Awakening Week 2: Questioning

“One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” – Psalm 27″One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” – Psalm 27
Read Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 and Psalm 27:1-2, 4-5, 13-14 and consider the questions below.
Sermon Questions 

1.  When have there been times in your life when you have questioned God?

2.  What are your most burning questions for God (or about God)?

3.  How have you “lived with the questions”?  Have you reached or received an answer to the questions?  What have you learned about yourself, God and faith in the process?

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Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days
and forty nights, he was tempted…

~ Luke 4: 1-2

Read Psalm 91: 1-2, 9-12 & Luke 4: 1-13 and consider the questions below.

Questions for reflection:

1. According to Luke, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by that same Spirit into the desert, where for 40 days, he was ‘tempted’ by the devil. A lot is here. How do you feel about the Spirit leading Jesus into a place of temptation? Does God work like this? Talk about the whole concept of temptation or do you prefer testing? Is God behind either? Where are you most likely to succumb to ‘temptations and how do you combat/overcome its ‘power.’
2. Talk about ‘the devil.’…. Is he/she/it the embodiment of evil?
3. Talk about the nature of evil. How seriously do you consider its presence at work in the world? Or is that crazy Christian talk? Comment on the following commentator’s opinion on today’s text: “Sometimes, evil works on the basis of distortion and lies.” When has a lie disguised itself as truth in your experience? With what effect?
4. Comment on verse 13: “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him [Jesus] until a more opportune time.”

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“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts, and not your garments
.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and filled with compassion and love.
~Joel 2: 12-13

Read Psalm 51
Take a moment to reflect
Read Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17

Listen to the sermon, "Coming Home"

Invitation to the Observance of Lenten Discipline:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: the early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty-day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer and fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.

 

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(and Changed 'Appearances')

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter, John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.
                                                                   ~Luke 9: 28-29

Read Luke 9: 28-36 (37-43) and consider the questions below:

Questions for Reflection:

1. Why do you suppose Jesus took three disciples up to the mountain to pray? Were they to pray with/for him? Did he need witnesses for an event he knew would transpire? Other?

2. Notice when Jesus’ countenance changed. When has the practice of prayer had a similar effect on you (on any level)?

3. When has it been difficult for you to stay awake, stay engaged, stay alert during prayer or any difficult situation. What is the benefit of keeping alert/engaged?

4. When have you experienced an extraordinary or ‘transformative’ event that left you astonished or even verklempt? How did God/faith enter in and how did it noticeably impact you? How do we best posture ourselves for spiritual encounter? Where do you most need a transformative experience today?

BONUS QUESTION:

5. What is the significance of Luke’s inclusion of a healing story following the mountain top transfiguration?

 

 

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Luke 6: 27-38

Questions for Reflection:

1. “God does not react but acts in love and grace towards all.” Where is your ‘weak spot?’ Who can more quickly draw out a reaction in you? When has reacting landed you in trouble? Imagine a different response.

2. In what circumstances is it most difficult to practice the Golden Rule (v. 31)? Found not only here but in Luke’s Gospel but in Matthew, Homer, Seneca, Tobit, II Enoch, Philo, what is the logic in doing so?

3. Abuse is never o.k. yet many take these words literally and remain in demeaning and dangerous situations. What is a Christian response?

4. When has practicing love and forgiveness reshaped your life or that of others around you?

5. “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be poured into your lap…” (v. 38) Talk about God’s abundance.

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(And Getting on the Level with Jesus)

As Jesus’ ministry unfolds, we notice a common element throughout the scriptural narratives: people/crowds were always around Jesus because of his preaching, teaching and healing. Jesus truly ‘saw’ all the people, and as a result, the people flocked to him! As we at Lake Oswego UMC continue to build connections in the community through love and service, we aspire to help all we encounter experience the healing and hope in Christ. In the process, we claim that same hope for ourselves! In these pivotal times, may we find transformation of heart and mind in all the ways it is most needed.

Luke 6: 17-26

Questions for Reflection:

1. What does it mean to approach something with anticipation/expectation? How do you approach worship? What are you most expectant these days and why?

2. Name a time/situation when God’s presence been most palpable for you? Name a time when you felt completely ‘embraced’ by God.

3. Think about the energy that it takes to be with people in both good times and not so good. When do people most energize you or drain you? How do you recharge?

4. What does it mean to stand with folks ‘in a level place’ as Jesus does here in this story? What’s might we lose or gain in the process?

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Luke 5: 1-11

Questions for Reflection

1. Describe a memorable experience of being part of a crowd. Were you rallying for or against something? Who was with you? Describe the energy present in you and the assembled crowd. Describe Jesus response to crowds. (Why do people gather… or not?)

2. What’s with the boat as Jesus’ pulpit? What was so compelling about Jesus words?

3. What does it mean for you/the church to ‘put out into the deep’ or to ‘follow Jesus,’ especially in the L.O context and in the 21st century?

4. How do these words resonate with you? To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to stand with the multitudes even if it means being marginalized, criticized or misunderstood right along with them. We Make the Road by Walking, Brian McLaren.

Words of Encouragement from Lay Leader, Deb Gice as the Special Session of General Conference Approaches

A personal and moving story from our Lay Leader, along with a pastoral prayer from Pastor Michelle McKinnon-Young.

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Greater Gifts Worship Series
Week 4: Love Story

I Corinthians 13

Questions for Reflection:

  1.  When have you felt most beloved in your life?  Describe the nature and character of that love?

2.   What sabotages our efforts to to love as I Corinthians 4-8a describes it:

              Love is... patient, kind, is not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way, it not irritable or resentful.  It does not rejoice in wrongdoings but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

3.  When is it not acceptable for love to bear and endure all things?

4.  Reflect on following assessment about I Corinthians 13 love:

            True love always begins/ flows from the God who claims us and  then causes us to reach beyond our own self-interest (and that of our 'beloved') to others!   The beautiful irony is that this one thing that lasts forever, is only made possible by giving it away .

5.  Is it humanly possible to love as God loves?   What would help?

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I Corinthians 12: 4-5 and 12-31

Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit gives them all
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member, but many…

~I Corinthians 12: 4, 14

Questions for Reflection

1. Reflect on the following: “We are given the gift of ‘belonging’ at our baptism, but we are also signing up for the responsibility of functioning as part of the body of Christ.” Is there such a thing as belonging without participating? Talk about consuming without investing. Where does grace enter in?

2. According to I Corinthians, every member is given a gift (s) to be used for the common good. Community is tasked with discerning the gifts and employing them but sometimes that is easier said than done. Consider:

* How do we work together effectively if someone wants control?

* What if one volunteers for a task/position, but is clearly ‘not qualified’ or ready?

* How do we determine when someone has ‘served their term?’

* What does it mean to help folks ‘move on’ in love?

3. Talk about the delicate balance between the human need for connection and differentiation in life and in the church. How can an imbalance between the two cripple the church, its leadership and its mission? What risks are worth taking and who decides?

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