Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Readings for May 6 2012

Is it May already? Where did winter and spring go?

I really don’t have any announcements this week except to say that this Sunday is Communion in both churches and this is a great time to invite someone to join you at church.

We have four weeks left in “Acts of the Apostles”, three weeks in “1 John”, and five weeks left in “The Gospel of John”. In mid-June we will finally get back to the “Gospel of Mark”.

Acts 8:26-40 – This is a popular story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Who is Philip? Is he one of the disciples that Luke mentions in Luke 6:12-16 or the Philip who is chosen to serve the Greek widows whom Luke mentions in Acts 6:1-7. It is hard to say. Maybe they are one and the same person. Who sends Philip on the trip? Which road is he supposed to take? Who else is on the same road? What is his job and who does he work for? What is he doing when Philip comes upon him? What is his question to Philip? What does Philip teach him? What does the man ask Philip to do for him? After that act, what happens to Philip and what does the man do? To understand the significance of the passage the eunuch was reading, you should read Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

Psalm 22:25-31 – The first verse of this Psalm is what Jesus quotes in Mark 15:34, “My God, My God, why have you left me alone (forsaken me)? The first two-thirds of this Psalm is about the trials and tribulations that the psalmist is facing. Then starting at verse 22, the tone turns toward the saving grace of God. By quoting the first line of this psalm, Jesus was acknowledging his agony but also the sovereignty of God his Father. When we are suffering, do we also praise God for his saving grace?

1 John 4:7-21 – This passage is one of my favorites in the Bible. John writes about love and the presence of God in both positive and negative terms. For example: We love each other because we know God’s love. If we don’t love each other then we don’t know God’s love. Why? Because God is love. There, that is it. Game over. It is that simple. Three words describe the essential and only nature of God: God is Love. Because of that love, we know God is with us. (God abides with us. God remains with us.) If we love, God is in us. If we don’t love, then God isn’t with us. How do we know God’s love: God gave himself in the form of his Son into our systems of violence to die at our hands for our salvation.

John 15:9-17 – This passage happens as Jesus is with his disciples for his final dinner. The Gospel of John describes Jesus washing his disciples feet, telling them of the betrayal, and then teaching them about what would happen. This teaching moment starts at 13:31 and goes to 16:33 and then concludes with Jesus’ prayer in 17:1-26. Chapter 14 gives us another “I AM” statement: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6). The beginning of chapter 15 gives us another: “I am the true vine and my Father is the vineyard keeper” (15:1). In our passage, Jesus talks about love and is very similar to the passage we have in 1 John. It is all about remaining in love and keeping Jesus’ commandment. By the way, there is only one commandment: 15:12. Because of this love the disciples are not elevated to friends of Jesus. The old “Master-Servant” or “Teacher-Student” relationship is dissolved and they (and we) are now his friends. Does love define our relationship with our friends? Does love define our relationship with each other?

Have a great week reading God’s words of life.

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