First, a reminder of our Thanksgiving Eve Worship services on Wednesday, November 23. The service at Peace United Church starts a 6:30 PM and Grey Eagle UMC begins at 8:00 PM. Take this hour of worship as a respite from the hectic preparation for Thanksgiving. Let us stop, take a breather, and give thanks to Our Lord and Savior for all that God has given.
There are two sets of readings for this week – one for Thanksgiving and one for the first Sunday of Advent.
Deuteronomy 8:7-18 – What will the new land that Israel will occupy be like (verses 7-9)? Who should the Israelites not forget (verse 11)? Who should they not exalt (verse 14)? What has God done for them (verses 14-16)? What should the Israelites not say (verse 17)? Why?
Psalm 65 – What has God done that deserves our praises of thanksgiving? This would be a good text to read just before your Thanksgiving dinner?
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – On Paul’s third trip around the NE Mediterranean he collected donations that he would take back to Jerusalem for the struggling Christians there whom he calls “the saints”. This passage opens with a farming metaphor (verse 6). How should each person give and how much should they give (verse 7)? Why should we share (verse 8)? What will happen when we are generous (verse 11)? What is the “indescribable gift (verse 15, see verse 14). Do you think it is a joy to give to the church or to those in need? Are you a reluctant, grouchy giver or a cheerful, joyous giver?
Luke 17:11-19 – Where is Jesus going (verse 11)? Who approaches him yet keeps their distance (verse 12)? What did they want but was not explicitly stated (verse 13)? What did Jesus do for them (this may be hard because the answer is so simple)? How many go back to see Jesus? What was his ethnicity? What do you think is the difference between being healed and being made well?
Advent Sunday 1
Isaiah 64:1-9 – You may as well read the final three verses of this chapter. Who is the prophet speaking to? What has God done in the past (verses 2-5a)? Where is God now (verses 5b and 7)? Who does the prophet seem to be blaming for the sins and iniquities of the people and why (verses 5b-7)? What is our relationship to God in verse 8 (three things)? Who is the prophet blaming for the destruction of the holy cities and their homes (verses 10-12)?
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 – This reading, and you may as well also read the skipped verses, is similar to the Isaiah reading above. In the metaphor of verses 8-16 the Israelites are the vine, Israel (the country) is the vineyard, and the borders are like the walls of the vineyard.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 – Verses 1 and 2 are the “from” and “to” of this letter of Paul’s to the church in Corinth. Verse 3 is the salutation or the “hello”. Why does Paul give thanks to God (verses 4-7)? There are problems in this church and Paul gives thanks for some of the strengths they have that have become problems. Verses 5 points to their excessive love of rhetoric and logic. Verse 7 points to their excessive reliance on “spiritual gifts”. What will God do for them and what will they be (verse 8)? Who calls us into fellowship with Jesus Christ (verse 9).
Mark 13:24-37 – The Gospel according to Mark is the oldest of the four gospels despite its placement between Matthew and Luke. Check out chapter 1, verse 1. If this is the beginning of the gospel, which means good news, when is the end? Now look at Mark 16:8. There should be some sort of indication for a note at the bottom of the page. The oldest available manuscripts end with verse 8 but because this is such a strange way to end the story later editors have added additional endings, one short and one long. There is even more in an edition that is given as a note in my Bible following verse 14. So, if verse 8 is the ending and it doesn’t feel like a decent ending, when is the ending of the Gospel? Now to our verses at hand. Chapter 13 is sometimes call “Mark’s mini apocalypse”. When will the Son of Man come (verses 24-26)? Whom will he gather together (verse 27)? What does the fig tree teach us (verses 28-29)? What will pass away and what will not (verse 31)? When will all this happen and who will know (verse 32)? What are we to do in the mean time (verses 33, 35, 37)?
May God bless you this Thanksgiving Day and all the days in between!