Sunday, March 27, 2016
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for April 3rd: Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31 Theme: Jesus appears Song: Soon and Very Soon UMH 706 Acts: It is important for us to read the book of Acts during the Easter season. It shows the transformation of the disciples. This is what happens when they come out of the upper room mentioned in John. They are confident to challenge what they see going on and they pay the price for it. But they also change the world, and bring in lots of new disciples. The very people who brought Jesus to trial are now questioning the disciples. They killed him, so why are they continuing on his crime. The disciples explain that overall they have to obey God. And God has called them to reach out to others. They are examples to us that when we obey God, the Holy Spirit will forgive our sins, prepare us, and even work ahead of us to make a difference in the world. John: This is the first encounter with Jesus after the resurrection. He appears to the disciples at their biggest time of need. They are locked up in the upper room. They are convinced that all is lost and they fear for their lives. Thomas is honest about his doubts. This is still all a bunch of nonsense. Jesus realizes how important it is to guide them and to bring them forward. He also realizes how important it is to bring us forward. He tells us that we are not as lucky as Thomas. We will not be able to feel the nails in his hands. We will have to read the words and to go forward anyway. We still have a chance to see the spirit move and do its work in our world and in our time. Questions: How do you see Jesus’ presence in the world today? Who would challenge Jesus ministry today? How do you depend on the spirit in your life and work? What can you learn from the disciples about spreading the gospel? Who needs to hear the message the most?
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for March 13th: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4-14; John 12:1-8; Theme: Keep going forward; Song: What Wondrous Love is this UMH 292 Isaiah: During the season of lent, we have talked about what it means to be reconciled with God. We have talked about coming to God’s table to get fed, we have talked about putting old things aside and making everything new. Now it is time to talk about putting it all together. We don’t have to wait until we go to heaven in order to celebrate with God. The messiah came to this world to make it possible for us to celebrate in our lives. We don’t have to wait until everything is perfect to live our lives in Christ, we can start right here and now. In the midst of our pain, our suffering, our sin, our yearning we can start to have hope. Hope is the doorway for the spirit to come in and to make a difference. God is telling us to just keep going forward and to not look back. When we are renewed, we do not need to be nostalgic. Life is not about going back, it is about creating a new future and stepping into it. John: March is the month of celebrating women. It is a time of acknowledging that God uses women, just as much as he uses men. Women were disciples of Jesus also. This is the story of the woman who mourned over Jesus and gave him some expensive perfume to anoint his feet. She showed her deep devotion to her savior. Of course the men felt that all that she was doing was a waste of time. But Jesus saw it as preparing him for the next steps in his journey. There are always people who do not understand devotion and who will think that it is a waste of time. There are always people who do not think it is necessary to sit at the feet of Jesus. There is too much mission work in the world to be done. But we have to do both, first we have to sit with Jesus in order to have the resources to go out in mission. What do you have in your alabaster jar? And how do you give it to Jesus? Questions: What old habits do you need to put aside for Christ? What are the new things that you are willing to replace it with? What new things is Christ doing for you? What about the world? How do you spend your treasure on Christ?