Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Readings for Sunday, April 3, 2016

Hello Everyone,

What a great Resurrection Sunday we had at Peace United Church and Grey Eagle UMC! We started slow with only 13 in worship at 7:00 AM, but things got better at 9:00 am and 10:30 am with around 90 people at the Grey Eagle service (just an estimate on my part as I have gotten the count yet) and 82 at Peace United. The children at both services were wonderful even if my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter had a bit of a fit. We had many relatives from far off towns and cities with us and we had several local guests at both churches that will be back in worship, God willing and the Holy Spirit prompting.

The church season of Easter is 7 Sundays long including Resurrection Sunday. During the next six Sundays our Old Testament Lesson will actually be from the New Testament book “Acts of the Apostles”. Our Epistle Lessons will all come from “The Revelation to John”. Our Gospel Lessons will come from the “The Gospel According to John”.

Our readings this week are:
Acts 5:27-32 – Just before this passage the apostles are arrested and thrown into prison because they were preaching the Gospel of the Resurrected Savior. At night, an angel releases the apostles and tells them to go back to the temple and keep preaching, which they do in the morning. When it is discovered they are out of prison and preaching in the temple the guards bring the apostles to the Council. The high priest questions them and Peter simply says that they must preach because that is what God is telling them. He also testifies to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Psalm 118:14-29 – This section is the last half of this Psalm and is one of the most quoted in the New Testament. Verses 17-18: I will not die but live for the Lord will not give me over to death. Verses 22-23: The rejected stone is the new cornerstone and this is God’s doing. Verse 24: The Lord made this day so let’s rejoice and be glad. Verse 26: The one who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed. Verse 29: The Lord is good and his steadfast love endures forever.

OR Psalm 150 – It is all about praising God. All of creation praises God. We praise God with all of our musical instruments.

Revelation 1:4-8 – The servant John greets the seven church in Asia Minor (now Turkey) in the name of God and Jesus Christ, who is coming with the clouds. All from the Lord who is the Alpha and Omega, who is and who was and who is to come.

John 20:19-31 – On the day of Resurrection, Jesus appears to 10 of the 11 disciples and says “Peace be with you.” Jesus then shows them his hands and feet, says “Peace” once again, and he send them out into the world. When he says that he breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (For John the Resurrection, the commission, and Pentecost happens all on one day unlike Luke/Acts.) The disciple Thomas was not with them and when they tell him he wants what they got, confirmation of the resurrection. A week later, Jesus appears again to all 11 disciples including Thomas. When Jesus offers to allow Thomas touch his wounds, Thomas declares “My Lord and My God!”.

How has the Resurrected Jesus affected your life? Have you experienced Resurrection? Tell me about it in your comments.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Monday, March 21, 2016

Readings for Holy Week and the Day of Resurrection, 2016

Hello Everyone,

Palm Sunday, yesterday, was the beginning of Holy Week and we have six more days of Lent, until Saturday, March 26. Each day has assigned readings, which means lots of reading for those of us who have been keeping up on the scripture readings. Here, with minimal comment, are the lessons for each day of the week.

Monday, March 21
Isaiah 42:1-9 – The first of the “Servant Songs”. This servant is a light to the nations, given as a covenant to the people.

Psalm 36:5-11 – The psalmist’s description of God’s steadfast love.

Hebrews 9:11-15 – Christ came as a high priest to offer his blood for our redemption. He is now the mediator of a new covenant.

John 12:1-11 – Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus) anoints Jesus’ feet with nard and the powers that be plot Lazarus’ death.

Tuesday, March 22
Isaiah 49:1-7 – The second “Servant Song”. A light to the nations to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

Psalm 71:1-14 – The psalmist’s prayer for protection from his enemies. He places his trust and hope in God.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 – We proclaim a crucified Christ for God chose what is foolish and weak so that all may boast in the Lord.

John 12:20-36 – Jesus speaks about his upcoming death which will be the judgment of the world.

Wednesday, March 23
Isaiah 50:4-9a – The third “Servant Song” goes through verse 11. Humiliated yet vindicated by God.

Psalm 70 – The psalmist prays that enemies will be brought to shame and will turn back to God and may all others praise God.

Hebrews 12:1-3 – Surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses, let us run the race of faith looking to Jesus who endured hostility from sinners.

John 13:21-32 – Jesus predicts his betrayal (by Judas) and when Judas leaves Jesus declares that the Son of Man has been glorified.

Thursday, March 24 – Maundy Thursday
Agape Supper at Grey Eagle UMC at 5:30 pm.

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 – The origin of Passover. Put the blood of a lamb on the door posts and Death will pass over your house.

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 – The psalmist rejoices because God has rescued him and he will praise God in front of all people.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 – The Lord’s Supper as Paul was taught by the Lord through others.

John 13:1-17, 31b-35 – Jesus has a meal with the disciples before Passover. He washes their feet and gives them a new commandment.

Friday, March 25 – Good Friday
Good Friday Worship at Peace United Church at 7:00 pm.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 – The fourth and most poignant “Servant Song”. No wonder the early church saw this as a picture of Jesus.

Psalm 22 – Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsake me?”. Do we also hear, “From you comes my praise . . .”

Hebrews 10:16-25 – God has given a new covenant in our hearts and our faith is assured, so we should provoke each other to love.

John 18:1-19:42 – The Passion of Jesus, the Christ, according John.

Saturday, March 26 – Holy Saturday
Job 14:1-14 – Who can bring a good thing out of a bad thing? While there is hope for a fallen tree, will dead humans live again?

or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24 – I have seen great affliction but the steadfast love of God endures forever.

Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 – Listen to me, oh God, and be my rock of salvation. Let your face shine on your servant in steadfast love.

1 Peter 4:1-8 – Since Christ suffered for us, we should live new lives and maintain our love for one another.

Matthew 27:57-66 – The burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea.

or John 19:38-42 – The burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

Sunday, March 27 – Resurrection Sunday (Easter)
Sunrise Worship at Peace United Church at 7:00 am.
Worship at Grey Eagle UMC at 9:00 am.
Worship at Peace United at 10:30 am.

Acts 10:34-43 – Peter speaks to the crowds about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 – Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever. This is the day the Lord has made, so rejoice and be glad.

1 Corinthians 15:19-26 – The reassurance from actual witness that Jesus, the Christ, is raised from the dead.

John 20:1-18 – Mary Magdalene alone discovers the empty tomb and encounters the risen Jesus.

or Luke 24:1-12 – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women discover the empty tomb and encounter two angels.

I pray that you will read as much as possible and reflect on the death of Jesus on the cross. Then let us all celebrate the Resurrection on Sunday.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Readings for Palm & Passion Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hello Everyone,

First off, a special announcement for the people of Grey Eagle UMC.

The Easter Sunrise Breakfast at GE UMC will be served at 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday, March 27. A sign-up sheet will be in the fellowship hall beginning Wed. March 16. We will need a team of workers to cook the breakfast and another team to clean-up. The following items need to be donated and taken to the church by Sat. March 26: pancake mix, sausage, butter, eggs, fruit, orange juice and milk. Amounts are listed on the sign-up sheets. Thank you for your help. The worship committee.

Secondly, as many of you who are Facebook friends with me know, my oldest daughter, Megan, gave birth to a 7 lb. 6 oz. girl, Teagan, on Sunday. Teagan had some minor health issues on Sunday evening and Monday but is doing well today. I got a chance to hold her this morning and she is adorable. At this really early stage of her life, she sleep all of the time, even when the nurses poke and prod her or she gets transferred to and from Grandpa’s arms.

One last chance to come to a Wednesday Lenten Worship. The climax of the “Ten Tough Topics” series is “Forgiveness”. Why would that be a tough topic? Maybe because it is so difficult to do. Come join us at 6:00 PM at Peace United Church or 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC.

This coming Sunday has historically been known as “Palm Sunday”. It commemorates the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem. As Jesus rides into town on the back of a donkey or a colt (the gospels differ) people spread softer items on the road to cushion Jesus’ ride. Mark says the items were cloaks and leafy branches (Mark 11:8). Matthew says they were cloaks and branches from trees (Matthew 21:8). Luke says it was only cloaks (Luke 19:36). Finally, only John mentions palm branches but he does not say that the people laid the branches in the road (John 12:13). I guess “Palm Sunday” sounds a whole lot better than “Cloak Sunday” or “Branches Sunday”.

This Sunday is also “Passion Sunday”. Why? Well, not too long ago it was noticed that many Christians stopped coming to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship services. If they came to worship on Palm Sunday and then Resurrection (a better word than Easter) Sunday they missed perhaps the most important part of the story, the betrayal, arrest, trial, beating, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. Hence, the Passion reading was introduced to Palm Sunday so they can hear “the rest of the story”.

Palm Sunday Readings:

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 – Verse 1 (repeated in verse 29) might be the best advertising slogan for God: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” Verse 22 is quoted several times in the New Testament about Jesus: “the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Verse 26 is quoted by the crowd as Jesus rides into Jerusalem in our Luke 19 reading.

Luke 19:28-40 – Jesus sends two disciples into Jerusalem to retrieve a colt. They do. They disciples then place some cloaks on the colt for Jesus to ride on. As he rides into Jerusalem, the people lay their cloaks on the road. The disciples shout verse 26 from Psalm 118 (adding the title “king”). Some Pharisees are not happy and tell Jesus to make his disciples stop shouting. Jesus says if the disciple were to be quiet the stone would shout out.

Passion Sunday Readings:

Isaiah 50:4-9a – This is the third of the so called “Servant Songs” in Isaiah (42:1-4, 49:1-7, 50:4-11; and 52:13-53:12) that have been identified by New Testament and early church writers with Jesus. Isaiah’s intent was probably to see the servant of each passage as the “People of Israel”. Still, they speak in a beautiful and tragic way to the death of Jesus.

Psalm 31:9-16 – In the full Psalm, the psalmist cries out to God for deliverance from his enemies who are oppressing him while also trusting God to bring that deliverance.

Philippians 2:5-11 – Verse 5 is a continuation of Paul’s thoughts in verses 1-4 so I highly encourage you to read those also. Verse 6-11 may have been a poem or hymn that Paul and others knew, but not all scholars agree. You can also think of this beautiful passage as the “humiliation and exaltation” of Jesus. Jesus gave up his “God-hood” so that he could become one like us. As a human, he humbled himself before the powers of this world and died on the cross. However, God exalted Jesus by raising him from the dead and giving him the “Name of all names” so that everyone will bow down and confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God.

Luke 22:14-23:56 (or Luke 23:1-49) – This is the passion story; the story of Jesus’ last day. It begins actually in verse 7 when Jesus send Peter and John into Jerusalem to secure a room to celebrate the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover). They eat and Jesus tells them to break bread and drink wine to remember him (and what will happen over the next three days). The disciples argue; Peter claims loyalty to Jesus even though Jesus says he will deny Jesus; they pray on the Mount of Olives; Jesus is betrayed by Judas; Jesus is arrested; Peter denies Jesus; Jesus appears before the High Council; he then appears before Pilate who sends him to Herod; Pilate sentences Jesus to be crucified; Jesus is crucified between two criminals and Jesus speaks with one of them; and finally Jesus dies and is buried in a new, unused tomb.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Monday, March 7, 2016

Readings for Sunday, March 13, 2016

Hello Everyone,

We continue our sermon series on “Ten Tough Topics”. On Wednesday, we talk about the “Gnostic Gospels” and on Sunday we think about “The Sins of the Church”. The final topic will discussed on Wednesday, March 16, on the topic “Forgiveness”.

Our Scripture Lessons on Sunday will be:

Isaiah 43:16-21 – Forget the past. Forget what we think we remember about the old ways of following God and of doing church. Forget those things because God is doing something new. God will make a way through the wilderness we are in. God will show us this new way so that we will bring praise to God.

Psalm 126 – This six verse Psalm can be divided in half. In the first three verses, the psalmist remembers what life was like when God restored the fortunes of Israel. In the second half, the psalmist call on God to once again restore Israel’s life, like new water flowing through the dessert. Perhaps we should be more like Isaiah above and less like the pining on the psalmist wanting to have the past restored to the present.

Philippians 3:4b-14 – If anyone can be proud of his upbringing in the Jewish faith it is Paul, and he tells us that in the first three verses. However, all of that is “rubbish”, he says. Actually, the Greek word that is translated “rubbish” really means dung, or the word we are all really thinking. Paul says his righteousness come not from works of the law but because of pistis Christou. This little Greek phrase is literally translated as “faith Christ”. The translator’s job is to decide between “faith in Christ” or “faith of Christ”. Paul then says he wants to know the power of Christ and his resurrection. However, he has not be made perfect (or reached the goal) yet. So he puts everything behind him and strains ahead toward the goal (with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

John 12:1-8 – Some days after raising Lazarus from death and maybe the day before he goes into Jerusalem, Jesus is having dinner at Martha, Mary, and Lazarus’ home (they are sisters and brother). Lazarus is at the table and Martha is serving dinner. Mary takes some pure nard (an aromatic essential oil), anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes his feet with her hair. Judas (yes, THAT Judas) complains that she could have sold the nard and given the money to the poor. Jesus tells him to leave her alone. She bought the nard for his burial. He then says, “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” This last statement has caused a lot of consternation. However, Jesus was simply beginning a quote from Deuteronomy 15:11 and which his hearers would have recognized. “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you to open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.” Jesus is not telling anyone to ignore the poor but to care for them while at the same time turning our hearts to Jesus.

Have a great week serving Christ in all that you do.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Scripture Readings for Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hello Everyone,

Our sermon series on “Ten Tough Topics” continues tomorrow night with “Jesus and Christianity” (How could that be tough?). Worship at 6:00 PM at Peace United Church and 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC. On Sunday our topic will be “Resurrection”, which is appropriate as we will end the month with Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Our Scripture Lessons for this Sunday are:

Joshua 5:9-12 – At this point in the story of Joshua, he has led his people, the Israelites, across the river Jordan into Canaan. At the beginning of chapter 5, God tells Joshua to have all the men circumcised because those who came out of Egypt 40 years earlier had died and the males born during their wanderings had not been circumcised. With the circumcision complete and all the men had time to heal, we pick up the story. God declares to Joshua that the disgrace of being slaves in Egypt is now behind them. Literally, God rolled away their disgrace. Therefore, that place where the circumcision happened was to be called “Gilgal” which is related to the Hebrew word for “rolling”. After that the Israelites celebrated Passover. The day after they ate from the produce of the Canaan land and on that day the manna stopped.

Psalm 32 – The psalmist celebrates God who forgives those who confess their sin to God. The psalmist says that the wicked are tormented while those who trust in the Lord are surrounded by love.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 – This is a very powerful passage. I almost feel like I should try to explain every verse but I will resist that urge. What I think his is saying is that since we have been changed by God’s knowledge of us through Christ, we can no longer view people as “them” or “other”. Since Christ is in us, we are a new creation and have been reconciled to God through Christ. Therefore, we should seek and work for the reconciliation of all people and creation. No longer are trespasses/debt/sins counted against humanity and we can be reconciled to God and our neighbors.

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 – This reading is one of five parables in Luke 15 and 16 and is the most famous. The five parables are “The Lost Sheep”, “The Lost Coin”, “The Lost Son”, “The Dishonest Manager” and “Lazarus and the Rich Man”. Our reading is the introduction to the first four parables and the parable of the “Lost Son”, aka “The Prodigal Son and his Brother”. In the introduction, Luke says that Pharisees and Scribes were coming to listen to Jesus but they were grumbling about the fact that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” These parable are in response to their grumbling. Here is what I said about this familiar parable in 2013:

The son who demands his share of the estate and then blows it all on wine, women, song, and partying. After being reduced to slopping the pigs he plans to go home to work as a servant for Dad. Of course, Dad will have none of it and the Welcome Home Party is on. However, Big Brother is upset. Dad gives him a choice – come in and enjoy the celebration or stew in your own anger. End of story. Where do you fit in the story? I think most of us, me especially, might very well be the big brother.

I pray your week is lived in service of God in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit by serving your neighbors.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor