Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Readings for May 1 2011

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Hello Everyone,

The next 6 Sundays are in the Church Season of Easter. With the exception of May 8th, our Gospel readings will be in the Gospel of John. In John we will cover “The Good Shepherd”, “I Am the Way, Truth, and Life”, “The Holy Spirit”, and “Jesus’ Prayer for his Disciples”. This week it is Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances to the disciples in the house where they were staying. Each week we will also be reading from the Acts of the Disciples leading up to Pentecost Sunday. This may be a good time for a preaching series on Acts as United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck asked us to do.

This week our lessons are:

Acts 2: 14a, 22-32 – This is part of Peter’s first sermon which he gave to the crowd in Jerusalem on Pentecost. After a long quote from Joel, Peter attests that death could not hold Jesus and he quotes other Old Testament passages in support. This reading is really too short. It should be the entire sermon which is verses 14-36.

Psalm 16 – Verses 8-11 are quoted by Peter in his sermon in Acts 2, above.

1 Peter 1:3-9 – Peter talks about a “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus and we are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation to be revealed in the last time.” A difficult and dense statement. The resurrection brings us a new way of living (a new birth) and this new living is hope filled. In this new life we are protected by the God’s power “through faith”. Whose faith is unclear. Ours? God’s? Both? The answer is probably both but I lean towards God’s faith. Our faith wavers but God’s faith is trustworthy, true, and steadfast. This faith protects us for a salvation. However, this statement in verse 5 seems to say that the salvation will come at the last time. This seems curious. Peter then goes on to talk about our sufferings to be a test of our faith and the “outcome of our faith is the salvation of our souls.” So, whose faith protects us?

John 20:19-31 – Jesus appears to the disciples two times 7 days apart. The first is on Easter Sunday evening and there are 10 disciples present in the room where they are staying/hiding/cowering. In this meeting Jesus gives the disciples the Holy Spirit by blowing on them. One week later, Jesus reappears and this time there are 11 disciples. Thomas, who was not at the first appearance, must have not gotten the email notice about the first meeting. We often call Thomas “Doubting” but what he really wanted was what the other 10 experienced a week earlier. What would be a better nickname for Thomas? “Missouri”? (The Show Me State)

Have a great week celebrating the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May the word of God blow into your life with the power of God’s Faith.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Readings for Easter Sunday, April 24 2011

I just noticed that I hadn't posted the last two weeks. You will find them below.

Passover started last night and runs for seven or eight day (depending on the particular Jewish tradition). Jesus was in Jerusalem for Passover which started either on Thursday night (Matthew, Mark and Luke) or Friday night (John 18:28, 19:14).

There are many readings for Thursday through Sunday, so I will list them with little to no comments.

Holy (Maundy) Thursday:
Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 – God’s instructions to Moses instituting Passover.
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 – Verse 13 makes a reference to the Cup of Salvation. Is this the Holy Chalice that Indiana Jones goes after in the third movie?
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 – Paul’s recounting of the Lord’s Supper.
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 – No supper here, but a foot washing instead.

Good Friday:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 – The fourth Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah.
Psalm 22 – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Read the whole psalm to get the full impact.
Hebrews 10:16-25 – Christ’s sacrifice of himself is all that is needed, therefore we should love and do good deeds.
OR Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9 – Christ is the perfect High Priest and is the source of eternal salvation for all who believe.
John 18:1-19:42 – The Passion of Jesus.

Holy Saturday:
Job 14:1-14 – A difficult reading: a tree when cut down will send up shoot from the stump and roots, but if a human dies will they live again? Job thinks not in verse 12.
OR Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24 – In the first part God has abandoned Jeremiah and in the second part Jeremiah has hope because God’s steadfast love never ends.
Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 - The Lord is a rock and fortress and the psalmist asks for deliverance.
1 Peter 4:1-8 – Since Christ has suffered for us we should put away human desires and desire only God which leads to loving each other.
Matthew 27:57-66 – The burial of Jesus on Friday evening and the posting of the guards on Saturday morning.
OR John 19:38-42 – The burial of Jesus.

Easter Sunday:
Acts 10:34-43 – Peter’s proclamation of the Gospel to Cornelius.
OR Jeremiah 31:1-6 – God will restore all the families of Israel and they shall be God’s people.
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 – God’s steadfast love endures forever and God will save us. “This is the day the Lord has made!”
Colossians 3:1-4 – Set your minds on the things that come from God for we have been raised with Christ.
OR Acts 10:34-43 – Peter’s proclamation of the Gospel to Cornelius.
John 20:1-18 – Mary Magdalene finds the tomb rock moved. She gets Peter and the other disciple to enter the tomb and discover it empty. They went home and Mary meets Jesus.
OR Matthew 28:1-10 – Two Mary’s go to the tomb where they are met by an angel who give them a message for the disciples. They then meet the risen Jesus.

Have a great week reading God’s Word.

Readings for April 17 2011

Wednesday night we come to the end of our midweek Lenten Worship services. These services have been a time to meditate and pray on the scriptures that were read. The last set of scriptures are Psalm 22:1-8, 14-18, 29-31 (or just read it all), Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and Matthew 27:45-66. For those who haven’t come to the Wednesday services and who haven’t read these scripture each week, but want to go back and read them all here is the list:

Psalms 64, 54, 82, and 22
Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-7, 50:4-11, and 52:13-53:12
Matthew 26:31 – 27:66

You may notice a lot of similarity between the Psalms and Isaiah with Matthew’s Passion Story.

This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday. Years ago the Sunday before Easter was only celebrated as Palm Sunday, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. That was a time when most Christians went to Good Friday services and heard the Passion story. Since many people no longer go to Good Friday Services the only chance to hear the Passion is on Palm Sunday. We celebrate the triumphant entry on Palm Sunday and the triumphant resurrection on Easter, but we really need to go through the valley of the shadow of death in between. What is the point of Easter if we don’t know what Jesus went through earlier? For Apostle Paul, who knew the living Christ, the Crucifixion was what was important to proclaim. “For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block (scandal) to Jews and foolishness to Greeks.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-23)

Here are the scripture for Palm/Passion Sunday with minimal comment:

Palm Sunday
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 – Verse 22 is the most quoted OT verse in the NT and verse 26 is quoted as Jesus enters Jerusalem.

Matthew 21:1-11 – Humorous moment: verse 7 has Jesus sitting on both the colt and the donkey at the same time, perhaps a misunderstanding or a too literal reading of Zechariah 9:9.

Passion Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-9a – The third of four “Servant Songs” which probably ends with verse 11. Verse 6 is relevant to the Passion.

Psalm 31:9-16 – VERY relevant to the Passion as the Psalmist is in distress from his torment.

Philippians 2:5-11 – An ancient Christian song that Paul used? Notice the down and up movement in the verses. Christ gives up Godhood to become human and die on the cross. Then he is raised and exalted so we may all confess that Jesus is Lord.


Matthew 26:14-27:66 (the long Passion story) OR Matthew 27:11-54 (the short version). If we hear and know this story, did we really need the brutality and blood of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”? All the disciples either betrayed, abandoned or denied Jesus. When have we done the same? Were the disciples any less guilty then the priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Romans? Are we?

A lot to read this week and a lot to think about. I pray you will be blessed in your reading.

Readings for April 10 2011

As you may or may not have heard, the congregation of Peace United Church voted to sell the North Church Building. Now we have to wait to see if the buyers can sell their current home. Please keep all the people of PUC in your prayers.

Midweek Lenten Services will be at the South Church this week. All worship services and other activities will be at the South Church through the end of September. Scripture for Wednesday night is Psalm 82, Isaiah 50:4-11, and Matthew 27:27-44.

This week’s readings are all about flesh and bones. What is life and what is death?

Ezekiel 37:1-14 – Ezekiel is taken out to a valley that is filled with dry bones. The question put to him is, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel is commanded to prophesy and the bones came together, sinew formed, and flesh returned but there was still death. Commanded again to prophesy the breath of God (see Genesis 2:7) gave the bodies life. The breath and Word of God gives life to the scattered and dead nation of Israel. Is this analogy applicable to churches that seem to have run their course? Is new life possible after death?

Psalm 130 – I use this Psalm in all the funeral services I lead. The psalmist cries out to the Lord from deep emotional pain and waits to hear an answer. He recognizes that answers may not be coming but his hope is in the Lord because he knows that God’s love is steadfast (never ending).

Romans 8:6-11 – I often use selected verses from Romans 8 at funerals also but skip verses 6-10. Only verse 11 is used in the funeral text. Basically, Paul says that sin brings death to our lives (he uses the word “flesh”) but through Christ the Holy Spirit, which is pure righteousness, gives us life. If God is able to raise Jesus from death then God is able to give life to us.

John 11:1-44 – The long story of Jesus and the death of his friend Lazarus. Lazarus gets very sick and his sisters, Mary and Martha, send a messenger to get Jesus to come visit (and heal?). Jesus delays the trip and Lazarus dies. When Jesus and the disciples do get to Bethany Lazarus has been in the tomb for 4 days and Martha challenges Jesus about his delay. Then Martha goes to tell Mary that Jesus was there and Mary rushes out and SHE challenges Jesus about the delay using the same words as Martha, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” He goes to the tomb and commands that the stone be rolled away and Martha worries about the stink. Jesus says a prayer and then commands Lazarus to come out of the tomb which he does still wrapped in the funeral cloths. In verses 45-57, the Pharisees and the Priest begin planning on killing Jesus because of Lazarus’ resurrection. One of the most interesting verses is 49b-50. Caiaphas, the high priest, tells the others, “You now nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people then to have the whole nation destroyed.” The death of an innocent victim brings peace and security to the community.

May the Spirit of God bring Life to you this week as you read the Word of God.