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Minister’s Musing- 10 October 2012

Minister’s Musing

Bible Study and You in an African Way…..

On a sunny Sunday morning, she parked her bike in the fish bike rack and walked into the building wondering, “what kind of church is this?’  She sat in the back of the church following along in the worship folder, singing the hymns and then noticed that the words of the songs, the singing and the sermon were all from the sacred scriptures of the church – the Bible. 

And then it hit her.  She longed to know more.  She longed to read this Book and find its relevance for her life.   She realized for the first time in her life that she longed for a Bible Study. Who knew that this longing could be so strong.  What would she to do?

I have met this “person” several times. Many long to join a Bible study and wonder how to begin?  Here’s a suggestion:

1.  Find a couple of friends to join you and agree to meet on a regular basis.

2.  Choose from a series of readings:  a) Psalms;  b) The gospel texts assigned for Sunday;  c) or read a specific gospel through – verse by verse.

3.  And then follow the outline that our sisters and brothers in the African church.  This Bible study method was introduced at the Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops of the Anglican Communion. It is known by both names: “Lambeth” and “African.”

Opening Prayer:    O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. One person reads passage slowly.
  2. Each person identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention (1 minute).
  3. Each shares the word or phrase around the group (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION).
  4. Another person reads the passage slowly (from a different translation if possible).
  5. Each person identifies where this passage touches their life today (1 minute).
  6. Each shares (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION).
  7. Passage is read a third time (another reader and translation if possible).
  8. Each person names or writes “From what I’ve heard and shared, what do I believe God wants me to  do or be? Is God inviting me to change in any way?” ( 5 minutes )
  9. Each person shares their answer (5-10 minutes, NO DISCUSSION ).
  10. Each prays for the person on their right, naming what was shared in the other steps (5 minutes).

Close with the Lord’s Prayer and SILENCE.

So…. open the Bible with a friend.  God has something to say to you.

Gently,

PR E

Minister’s Musings

Sept. 12, 2012

“dripping with the love of God”

Jacob smiled and giggled throughout the morning barely fitting into the 100 year-old white gown that had been worn by his great grandfather and four generations of children. Jacob was baptized at St. Andrew’s on Sunday, reminding us yet again of the blessings of this rite.

Jacob, as a babe in arms, shared in the rite that proclaims God’s love which names us all as God’s beloved. This indeed is God’s work, not ours. Jacob and all children who are baptized emphasize this truth. God has already claimed us in love. And Jacob, even as a young child, now lives into this gift, “dripping with the love of God”. Jacob joins us and all the saints and sinners, as we live in, with, under and through this grace of God.

So what is “dripping with the love of God” like? It is cross-shaped and Sprit sealed.

The cross in the place where God’s love reveals Divine Love that embraces the pain, suffering and marginalized of the world and says you are not alone. The cross reveals the movement of the Holy into the world (vertical lines) and the action of this love engaging the world and embracing it with wide arms of care (horizontal lines). The cross is where Jesus died at the hands of the powerful and violent. Yet God’s love embraced the world through Jesus’ open arms in order to say to those who are offended by the powerful and the violent, “You are not alone.”

We live dripping in the waters of baptism, for the Holy Spirit seals the deal and empowers us to engage the world, working with the power and hope of God to heal it with the baptismal compassion that drips from us; to love it through the baptismal care that pours off us; to restore it through the baptismal grace that flows through us; to reconcile it through the baptismal shalom that streams abundantly as we strive for justice and peace throughout the earth.

Jacob experienced this grace as water poured over his head and then was marked with the sign of the cross with oil. He joined us as a brother to live “dripping wet in the love of God”. I’m eager to see where it takes him.

And I wonder where these waters have taken you? Where are you dripping with God’s love for the sake of the world?”

Gently,

Pr E

So, why go to church? Perhaps because it’s an OMG moment.

Minister’s Musing

September 4, 2012

So, why go to church?  Perhaps because it’s an OMG moment.

Me? Go to church?  Why?  What difference does it make?  Some days, I just want to boldly text, “OMG, why worship?” Except maybe that’s the point, “Oh My God!”  It really is all about God.  It’s a God thing.

I think we get it wrong if worship is all about ourselves. We may worship to find absolute answers or be entertained.  Though it is true that a good sermon, great music can be entertaining and meaningful, that’s not only why we worship. Actually many choose to get their answers and be entertained from watching the best preachers, the best music and the most relevant and deeply significant reflections from multi media. Yes, these modes of engagement with God’s story can connect us to God and God’s power, love and purpose in profound relevant revelation. However, I believe worship is much more than that.  O my God, much more.

First, we worship to praise God. We live in a world of abundance and awe.  There is beauty, amazing discoveries, and profound moments. We know friends, joy, food, shelter and more. We have danced, loved and lived with great excitement.  Blessings abound and the moments of OMG are abundant. We worship to give God praise.

And, it’s also true that are lives are filled with experiences that exhaust and challenge us, overwhelm and drain us, Yet, God invites and gathers saying, “I am your God and you are my people.” God gathers us for restoration as we are marginalized, overwhelmed exhausted, suffer, worry, and hurt during the week. God gathers us in worship. Love is spoken, sung and practiced.   In worship we re-affirm our dignity as God’s love is proclaimed and pronounced.

But we are not loved only individually. We know the love of God through prayer and song AND through the hands, voice and actions of another. We come to worship to connect to others, through an I-Thou relationship.  It is like a wonderful wheel. As God draws us to God’s self in the hub, we are drawn closer to each other like spokes in the wheel. We gather on a Sunday morning to worship to connect to each other and to see God’s love through people very different than ourselves. God gathers us in community because someone in worship may need us there. We show up for the other and that’s also a God thing.

And we go to be fed.  We are hungry and long for peace. We are hungry and long for hope and healing. We are hungry and long for meaning.  We are hungry and long for life.  We are hungry from within. And God feeds.  Jesus says, “ Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus says, “Come and eat.” Jesus joins the broken, the hungry, the lonely and the outcast and feeds them love from his very being, Jesus says, ‘O, my God is here for you to love you, to heal you, to forgive you and to feed you.”

So worship is an OMG moment.  For it’s about God as God gives to us abundantly. It’s about God as God reclaims our dignity. It’s about God as God connects us to others. It’s about God as God feeds us the love revealed in the Jesus. OMG, worship is a God thing.

See you in church.

Pr. E