Luke 1:5-25 Advent is a season of waiting. Israel had been waiting a long time for God to do something, to “rend the heavens and come down.” We also are in a season of waiting: for the vaccine, for the pandemic to be over, to be allowed to gather in person, to travel. Our Advent series this year looks at four pairs of characters: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, the shepherds and the magi, Simeon and Anna. Some of them had been waiting a long time. We will also consider these characters in conjunction with the beatitudes. Whose is the kingdom of heaven? How should we live in this time of waiting?
John 6:41-71 We finish Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse this week. Jesus goes deeper into what it means to keep coming and keep believing in him. His language is arresting as he talks about ingesting his flesh and blood. The shocking language offends many of his disciples, causing them to turn away. Yet the language he uses speaks to us taking his life into ours so that his life becomes our life, that we may abide with each other and share life together. What an incredible invitation to us – the living God wants to share life with us! And, of course, this text looks forward to our identifying feast, communion. Although it is not the first Sunday of the month, we will take communion together at the end of the service. For those of you at home, I invite you to prepare elements ahead of time which represent the body and blood of Jesus (the elements do not need to be special). For those of you at our live parking lot service, we will serve pre-packaged elements to you.
John 6:22-40 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” It sure is a strange way to talk about yourself, isn’t it? I am bread? I could understand if he would have said maker of bread, or baker of bread or giver of bread. But, I am bread? A person is bread? Really? No one ever spoke like this! Come this Sunday as we explore this famous saying by Jesus.
John 17:20-26 In John 13-16 we have Jesus teaching and training his disciples to go out in the world and represent him. But in John 17, Jesus starts to pray aloud, so his disciples hear him. This is one of the most astonishing passages in the Bible. At one level it’s astonishing because it is an extended conversation inside the triune God, an actual conversation between the Son and the Father. It’s also true that Jesus is, so to speak, on his deathbed, and having been at the bedside of many people right before they have died, I can tell you that people who are dying are not really interested in small talk. They go right to what is most important to them. And that is true here as well. And when we look at this prayer in its entirety, we see the main thing that he has on his mind and heart as he is about to die is us, the church. He prays for a number of things for us in this chapter. This Sunday we will focus on one of those things as we look at the final 7 verses of that prayer.
John 6:1-21 As we come to John 6 this week, we are confronted again with our view of God. Jesus goes back to Galilee during Passover, where he finds a great crowd following him. He has compassion on the crowd and feeds them using a small lunch, then collects 12 baskets of leftovers. Jesus seems to be connected to a world of great abundance. Are you connected to this world? Is the God you serve a God of abundance or scarcity? Join us in person for Mornings Together or on our live stream as we explore this well-known text. Communion At the end of Sunday’s service we will again take communion “together.” For those of you at home, I invite you to prepare elements ahead of time which represent the body and blood of Jesus (the elements do not need to be special). For those of you at Mornings Together, we will serve pre-packaged elements to you.
John 5:31-47 The Jewish Authorities have begun prosecuting Jesus on charges of blasphemy because he is “making himself equal with God” (5:18). In turn, Jesus has entered his defense. He and His Father are working together in dependent unity. Some of this work includes giving life and pronouncing judgment, quite audacious claims for any human to make. As you can imagine, everyone standing there would be asking Jesus for evidence for these audacious claims. Knowing this, Jesus now calls to the stand three witnesses for his defense, but also offers a closing argument rebuking these authorities. In the end, we must give our verdict. Will we pronounce Jesus innocent or guilty?
John 5:19-30 After healing the lame man in John 5:1-18, the Jewish authorities begin to bring formal charges against Jesus because he is “making himself equal with God” (5:18). In our extraordinary text this week, Jesus begins his defense of his actions. This is Jesus’ longest exposition on his relationship to his Father, including the authority that his Father has given him to bestow life and render judgment. The culmination of these verses is the Gospel where Jesus invites all people to believe in him and move from death to life, a movement that can happen right now. In these breath-taking verses, Jesus makes himself the core decision for all people for all time. So, what will you do with him?
John 5:1-18 We begin a new section in the Gospel of John this week. In these middle chapters of John, by what Jesus says and does, he sets himself apart from any other person who has ever lived. To begin, he heals a man who was lame for 38 years. Before he heals him, though, he asks him a curious question: Do you want to get well? Instead of answering the question, the man seemingly responds with complaints and excuses. It’s a good question for us to consider. Do we want to get well? Jesus, God with us, stands at the door and knocks, and offers us living water. Do we really want to get well?
John 4:43-54 At the end of his Gospel, John tells us that he has written his masterpiece so that ““you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). In these early chapters of John, we have seen several people come to genuinely believe in Jesus. His mother and disciples in chapter 2 and the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan townspeople in chapter 4. This week, we see Jesus, the Word, speak but a word (actually 5 words) to a desperate father, and the question is – will this man genuinely believe Jesus’ words or not? Join our livestream this week as we explore what genuine faith in Jesus, the Word, looks like. Communion At the end of Sunday’s service we will again take communion “together” while apart. I invite you to prepare elements ahead of time which represent the body and blood of Jesus (the elements do not need to be special). If you attend Mornings Together, we will serve pre-packaged elements to you.
1 Corinthians 13 What is Love? It’s a question many ask, but few find an answer that will sustain them through all the messy realities of life. Paul’s words to the Corinthian church are that answer because Paul wrote them to a church who did not love each other. And although we often confine these words to areas where we feel love (reading them at weddings or hanging them in our family room), they actually have a much broader scope. Come join us as we discover (or rediscover) the Love that is big enough for any situation!
John 4:27-45 “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (Is 52:7). Evangelism. Sometimes we hear that word and immediately we cringe. Unfortunately the word is heard negatively these days. But, we shouldn’t cringe with this word, for evangelizing is simply “good-news-izing,” telling people in word and deed the amazingly wonderful good news of Jesus. This is exactly what the woman at the well did. She met Jesus, was loved by him, then turned around and loved her neighbors by sharing the amazingly wonderful good news. What can we learn about this essential element of our faith from this woman at the well who became a well? Join our live-stream this Sunday to complete our studies in this profound scene.
John 4:19-26 This Sunday we will enter back into John, and enter back into the Samaritan woman at the well scene. Near the end of the conversation with Jesus, the woman asks about worship. Jesus has just told the woman her story, exposing the skeletons in her closet. He does this not to shame her but to show her that he loves her regardless of her skeletons. This causes the woman to want to worship. Jesus then explains what authentic worship in spirit and truth means. Since we are designed to worship, this text is fundamental to what it means to be human. Join the live-stream this Sunday to explore this important theme.