Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

Scripture readings for Sunday, February 3, 2013 include:
 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and Luke 4:21-30.
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When we left the Gospel of Luke last Sunday, Jesus had entered the synagogue, read from the scroll of Isaiah and sat down to interpret it. Then, all eyes were upon him and the people were amazed. But in our reading for today, things change and they change quickly. 

Using the practice of lectio divina or "sacred reading," read through the passage from Luke one time. Afterward, sit quietly and listen for what new learning the Holy Spirit might impart. You might wish to make a note or two. What really strikes you about this passage upon this first reading?

Now, read through the text a second time. Again, prayerfully listen to your heart of hearts. Did you notice something different this time? If so, what? Is there something about which you would like to know more? What might that be? Jot it down.

Before reading the text the last time, put yourself in the story. Imagine that you are a Pharisee and you have lived in this community all your life. In fact, you know Jesus well. You've known him since he was in diapers. Now, read the passage. Keep silence for a few moments. Then consider, how did Jesus' words sound to you this time? Do you feel offended? If so, why?

Lastly, read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, which is on the topic of love. Can you imagine how this text might be related to the story of Jesus in his hometown, angering the people in the synagogue? What does love have to do with Gentile widows and lepers? 

The following is a prayer for the week:
Holy One, day by day this week is passing by,
On the journey, be with us as we pause and ponder
All the love we see and receive.
Help us to see you in each moment of love.
Where we fall short of being patient and kind,
Help us to feel your patience and kindness toward us
And give us peace, as we give each passing day to you. Amen. 
May the joy of the Lord be yours throughout the week. As always, I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

Readings for Sunday, January 27 include Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 and Luke 4:14-21.

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It is helpful to remember that the text from Nehemiah comes during the time of the rebuilding of the Second Temple wall. Herein, Ezra summons the people to a reading of the law. Read the passage carefully; then consider the following:
  1. Who is present at this gathering?
  2. How long is the reading?
  3. What is the response of the people to the reading of their Holy Scriptures?
  4. What instruction do Nehemiah and Ezra give to the people?
Now turn to the gospel lesson. Read through Luke 4:14-21 once. Sit quietly in prayer, listening for what the Holy Spirit might reveal to you. Read the text a second time. What jumps out at you? What new learning did you experience? Take a moment to consider:
  1. How is Jesus empowered? 
  2. Is Jesus already well-known?
  3. Why is Nazareth significant for Jesus?
  4. What day of the week is it?
  5. What is Jesus' routine or custom on this day?
Jesus is faithful to Israel's religious practices, here observing synagogue worship on the Sabbath. What religious practices do you employ as a faithful Christian? Is worship attendance a spiritual discipline in your life? Do you make yourself available to the work of the Holy Spirit through daily prayer, Scripture reading, meditation or other practices?Are there certain practices or disciplines you would like to know more about? If so, you may want to attend upcoming Celtic worship services in which spiritual disciplines will be highlighted over the next few months.

I pray your journey toward Sunday will be blessed with good things...things that will enrich your life...things you may use to enrich the lives of others.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

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The readings for Sunday are 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and John 2:1-11. In preparation for worship, read through each text. Then enjoy the following poem written by Peter Steele, entitled "Cana" (Marching in Paradise, 1984).

It might have been a neurotic's paradise,
With all that water there for endless washing,
The catering shaky, and most of us wondering
What sort of promise such a beginning held
For the couple's days and years. And then the wine
Ran out, clean out. What do you say--"One always
Likes to be moderate at these affairs"?--
When what you mean is, "There's more need than they
Can possibly provide for." Anyhow,
After a while they gave us wine in flagons,
The kind of thing it was a privilege
To drink, or think about. I still don't know
Where they had found it, how they bought it, why
They kept it until then. I do remember,
Late in the piece, a man who made some toasts
And drank as if he meant them, and the jars
For water, and the way them seemed to glow.

May the Lord bless you and those you love this week. I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

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This Sunday is Baptism of the Lord Sunday. During the worship service there will be an opportunity for every baptized believer to approach the Baptismal Font, touch the water, make the sign of the cross on his or her own forehead, and reflect upon the meaning of baptism.

In preparation for our time together, read Isaiah 43:1-7 and consider the following:
  1. To whom is this text addressed?
  2. What is the promise made?
  3. What parts of creation are named here? 
  4. In what way does water play a role?
Now read the account of Jesus' baptism found in Luke 3:15-17, 21-22. Ponder this story and then reflect upon the following:
  1. How does Luke's account differ from the other gospels?
  2. How does John the Baptist respond to the people's admiration of him?
  3. Who is being baptized?
  4. Why do you think Jesus is baptized?
On your journey toward Sunday, I offer you a blessing from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who stood on the river bank uphold you.
May the love of God, who calls us beloved children, bless you.
May the power of the Holy Spirit, who descended upon Jesus as a dove, give you peace. Amen.

As always, I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.