Devotional for July 20, 2014 –  If we say we have no sin…

Written by Jenn Richter

Bible Background          

The recipients of the first epistle of John were dealing with a serious division in their community, fueled by the infant cries of Gnosticism. This school of thought, which wouldn’t become fully fleshed out for another couple of centuries, declared, in essence, that spirit is good and matter is evil. Many believed that the Son of God could not have come in flesh because how could a good God inhabit an evil body? But by denying that God came to us in person, Jesus became once again just a man, with no power to change our hearts and lives, and God was once again The Spirit in the Sky, accessible only to those of superior enlightenment. They had tossed the central message of the Gospel out into the dust.

At the same time that they were declaring the body to be evil, the Gnostics were also using their beliefs to justify licentiousness. If only the spirit is important, they reasoned, what you do with your body doesn’t matter at all. When John writes this letter, he asks the people of the church to pause and back up a bit. There are three tests of a true Christian, he said. First, they believe that God became flesh and brought the message of God’s love to us in a sweaty, sometimes smelly body that was prone to bruise and bleed – just like us. Second, they acknowledge that Christ was a teacher and had plenty to say about what behavior is acceptable– and what is not. Because of their love for Christ and their recognition of what he went through to connect with us, they strive to follow his teachings. And third, they recognize that Christ’s most important lessons boil down to one tenet: Love your neighbor as yourself. If a person truly understands who Christ is, he will not use his connection with God to justify stealing from his neighbor, cheating on his spouse, lying to his boss … If a person claims to love God but continually mistreats God’s children, he is fooling himself; he doesn’t know God.

That said, John recognizes that we are all fallible human being. We make mistakes. Despite our best efforts, we all sin on occasion. John says, look, sin is real. And sin is destructive. Don’t go there. But if you do, remember … that’s why Jesus came in the first place – to pay the price for our sins and to set us right with the Father. But, he cautions, don’t get all high and mighty about this. Jesus came, not just for us, but for all of God’s children. None of us are so spiritual that we are exempt from Christ’s expectations, nor are any of us too human for his love to reach through and pick us up when we fall.                                                                                                                                           

Quotes of the Week                                                                                                                                      

“Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there’s all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the will-to-action; acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens.” – Arthur Gordon

“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher

“Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.” ― Martin Luther

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

“We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.” ― Desmond Tutu

1 John 1:5-2:2 (NRSV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Questions for the Week

In what ways does your life display your love for Christ?

Have you ever had a believer in Christ show you unconditional love in a time of personal weakness? What difference did it make in your life?

 

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Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

John and community seem to be linked together.  It is a Johanine community which writes the book of Revelation.  Obviously these letters of 1st 2nd and 3rd John are also written as a community effort. This one even begins with the words, “From the very first day we were there taking it all in . . .”  Eugene’s Peterson’s introduction to the three letters of John are helpful:

The two most difficult things to get straight in life are love and God . . . The basic biblical Christian conviction is that the two subjects are intricately related.  If we want to deal with God the right way, we have to learn to love the right way.  If we want to love the right way, we have to deal with God the right way. God and love can’t be separated.  John’s three letters provide wonderfully explicit directions in how this works.

I also like the motivation given for writing this letter.  It is not to make an argument to change your mind, or convert you.  It is to create joy.  We want you to enjoy this, because if you do, it will double our joy.  It turns out there is a lot of joy in the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  How do we capture that joy, experience it, take it in and wring it for all it’s worth?  Well, it turns out we have to get outside of ourselves.

First we are called to center our lives on the incredible news that God has been incarnated right in our own midst.  We must learn to see Christ in the other, in our neighbor (even the noisy, weird ones).  We don’t have to go out and find where Christ has appeared, Christ is already here in our midst.  We simply need new eyes in order to see where Christ already exists.

In the quotes today Wendell Berry state that affluence stands in opposition to community.  When we center our lives on how we can “get” more and more we seem to, in some way, cut ourselves off from having more of God.  Having more of God and entering more fully into community seems to mean finding a different focus in our lives.

This community of John has seen the transformative, joy-giving, life of Jesus in person.  We’re not so lucky.  In our lives it’s almost as though we go around with a Geiger counter finding traces of the power of the incarnation around us.  Or maybe you have had a personal experience of that power.  Jesus told Thomas that those who did not see and yet believed were especially blest.  Regardless of whether we see Jesus, we do see each other, and we can attempt to love one another as Christ loved us.  And, when we fail, we can forgive one another as Christ forgives us.

Quotes for the Week

“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.”     Wendell Berry

“Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.” ibid

“The freedom of affluence opposes and contradicts the freedom of community life.” ibid

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”    Dorothy Day

“When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capple singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community.  That’s one of the great feelings–to stop being me for a little while and to become us.  That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.”  Brian Eno

“I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties.  Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.”  Dave Barry

Lesson 1st John 1:1-4  (The Message)

1-2 From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

3-4 We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

Questions for the Week

Have you had a personal, powerful experience of Jesus in your life?  If yes, what was it?

What trace elements of Christ to you see at work in your own life, in this community?

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Devotional for July 6, 2014 – Just say no to coveting!     

Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background                                                                                                                                                  We end the series on the Ten Commandments by spending a whole week on the last of the commandments, the one against coveting. It is the only commandment that is repeated twice.  Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s spouse.  It even ends with a wrap up of do not covet anything of your neighbor’s. I imagine God really emphasizing this final point.  Just don’t do it.  Do. Not. Covet. Anything. Period. 

So what is coveting if it is so important that we not do it?  To covet, according to the dictionary per Google, means, “to yearn to posses or have.” If we want something, yearning to posses or have, we are coveting.  This makes the commandment even more straightforward.  If your neighbor has something and you want it. You yearn to posses it instead of your neighbor having it.  You are coveting that object.

Dang. I thought it would be more elusive.  I thought I could call this one good because I thought to covet would be more dark in some ways.  But instead it is just wanting what the other person has.  Our culture seems to be built on this.  I won’t lie; I really want that outfit that so and so has.  Or I would love to live in their house.  Wow, I really want that piece in their garden.  Or that new piece of technology.  I think you get the idea.  We are called not to yearn to have what belongs to our neighbor.  And the reality is that we all do this.  Our heart desires things.

There are many biblical examples of this.  There is the extreme version of coveting when King David wants to have Bathsheba and gets rid of her husband to make it happen.  Then there is the example of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel who want the vineyard that someone else owns.  This is a struggle for humans regardless of what we think we can control.  In each of these examples, coveting leads to horrible situations.  There is a warning here from our storytellers.  When we want what our neighbor has and we do anything to get it, we are led astray.  We can develop all sorts of spiritual practices to help us curb this but it is part of being human.  This is how consumerism works!

We are love God.  Then we are to love our neighbor.  This commandment is very much a part of loving neighbor.  We are not to desire what our neighbor has.  A warning: our heart’s desires can be powerful.  Be aware.  Set yourself up with support and accountability.  Church is a good place for this.  Check in with your heart every once in a while about how it is going against coveting.  Take care of that heart.  We are all in the same boat.  We can call each other into life of community rather than a life of jealousy and yearning for what the other has.  May we be content with what we have and work towards providing necessities to others who don’t have it.

Quotes of the Week                                                                                                                                       “When I realize that God makes his gifts fit each person, there’s no way I can covet what you got because it just wouldn’t fit me.” ― William P. SmithLoving Well   

 

But if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive.” -William Shakespeare

 

“I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn’t mean anything? What then?”

― Neil Gaiman  

 

A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.

-Richard Whately
“Mortals are easily tempted to pinch the life out of their neighbor’s buzzing glory, and think that such killing is no murder.” ― George Eliot

 

“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.” ― Steve Martin

Exodus 20: 17 (NRSV)

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

 Questions for the Week

What do you covet the most?

What do you do to combat wanting with the other has?

Why do you think this is the final commandment?

 

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Devotional for June 29, 2014 –  Will you be my neighbor?

 

Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background 

Our work through the commandments continues on this week with a series of commandments that are directed at our work with our neighbors.  By setting up some perimeters around how we treat one another, we can truly be free people.  Freedom is not when the powerful people can take whatever they want. Freedom is when we respect the property and livelihoods of other people.  We help them maintain and retain what they have.  Then we aren’t preoccupied in survival mode.  Freedom is not when the strong dominate the weak but when we look out for one another.  Freedom is when everyone’s rights are respected and heard, especially the elderly, the poor, the marginalized.  Freedom is commitment between two people.  Freedom is neighbor-improvement.

This set of commandments is about turning our gaze toward our neighbor.  This way we can live fully into relationship with one another.  No longer are we protecting what we have but we are respecting what the other has.  We are building community. In essence, we are told not to look for our best life now but our neighbor’s best life now.

If we look toward our neighbor through these commandments, then we can be assured our neighbor is looking out for us as well. It creates reciprocal relationship with one another.  God knows this. God is a relational God.  Instead of God telling us to just love neighbor, God knows us so well to give us guidelines.  We sometimes miss the points as far as human beings go.

The commandments tell us important information. Family relationships are important.  Our elders are our grounding.  We need to honor and respect them.  Don’t kill each other. Don’t steal.  We all get to respect the other’s stuff. Don’t hurt your neighbor with your words.  Don’t have sex with someone else’s spouse.  These are important keys to loving your neighbor. If you break one of these rules, it hurts the whole community.  This is not about gaining or losing points, this is about maintaining relationship with one another.  The law isn’t about you it is about loving your neighbor after loving God. It isn’t about you.  Let’s not make it about you.

God loves your neighbor so much that God gives you law.  And God loves you so much that God gives your neighbor the law. It continues the covenant between us.  This is good news. This is good news of freedom and it is good news for help when we need a neighbor.  This is such good news that Jesus will take these exact same concepts to revise and teach later.  We are told that it is so important to keep relationship with neighbor by Jesus that is the second most important commandment, to love neighbor as self.  Jesus is directly dialoguing with Moses and God here.

Quotes of the Week                                                                                                                                       “People can learn as much about the ways of God from business deals gone bad or sparrows falling to the ground as they can from reciting the books of the Bible in order. They can learn as much from a love affair or a wildflower as they can from knowing the Ten Commandments by heart.” ― Barbara Brown Taylor

“All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.” – John Calvin

“When God wants to speak and deal with us, he does not avail himself of an angel but of parents, or the pastor, or of our neighbor.” – Martin Luther

“Why couldn’t Jesus command us to obsess over everything, to try to control and manipulate people, to try not to breathe at all, or to pay attention, stomp away to brood when people annoy us, and then eat a big bag of Hershey’s Kisses in bed?” ― Anne LamottPlan B: Further Thoughts on Faith 

“The only thing I know about Moses is him coming down from the mountain with the commandments and saying ‘The good news is I got him down to 10. The bad news is adultery is still in.” ― Steve KlugerLast Days of Summer    

Exodus 20:12-16 (NRSV)                                                                                                                                  Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Questions for the Week

Who are your neighbors?

Out of this list, which commandment is the most difficult for you? Why?

How will you respect your neighbor this week?

 

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No other Gods

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

Interesting how many of these commandments I’ve broken trying to write this devotional.  First of all the battery on my new laptop isn’t working.  *&^%$^^%!  My NRSV Bible is not loaded to any of my computers right now.  So, I have to type the text into the document instead of cutting and pasting (Jenn, you can join me on this one if you like) $%%^%!  I spent about an hour and a half trying to download a version of it to my computer, but when I opened the book it was gibberish #@#%^$! And goodbye $20!  &^^&^%$!  But I am Lutheran so it is OK.  We can swear with impunity because Martin Luther did.  Human excrement, human copulation, male descendants of female canines, all fine and the first one frequently utilized by Luther himself.  But we can’t use God’s name in a way that is inappropriate.  God’s name is to be used in praise and thanksgiving and worship.  It’s also OK to use God’s name to curse someone as long as you have reason to believe that God would agree.  We are not to attribute ideas to God that are our own.  That’s a big part of not taking God’s name in vain.

But what about the Sabbath day?  It turns out that I also work quite a few.  Of course the Sabbath is really Saturday, but even if you say we have a new Holy day, the day of Christ’s resurrection, I work quite a few of those as well.  Thank God we are not going on to the whole honor your father and mother rules.  Of course, now that I’m older, (and that they are no longer alive) honoring them is a lot more simple than it use to be.

In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther explained over and over that we are to “fear and love” God.  For quite a while I’ve bucked at that.  How is that even possible?  How can we hold fear and love together in the same description?  It shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve grown to emphasize the “love” part a great deal more than the “fear” part.

The people of Israel are filled with fear.  Moses had previously brought God down on their heads.  There was a huge earthquake, clouds with lightning and thunder and a very loud trumpet.  I have a vision of the scene in “Close Encounters of a 3rd Kind” in my head when the mother ship arrives in a cloud of mystery, and some kind of horns that shatter all the glass windows in the area.  The people instruct Moses to keep God away from them.  Have him talk to YOU, and YOU talk to us.  Perhaps we can relate to not wanting God too close to us, to have some kind of insulation in place so that we don’t get burned.

I believe we still have idols around.  One way to get to your own personal idol is to ask Luther’s question, “Where does your heart cling, especially in times of trouble?”  Is it our money in the bank?  The violent force of our military?  Perhaps it is our family, or some substance that helps us to temporarily forget.  All of these are a poor substitute for the real thing.  The 10 commandments are intended to help us center our lives in God, and to trust in God’s never failing love for us.  This is, after all, the God who brought us out of slavery in Egypt, fed and gave us drink in the wilderness and promises us life in the Holy Land complete with milk and honey.

Quotes for the Week

 

“If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong.   You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge.  You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.”   Eugene Peterson

 

“Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week.”          Alice Walker

 

“I’m a man of faith.  I only fear God, and my wife—sometimes.”  Lech Walesa

 

The biggest thrill a ballplayer can have is when your son takes after you. That happened when my Bobby was in his championship Little League game. He really showed me something. Struck out three times. Made an error that lost the game. Parents were throwing things at our car and swearing at us as we drove off. Gosh, I was proud.”                     Bob Uecker

 

“A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.”

Emo Phillips

 

 

Lesson Exodus 20:3-11 (The Message)

 

 No other gods, only me.

4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.

8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

Questions for the Week

What devices do we use to keep God at a distance from us?

Which one of these commandments do you struggle with the most?

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Devotional for June 15, 2014 –   I am the Lord your God                                                                                  

Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background 

As we head into summer, we will be looking at three different books of the bible this summer.  We will delve into each book for a month and see what we can find.  Over the course of the next four weeks, we will be exploring one specific part of Exodus.  We spent just a little time in Exodus last fall but now we want to delve further into the Ten Commandments specifically.  This will allow us to really look at the commandments that God has set before the people of Israel and try to relate back to our own lives today.  Have you ever really looked into those Ten Commandments that came down the mountain with Moses?

This segment of Exodus is key to the covenant and relationship between God and the Israelites and these first verses really set up the expectation for the rest of the verses.  As a refresher, the people are miraculously delivered from slavery (chapters 1-15).  They make their way through months of wilderness, with much complaining and some hope (chapters 16-18).  Now they have arrived at Mount Sinai and have camped at the base of it.  This would date Exodus at around 1280 BCE.  The people won’t leave Sinai until the book of Numbers.

Moses gets called up the mountain by God.  Moses is the only one to encounter God throughout these travels.   He goes up to the mountain a couple of times and finally God has some things to say to the people.  The very first thing to say is that God is the Lord our God.  God addresses Moses and the Israelites as though there is already an established relationship, “Thus you shall say…”

This is our God.  The God who brought the people out of slavery.  This is our God.  The God who gives a covenant of us belonging to God and God belonging to us.  This is our God.  The God who created the earth and everything in it.

In this culture, this is breaking news.  We are kind of use to this now but for Moses and the Israelites this is unheard of.  We have a God?  We have a God who makes a covenant with us?  This is different from the cultures around the Israelites.  They are seeing multiple Gods responsible for multiple creations and they are not making covenants.  But this God is.  Our God. Our God cares for us and brings us out of slavery.  Our God treats us as treasured people and will lead us to new life.  Sometimes we forget this very basic piece of what it means to follow God.  We belong to God and God belongs to us.  We are part of a covenant with God.  We are treasured and cared for people.  We sometimes forget about our God.  Today may we remember that God is ours and we are God’s.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Quotes of the Week                                                                                                                                               “It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence.”  ― C.S. Lewis

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” ― Meister Eckhart     

While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.” -Maya Angelou

 

God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.” -Soren Kierkegaard    

 

Adoration is caring for God above all else.” -Evelyn Underhill                                                                                                                                 

Exodus 19:1-6, 20:1-2 (NRSV)On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain.  Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”

Then God spoke all these words:

 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;

 Questions for the Week

Who is God to you?

Where have you seen God around you lately?

How do you feel like a treasured possession of God?

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Day of Pentecost–Strawberries and Cream

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

Gale force wind, tongues of fire, disciples speaking in different languages, lots of people from all kinds of strange places, drunken disciples, these are the images I usually visualize for the Day of Pentecost. I’ve totally missed the boat. The Jewish festival being celebrated is Shavuot. It is also known as the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Harvest. It is celebrated on the 50th day after Passover. And, more recently the celebration features readings from the Book of Ruth AND it milk products are usually consumed. Some think this is to celebrate the giving of the law that is sweet like milk and honey. So, think cheesecake! Think cheese blitzes, fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream! Now we’re talking.

Pentecost, or Shavuot, was one of three celebrations where Jewish men were required to return to Israel for worship and festivities. It was a pilgrimage. The diaspora of the Jewish people around 500 BCE explains why there are so many foreigners at the party. The Jewish people had been forced to leave their homes and were now scattered all over the Middle East and beyond.

So, perhaps this Pentecost we should serve strawberry shortcake after worship? After all, it is a party. We celebrate the confirmation of young people who have worked hard and are now making a commitment to being adult members of this congregation. We are celebrating the birth of the church, both the Christian Church as a whole, and our particular Cooperative Ministries. We think the Co-op celebrated it’s forming on Pentecost 2006. We’re a bunch of 8 year olds, (which may explain a lot).

How might we make this a festive day? Certainly music will help us as we seek to celebrate. How about the other parts of a celebration? Food must be included. I would also add wine, but Peter says 9:30 is too early in the morning for that. What about art, banners, maybe even special effects? Pentecost is one of the largest days of celebration in the church. We don’t often put it in a place with Christmas Eve and Easter, but perhaps we should.

Pentecost is also the day we might celebrate the word of God put into simple language that is not difficult to understand. After all, that’s what all the hubbub was about. Today the gift of tongues is thought to be gibberish where no one can understand a word you say. That was not the original gift. When the day of Pentecost came everyone was shocked to understand clearly what was being said. Some think the disciples must be drunk. Obviously this is not the case. Too much alcohol does a lot of things, making a person speak more clearly is not one of them.

It is this gift of hearing the Good News of the Gospel in their own personal dialect that causes so many people to believe in Jesus and place their trust in him.   Apparently the Galileans were not well knows for their mastery of foreign languages. The people are shocked not only to hear their own language, but also to hear these un-educated, backwater citizens doing so. The story of Pentecost is one of a detour. Something amazing takes place as we are preparing for our party, and that event will change the course of our lives.

Quotes for the Week

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” –Melody Beattie

“God loves to pour out His Spirit with power on those who will dare to align radically their purposes with His.”  ― Steve Childers

“Don’t you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see.”    –Doug Adams

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”               Marie Curie

“I would be lying if I said I cut out all dessert. When I’m training, I try to satisfy those cravings with a slightly healthier dessert, like a piece of dark chocolate or whipped cream and strawberries. Those are two of my favorites!”    Josie Loren

Lesson Acts 2:1-21 (The Message)

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!

“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

Peter Speaks Up

14-21 That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they’ll prophesy.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
to me, God, will be saved.”

 

Questions for the Week

What are the important elements of a celebration for you?

How do you react to roadblocks in your life? (What is one you are facing right now?)

Who is one person in your life who really knew how to celebrate? How did they do that?

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