Mark 4: 30-34

1.   Why did Jesus speak to the Disciples in parables? Why not just tell the story?
2.   Talk about the image of “tree” as a metaphor for the Christian life. What tree would you be and why? Describe your root system, the texture/strength of your branches and their ‘nest-ability’? Describe the ‘birds hanging’ out on your limbs. How is this Kingdom of God stuff?
3.  “Sometimes, it’s the smallest things…”   What does this statement mean to you?
4.   Consider John Wesley’s discipline/principles of giving. What’s your take-away?
5.   What would ‘a leap of faith’ look like for you? What might sabotage your effort? Got an action plan?

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Kingdom Giving

Luke 6:27-38 and Malachi 3:10

Questions to Ponder:
1. What’s so special about 10% and why does the preacher offer it up as a standard of giving? In a world of overwhelming needs and a plethora of charitable giving options, should the church get the lion’s share? WWJD?

2. Which part of John Wesley’s “rules” for giving most resonates with you and why? (EARN all you can, SAVE all you can, GIVE all you can) Any alternate “rules” you might suggest?

3. Talk about sacrificial living and giving.

4. What does God need from you?

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Kingdom Living

Selections from Matthew 6

Guiding Questions

1. Describe your feelings when the church begins the Annual Fall Stewardship Campaign. Is your first instinct to stay home with the morning paper and a cup of coffee and/or do you come, hoping to be inspired and challenged anew OR none of the above! If you were the preacher, how might you handle this time of year?
2. What does it mean: “Seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and ‘all these things will be added unto you?” Do we really believe this? What exactly is ‘all these things” anyway? In Kingdom living, how do we discern a want from a need?
3. How does our living reflect a “Kingdom of God” within? What are our growing edges?
4. What might it mean for both individuals and the church to live from a model of abundance vs. scarcity not just in finances but in all things?

 

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The Last Word

John 11:32-44 and Revelation 21:1-6a

Naming of the Saints Lighting and Chiming Remembering Other Losses with Light

Blessed are those who die in the Lord. Into your hands, we commend their Spirits once again

“The Reading of the Names”

 

Congregational Response:

We bless your holy name, O God,
for all your servants who, having finished their course,
now rest from their labors.
Give us grace to follow the example of their steadfastness and faithfulness,
to your honor and glory; through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
(ENGLAND, 20TH CENT., ALT.)

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When Can I See You?

Exodus 33:11-23

Questions to Consider:

1. Moses indicated that God knew him by name (Exodus 33:12). Is that Old Testament ‘talk’ or is that kind of relationship possible today?
2. Compare Exodus 33:11 with Exodus 33:19. How are we to interpret this?
3. How do you sense God’s presence is near? How does it make you feel?
4. When have you needed God to ‘show up’? (When can/will I see you?)
5. Talk about times that you have seen/experienced God’s glory…

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Exodus 32: 1-14

Questions to Consider:
1. Based on what you are reading and interpretation of this text, what would you name this sermon and why?
2. How well do you know your own mind? How easily and in what cases are you likely to change your mind?
3. How can we know the mind of God?
4. Are there other questions we should be asking? If so, what are they?

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Genesis 1: 29-31

World Communion Sunday

World Communion Sunday was started in 1940 as a Presbyterian-led initiative of the Federal Council of Churches toward ecumenical celebration of Communion by some Protestants in the United States on the same Sunday at a time when most US Protestant denominations celebrated Communion infrequently (quarterly at most), and rarely on the same schedule. Not all churches involved in the Federal Council chose to participate, there was fairly strong uptake by Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists (now known as UCC), and some Baptist groups at the time. These, in turn, generally promoted the idea across their missionary networks outside the United States so there would be more of a feel of worldwide Communion on that day, even if the practice was (and remains) in fact largely limited to a few US Protestant denominations.

Hear these wonderful reminders of our worldwide connection in the United Methodist Church:

The 23rd Psalm, in Mandarin

Kyrie, written by Chris Rust and performed by the Chancel Choir

The Lord’s Prayer, in German

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Selections from the Book of Ruth

Questions for Consideration:

  1. What does this quote mean to you? “The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness. Faith working by love, is the length and breadth and depth and height of Christian perfection.” ~John Wesley
  2. Think about ways you and your church intentionally engage in ministries to care for creation. How is this being ‘neighborly’?
  3. Many problems such as world hunger, human rights abuse (human trafficking, sexual violation etc….) environmental destruction, drug and alcohol abuse, racial and ethnic conflict, poverty, disease etc… are embedded in larger systemic issues. For some Christians, the responsible way to address such issues is direct involvement in the political process. For other Christians, the role of the church is to avoid politics and model an alternative to prevailing values and behavior of society. Where do you stand and why?
  4. How familiar are you with the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church found in the United Methodist Book of Discipline? If you view these as faithful reflections of Scripture and Christian lifestyle, what do they ask of you?

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1Timothy 6: 11-13; Matthew 13:45, 46

Questions for Consideration:

  1. Think about the following statement: “We are trapped in a maze of competing attachments, when we lack a Divine Center, our need for security leads us to an insane attachment to things. We buy things we do not need to impress people we do not like…” (The Celebration of Discipline-Richard Foster)
  2. What makes for a rich life, inwardly? outwardly?
  3. How is living simply a faithful witness to our Christian faith?
  4. Talk about your greatest challenge(s) to living “simple and/or less cluttered.”

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