Saturday, January 25, 2014

February 2, 2014 - 4th Sunday of Epipany

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for February 2nd: Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12; theme: The power of the sermon on the Mount and blessings; Song: Trust and Obey UMH 467 1 Corinthians: Sometimes, when we should be thinking about what it is the brings us together under the love of Christ, we as a church seem to get caught up separates us. We work on defining our beliefs, and shutting out those who don’t think like us. Paul spends a lot of time helping us to put our difference aside. Paul says the wisdom of man does not impress God. Those who are not smart have just as much wisdom as those who do not. Those who are poor have just as much to offer the church as those who do not. There is never anything that we can brag about as an advantage. Because all that we know, have and do is a gift from God. Our biggest challenge is to use what we have in order to make this a better world for all people. What we value is what God gives to all of his children. Matthew: The sermon on the Mount is another reminder that God uses our weak points. That God’s value goes against the values of the world. It is times when we are suffering and times when we are down, that we can be confident that God loves us and is behind us. Christ is telling us that it is okay to suffer, it brings us closer to God. But he also tells us what values we should seek after. We have to be intentionally humble. Jesus goes onto the mountain, so that everyone can hear. This is not just a message for Jews, for those who are disciples, or even to those who are suffering. This is a message for all people. This is a life that we should all strive for. This is not just a message for our personal life, it is message for the community. Our mission is to serve the poor and to identify with a humble life. Questions: What are things that you consider to be an advantage over other people? How does God have a way of reminding you that we are all the same? How can we use wisdom and power that we have been given in service to Christ? How does the beatitudes hold you accountable? What is it that you need to work on? How can we as a congregation live out and teach the beatitudes?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 19, 2014 - Second Sunday of Epiphany

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for January 19th: Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42: Theme: The suffering servant makes a difference in our lives – Epiphany – Song: Great is thy faithfulness – UMH 140 Isaiah: The prophet Isaiah is telling us what makes him a prophet. What makes him want to encourage his people during one of the worst times in their lives. He realizes that his life is much bigger than he could ever be. He realizes that none of us are put on this earth just for ourselves. And whatever we do, and whatever attitude we do it in has ripple effects throughout our lives and throughout the world. He says that God called him before he was born to this task, and as he goes through life he can hear the voice of God very clearly. He must give a message of hope. He must help the people of Israel to understand that God chose them to show his glory to the whole world. There is no place for discouragement in this process. “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” John: Last week we had Matthew’s version of Jesus baptism and this week we have John’s. John the gospel writer is not so much into explaining details, but in giving meaning and pointing to the importance of Christ in our lives. When John the baptizer sees Jesus coming, he says here is the land of God, who takes away the sins of the world. There is no question of if Jesus was not a sinner, why was he baptized. This was all done for show – so that others could see God’s intention for Christ and for the world clearly. The disciples were in the audience, so when they say what Jesus did, it was clear that he was the son of God. They not only understood Jesus purpose for the world, they understood their own. He was the messiah, they were called to follow and to obey him. Questions: who in your lifetime has been an example of a suffering servant? How has God been speaking to you all of your life? How have you responded to that calling in your life? What does it mean to you that Jesus was baptized, even though he was not a sinner? How does your baptism help you to follow Christ? How does it help you to understand what it means to be a Christian?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January 12, 2013 - First Sunday of Epiphany

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for January 12th: Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17; Theme: Baptism of Christ; Song: I am Going to Sing when the Spirit Says Sing – UMH 333) Isaiah: This is called a servant song. It talks about all of the things that a messiah will do. It reminds us that our task I serving God is I serving others. We have to be patient, we have to be humble, we have to have a relationship with God. Justice and mercy are important to God. So it much be important to our service. Jesus took these songs seriously as an example, and he made sure that he could follow this example in all that he did. God has a history of salvation and creation. God makes sure that in every generation, that he continues this work. The example of the suffering servant is not just for Jesus, it is for us also. We have to sacrifice our will for God will. And live as God wants us to. If we serve him, he will not only empower us, he will reward us for our faithfulness. We have to know that as we serve God, that we also hope and work for a new world. It is not our vision, it is God’s vision. God gives each of us a part to play in his heroic act of salvation. We don’t have to be the servant, but how else to we truly learn to love God? Matthew: We are following the life of Jesus. The verses that talk about the childhood of Jesus are very few. That was not important for the early Church. Easter was celebrated much before Christmas. Actually, the beginning holiday for the church was the epiphany season. The baptism of Jesus was when he realized his call from God. It was when God acknowledged to the world that this was his son. It was the beginning of Jesus ministry. We don’t realize that his teachings was only one year of his life. When we are baptized, we too are empowered to start our life in Christ. When we get baptized, we have just as much power as Christ does, and we have to power to teach, to evangelize, to heal. So it is importat to remember our baptism, so that we can remember our power. Questions: What does it mean to suffer for God? What does it mean to be rewarded by God? What justice work needs to be done in your community? How do you prepare yourself to do that work? What does baptism mean to you? How do you live out your baptism? How does God affirm your work (and if it is of God you will find some affirmation)? How does God equip you? How have you experienced the power of God to help you? What do you think of the baptism of the kids in the church?