Tomorrow evening we begin our Midweek Lenten Worship. Peace United Church will have worship at 6 pm and Grey Eagle UMC’s will be at 7:30 pm. Both churches are having a Soup and Sandwich Fellowship beginning 45 minutes before the start of worship (5:15 and 6:45 pm respectively). Come for the food and fellowship and stay for worship.
The theme for the midweek services is “I AM” and we will explore 5 of the “I am . . .” sayings of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Tomorrow night our scripture will be John 6:22-35, “I Am the Bread of Life”.
The lectionary texts for this coming Sunday, March 1, are:
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 – God tells Abram, who is 99 years old, that they are to be in covenant and God will bless Abram with numerous descendants. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and, in the last two verses, changes Sarai’s name to Sarah. God also promises to give Sarah, who is 90, and Abraham a son. In the skipped verses, the sign of the covenant was for all the males in Abraham’s tribe to be circumcised (ouch). We also don’t read the part where Abraham falls on his face and laughs.
Psalm 22:23-31 – Jesus quotes the beginning of this Psalm while hanging on the cross in Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Many in Jesus’ day would have known that the end of this psalm is a positive affirmation that God will save all. “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of the nations shall worship before him.” It proclaims that even the dead in the earth and future unborn generations will worship and serve God.
Romans 4:13-25 – Paul writes to the church in Rome about their inclusion in God’s promise to Abraham. Abraham trusted God and that was enough for God who declared him righteous. This was not the work of the Law, which Abraham didn’t have, but the work of faith.
Mark 8:31-38 – This will be included in our sermon series on the Gospel of Mark below.
We are in week 8 of our 13 week series covering the entire Gospel of Mark. This week we will read Mark 8:27-9:29. This is the turning point in the Gospel and beginning this week Jesus is going to Jerusalem.
Verses 8:27-30 – Jesus and the disciples take a much need break from their ministry and head north to camp. Jesus ask “Who do people say that I am?” After offering answers about what others were saying about Jesus and having Jesus egg them on, Peter says “You are the Messiah” (Christ or Anointed One). Yeah for Peter.
Verses 31-38 – So, what does it mean to be the Messiah. Jesus says it means suffering, rejection, being killed, and resurrection. Peter says “No, you can’t do that” and Jesus tells Satan to get behind. Calling the crowds he explains what it means to be his follower: deny themselves, take up their cross, and losing their life.
Verses 9:1-13 – Six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain where Jesus is transfigured and visited by Moses and Elijah. P, J, and J then hear a voice that declares Jesus to be “my Son, the Beloved” with the instruction (11th commandment?) to “listen to him”. On the way down the mountain, they discuss what happened and the significance of Elijah. From this point on, Jesus is headed to Jerusalem and the Cross.
Verses 14-29 – When the four of them get back to the other disciples they discover them arguing with some scribes. If you remember, back in chapter 6 Jesus sent out the disciples to proclaim the gospel, heal, and cast out demons and they were successful. Now, the disciples were unable to cast out a spirit in a boy. (Mark’s description makes it sound like it might be epilepsy.) It is hard to impute emotion in written text but verse 19 sounds like Jesus is quite frustrated with disciples. Jesus quizzes the father of the boy about how long the attacks had been happening. Here the conversation gets a little strange. The father asks Jesus to help the boy “if you are able”. Jesus turns the statement back on the father and add that all things are possible with belief. The most famous line from this passage come not from Jesus but from the father: “I believe. Help my unbelief.” Jesus then rebukes the spirit and it leaves the boy. The story finishes with a little bit more strangeness. When the disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the spirit Jesus replies that this type of spirit only comes out with prayer. Look closely. Did Jesus pray?
Have a great week serving God by serving your neighbors.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor