Saturday, April 27, 2013

May 5, 2013 Sixth Sunday of Easter

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for May 5th: Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5; John 14:23-29 theme: Love After Easter; song: For the Healing of the Nations UMH 428 Acts: The apostles seemed to take real stock in what happens in their dreams. Last week Peter had a dream, the book of revelation is John’s dream, and Paul also has a dream. The dream tells him to go to Macedonia, because there are people there who need him. On his way to Macedonia, he stops by the town of Phillippi. There is no synagogue there, but he meets with a group of women who gather weekly by the river for prayer. Lydia is the leader of the group. She is a successful entrepreneur. She sells purple cloth and makes a lot of money. But her biggest passion is serving God. She and her friends and family are baptized. This is the beginning of Paul’s mission in Europe. He will follow the ignation way to Macedonia, preaching, teaching and baptizing all of the way. There will also be many who reject him. But we hear Paul’s story in the book of acts, because all along, Paul is led by the Holy Spirit. The spirit tells him where to go and where to avoid. But it is the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the world that makes the church grow. The apostles follows and God leads them to places where something is happening. John: This is a section from the farewell discourse of Jesus. He will continue to speak through the 16th chapter. It must be very difficult being with someone when you know that they are about to leave you. Every time that person reminds you that it won’t be much longer – you tell them to be quiet. Jesus is only 30, but he wants his disciples to understand that the time is coming very soon. He wants the disciples to understand that the work must continue. They must continue to show love for one another in order to be able to love other people. They must be an example and a guide for what the kingdom of heaven is like. Love is a commandment. Jesus says that when he is gone they will believe. In other words it will all make sense to them. They will be able to put the puzzling pieces together. But Jesus reminds us that when he is gone from the body, that we will not have to fend for ourselves, because that is when the spirit will show up. The Holy Spirit will take care of us in ways we never imagined. We will mourn our loss, but we have something to look forward to. Questions: How do you recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever been led by the Spirit to a new place of faith? Who are the people who are in need of your faith now? Do you feel that Jesus has left you sometimes? Are you able to be faithful anyway? Are you intentional about loving those around you?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 28, 2013 Fifth Sunday of Easter

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for April 28th: Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35; Theme: Preparation to be in ministry; song: In Christ there is no East nor West UMH 548 Acts: Okay, we have heard about the Easter miracles, now we hear about the new ministry that it is pointing to. Peter is being challenged to think in a new way. To go beyond his tradition and to reach out in a new way. Now that he has learned what power in Christ that he has, he is being challenged to reach out to the gentiles. Jesus knows that in order for Peter to have the strength to do something that he has never done that he will have to know that God is with him. He has to know that God will lead the way for him to do something different. Peter has met Aeneas and Dorcas, now he must meet Cornelius. It is easy for him to encounter death and sickness then it is to meet people who are not like us. So the Spirit comes to him in a dream and gives him permission to eat whatever is offered to him, so that he can meet new people with new customs. But when he does encounter the gentiles and learn to accept them as family – he changes the world forever. The church of all people and all races is born and it continues to grow even today. John: This is called Maundy Sunday, because Jesus gives us a special commandment. He tells us to love one another. That is the greatest witness of the presence of Jesus in the world that anyone could have – for others to see how much we love one another. When people see a church that loves each other, then they want to be a part of that love. We can use that love that we have received in order to love those who we find hard to love. Jesus was literally walked us through the entire gospel. He even came back after death in order to clear up some misunderstandings. But Jesus has said all along, blessed are those who believe but who cannot see. Those who can follow what they cannot see and what they do not understand, yet they trust wholeheartedly. We are being prepared when it us up to us to maintain the Spirit and to remember that we are the body of Christ. Christ needs us, he also needs us to trust in him, in places that we are not used to going. Questions: It Is just as easy for us to get stuck in tradition as it was for Peter; what people do we exclude because we are so stuck on our tradition? What people do we not even think exist in our world? What do we need to do to reach out to those people? What tradition do we need to give up on in order to let more people in? How do we show the world that we love one another?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April 21, 2013 - Fourth Sunday of Easter

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for April 21st: Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30 Theme: all of creation has responsibility to worship God; Song: Marching to Zion – UMH 733 Acts: The whole purpose of the book of Acts is the demonstrate the workings of the Holy Spirit in the beginnings of the early church. Whenever the book mentions an important step of the Spirit, is also tells of a sign and wonder. The story of Tabitha precedes the disciple’s early interactions with the gentiles. known Jesus personally. But the scripture also says that she was a woman who was dedicated to the church and gave much. So of course when she dies, there is she is raised from the dead. The point of the story is that the holy Spirit was at work in Tabitha during her life. It was her faithfulness and her service that restored her life. She shows us what is in store for us, if we are faithful also. Revelation: Last week we looked at the host of heaven. We looked at all of the heavenly figures that were present around the throne. It shows that all of creation is responsible for the praise of God. This was a vision not of the future, but of each and every day. But as we enter into chapter 7, we see that the faithful people are also a part of the heavenly choir. A number no one can count from all over the world are present to praise God. Life has not been easy for these people, but they made it through all of the trouble, they are now dressed in white. Once again, we need to be reminded that this is not the future, but this is today. We have a chance to praise God with all that we are, we have a chance to wear white to represent the struggle, but most importantly, it was the sacrifice of the lamb which allows us to celebrate that we have been redeemed, so that we can stand before God and sing his praises. Questions: What service do we give to God? How will people react when they come to our funeral? Will they be sorrowful of relieved? How does the holy Spirit bless the work that we do on behalf of God? What miracles have happened in our lives to show us that God is about to do greater things? What does it mean to praise God with everything that we are? How have we been redeemed from the hard times in our lives? Do we hear the praise of God within creation? Do we hear the praise of the heavenly angels?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 17, 2013 Third Sunday of Easter

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for April 14th: Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19; Theme: Do you really love the Lord? Song: It is Well with my soul UMH 377 Revelation: The challenge for this week is for us to be stretched beyond our comfort zones in our service to God. We think of the book of revelation as a vision of the future. But it is a future that is deeply rooted in the present: in who we are and what we do for God. That is why God wants us to go beyond ourselves in order to reach heaven. Our scripture for today is about worship. We are worshipping with the heavenly angels. They are singing with all that they are. John Wesley instructs us to do the same. Every voice is a part of the heavenly choir. Every voice has reason to praise the goodness of God. What if everything that we did was our best on behalf of God. What if everything that we do was in praise of God? What if we gave our everything all of the time. That is what it means to make the present connected to the future. “And the four living creatures said Amen”. John: During the Easter season, we are seeking the presence of Christ in our lives. We are mindful, so that we can get a glimpse of Jesus in our lives. The way that we get a sense of the presence of Jesus, is through communion. When we gather for communion, we can know that God is with us. Some Christians use bread and fish for communion, instead of bread and wine. The disciples were fishermen. And in our text, Jesus tells them to cast their nets on the right. They were used to casting their nets on the left, because the nets were easier to carry. But Jesus was stretching them to go beyond their comfort zones. We are challenged to also go beyond our comfort zones. To cast our nets in a different way, and to reach new fish (people). It is Easter, and it is time for us to live Jesus life and not ours. Peter was able to bring in the catch for the day. They had much for fish than usual. They have breakfast, and then Jesus ask Peter to feed my sheep. Jesus is challenging us not just to make us uncomfortable, but to prepare us for taking care of those who follow Jesus. He says to follow me – following Jesus means helping others, but also it means giving God his will and not ours. It means letting Jesus order our steps – in order to feed those in need. Questions: Do you typically worship with all of your might? So your typically serve with all of your might? When you help people in the present, are you aware that your actions will carry you to the future of God’s plan? How have you seen the presence of Christ this week? Is it easy for you the change the way you do things? Does it help to accept change, when you see Christ in the situation?