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Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2013’

“Coming Alongside” (Acts 8)

Being part of a bigger thing means giving yourself to it.

Being part of a bigger thing means giving yourself to it.

September 29, 2013

Theme      (Building “community” in the community of faith.)

The posture of discipleship consistently shows itself in working beside and along with others.  It brings mutual encouragement and affirmation.

Faith invites us to walk together.

Faith invites us to walk together.

Prayer

Come alongside us in worship today, O Lord, and help us to come alongside others, that they may know your presence and touch even as we give thanks for the power of your nearness.  May we do your will as we strengthen one another in faith.  May it always be so.

Lesson, Acts 8:26-40

Bible Study  (use 3 or 4 of the first group and all of the second)

Group One

1) Who was the best tutor or teacher you have had?  What traits or habits made them a good teacher or tutor?

2) How would you describe the gift that Philip is for the Ethiopian?

3) Is Philip bothered by the man’s nationality?  By his masculinity?

4) What qualifies this person for Philip’s time and interest?

5) Does Philip recognize this man as a servant too?

6) Have you ever come “along side” another where God’s blessings have been evident in the mix?  What happened?

7) How do you feel about living your faith in a “coming alongside” kind of way?  Is this limiting or freeing for you?

8) How did God pave the way for this encounter with Philip and the Ethiopian?  For this message, learning about Jesus through Isaiah 53?

9) What is the relationship between Divine preparation and human initiative in this story?

10) The Ethiopian is reading Isaiah 53, in what ways does Jesus fit the picture of the one described there?

11) Why does the Ethiopian visit Jerusalem (see Acts 2:11)

comealongsideGroup Two

1) At Good Sam, how might a “coming alongside” attitude in our community shape what happens there for those who visit?

2) If we at Good Sam were open to being sent to others in this way, how might we recognize God’s working and guiding and what initiative would we need to be willing to take?

3) Would this question “shall we come alongside this activity (or person)” help us at Good Sam discern what ministries, activities and individuals to support with our effort, energy and communal resources?

4) Does this image for ministry fit well with what Good Sam does in the “Daily Bread Food Pantry”?  in our relationship with St Mary’s Caring Soup Kitchen?  Other places in our ministry activities.

Sermon For Sept 29, 2013 at Good Samaritan Lutheran Church

 

Objectives

  • practice coming alongside another, while watching for what God will do with the connection.

  • Invite leaders and members of Good Sam to adopt this model of thinking and action in ministry planning and activity.

  • Reflect on this ‘coming alongside” image as a tool for bringing into how we think and act in ministry.

Action Step sept 29 alongside

  • Listen for the Spirits guidance and follow – coming alongside another, watching for ways to interact that will be a blessing:  Pair up with another congregation member (perhaps across generations) and learn about the questions they have about faith and life (trying to see things from their point of view).  How would you live out their questions in your life?  Share what you have learned about your own journey in faith as you pair up. What encouragement came out of this discussion?

Devotion

When our individual paths cross, there is great opportunity for God to be at work.  Recognizing these intersections and being ready to make good use of them is always the work of discipleship.  It is perhaps the real definition of “Faith.”  Praying for God’s activity before us and missing our neighbor is like ask God to intervene and then not listening when God does.  “Coming Along Side,” then might just be our greatest mindset and aid in finding the work to which God calls us.  Certainly, it may bring our faith to life and invite us to be active in our faith lives, and welcoming and engaging with our neighbors.

Additional curriculum and ideas

  • Find someone to walk with and see what happens when you watch and look for God’s guidance in the conversation.

  • Practice seeing opportunities to ‘Come alongside” others.

  • Have you ever felt drawn to walk alongside someone else, what happened?

  • Join us for an extended Adult Forum today as we learn from Hospice Grief Counselors what it means to walk alongside those who are going through grief.  Please RSVP to the church office if you are coming to this as there is limited space.

“Peace and Love in Action” Romans 12:1-21

Finding each other in Worship and Service

Finding each other in Worship and Service

September 22, 2013

Theme      (Making service an act of worship.)

From where does the spark and inspiration for serving another come?  Worship and Service are intimately connected.  Finding our gifts and personal motivation for service and worship and keeping them connected is always the work of faith in the life of a Disciple of Jesus.

 On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.   Rev 22:2

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Rev 22:2

Prayer

Come to us now, O Lord.  May your love fill our worship and overflow into our lives, our relationships and our work in the world.  Let every gesture and thought, every kind word, hand to help, arm to steady and act of mercy be from us a fulfilling of our worship of you O Lord our God.

Lesson  (Click on the link to see the text) Romans 12:1-21

Bible Study

1) If you were to describe yourself as a part of a body, would you say you are more like:

the hands, the feet, the stomach, the elbow, the nose, the mind, the eyes, the small intestine? and why?

2) In a group of peers what role do you tend to play:

listener, talker, director, questioner, encourager, doubter, carer, problem solver, cheerleader?  Others roles you sometimes play in a group?  How can you use this gift in service to others?

3) What gift(s) do you have that you might naturally use to help the body of the community function at its best? How can you use this regularly in service to others?

4) When serving others, do you sometimes feel that they are less fortunate?  What fortune is there in giving yourself in humble service.  Is it possible that the giver might find a gift more necessary than the person to whom they seek to serve?  How can we learn to serve out of true humble love and service?

5) Does service ever seem to be more of an obligation than an act of worship for you?

6) How does Jesus get around the barriers to service that Peter puts up?  What barriers to the serving of others might Jesus have experienced?

7) How are vs 9-12 filled with examples of what Paul means in vs 1-2?

8) Are there reasons here for being about serving others and worshiping God?

9) Is there help here in discovering what role you might play in being a servant of God?

10) Is there advice you like here about how to accomplish worship and service in the context of:

  • your enemies

  • other believers

  • those who don’t believe

  • those who are suspicious of you as a believer

11) What do you think is your strongest tool for making meaningful connections with others who might see the Gospel in your life?

for others11a) Is there an act of service that you think might bring people together where they are currently separated or divided?

12) Has anyone done something for you that made you think they might be motivated by Love or Worship?

13) Has anyone acted toward you in a way that brought you peace?

14) How do you recognize the actions of others that are motivated by love or peace?

15) How do you find the gifts of love and peace from which to act toward others?

16) What advice do you have that will help produce peace or communicate love and acceptance to others?peace in action1

17) How can our actions toward others be considered acts of worship?

18) What inspires you to service?  How would you describe the inspired source of motivation for service?  Can serving another be truly inspired?  What might that look like?

Objective

  • Learning to find in our worship the urging and encouragement of God for being about acts of peace and love in service to our neighbors and those with whom we share the gift of faith.

  • To find our own motivation for crossing the barriers that keep us from loving and serving others.

  • To explore gifts for building up community and how learning to identify these gifts and to offer them purposefully is an act of worship.

  • Begin to make connections between our Serving and our Worship

Sermon from September 22, 2013 (audio file)

Action Step

  • What are concrete ways or places where you can restore community, acceptance and peace in real world connections in your life?  Go from This Sunday’s worship with plans and intentions to go from our worship into acts of service (Monday through Saturday) and tell someone about it.

Reflection/Devotion   A real story about peace and love in action.peace in action

Quaker community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania managed to reach out to the family of the man who killed five of their young people.  The reason they gave was that “they must be hurting as well.”  See the Article here.  Be sure to read the section titled “Amish community response.”

Additional curriculum and ideas

  • Find a place to serve and ask these questions before you get there and when you get back…

  • Think of an object or symbol that when given, might help others experience peace.

  • List people in your life you would like to experience peace and love.  How might you help them experience these?

  • Who is the last person you would expect to show love or peace toward you?  How might you take the first step toward showing them love or peace?

  • How might God be involved in our efforts of giving love and peace?

  • How might worship prepare us for this activity of giving love and peace?love in action

“As I Have Loved You” (John 13:1-17, 34)

Knowing the service Jesus gives

Knowing the service Jesus gives and being
the vessel through which the giving continues.

Theme  (“Why” we serve can make a great deal of difference)

Jesus continues to be of humble service to disciples of every time and place.  His teaching continues to reverberate in the life of the Christian Community as Jesus teaches us today the meaning of his service to us.   Our Baptism continues to have its impact by rippling on into our lives and learning.  The washing of Baptism is where it all begins, but the ongoing work of Jesus is carried on in this washing into even more lives.

Everything we need is brought, given and washed into our lives from the living activity of Jesus.  Sometimes we want what Jesus has to give us, but we resist.  It is a curious humility which allows ourselves to be served by one whom we honor.  And sometimes we don’t allow the washing to move us to service; to melt the barriers that inhibit our moving from being sent to actually serving others as Jesus served us.

Prayer

May the service and washing mercy of your Son, humble, empower and embolden us to serve and share mercy with all to whom you send us.  Let the service and example of Jesus washing our feet fill us, and send us.  May the relationship that Jesus creates with us, also powerfully send us into each other’s lives.

( click on the link to read the text)  John 13:1-17, 34

Bible Studyfoot washing

1) Are you shocked or inspired by this story of Jesus and his disciples? Why?

2) What is this gift/work that Jesus does in washing his disciples feet?

3) What in this story, can help us understand why we too should serve as Jesus served us?

4) How might being washed by Jesus help us in being of service to others?

5) What additional sense of community might there be among the Disciples of Jesus after they have seen Jesus wash all their feet?

6) Do the words of Jesus, explaining his actions help motivate or direct you in being of similiar service to one another? (vs 34, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”) why or why not?

7) Whom do you think is included in this “one another” direction from Jesus?  Are there those that are excluded or who might be harder to serve in this way?

8) Who’s feet would you be willing to wash?  What would washing their feet look like?

9) How would you know or recognize someone whom Jesus would want YOU to wash the feet of, for him?  Give an example of when you recognized and followed through or later realized you missed the opportunity, to be of this kind of service.

10) Have you ever felt too proud to bow down and serve like Jesus does in this story?

Objectivefoot washing statue

  • Find our own motivation for serving those whom Jesus gives us to serve as he served us, washing the feet of his disciples.

  • Letting Jesus’ example fill us, and send us to serve as he serves..

  • To have an experience of serving another as Jesus has served us.

  • Make room within ourselves to be of this kind of service whenever the Spirit urges to to serve another in this way.

Action Step

  • Prepare ourselves to serve, exploring how Jesus has served us.  Plan to respond when next we see an opportunity to serve as we have been served.  Directed by the Spirit, find one person or encounter where we are able to move into the servant role (offering humble care and mercy to another).  Then tell someone what happened, what you experienced, what you think it means.

Sermon on Sept. 15, 2013 “…as I Have Loved You.”

 

Reflection/Devotion

Have you been served by another in the way that Jesus serves his disciples by washing their feet? How might you recognize this washing in your life?  Do you think you have been washed with the kind of washing that Jesus did for his Disciples in that upper room?  How did it happen?

Foster Pierce Camp Story:

Our family had the pleasure of witnessing and experiencing firsthand the sharing of “one to another.”  It took place at a Cub Scout day camp open house on the last day of the camp.  We are a large family of six, and the children are all close in age (four children spanning less than five and a half years).  Our oldest is a boy, 9-yr, and has been in Cub Scouts since he was in first grade.  He plans on transitioning into Boy Scouts once he is old enough.  This summer he decided he would participate in the annual Cub Scout summer day camp.  At the camp, the cub scouts arrived each morning, grouped together by their age and Cub Scout rank.  There were many adult helpers there to organize the camp and its events, as well as chaperone the scouts and lead the many activities that were planned.  Many of the adults had worked on the planning efforts months leading up to camp week.  That, in and of itself, is a very obvious example of “one to another” evidenced by the adults and parents giving of themselves; their time and talents, to provide the leadership, supervision, and instruction for the cub scouts.

In addition to having adult helpers, there were also Boy Scouts there to help out with the events.  The boy scouts wore “Staff” shirts, and helped show the younger cub scouts how to run through an obstacle course that had some challenging parts.  The boy scouts would help the cub scouts balance, or make sure their feet were properly placed on the rope bridge.

Families were invited to the last day of camp to come and see all the cool things the boys had been doing over the past week.  As always, when our whole family comes to an event, there tends to be moments of yelling, wrestling, competition, and conflict between the children. When we first arrived, it was the same old thing.  Enter the obstacle course.  We all saw it at the same time.  There was the usual competition to see who would go first, who was the fastest, who knew how to tackle the obstacles best, etc., but this time there was something noticeably different.  Instead of our oldest racing to the front of the line and showing his younger siblings how fast and good he was at the obstacle course, this Cub Scout helped each of his siblings carefully make it over the obstacles.  He helped them place their feet on the rope bridge and showed them where to hold to keep their balance.  He was doing for his younger siblings what the older scouts had been doing for him earlier on the week. He became of service to them, instead of in competition with them. You could see that he was fulfilled by his caring acts. It was a glorious experience to behold for all of us.