Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 27, 2015

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for December 27th: I Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Psalm 148; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52: Theme: First Sunday after Christmas; Song: Joy to the World Colossians: What did you get for Christmas? Usually when we were children we go the toys that we wanted, but also under the tree were new outfits. New clothes for the upcoming year. Colossians is encouraging us to put on our new clothes and to model them for everyone else. It encourages us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. All things that should be renewed with the coming of Christ. We should be better than we were last year. And we should be even more stylish than we were last year. All of these qualities take time to develop. All of these qualities are the mark of a true Christian. All of these qualities make all of the difference in the world to another person. Paul is saying that we all should have received these qualities, not just for one person. And that if the whole community can put on its Christmas clothes, people will truly know that this is a house of God. Luke: This is the time when we learn about things that happen after Jesus is born. There is a different story for each section of the lectionary. This year is the story of Jesus traveling with his family to the temple. When they are on their way home they discover that Jesus is not with them. Jesus is still at the temple, learning and also teaching. We don’t know much about Jesus life until he turns 30 years old. We don’t know how he is educated, we don’t know when he received his calling, we don’t know how God interacted with his only son in order to mold and teach him. We do know that God was well led, and that he had a strong calling to understand the ways of God. We do know that he did not enter the standard methods of being taught – he preferred to stay in the streets with the people. But we are grateful that the Lord kept Jesus through this time and guided him to spread his knowledge on to us generations later. Questions: Are you a different person this year than you were last year? Did you get anything new for Christmas? When have you had to use gentleness, kindness, and patience within the last week? What do you think happened to Jesus as he was growing up? What were the lessons that you learned about Jesus as a child?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

December 13, 2015

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for December 13th: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18; Theme: third Sunday of Advent; Song: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus UMH 196 Zephaniah: This is the Sunday where we get the assurance that things are going to get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We have to remember who to give the credit for bringing us through a very dark situation. God. All of our scriptures for this whole season are more like poetry and songs in honor of God. This is the song of Zephaniah the prophet. This is a song of celebration for the exiles. This is the time for them to go back home and to be reunited as a family again. But once we get to the promised land, we have to still remember God. Just because things are wonderful, that does not mean that we can forget God. We still have to praise and thank God for all that we are and all that we have. But today, the journey is not over, we are almost there, but we still have a long way to go. Luke: This is the second week that we hear the story of John the Baptist. John gives a deep message to us about repentance. It may have been partly our fault that we were exiled in the first place. There may have been no other way for God to teach a lesson. And now he sees that we are ready to go back home. John is surprised that so many sinners are ready to go back home, and are willing to get baptized and to repent. He is exited, but knows that some of these people have some deep ingrained sin. Some of these people don’t even recognize their own dark side. Even when the best of us confess, it is by God’s grace that we stay on the side of righteousness. It is by God’s grace that we are able to live into our baptism. We still have to wait for the coming of the Lord. Humans can baptize with water, but the Holy spirit uses fire, which is longer lasting. Questions: How do you feel like an exile? How does God bring you back home? At what time of the year do you take the time to say thank you to god for what he has done for you? What does living into your baptism mean for you? How are you helping the whole community by living into your baptism?