Get reading for Worship!


Did you know that most of the time we follow a pattern of scripture readings in our worship services? It’s called “following the lectionary” and it is based upon a three-year cycle of Bible readings. Many churches follow this pattern — Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc. Sometimes, we set aside the lectionary readings in order to do a sermon series based upon other Scripture readings that we would not otherwise hear in worship.

We invite you to spend some time each week “reading ahead” and pondering the readings that you will hear in upcoming worship services. If you take this challenge, think about how it will change how you hear the word in worship after you have spent reading it during the week. It’s a great way to get ready for worship by reading for worship! 

 





Sun. June 23 — Fifth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Job 38:1-11 p. 376

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 p. 139

Mark 4:35-41 p. 30

Focus text: Mark 4:35-41 p. 30

(From Grace Communion International) “The crises of life have often been compared to stormy seas. They come upon us whether we like it or not. They terrify us. They knock us around and threaten to destroy all our stability and security. We don’t know whether we can survive them. And we don’t know how long they will last. At least, that’s how a storm at sea would be for most of us. For Jesus, it was just a chance to grab 40 winks. Some of the lessons in the story are obvious. Jesus has power over the storms of life, experiences them alongside us, loves us, saves us from them and wants us to trust him more than we do. Let’s look at a lesson that might not be so obvious. Storms don’t worry Jesus. He’s right there with us during them, but he’s perfectly calm about them. He isn’t terrified; he isn’t impatient; he isn’t worried. In fact, he’s so calm, he’s asleep. The not-so-obvious lesson is that Jesus was just as much in control, and the disciples were just as safe in his hands, while he was asleep as while he was awake. Most of the time, life seems like a relentless voyage from one storm to the next. Take heart in knowing that Jesus isn’t scared, and he isn’t depressed. He might be asleep, or he might not be, but either way, like the song says, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

Questions: What is the worst storm you have ever experienced? How did you get through it? What did the disciples have to fear? What does the Bible tell us the disciples did about the storm? We have learned from parents, teachers, and friends how to deal with storms, what have they taught you and have they made a difference? Have you ever gone to God when you have been experiencing a storm in your life? Did it make a difference? When you have felt like the wind of life is about to blow you away, or the rains of disappointment are soaking your plans, what do you do? What brings peace into your life?

 

Sun. June 30 — Sixth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Lamentations 3:22-33 p. 594

2 Corinthians 8:7-15 p. 140

Mark 5:21-43 p. 30

Focus text: Mark 5:21-43 p. 30

(Form Working Preacher) “One of Mark’s favorite writing habits is to place two stories in a sandwiched relationship that scholars call “intercalation.” Our lesson begins with the healing story of a young girl connected with the synagogue leader Jairus (Mark 5:21-24a), interrupts that narrative with another intrepid healing story of a woman with hemorrhages for twelve years (verses 24b-34), and then concludes with the raising of the first young girl even though she had died waiting for the delayed Jesus to arrive (verses 35-43). It seems this Jesus can heal even when he doesn’t initiate it (verses 29-30) and can raise someone else he failed to heal in time (verses 40-42)! These remarkable intercalated stories of a young girl and a persistent woman help us see the range and the reach of this mystery we call Jesus. Their sandwiched stories interpret each other and at the same time reinterpret us readers toward an emerging vision of not just healing, but new creation. Jesus’ healing power goes beyond mere fixing to a restoration to life and even empowerment through the saving faith of others. And in this beautiful, sandwiched picture is Jesus, yes, but also the crowds, a father, friends, professional mourners, and above all women, young and old alike, loosed from death and invited into new creation going forward.”

Questions: How did Jesus respond? What can we learn about His character from this story? How long did Jesus’ miracle take? Why did Jesus tell them not to spread this news?

 

Sun. July 7 — Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Ezekiel 2:1-5 p. 597

2 Corinthians 12:2-10  p. 142

Mark 6:1-13 p. 31

Focus text: Mark 4:35-41 ( From “Grace Communion International”- J. Michael Feazell, 2005, 2012)

The crises of life have often been compared to stormy seas. They come upon us whether we like it or not. They terrify us. They knock us around and threaten to destroy all our stability and security. We don’t know whether we can survive them. And we don’t know how long they will last. At least, that’s how a storm at sea would be for most of us. For Jesus, it was just a chance to grab 40 winks.

Some of the lessons in the story are obvious. Jesus has power over the storms of life, experiences them alongside us, loves us, saves us from them and wants us to trust him more than we do. Let’s look at a lesson that might not be so obvious. Storms don’t worry Jesus. He’s right there with us during them, but he’s perfectly calm about them. He isn’t terrified; he isn’t impatient; he isn’t worried. In fact, he’s so calm, he’s asleep. To us, he seems to be asleep at the switch. 

Maybe that’s why Mark included this story. The not-so-obvious lesson is that Jesus was just as much in control, and the disciples were just as safe in his hands, while he was asleep as while he was Jesus isn’t scared, and he isn’t depressed. He might be asleep, or he might not be, but either way, like the song says, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” 

Questions: Does it sometimes seem that God is ignoring you when you need him most? Has a trial you’ve gone through made you stronger spiritually?

Sun. July 14 — Eighth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Amos 7:7-15 p. 663

Ephesians 1:3-14 p. 148

Mark 6:14-29 p.31

Focus text: Mark 6:14-29 (From “Sermon Writer”)

The opening words of this Gospel are: “The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you'” (1:1-2). The messenger was John the Baptist (1:3-11). John prepared the way for Jesus by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (1:4). After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee preaching much the same message, “Repent, and believe in the Good News” (1:14-15).

The mission of the twelve (6:6b-13) leads into this story of John’s martyrdom, but Mark concludes the mission story (6:30) only after telling us the martyrdom story (6:14-29).  He sandwiches the martyrdom story within the mission story for a reason.  The disciples’ mission is quite successful (6:12-13), and reassures us that God’s work continues unabated even in the face of the martyrdom of a great, Godly servant.  Mark’s church needed to hear this, because they were suffering great persecution.  We need to hear it too, because we, like God’s people through the ages, are prone to interpret difficult times as a sign that God is either impotent or uncaring.

This story serves another purpose as well. The deaths of John and Jesus warn us that God does not always reward faithful discipleship with an easy life. The prophetic Christian might be beheaded—crucified—thrown to the lions—expelled from college—fired from a job—required to apologize. The truth-teller’s road is narrow and filled with potholes. We should not expect applause for preaching prophetically.

Questions: How had  John incurred Herod’s wrath? What lesson can you learn from this? What lessons can we learn from the John the Baptist about suffering and persecution?

Sun. July 21 — Ninth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Jeremiah 23:1-6 p. 561

Ephesians 2:11-22 p. 148

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 p. 32

Focus text: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (From “My Pastoral Ponderings”)

Those first apostles have just returned from their first mission trip. And they are excited. But Jesus responded to their enthusiasm with this invitation to “come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while. But I don’t think that this rest is simply physical rest. I think Jesus is offering them spiritual rest, rest for their souls. When we think of rest, we usually think of rest for our bodies. But when Jesus thinks of rest, he is talking about rest for our souls. And these are very different. But what about spiritual rest? Are we getting enough of that? And what happens when we don’t get enough rest for our souls? When we don’t spend enough time in prayer? When we don’t spend enough time in worship? When we don’t spend enough time with God’s Word? Rest for our weary souls is what Jesus offers to us all. Cast your burdens at his feet. Entrust him with what is troubling you. And then, of course, go. Go and be his hands, his feet, his ears, and his voice.

Questions: Where were the disciples before verse 30? What had they been doing? Is there anything we can learn from this about training workers? What did Jesus plan for them? Why did they especially need a rest this time? Is it OK to have some time to ourselves for rest or is that being lazy when there is work to be done? Did the crowds respect their wishes and give them some time alone? Is there anything we can learn from Jesus' attitude here? Why did Jesus have compassion on them? Why do you think Jesus asked the disciples to give them something when He knew they wouldn't have been able to? What did Jesus do when everyone had left? How is your prayer life?

Sun. July 28 — Tenth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

2 Kings 4:42-44  p. 261

Ephesians 3:14-21 p. 149

John 6:1-21 p. 74

Focus text: John 6:1-21 (From “Lifeway”)

Yogi Berra went to his favorite pizza parlor after a game. The cook asked the all-star catcher if he wanted his pizza cut into six or eight pieces. Yogi said, "You had better make it six; I can't eat eight."

In this amazing miracle, the Lord Jesus breaks down the miracle into bite size pieces so that the disciples could understand the deeper issues of faith contained in the miracle. The feeding of the multitudes is the 4th miracle of 7 miracles performed by Jesus recorded in John's Gospel. Each miracle communicates additional truth about the Kingdom of God over and beyond Christ's power to meet physical needs. John refers to the miracles as "signs" designed to teach spiritual truth to the saints.  

Jesus is asking similar questions of His followers. What are we going to do about the multitudes that have desperate needs? What about your co-worker? A student? Your spouse? 

Questions: Why did "a great multitude" (John 6:2) follow Jesus? How can anyone feed 5000, 15000 or even more people with a kid’s meal, and then end up with more food after than before? Is there significance to the left over bread filling these many baskets?

 

Sun. Aug. 4 — Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 p. 49

Ephesians 4:1-16 p. 149

John 6:24-35 p.75

Focus text: John 6:24-35 (From “Devotable.Faith/Daily”)

Over the summer, my mother attended a week-long extensive class covering just the science of bread; how it’s prepared, baked, and even served. Hearing her share everything she had learned made me realize that bread really is a part of so much of our lives. Bread is a part of so many cultures and lifestyles, and we see in Genesis 3:19 that bread is a source of food for all of humanity. Most people eat bread daily, and it is safe to say that many people crave this delicious carb. Individuals consume bread to meet the needs of physical sustainment, but through Jesus’ statement that He is the Bread of Life, we see that He is the only one who can meet the needs of spiritual sustainment. 

Jesus shares the Bread of Life does not mean that He is physically bread, but He is our Sustainer, and Giver of life. He is the Bread that is enough for all our spiritual needs. Through Christ, we will never go spiritually hungry, nor will we need to seek anything else besides the One who gives life because He is truly enough. Only through Salvation in Jesus Christ alone, is anyone satisfied forever. In John 6, we see Jesus meeting the physical needs of the crowd, and delivering the amazing truth that He always meets our spiritual needs through Salvation. A physical piece of bread helps end hunger for the time being, but Jesus being the Bread of Life ends spiritual hunger for eternity.

Questions: What kind of "hunger and  ... thirst" is Jesus talking about in John 6:35?

How can Jesus say that those who comes to Him shall never hunger and thirst?

What kind of hunger and thirst do the people Jesus is addressing above, as well as many people in church buildings today, focus on?

 

Sun. Aug. 11— Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

1 Kings 19:4-8 p. 254

Ephesians 4:25—5:2 p. 150

John 6:35, 41-51 p. 75

Focus text: John 6:35, 41-51 (From “Interrupting the Silence”)

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus said, not once but twice. “I am the bread of life.” When was the last time you ate the bread of life? I’m not asking about the Holy Eucharist because I don’t think that is what Jesus is talking about in today’s gospel (John 6:35, 41-51). I’m not denying that the eucharist can be and is bread of life but maybe it’s just one slice in a larger loaf of bread. Maybe the bread of life is the eucharist and more than the eucharist. Maybe you and I are to become the bread of life, just like Jesus.

Think about all the people, relationships, and experiences that have fed, nourished, and sustained your life. Think about a time when someone else fed and nourished your life and I mean more than that they fixed your supper. I’m talking about the kind of people that spend their time and their presence with us. They love us. They teach us. The care for us. They encourage us. And our lives are fed and nourished by them. Sometimes it’s not even what they say or do, just being in his or her presence is itself bread. Aren’t there some people that when you spend time with them you just feel well fed and full? Recall someone who offered you wisdom or guidance, who listened to your life, or spoke a word of hope or encouragement that nourished and sustained your life. They were bread for you.

Have you ever been given a starter batch of sourdough? It holds the potential to become bread, to feed and nourish. What if Jesus is the starter batch in us? What if rather than making an exclusive claim about himself Jesus is giving us the recipe to become as he is, to become the bread of life for the world? When have you been bread in someone else’s life?  When have you fed and nourished them? When have you sustained them? When have you strengthened them? 

Questions: Why didn’t Jesus just speak more plainly to let them understand? What kind of principles can we draw from the fact that Jesus’ body and blood is our food and drink? What does this tell us about what kind of faith saving faith is? What does this tell us about how we need to live our lives as we believe in Jesus?

Sun. Aug. 18 — Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Proverbs 9:1-6  p. 459

Ephesians 5:15-20 p. 150

John 6:51-58 p. 75

Focus text: John 6:51-58 p. 75 (From “The Living Bread”)

“There is in this passage an invitation to allow Jesus to so permeate our lives that we in essence feed on him, he becomes the source of our energy and our power, and as long as we feed on him there is life.  It is a conversation about relationship, not just a personal relationship where Jesus become our buddy, but a relationship in which his life defines our lives.  Yes, he is the bread of heaven, the bread of life, and the living bread, the manna sent from God to sustain the lives of God's people. Therefore, as we "feed on him with thanksgiving," we find strength and power for living.  The point here is spiritual not material.  It is with our hearts that we feed on him, that we draw him in to our lives, and as we do, we find that empowerment needed to live life with boldness rather than fear, with love rather than hate, with hope rather than pessimism.”

Questions: So what is Jesus telling people to feed on to have everlasting life? What does Jesus mean by "The one who ... drinks My blood has everlasting life" (John 6:54)? How important is the rest of your life vs. living "forever" (John 6:58)?

 

Sun. Aug. 25 — Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost Readings

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-1 p. 167

Ephesians 6:10-20 p. 151

John 6:56-69 p. 75

Focus text: John 6:56-69  p. 75 (From “Working Preacher”)

“The issue raised in this text revolves around a division between those who believe and those who do not. The text makes clear, however, that unbelief can be found not only among “them” on the outside, those we so easily forget or write off. The pain of unbelief is found among us (and within us!), reflected in this text both in those disciples who leave and in the one who stays to betray Jesus. Where will we find ourselves in this narrative? Are we the disciples who turn and leave, or those who with Peter confess that Jesus is the one – the only one – with the words of eternal life?

Chapter six begins with a huge crowd that needs to be fed. At the end of the chapter, only twelve are left, and even one of them will betray Jesus. Yet God is working life in the midst of apparent failure and rejection. The church is still called to see that it is in such places that the Word of Life is doing its work around us, among us, and within us. The Word, the Spirit, and the Father continue to call, and enlighten, and draw us to life.”

Questions: Why were the people following Him going away now? Were these "disciples" (John 6:66) true believers who lost their faith? How would you respond to spiritual teachings that you find difficult to understand or accept?


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