Sunday, December 30, 2012
Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for January 6th – Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12; Theme: Epiphany; Song: I want to walk as a child of the light - UMH 206 Ephesians : Paul understood that every place that he was and every situation that he was in, was an opportunity to tell people about Christ. Not everyone was interested in what Paul had to say. Many people attacked him. And many times he even ended up in jail. Paul is in jail, and he is still telling people about Jesus. He realized that when he spoke, either they were going to get it or they weren’t. But that it was not about him. It was not anything that he said, it was the power of Jesus in what he said. Paul says that God was a mystery because there was no one to talk of what God was doing on the earth. God came to the Jews, and made them his people. It is a mystery why God is now coming to the gentiles. But as Paul says, it is a mystery that we can be grateful for. When we speak of Christ, we are a part of that great mystery. And it is not us that transforms, it is the power of Christ within us. Matthew: This is the season of epiphany. It is the season of understandings of things that are a mystery. It is a season of realizing things that have been there all of the time. It is a time for journey’s into the unknown. The wise men set out on a journey that they did not know. They did not know who they were going to see, they did not know how long it would take to get there, they did not know how what would happen to help them know that they have reached their destination. And yet by faith and a star they set out. When looking for Jesus , we all have to set out on that same journey. And know that it is the star of Jesus leading us. and when we arrive – it is an epiphany – we just know that we have arrived! All of our lives is for such a time as this, we are the right person, in the right place for the right situation. We just have to trust Jesus. And we have to have our gifts prepared. During their journey, they also had to be able to discern the good people from the bad people. They did not know Herod, but they knew that he was not an ally in their to see good, right and hopeful. Questions: How do people respond to you when you tell them about Jesus? How do you respond to rejection? Are you able to stay faithful when people reject you? Do you allow God to speak for you, or do you think you have to come up with your own words? What criteria do you use to tell if someone is helping or hindering your journey with Christ?
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for December 30th: 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Psalm 148; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52; Theme: Living in our gifts; Song: Go Tell it on the Mountain Colossians: Advent is 4 weeks long, but the season of Christmas for the faithful is only one Sunday. Next Sunday begins the season of epiphany. We have been spending the last month in expectations. One of the major expectations have been a time of peace. The events of today remind us just how lacking peace is in our world. Our children are being shot, even while they are in school. Nothing seems to make a difference, we are constantly asking, when will there be peace in the world. And yet the scripture promises that the one who comes will bring peace. We are the people who follow this prince of peace. Colossians challenges us – if we are truly followers of peace, if we truly believe in Christ, if we truly believe that peace will only come with Christ. Then we must act like it. Colossians challenges us to live in peace, to clothe ourselves in peace as well as all of the other fruits of the spirit. It is time for us to be the peace that we are praying for. Luke: This is the only time that we will hear about Jesus growing up. We hear about him as a baby, and then we will not hear about the life of Jesus until he is thirty years old. What has he been doing all of this time? Did he go through any formal training to be the great teacher of all time? We will never know. But at the age of twelve, we learn that he felt that he needed to spend all of his time in the temple. We also learn that at the age of twelve, he was very well versed and able to converse and to challenge scholars who had been studying for years. Jesus knew from day one that he was a special child and that he was expected to do something great. His parents were intentional to make sure that their first son was raised correctly in the ways of his faith. But the son of God, made the choice very early in life to be obedient and to follow the ways of God to the letter. He showed us that we can do the same. Questions: How is it possible to be clothed in peace, in a world that is far from peaceful? Have you ever been in a situation where you noticed that doing the right thing made a difference for you and for others? How will you life be different now that you see the gifts that God brings to us all? How do you think Jesus spent his childhood? What did he learn and what did he teach? If Jesus was already good, why did he need to go through life?
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for December 23: Micah 5:2-5; Luke 1:46-55; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45; Theme: 4th Sunday of Advent – Peace, song: O Come all ye faithful – UMH 238 Micah: As we read this text, it is important to remember that Micah is a prophet of old. We have to hear this in his terms and not in our terms. The basic message of the lesson is that there is going to be a new reign of a new David. Things will be different from the present. This new David will rule in the midst of Peace, and not war. He will make laws that fit the needs of the people, not the government. This is an important scripture to hear today because it talks of the new David being born in Bethlehem. It reminds us that Jesus is born the Prince of Peace. He Which kingdom do we live in, or preparing for? The kingdom of this world and the kingdom of Jesus world? Luke: For the last two weeks, we have been reading about the ministry of John the Baptist. He says that he is preparing the way for one who is greater than he is. Now we hear the story when both of these men are in the womb. Their mothers are cousins, but they have different lives and different pregnancies. When Mary discovers that Elizabeth is also pregnant, she comes to visit her. They share in joy. Elizabeth recognizes Mary’s baby as blessed, The baby in Elizabeth’s womb jumps for joy. The husband Zephaniah is still silent. When the angel spoke to Mary she believed and was excited. When the angel spoke to Zephaniah he does not believe and is rendered mute. So Elizabeth says blessed is she who has heard and believes. She gives Mary three blessings. But they are both a support to one another. So one wonders, did John and Jesus grow up together and continue that relationship. Questions: What would it means to live in a world where our laws are based on a peace economy and not a war economy? How do we prepare ourselves to live in God’s kingdom? Do the politicians remember us or the needs of the systems? What does it mean to be the prince of peace? How do you recognize the spirit working in the lives of those around you? How do you share in their joy? How do you share in the role of John by telling others about Jesus?
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Scriptures for December 16th: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18; Theme: third Sunday of advent; song: In the Bleak Midwinter UMH 221 Isaiah: This is a song of joy. The exiles were celebrating the fact that God had restored their lives and their land. This song is a response to the words of Zephaniah. But the interesting thing about this text is that it was written centuries before the Israelites were allowed to return to their homeland. It is was song of promise, not a song of presence. It is the perfect verse for advent. We are in time of promise. We are in a time of thanking God for what he is about to do in our lives. Advent is also a time of rejoicing before we reach eternity. On this third Sunday of advent – we have joy that the darkness is almost gone – we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even though we are still in the tunnel. Our joy is inside of Christ. Our salvation is inside of Christ. We can testify to how wonderful God is, even when we are suffering. Luke: This week we continue with the story of John the Baptist. But more importantly, we continue with the story of what baptism means for us. For us it means salvation. John is still stuck on repentance. No matter how far we have come in faith, there is room for us to turn around and to repent. Different types of people started to ask John the Baptist what they must do in order to repent. We are to think about others this holiday season. If I have already given, how can I give more. Giving starts in our hearts, not in our pocket books. Giving starts with how we feel about Jesus, not how we feel about the people that we are giving to. John the Baptist message to us is that judgment is coming, the messiah is coming, we have to prepare ourselves. We have to prepare ourselves by sharing, being fair, not taking advantage of others and being content with what we have. Questions: What songs of promise do we sing in church? What promises can we celebrate today? What do you have to do in order to have joy in the midst of pain? How do you get others to celebrate in this time of darkness? How are you giving on behalf of God this season? How are you preparing you heart? What do you need to repent of?
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Scriptures for December 9th: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6; Theme: Second Sunday of Advent; Song: Take Time to Be Holy – UMH 395 Philippians: Paul was not always welcomed in the places where he preached. Oftentimes he was run out of town by the very people that he was preaching to. But that was not the case in Philippi. Everyone liked him and welcomed his message. In a small greek town, you could meet any number of different people. There were soldiers, farmers, rich benefactors. And these people had no reason to come together, except to perhaps someone preach the good news – that God loves all of his people, and that Jesus came to save us all. These different groups of people all came together and welcomed Paul, but more importantly, they welcomed the God who sent him there. Paul knew that he was among good people, and he had a prayer that God would continue the good work in them long after he was gone somewhere else. We pray that God continues that work today in us. Luke: On this second Sunday of Advent, we are asked to prepare the way for the coming of the king. But we are also reminded that before the king comes, his messenger comes. This is the Sunday of John the Baptist – the one crying out into the wilderness. We have already been told to watch and to wait – now it is time for us to clear the way for an entrance. How are we on our spiritual journey to Christmas? Has John the Baptist caught us in sin once again? It is time for us to turn around and to repent. If we are followers of God, then we can be grateful for God’s salvation anew. Today we stand in the desert, stripped of our normal selves, vulnerable to God. We let God come into our lives one more time, and we are saved by our baptism. Questions: How is the church a place for different people to come and hear God’s message? What is the diversity in the church today? Who are the people who are different from us that we need to learn to accept as God’s people? What is the good work that God continues in us today? Is John the Baptist present today? What message tells us to prepare the way? What do I need to clean up out of my life in order for Jesus to really come into my heart? What sins do I need to repent of?