Will you sacrifice for unity?

Paul’s claim upon the church in Ephesians 4:11-16 (according to Wm. Barclay) is that “the church is to reach for a stature weds am copy (2)which can be measured by the fullness of Christ.  To produce people who have in them the reflection of Jesus Christ himself.”  The questions that followed within our study group were, “Is this a sacrificial desire?” and “How much can we imagine personal sacrifice for the sake of unity?

The topic of unity became a social conversation about the current tensions between law enforcement, government, and the public outcry for equal rights.  Understandings of sacrifice moved from material sacrifices to sacrifices of personal bias and longstanding assumptions about what is acceptable in societal relationships.

Do you have assumptions about others you would be willing to sacrifice to mitigate these current social tensions for the sake of Christian unity?  Would this be a reflection of Christ himself?

Two addresses?

weds am copy (2)

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes from a Roman prison but in chapter 3 he speaks of himself as a prisoner of Christ.  Paul considers himself a dual prisoner; actually living as a prisoner of Rome but faithfully living a life of love as a prisoner of Christ.   William Barclay, a Biblical commentator, refers to Paul as having a “double address,” one in a Roman prison and one in Christ.

We may also live with double addresses.  Living in the throes of our lives, enduring and enjoying the society around us, but at the same time we have our address in Christ. At this address we may become the love and grace as given by Christ while living at a worldly address that fails to know the love and grace of Christ.  Two simultaneous address for all of us to live in or at.  I invite you to think about how living at that gracious address in Christ may influence the earthly address we occupy.

Wednesday am Bible Study

 

SunriseWednesday a.m.’s Bible Study question of the day was, “What is God’s discipline?”  (Hebrews 12:1-13)  Since we don’t believe God causes bad things to happen to us (these things occur as a consequence of being part of this world) we spoke of an inner discipline we sense from how we know God.  During our conversation, a new question arose, “How do you know God that affects your inner discipline?”  Most responses spoke to knowing a God of Love.  We share this question with you.

Amazing Responses

ImageOur Wed. a.m. Bible study included the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19).  A wee little man was he (also wealthy and despised was he).  But he reacted in not such a wee manner when he came face to face with Jesus.  When Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “I must stay at your house today,” Zacchaeus immediately said, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor.”  And then he confessed, “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”

Two amazing responses to the presence of Jesus!  We claim Jesus’ presence widely.  What did he discover about life in Jesus’ presence that we might be missing in life?

grilling Jesus

Today’s (Oct. 23) a.m. Bible study (Luke 17:20-37) pondered the “grilling” * of Jesus about when and where the Kingdom of God will come.  The Pharisees want visible signs.  Jesus gives a confusing answer.  Could it be confusing because the questions of when and where are asked in material terms and Jesus answers the when and where in spiritual terms?  Is Jesus saying we will “see” the kingdom of God (among or within us) when “seeing” our mortal helplessness to sin as the where for God’s grace?   Can you ponder your when and where other than in material terms? 

 

*From The Message//Remix,  a Bible translation by Eugene Peterson

Gracious Engagement

On Sunday, September 29, 2013, our Adult Forum was titled “Gracious Engagement – Living into Social Change”.

The presentation commended conversations we may call gracious engagement, which involves telling our story–but that this works only when we are more interested in the story of the other.

Do you have a story close to your heart that needs to be told?

How can you know someone well enough to trust him or her with your story?

Martin Luther listed mutual conversation and consolation alongside the sacraments of our church as a means of grace.

Your pastors are here for you.  Please know God’s grace is for you.

gracious

Love what you are hearing?

Our Prayer of the Day for the Third Sunday after Epiphany includes these words:  Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people.  Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. 

“Wow, can we do all of that in one hearing of each Bible reading?  Consider this portion of our Sunday reading from Nehemiah, “all the people gathered together . . . they told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the Law of Moses . . . he read it from early morning until midday.”  Wow, how could they sit so patiently and listen to the Law of Moses for that long? Did the law actually nourish them, or did it convict them?  Reading further we can learn that these people may not have loved what they were hearing, but they so loved God that they allowed their love for God to shape their hearing of God’s law as something they could read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.   Can your love for God change the way you hear scripture?