Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Readings for Wednesday, March 26, and Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hello Everyone,

If you were at church this past Sunday you would have heard that my voice was starting to go. I made it through the services OK but made the mistake to taking family out to dinner Sunday evening to celebrate Jennifer’s birthday. Yesterday, I woke up with no voice. Today, I still have no voice. If this continues I will be asking people to read the scriptures tomorrow evening.

Wednesday Lenten Worship continues. I invite everyone to join us as we hear scripture and spend time in quiet prayer reflecting.

Our lessons for Wednesday are:
Psalm 35:1-18, 27-28 – Questions from the bulletin: Who is speaking and what is happening to him/her? What does she/he want God to do? What had he/she done for their enemy? How did they reciprocate?

Isaiah 50:4-11 – More questions: What seems to be the servant’s work? What has happened to the servant? Who is the one who helps the servant? What does the servant want to happen to the people who torment her/him?

John 18:1-27 – And a few more: How often are we like Judas? Can we be forgiven? Can Judas? Why do you think the slave whose ear got cut off was named? Why do you think John does not tell about the healing of his ear as in Luke? Have you ever been like Peter and denied someone (or Jesus) because you didn’t want to take the risk? Have you ever been tempted to strike out at someone because you didn’t like what they said?

Our lessons for the Fourth Sunday in Lent are:
1 Samuel 16:1-13 – God sends Samuel to anoint a new king because Saul is not working out. Where does God send Samuel? Which family is chosen? Why don’t the first seven sons pass muster with God? Who is the one chosen? Have you ever felt chosen by God to do something outside your comfort zone?

Psalm 23 – What more can be said? A shepherd, a flock, and dinner at God’s home.

Ephesians 5:8-14 – Be very, very careful not to slip into racism, as some have done, when reading this passage. This is about moving out of the shadow and darkness of sin into the light of the world which is Jesus Christ. We who were asleep are now awake. We who were dead are now alive. All because of Jesus Christ.

John 9:1-41 – Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness in John 3. Jesus met the woman at the well at high noon in John 4. Nicodemus didn’t get it while the woman did. The struggle of seeing and unseeing continues in John 9. Why was the man born with blindness, the disciples want to know? His sin or his parents’ sin? Why does the man not know who gave him his eyesight back? Why won’t the Pharisees not believe him? It seems the Pharisees in this story not only are the blind ones but they are unhearing also. Have you been unseeing and unhearing to the work of God? How do we regain our sight and hearing?

Have a great week serving God by serving others. See you Wednesday and Sunday.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reading for Wednesday, March 19 and Sunday, March 23

Hello Everyone,

First, I invite everyone to our Wednesday Lenten Worship services. Services begin at 6:00 PM at Peace United Church and 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC. This year we are using a modified Taize Worship focusing on Psalms of Lament, Isaiah Servant Songs, and the passion story in the Gospel of John. The service is designed for the worshiper to hear the texts and then spend some time in contemplative prayer.

Secondly, you may sign up to have your portrait taken by Life Touch for a new church photo directory by going to our websites and clicking on the provided link. If you wish to get yours taken on April 14 to 16 go to Peace United Church website. These portraits will be taken at Peace United Church. If you wish to sign up for the June 20 and 21 dates at Grey Eagle UMC, go to Grey Eagle UMC website. It doesn’t matter which church you belong to or when or where you have the portraits taken.

Our Lessons for tomorrow night are:

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-13, 21-24 – Questions for contemplation: Who is speaking? What problems is the speaker having? What solutions has the speaker experienced from God?

Isaiah 49:1-7 – More Questions: Who is the servant? Who are the witnesses the servant calls upon? How has God made the servant? What purpose has God given the servant? What is the servant’s ultimate purpose?

John 17 – More Questions: Jesus prays for himself in verses 1-5. What does Jesus ask? Jesus prays for the disciples in verses 6-19. What does Jesus want for the disciples? (3 possible answers) Who is the final group Jesus prays for and what does he ask for?

Readings for this coming Sunday are:

Exodus 17:1-7 – The Israelites are moving through the dessert but running out of potable water. They complain to Moses. Why does Moses equate the complaints against him as being complaints against the Lord? How exasperated does Moses get? Do the people have a right to complain? What does Moses say to the Lord? What is the Lord’s response? How does this solution transform the meaning of the Psalmist’s phrase “rock of salvation”? Have you ever been like the Israelites and not trusted in God’s future? I think we can honestly answer that “Yes, most of the time.”

Psalm 95 – Who is speaking in verses 1-7? Who is speaking in verses 8-11? Why is there a change in the emotions of this Psalm (joy in 1-7 and spite in 8-11)?

Romans 5:1-11 – What do we receive when we are justified by faith? What do we share with Christ? When was the right time for Christ to die? What are we saved from? Most English translations of verse 9 say that we are saved from the wrath of God. However, Paul only says we are saved from wrath in the Greek. So, why do translators add “of God?” In the letter to the Romans, Paul only once uses the phrase “wrath of God” at 1:18. All other times he simply uses the word “wrath”. Some commentators, not many, feel that Paul is trying to move us away from the idea that wrath comes from God to the idea that wrath is of our own making. That is what Christ saves us from: human wrath. Also note that Paul does not have any problem attaching God to other attributes. Verse 2 says that we share in “the glory of God”. Why do you think translators feel they need to add words to what Paul writes? A need to blame God for wrath? And thus ends my little rant of the day.

John 4:5-42 – Where is Jesus and the disciples? What does Jesus send the disciples to do? What is the time of day? Who is sitting at the well and what does Jesus ask? What is the life story of the person at the well? Is this person bad, as has been so often depicted or is he/she simply caught up in circumstances beyond control? (Look again, if need be.) How does this person at the well contrast with Nicodemus in chapter 3? What is the end result in the engagement Jesus had with this person at the well? How would you have reacted if you were that person?

Have a great day serving the Lord as you serve others!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor
Peace United Church, Long Prairie
Grey Eagle UMC, Grey Eagle

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Readings for Wednesday, March 12, and Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hello Everyone,

Our readings for this week include our Lenten Wednesday Worship and our regular Sunday Worship:

I am reprising our Lenten Worship from 2011 which was a modified Taizé Worship experience. It will consist of three readings, one each from the Psalms, Isaiah, and the Gospel of John, Taizé hymns, and silent prayer. I will not be preaching but will allow the texts to permeate our thoughts in silent prayer. Our texts this week are:

Psalm 10 – Not all voices in the Bible are the voice of God or a prophet. Some are the voice of a victim of the crowd. Perhaps 1/3 of the Psalms are spoken by a victim seeking relief from God. This is one of them and I will read a different one each week. Most of these Psalms also reflect hope that God will act to save.

Isaiah 41:1-9 – This is the first of the four so called “Suffering Servant” songs in Isaiah. We will be reading all four on each of our Wednesday night services. Who is the Suffering Servant? More than likely it is the Nation of Israel (see Isaiah 49:3) but for centuries Christians have identified him as Jesus. What do you think?

John 13 – We will be reading the Passion of Jesus as presented in John without the chapters where Jesus is teaching the disciples about what will happen, that is chapters 14 to 16. This week we start with the dinner and the foot washing. What would your reaction be if Jesus wanted you to kick off your shoes and socks so he could wash your feet? Wouldn’t we all be a bit like Peter?

This Sunday our texts are:

Genesis 12:1-4a – God calls 90 year old Abram to pick up and move hundreds of miles away with the promise that he will be blessed and that his offspring will be a blessing to all people. Remember, at 90 Abram walked or rode on a donkey or camel those hundreds of miles.

Psalm 121 – A song of Assents. What do you think that means? I quote the first two verses when we have an interment following a funeral.

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 – Paul cites Abraham (Abram) as an example of being made righteous (right with God) through his faith in God’s promises and quotes Genesis 15:6. He also compares wages received through work with a gift given with no attachments. It all depends on faith in the promise of grace.

John 3:1-17 – Nicodemus is a man moving toward faith. He appears in John three times, here, in 7:45-52, and in 19:38-42. Taken together, I believe it shows Nicodemus as questioning, then defending, and then following. His story would have wonderful to know, but these short passages are all we know about him. What does it mean to be “born again”? The Greek words of John could also be translated “born from above”. Nicodemus hears it as “physically born again” but does Jesus mean “born from above”? You decide.

May the Spirit of the Lord and Jesus Christ bless you in your daily ministry (and everything you do should be a ministry).

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor