Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Readings for Holy Week and Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hello Everyone,

This past Sunday we celebrated Jesus' entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) and read the Passion narrative from the Gospel of Mark (Passion Sunday). In many ways it was the beginning of the end for Jesus. Next Sunday, Easter or Resurrection Sunday, is the beginning of New Life. But first, quoting the Psalmist, we must "walk through the valley of the shadow of death". There are assigned readings for each day this week. (I know it is Tuesday already so there may be some makeup reading for those who read our scripture lessons. (That would be everyone, right?))

Here are the synopses for our journey on "The Road to Light".

Thursday, March 29 – Maundy or Holy Thursday "Respite to Wash, Eat, Drink, Love"

Before the terrible day, Jesus gathers with the disciples and others to commend a new way of life, a life lived in love for each other, and by extension, all others. A life of love is counter to the ways of the world. Living in this life will demonstrate to the world the better way God calls us to live. And when we gather around the Table of the Lord to share in his Body and Blood, we remember Jesus’ life, teachings, death and resurrection.

Friday, March 30 – Good Friday "Death on the Road"

Another version of the betrayal, trial, torture, and crucifixion of Jesus. The Light has been lifted up on the cross for us to see.

Sunday, April 1 – Resurrection Sunday "The Road Is Light (and Life)"

God vindicates the victim of our violence. The tomb is empty and we are called to journey with Jesus to new life. When we truly see what we have done and seek forgiveness; when we turn to Jesus and begin living without victims; when we call others to this new road of Life; when we love all as God loves us and all the God Reign, God’s Kingdom will come to earth as it is in heaven.

And now for the assigned readings:

Monday, March 26
- Isaiah 42:1-9 – The first servant song of Isaiah
- Psalm 36:5-11 – God’s love is endless and priceless
- Hebrews 9:11-15 – Jesus is the sacrifice whose blood cleans us so we can serve God
- John 12:1-11 – Jesus with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.

Tuesday, March 27
- Isaiah 49:1-7 – The second servant song of Isaiah
- Psalm 71:1-14 – The attacked Psalmist hopes in the Lord
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 – The wisdom of the cross is wiser than human wisdom
- John 12:20-36 – Jesus’ death is the judgment of this world

Wednesday, March 28
- Isaiah 50:4-9a – The third servant song of Isaiah
- Psalm 70 – The Psalmist seeks help from the Lord
- Hebrews 12:1-3 – Run the race and fix our eyes on Jesus who endured the cross.
- John 13:21-32 – Someone will betray Jesus and the Son of Man is glorified

Thursday, March 29 – Maundy Thursday
- Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 – God’s instructions for the first Passover
- Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 – Because God has been good, I’ll keep my promises
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 – Paul’s instructions on Communion.
- John 13:1-17, 31b-35 – Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and Jesus commands them to love.

Friday, March 30 – Good Friday
- Isaiah 52:13-53:12 – The fourth and final servant song of Isaiah
- Psalm 22 – “My God, My God, why have you left me alone?”
- Hebrews 10:16-25 – We are have been made clean so we can serve our new High Priest, Jesus.
- or Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9 – We have a new High Priest who has made the right sacrifice for us.
- John 18:1-19:42 – The passion of Jesus according to the Gospel of John.

Saturday, March 31  Holy Saturday
- Job 14:1-14 – The destiny of humanity
- or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24 – The prophet blames God for what happened yet trusts God’s love
- Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 – The Psalmist requests help from God
- 1 Peter 4:1-8 – Love because love brings the forgiveness of many sins
- Matthew 27:57-66 – The burial of Jesus and the placement of the guards at the tomb
- or John 19:38-42 – The burial of Jesus

-Acts 10:34-43 – Peter preaches the resurrection of Jesus
- or Isaiah 25:6-9 – The Lord will save all people and death will be eliminated
- Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 – The Lord is our deliverance.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – We are being saved because Christ was crucified, died, buried and rose on the third day.
- John 20:1-18 – Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb, Peter checks it out, and then she encounters Jesus.
- or Mark 16:1-8 – Three women, including Mary Magdalene, discover the empty tomb with a messenger but say nothing.

Have a Blessed Holy Week!

Pastor Gary
Peace United Church & Grey Eagle UMC

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Readings for Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hello Everyone,

This Sunday we will continue with our worship series "The Road to Light". The topic will be "The Road through Jerusalem to Death". Here is what I wrote in my plan for the series:

Why did the cheers and praise of the crowds on Sunday turn to cries of “Crucify Him” on Friday? Why were the religious and political authorities threatened by this carpenter turned itinerant preacher/shaman from a backwater part of the empire? What were they afraid of? The answer may lay in John 11 when the High Priest Caiaphas says, “it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” Therefore, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified. One friend betrays him, one denies him, all run away. Only the women, the powerless in society, stayed with him. A Roman Centurion says, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

This Sunday will be Palm and Passion Sunday. We will be reading the texts for both portions. It used to be that Palm Sunday only included the reading for the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. That was at a time when most church goers then came to Good Friday Services which were almost always held in the afternoon, because schools weren’t in session and businesses closed for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon. Since that is not the case these days, most people, including church goers, don’t hear the Passion of Jesus but only the glory of Palm Sunday and the glory of Easter. Hence, the necessity of hearing the Passion on Palm Sunday. (To get from one mountain top to another, you must go through the valley.)

Palm Sunday Texts:
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 – The title given to this psalm in my NRSV Bible is “A Song of Victory”. One verse in our reading is well known. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (verse 24) The most quoted Old Testament verse used in the New Testament is verse 22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”

Mark 11:1-11 – Verses 1 to 6 are the preparations for the entry. Verses 7-10 are about the actual entry. Verse 11 is about what Jesus did after riding in: he looked at the Temple and then went out of Jerusalem to Bethany.

Passion Sunday Texts:
Isaiah 50:4-9a – This is part of the third of four Servant Songs found in Isaiah and extends to verse 11. God has given the servant the gift of teaching and listening. God calls the servant to teach even though he is opposed by people who whip and beat him. Yet, God gives him strength and vindicates him.

Psalm 31:9-16 – This psalm in its entirety is the cry of a victim of society calling upon God to save him from his enemies. 

Philippians 2:5-11 – Paul quotes an early Christian Hymn which affirms Christ descent from Godhood to humanness and his ascent back to God so that every knee should bow before him and declare him “Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Mark 14:1-15:47 (We will be starting at 14:12.) – I will simply share with you the titles of all the sections as the NRSV has it with some parenthetical comments:

14:12-21 – The Passover with the Disciples (Someone at the table will betray Jesus)14:22-25 – The Institution of the Lord’s Supper (commonly called “communion”)14:26-31 – Peter’s Denial Foretold (“No, I won’t!”)14:32-42 – Jesus Prays in Gethsemane (Peter, James, and John can’t seem to stay awake.)14:43-52 – The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus (Judas does the deed.)14:53-65 – Jesus Before the Council (chief priest, high priests, elders, and scribes; not a “city council”)14:66-72 – Peter Denies Jesus (Yes, he did.)15:1-5 – Jesus before Pilate (Jesus only says three words, “You say so.”)15:6-15 – Pilate Hands Jesus over to be Crucified (The chief priests were jealous; they stir up the crowd; “Crucify him”; Pilate caves in.)15:16-20 – The Soldiers Mock Jesus (purple robe; crown of thorns; “Hail, King of the Jews!”)15:21-32 – The Crucifixion of Jesus (Everyone mocks Jesus: the crowds, the chief priests, and the two crucified bandits.)15:33-41 – The Death of Jesus (Darkness at noon, Jesus cries out, the temple curtain is torn, and a Roman soldier declares him “God’s Son”)15:42-47 – The Burial of Jesus (Joseph, a member of the council, retrieves Jesus’ body and lays it in a tomb; two Mary’s watch.)

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Gary Taylor

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Readings for Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hello Everyone,

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and start to your week. Don't forget that there is "Coffee, Cookies, and Conversation" at Peace United Church at 6:00 PM tonight and then at Grey Eagle UMC at 7:30 PM.

This Sunday we continue with our worship series "The Road to Light". Our emphasis will be "Road Through Darkness". Here is a synopsis:

"The world needs its victims to maintain a tentative, shaky peace. In the centuries before Jesus and even in the centuries after Jesus in many parts of the world, the victim was sacrificed to the gods who demand a price for injuries the gods receive from humans. Even when animals are substituted for people in the sacrificial system, humans, even children, were often sacrificed. Humanity was often ignorant (darkness) to the system, which is why it worked. To cover the collective guilt of humanity, lies - myths - were told of the guilt of the victim. Jewish scripture started the revelation of the truth which was completed and fulfilled in Jesus, son of God."

Our readings this week are:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – This is one of the most famous quotes from the prophet Jeremiah. God says that God will pour his law into the hearts of the people of Israel and Judah (can we expand this to include all followers of Jesus or perhaps all people?). Once everyone knows (experiences) God’s law then we will no longer need to teach anyone about God and the laws. (No more Sunday School and Confirmation Classes?)

Psalm 51:1-12 – The psalmist asks God to wash away everything that makes him impure. He calls on God to give him a new, right, and clean spirit that he may experience the joy of God’s salvation. This is the Psalm we read on Ash Wednesday.

Hebrews 5:5-10 – This doesn’t seem to fit the idea that God is changing our hearts. However, in being obedient to God, even going to death on the cross, Jesus was (made) perfect in his love for God and humanity. This became the source of our salvation that changes our hearts and gives us the ability to obey him. BTW, the name in verse 10 is pronounced “Mel-keys-a-deck” 

John 12:20-33 (34-36a) – This opens with a request of some Greeks to speak to Jesus but Jesus turns the conversation to his upcoming death. He alludes that his death is like a grain of wheat planted in the ground that produces much fruit. He also says that he will not turn away from what must happen because it will bring glory to God, his Father. When he is “lifted up” (re: the snake on a pole in last week's reading) he brings judgment on all humanity, drives Satan out, and will draw all people to him. The only way to draw all people to him is for our hearts to be changed when we witness the horror of what is done (throughout history down to today).

Have a blessed week!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Readings for Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hello Everyone,

First, do not forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed Saturday Night. "Spring Ahead" as they say. If you forget, you will arrive at church in time for fellowship (GEUMC) or lunch (PUC).

Second, this Sunday Grey Eagle UMC is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the new church building. They are also celebrating the 140th year of being a church in the Grey Eagle area. From what I gather an informal church began worshiping in a log cabin on the north shore of Big Birch Lake in 1878. In 1879, a United Brethren in Christ church was incorporated as Swan Lake Chapel. Then, in 1881 those two groups merged to form Lake Valley Church. In 1883, a small wood-framed church was erected in the Village of Grey Eagle. This building was torn down in 1922 and our former building was erected.

This Sunday we will continue with our worship series "The Road to Light". Our focus is "Take the Light on the Journey". Here is the synopsis I wrote:

"For God so loved the COSMOS . . . that might be the light Jesus offers us along the way. Things will get ugly for Jesus and it seems to always be ugly 2000 years later. For those who believe in Jesus, follow in his Way, live by his Truth, and seek Life in him, they have salvation, eternal life. Judgement come to those who love the lie (darkness) and reject the truth (light). To be the light, Jesus must be lifted up on the cross."

Our readings for this week are:
Numbers 21:4-9 – This is a troubling reading. The Israelites are traveling the long way around the kingdom of Edom and they begin grumbling against Moses and God. "Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents . . . so that many Israelites died." (The Lord did what? I imagine that they were moving and griping; came upon an area infested with the snakes that killed them; and naturally blamed God.) The people repented and Moses was instructed to make a poisonous snake and put it on a tall pole. Then, whenever someone was bitten, all they had to do was to look at the snake on a pole and they would be healed. This incident is mentioned by Jesus in our Gospel reading.

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 – Give thanks to the Lord who has delivered us from our sinful ways. This sentiment is repeated 5 times in verses 1, 8, 15, 21, and 31.

Ephesians 2:1-10 – What you do won’t get you eternal life! Faith in the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ will! This is God's free gift to you.

John 3:14-21 – Jesus says the Son of Man must be lifted up like the snake on a pole from our Numbers reading. Of course, John 3:16 is here but what about verses 17 and 18? However, those who don't believe, who don't see the light, have already judged themselves. Those who do evil will usually want to avoid scrutiny (stay in the dark) while those who do what is true and right will do it in plain sight.

How are you taking the light of Jesus Christ into your world?

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary