her people. Hannah is so grateful to God that she allows her son to be raised in the service of God. Would we do the same with our gifts? Mark: Jesus has come to the end of his journey. He knows that he must travel back to Jerusalem. He is also very clear about what must happen when he get there, it is the end of the story. Then end of his story. His disciples are not ready to accept that truth yet. Jesus must explain what is happening in terms that they will understand. Once again this is another story of the world being turned upside down and we still have two more Sundays before advent. Jesus destroys the temple, but then he tells them that all of the buildings will be destroyed. There will be wars and disagreements, and people will be hungry. (With the occurrence of hurricane Sandy – that sounds like today). But once again in a reversal of fortune, Jesus says this is not an ending but a beginning. Questions: How is Hannah’s song a song of celebration for us? How is Hannah like Mary? How is she different? What would it look like if the poor became rich? Would they act the same, or would life truly be different? What do the women have to contribute to history? How are widows and women with children treated in today’s world? Where are you seeing birth pangs, locally and globally? Who is putting themselves forward as Savior? How are folks modeling or learning what it means to live light on the apparent powers and "lean heavy" on Jesus? Note: Rev. Cross’s sermons can be found online at She also has a personal blog: Reflections on life at Breaking open the scriptures can be found at You can also follow Englewood UMC and Rust UMC on Facebook

November 11, 2012

Scriptures for November 11th: Ruth 1:1-18; Psalm 127; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44; Theme: Giving all that we have to Jesus; Song: Take My Life and Let it Be – UMH 399 Ruth: This is a story of the effects of a failed economy on a family. At one time this family lived happily in Bethlehem (the house of bread). And then tragedy struck as if often does. The family moved away in order to find food and a decent living, when their homeland experienced a drought. And then stable marriages fell apart, when husbands died from the stress of survival. Things were so bad, the mother Naomi (happiness) wanted to change her name to Mara (bitterness). All that was left of their family was three women. Women who had not means to support themselves. One daughter in law goes home to face the shame of returning home after marriage. But Ruth not only clings to her mother in law Naomi, she clings to her lifestyle and her family. Ruth’s faithfulness pays off – she saves the life of both of them. Eventually she remarries and gives birth a son – A son who will become the father of a king. Even though Ruth is a foreigner, she earns her place in the royal family. Surely, if we are faithful God has a place for us too. Mark: With the coming of advent, we come to the end of the year. We also enter into the discussion of end times, the end of life as we know it. Everything will be turned on head. The story of the widow’s mite begins that process. Jesus expects those who support the temple to give money that will support the widows and the orphans. They are the ones who have no place in society and no means to really take care of themselves. Jesus notices that those who have money are not really giving. But the one who is supposed to be supported, stands in line and gives all that she has in order to help others. Sometimes it is not what we have in our hearts, it is what we have in our hearts that determine how we give to God. Questions: what are our stories of living in a failed economy? Does being without money mean that we also live without faith? How does our faith get us through those tough times? How accepting are we of foreigners and those who don’t belong? Is there ever anything that they can do to be accepted? Do we see evidence of the world being turned upside down? How does our love for God affect our willingness to give to help others? Note: Rev. Cross’s sermons can be found online at She also has a personal blog: Reflections on life at Breaking open the scriptures can be found at You can also follow Englewood UMC and Rust UMC on Facebook