Monday, May 21, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

Sunday is the Day of Pentecost, one of the most important days in the liturgical year. It is often called the Birthday of the Church. The readings for Sunday include Exekiel 37:1-14 and Acts 2:1-21. In preparation for this wonderful day of worship and celebration, please take time to read the texts, pondering their significance for the life of the church and for your life as an individual.

Wikimedia Commons Image

May the following two prayers bless your journey toward Sunday:

To make things new that never were
We name you wind, power, force, and then,
     imaginatively, "Third Person."
We name you and you blow...
     blow hard,
     blow cold,
     blow hot,
     blow strong,
     blow gentle,
     blow new...
Blowing the world out of nothing to abundance,
blowing the church out of despair to new life,
blowing little David from little shepherd boy to messiah,
blowing to make things new that never were.
     So blow this day, wind,
     blow here and there, power,
     blow even us, force,
Rush us beyond ourselves,
Rush us beyond our hopes,
Rush us beyond our fears, until we enact your newness in the world.
     Come, come, spirit. Amen.         
(Walter Brueggemann, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann, 167)
Exuberant Spirit of God
Exuberant Spirit of God,
bursting with brightness of flame
into the coldness of our lives
to warm us with a passion for justice and beauty
we praise you. 

Exuberant Spirit of God,
sweeping us out of the dusty corners of our apathy
to breathe vitality into our struggles for change,
we praise you.        
Exuberant Spirit of God 
speaking words that leap over barriers of mistrust
to convey messages of truth and new understanding,
we praise you.

Exuberant Spirit of God
burn, breathe, speak in us;
fill your world with justice and with joy.
(Jan Berry, Bread of Tomorrow: Praying with the World's Poor, 145)

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship. Be sure to invite a friend to our "Happy Birthday Church" party!



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary readings for Sunday include John 17:6-20 and Acts 1:15-17, 21-26.

In the liturgical calendar, Advent allows us time to prepare for Christmas; Lent allows us time to prepare for Easter; but what about Pentecost? The church is born with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and that is what we will be celebrating in just one more Sunday on May 27th. Is there time to prepare? Is there a reason to do so?

As you read the text from the Gospel of John keep in mind that this excerpt comes from Jesus' High Priestly Prayer. He is about to leave his disciples for his trek to the cross. Yet, he stops to pray to his Abba Father for those whom he loves dearly. Read through the prayer and then consider the following:
  1. For what does Jesus pray?
  2. What do you find most interesting about Jesus' petition?
  3. Imagine that you are about to leave someone you love dearly and won't likely see again. What would your prayer for him/her be? How is your prayer different or the same as Jesus'?
In the reading from The Acts of the Apostles, Jesus has just ascended into heaven. Now the disciples must stop gazing toward the sky and take care of business. Read the passage carefully and then consider the following:
  1. What is the decision that must be made?
  2. Who is making the decision?
  3. What is the process of discernment that is being played out here?
  4. Regarding important decisions, what is your "process" for acting wisely?
We are less that two weeks away from Pentecost. That doesn't leave a lot of time to prepare. As you journey toward worship this week, prayerfully consider how you might need to "ready" your heart and mind for the blessed coming of the Holy Spirit.

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

For Sunday, May 13th, the Lectionary readings include I John 5:1-6 and John 15:9-17

This passage of the Gospel of John is a continuation of the story we read during worship last Sunday concerning Jesus, the True Vine. As a result, some key words are in this text as well; words like "abide" and "bear fruit." While there are similar themes, verses 9-17 focuses more on "love," a pattern that begins in verse 9: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love."  Then Jesus goes on to say, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." Some form of the word "love" is used 9 times in these few short verses. Why might that be? Could it be that we need to hear the word repeated again and again because, as fallen human beings, we have such a difficult time putting this verb into action?

For your first reading, begin with verse 1 of John 15 and then read through verse 17. (This will provide a better perspective on the overall teaching). On this first reading, what jumped off the page for you? What word or words caught your attention? 

Read through verses 9-17 once more and consider the following as you prepare for worship on Sunday:
  1. Jesus calls his disciples "friends." What does it mean to be a friend of Jesus?
  2. What does it mean to be chosen by Jesus?
  3. What are differences between a servant and a friend?
  4. What should be the result of being loved by Jesus?
  5. Where is "love in action" needed today?
  6. How might you share the love of Jesus with someone this week?
May your week's journey bring you into God's house of prayer and worship once again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary readings for Sunday, May 6th include Acts 8:26-40 and John 15:1-8.

We are approaching the 5th Sunday of Easter. The Season of Easter allows us to consider, over a period of weeks, the ways in which the Resurrection effects our life of faith. In light of this season of hope, read through John 15:1-8. Prayerfully consider what word God might have for you. You might wish to jot down your thoughts and questions. Now, in preparation for a second reading, try to imagine yourself as a branch in the vine of Christ. Prayerfully ask God to reveal to you what is in need of pruning so that you might be more fruitful in your Christian life. Read through the passage and meditate upon God's response. As you complete your time of meditation, ask God to help you accept with a humble and grateful heart whatever "pruning" might be in order.

As you prepare for worship on Sunday, consider the following:
  1. Who is the True Vine and who is the Vinegrower?
  2. Who are the branches?
  3. What is done to the branch to make it bear more fruit?
  4. Do you think pruning is painful? 
  5. How many times is the word "abide" (or its synonym) used in this text?
  6. What does it mean to bear fruit?
  7. Is abiding in Christ an individual or a community experience? Is it both?
I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday. I hope you are having a lovely and "fruitful" week of living the Christian life wherever God has planted you.