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May 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

Easter is over...So What Now?


Wow! What an exciting winter and early spring!  There was so much activity  going on with our  celebrations of Christ over the last few months. We started way back in November with preparation of the coming birth of Christ and moved through the next couple of months with Celebrations and remembering the birth story.  From there, we moved in to the Lent season and prepared for the celebrations of His Ultimate Sacrifice for us on the cross with a busy Holy Week ending with celebration of Christ's rising from the Dead to fulfill prophecy. 

So what now?

As we wind down the school year and prepare for summer vacations, many churches also scale back on Sunday Schools, Youth and small groups as well as taking a summer break from choirs and other activities. It seems like we just end it all and don't move forward again until we come back from the fall. 

It made me wonder what we should  be doing over these humdrum months. As I listened to the service this past Sunday, it made me realized maybe I should see what Christ instructed us to do as we move forward and here is what I found.

First, as I looked into the time after Easter, I learned there are actually six seasons in the Methodist liturgical year. It turns out there are actually 2 seasons between Easter and Advent when we begin to gear up again for all the celebrations over the winter months. The season following Easter Sunday  is called the Easter Season and last 50 days and is followed by the Season after Pentecost.  Combined these are called the Ordinary Season.

Ok, now that leaves me with more questions, so I decided to look into the curren Easter Season. So what exactly is Easter Season?

Well, according to the UMC.org glossary, Easter Season "celebrates on the one hand the risen Christ with his appearances and teachings and on the other hand the beginnings of the Christian church" and the term Pentecost historically referred to the time between Easter and Pentecost, but now the term is reserved only for Pentecost Sunday. 

Easter is actually 50 days long, not just one day.  It is the season that we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church and in the early church it was used to continue the faith formation of new Christians. Today, it is a season for continuing to rejoice and to experience what it means for Christ to be risen. We remember our baptism and Christ's gift of salvation, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and exploring how we are to live and become more faithful disciples of Christ. 

So what now? 
I expect to continue to celebrate my baptism and the gift of Salvation that I have received. I plan to learn how to use the gifts I have received from the Holy Spirit by reading passages and bible studies in the book of Acts while looking forward to the day of Pentecost when we will celebrate the day that the gift of the Holy Spirit was first received by the Apostles. Traditionally, it is the book Acts that is focused on over the next 50 Days, so this is where I will begin.
 

So where will you begin?

 

jlp

 

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April 15, 2019, 2:26 PM

Lenten Bible Study: Lesson 6


Session 6: “It is Finished…Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit”

 

John 19:30a and Luke 23:43-47

Hamilton pointed out that Jesus’ statement from the cross, “It is finished…” was not a defeated cry – It was a SHOUT of VICTORY!

“It is finished!” Something astounding, amazing, and awesome was finished as Jesus died on the cross – masterpiece of love and redemption.

Hamilton wants us to consider what exactly was completed on the cross. He posed several questions in the book.

  1. What purpose did Jesus’ suffering and death serve? What did it accomplish?
  2. Is his death only about forgiveness of sins or is there more?
  3. How does Jesus’ death bring about our forgiveness and serve to make us “at one” with God?

 

The Temple Curtain Is Torn

The temple, God’s presence on earth, had been turned into a marketplace. When Jesus saw how the people of Jerusalem defamed God’s presence, he predicted the destruction of the Temple. He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But this temple would not be made with hands. Jesus was sayig that he would stand in place of the Temple as the presence of God.

  1. Discuss the significance of the tearing of the Temple curtain when Jesus died.
  2. In addition to the tearing of the curtain in the Temple, several other strange events occurred when Jesus drew his final breath.

Do you remember what some of these were? (Matt. 27:51-52)

3. Discuss the significance of the Roman soldier saying, “Surely this man

was a righteous man.” (Matt. 27:54)

 

Jesus’ Dying Prayer

After the Temple curtain was torn, Jesus offered one final statement. Hamilton suggests his dying words were a prayer – “Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit.” It was a prayer of absolute trust in God.

1. How could praying this same prayer, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” help you when you are facing darkness and despair, the valley of the shadow of death, or the unknown?

 

  • The signs of the end of the world found in Scripture have seemed applicable in every generation. Jesus was clear that no one knows the day or the hour that he will return. Our aim is to be READY.
  1. What does it mean to “be ready?”

 

CLOSING

When we make these final words Jesus spoke, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” our daily prayer, we never have to be afraid. Jesus ended his suffering by teaching us how to live each day – not in fear but in CONFIDENCE and HOPE

Closing prayer:

Lord God, thank you for sending your precious son Jesus to bear the burden of our sins and secure for us a place in paradise. Guide us as we take into the world the lessons we have learned through this study of Jesus’ last words. Allow these words to shape our lives as we follow in the footsteps of our crucified King. Amen.

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April 9, 2019, 10:13 AM

Lenten Bible Study: Lesson 5


Lenten Bible Study Lesson 5: “I Thirst”

Read Scripture: John 19: 28-29

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.”

Hamilton mentioned that we are pain avoiders. He said…

“We don’t want to do something that is too difficult – Something that might risk my very life.”

“Redemptive work doesn’t always happen by taking the easy way.”

Reflections

Jesus took the uncomfortable way, the inconvenient way, the way most of us do not want to go. He also invites us to take the difficult path at times in our own lives. Read Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” What does it mean to deny self? To take up your cross daily?

 

Reflections

Hamilton discussed the accounts of the offer of drink to Jesus at his crucifixion.

  • Mark mentioned that he was offered wine mixed with Myrrh.
  • Matthew said it was mixed with gall.
  • After Jesus was nailed to the cross, Luke records that an offer of wine was given to him to taunt him.
  • The women who stood at the cross offered Jesus wine with poison in it, but he refused it.

 

Why do you think Jesus refused the drink from the women? Jesus was intentionally choosing to suffer – This was his mission. He did not wish to take the easy way.

Compare Jesus’ thirst in John 4:1-26 with his thirst in John 19:28-29. How did these two incidents have similar results?

 

Reflections

When we understand that on multiple occasions Jesus used the idea of drinking as a metaphor for the suffering he would endure, we see that Jesus’ words “I thirst” may have pointed to something deeper.

Think about what Jesus’ words may have been pointing toward ….

  1. His willingness to drink the cup of suffering, sin, and hate.
  2. The fact that the cup was now nearly empty – his time of suffering was drawing to a close.
  3. The fact that he had finished off the cup that his Father had given him – He had completed his mission to suffer and die on behalf of the human race.

 

Reflections

Hamilton state that Jesus words “I thirst” may have been intended for the people around him, or they may have been a prayer to God in which Jesus thirsted for God.

  1. What are you thirsting for first and foremost in your life? What do you hope will satisfy you?
  2. Could it be that the things we thirst for do not leave us satisfied for long? We are to thirst only for God!

 

Closing Comments

Today, we still can offer him a drink. We do this when we see those who are physically or spiritually thirsty and we risk the scorn of others or simply go out of our way to offer them a drink.

 

Prayer

Lord, be for me the source of Living Water. May my heart thirst after nothing as much as it thirsts after you. And may I, as one of your followers, extend water, both physical and spiritual, to all who are thirsty. Amen.

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March 27, 2019, 12:41 PM

Lenten Bible Study Week 4



“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

Mark 15:33-36a

It wasn’t enough that they crucified Jesus, they wanted to destroy him – to crush him and to dehumanize him.

            How do you think it was possible for devout, pious people who werer celebrating the       
            Passover, hoping and praying for the coming of the Messiah, to become a taunting crowd at
           Jesus crucifixion?

 

Hamilton said that as we get older, we become more sophisticated in the ways we hurt others.

            How have you seen this played out in our world in recent years?

 

Jesus Knows What It’s Like to Feel Abandoned by God

As Jesus hung on the cross, he no longer felt the presence of his Father – He felt alone and abandoned.

 

Reflection Questions

 

  1. What did Jesus do when he felt forsaken by God?

 

  1. What do you do when you experience tough times?

 

 

Jesus Teaches Us to Suffer and Sacrifice for Others

  1. Has the sharing of God’s love cost you anything or given you any discomfort?  Have you been willing to pay any price or to sacrifice anything for this call?

 

  1. Discuss situations in which Christians today sacrifice to show God’s love toward other human beings.

 

Jesus Prays and Worships in His Time of Despair

Jesus did not turn from God when he felt forsaken – He prayed.  He went beyond praying -- He also worshipped.

 

Hamilton says “It is an act of faith when you speak to God during a tough time.”

 

Closing Comments

When we feel abandoned by God, we, too, must choose to trust that God has not really forsaken us.  We must trust that God will not hide his face from us, and that God hears us when we pray.  And that leads to confidence in a future yet unseen.

 

Closing Prayer

Forgive me, Lord, for the times I – like those who stood at your cross – have acted with cruelty.  Thank you for identifying, by your suffering, with all who ever feel forsaken or cry out, “Why?”  Help me to trust in you in my own times of adversity.  Amen.

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March 14, 2019, 11:16 PM

Lenten Bible Study Week 2


“Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise”

 

 

Read Scripture:  Luke 23:32, 39-43

 

The Gospel of Luke, as Hamilton reminds us, highlights Jesus’ concern for the least, the last, and the lost.  WE find Jesus constantly concerned for the sinner, the outcast, the unclean, and the nobody.

 

We are to love the people Jesus loved!  We are to reach out to the people Jesus reached out to!  We have to be willing to associate with sinners!

 

  1. What groups today do you think might be the equivalent of the sinners and tax collectors to whom Jesus ministered?  How do you think your family and friends would react if you were to begin a ministry to one of those groups?

 

  1. Discuss the questions Hamilton asked in the video:

Do people who don’t know Christ feel comfortable around you?

Do they feel small or valued and accepted after they have a conversation with you?

 

    3.  What does it mean to “be the church?”

 

 

TWO CRIMINALS, TWO RESPONSES

  1. How would you describe the difference in the heart attitude of the two thieves?

 

2.  What turned the thief into a believer?

 

 

THE PEACE OF JESUS’ WORDS:  Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise

Hamilton’s view of what happens to us when we die is that we immediately enter into Christ’s kingdom.

         What were some of the reasons he gave for believing this? (pg. 45-46)

 

Discuss Hamilton’s views on Jesus’ response to the thief who asked Jesus to remember him. – pg. 46-47

 

Closing Reflections

“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  These words of Jesus from the cross point us toward his mission – and ours:  to seek and to save those who are lost.  This includes those who, to us, seem to be hopelessly lost.  These words beckon us to be like the thief whose heart was moved by seeing the crucified Jesus, and to pray with him, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  These words point us toward the paradise that was restored by Jesus on the cross and remind us of the promise we have of dwelling in the King’s Garden with him.

 

Closing Prayer

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.  I want to be with you in paradise.  Teach me to love as Jesus loved and to reach out to others so that they might see your love through me.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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