August 5: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Sermon Questions for the Feast of the Transfiguration
1. The story of the Transfiguration tells us something of the nature of Jesus – and of his mission. Describe in your own words what the story in Luke 9:28-36 tells us about the person and work of Jesus.
2. What does the story of the transfiguration tell us about our future hope and our hope for God’s creation?
3. What does this story, and the story which follows it, tell us about how we need to follow Jesus?

July 29: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Sermon Questions

Ephesians 4:1-16

1) In his sermon, Fr. Jonathan said that St. Paul’s ascension theology is on full display in this passage. Read vv. 7-13 together. Why is the ascension of Christ so important to Paul?

2) For St. Paul, the most important purpose of the great realities he has articulated in the first three chapters is that we “all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). What do you think it means to attain maturity in Christ? How would you know if you were progressing in it?

3) For St. Paul, to become mature requires making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (v. 3). What is the connection between unity and maturity? What will you do this week in order to build up the bond of peace in the body at Ascension?

July 22: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Sermon Questions

Isaiah 57:15-21

1. Isaiah 57:1-13 condemns the idolatry of Israel in strong terms. It is clear that these idolatrous practices were learned from “the world” around them. What kinds of idolatry are we in danger of learning and falling into in our North American society?

2. Isaiah 56:9-13 lays a lot of the blame for Israel’s problems on the leaders of the community (probably what we would call both ‘religious’ and ‘political’ leaders). What roles do those who are leaders – and those who are not leaders – have in ensuring that today’s church is faithful to God? (Notice that most of this passage is warning but it does contain an element of hope – v.13)

3. Isaiah 57:15-21 is mostly a passage of hope: God will not be angry forever, he will heal, he will bring ‘peace’. How has God done this in Christ? (Notice that although this passage is mostly about hope, it does contain an element of warning.)

4. Ephesians 2:11-22 speaks of peace to those who are far off and to those who are near (a phrase from Isaiah 57:19). According to this passage, what is this ‘peace’?  And how does God bring it?

July 15: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Sermon questions

Amos 7:7-15

1) In Amos 7, the Lord shows Amos a vision of a plumb line, a tool used to measure whether a wall is in perfect perpendicular relation to the floor. The plumb line symbolizes the measure of the righteousness of Israel, and Israel is found wanting. The result of this will be that the Lord will bring his people into exile. When you read this passage, what emotions do you experience? How would you feel if you were in Amos’s place? How would you feel if you were the people of Israel to whom the message was announced?

2) The Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski argues that all of human experience can be read in light of Israel’s experience. As a result he argues that “exile is the permanent human condition.” What does it mean to you to be in exile? Are there ways that the theme of being in exile connects with your experience? With that of your friends or loved ones?

3) Mother Tish argued in her sermon that when a wall is not perpendicular it must be knocked down and rebuilt, and that Amos’s vision should be understood in this light. The Lord sent Israel into exile in order to rebuild them, and in Christ Israel is indeed being rebuilt as a community that includes both Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2). Have you ever felt that the Lord is knocking you down? Have you seen ways that he has rebuilt you? What would it mean for him to rebuild you once he has knocked you down?

July 8: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Sermon Questions

Ezekiel 2: 1-10

1. In Ezekiel chapter 1 the prophet has an overwhelming encounter with God which causes him to ‘fall on his face.’ (Ezekiel 1:28) There are similar experiences recorded in other parts of scripture (Isaiah 6 and Luke 5:1-8 are only two examples of a long list). Have you had such an experience of the overwhelming presence of God and, if so, what was your reaction?

2. Prophets are not usually called to easy tasks. What gave Ezekiel the strength to do his ministry? What would we need as a church to fulfill the calling God has for us?

3. What do you think Ezekiel would have to say to the church today? What do you think he would say to our society?

Church Closed for July 4th

July 1: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Treasure in Jars of Clay: A Series on 2 Corinthians

July 1: Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Cor 8:1-15

The Corinthian correspondence was written to a people in crisis. Paul had originally preached the gospel to the Corinthians, but they had succumbed to factionalism, with ‘heart divisions’ (one very appropriate way to translate the Greek word that has historically been translated ‘schism’) ripping apart the body of Christ. These heart divisions tore the body itself apart and led them to doubt Paul’s efficacy as an apostle. 2 Corinthians is Paul’s spirited defense of his ministry to the Corinthians, which he strikingly casts as an illustration of the ‘power of the cross’, which he had already proclaimed to them ‘as of first importance’ (1 Cor. 15:3). Anyone concerned about our present ‘heart divisions’ in the church should want to hear about how the apostle Paul’s ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21) and how it formed hearts and minds in ancient Corinth and can do so again in our midst.

 

Sermon Questions

1) Fr. Jonathan mentioned in his sermon that the Corinthians stopped giving to the fund for the persecuted church in Jerusalem out of their rancor and contempt for Paul. In this passage Paul calls them to renew their giving to the fund by urging them to think of the Jerusalem Christians as members of the same body of Christ. How would seeing yourself as a member of a body that transcends ethnic and class boundaries change how you see the needs of those around you?

2) Paul says in v. 10 giving to this fund will benefit the Corinthians. In what way will giving benefit the Corinthians? How does it benefit us?

3) Paul ends this passage with a reference to the manna that God provided to the Israelites in Exod 16 in order to persuade the Corinthians that they may understand the necessity of sharing in the body of Christ. The Corinthians are to share out of their abundance now, and when their time of need comes, others in the body of Christ will share with them. Do you believe that this is how things work in the body of Christ? How would it change you if you were to believe that your generosity toward others in the body now would result in generosity toward you in your time of need later?

June 24: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Treasure in Jars of Clay: A Series on 2 Corinthians

June 24, Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Cor 5:14-21

The Corinthian correspondence was written to a people in crisis. Paul had originally preached the gospel to the Corinthians, but they had succumbed to factionalism, with ‘heart divisions’ (one very appropriate way to translate the Greek word that has historically been translated ‘schism’) ripping apart the body of Christ. These heart divisions tore the body itself apart and led them to doubt Paul’s efficacy as an apostle. 2 Corinthians is Paul’s spirited defense of his ministry to the Corinthians, which he strikingly casts as an illustration of the ‘power of the cross’, which he had already proclaimed to them ‘as of first importance’ (1 Cor. 15:3). Anyone concerned about our present ‘heart divisions’ in the church should want to hear about how the apostle Paul’s ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21) and how it formed hearts and minds in ancient Corinth and can do so again in our midst.

 

Sermon questions

1. In his sermon, Bishop Grant painted a rather dark picture of our human situation. Was his description fair? Is there some kind of human hope for the world?
2. In this passage Paul talks about the ground, the basis, of his preaching: the love of Christ (v14) and God being in Christ (v.19). If God takes the initiative in the process of salvation, what part do we play?
3. In this passage Paul talks about the cross in different ways – as achieving reconciliation; as bringing ‘new creation’; as a sacrifice (Christ ‘knew no sin’); as ‘representative’ and ‘substitutionary’. Which of these pictures or explanations of the cross help you to understand what God has done for us in Christ? Are there some other biblical ideas which have helped you to understand how God has rescued us in the cross and resurrection of Jesus?

June 17: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Treasure in Jars of Clay: A Series on 2 Corinthians

June 17, Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Cor 5:1-10

The Corinthian correspondence was written to a people in crisis. Paul had originally preached the gospel to the Corinthians, but they had succumbed to factionalism, with ‘heart divisions’ (one very appropriate way to translate the Greek word that has historically been translated ‘schism’) ripping apart the body of Christ. These heart divisions tore the body itself apart and led them to doubt Paul’s efficacy as an apostle. 2 Corinthians is Paul’s spirited defense of his ministry to the Corinthians, which he strikingly casts as an illustration of the ‘power of the cross’, which he had already proclaimed to them ‘as of first importance’ (1 Cor. 15:3). Anyone concerned about our present ‘heart divisions’ in the church should want to hear about how the apostle Paul’s ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21) and how it formed hearts and minds in ancient Corinth and can do so again in our midst.

Sermon questions:

1) What difference does the bodily resurrection make in the way you understand your own life? In the way you understand your own body?

2) Tish says that she didn’t think about heaven as an earthy place with bodies until she was an adult. What has been your understanding of heaven and has it changed over time?

3) Tish said that three implications of the bodily resurrection were a) comfort in death; b) the affirmation of the goodness of our bodies now; c) the importance of what we do with our bodies now. Discuss each of these three consequences and describe what difference it might make in your life if you were to live in light of this hope.

4) What do you think the implications of the bodily resurrection are for current issues that require justice and mercy – how we treat bodies on earth?

June 10: Sunday Scriptures and Sermon Questions

Treasure in Jars of Clay: A Series on 2 Corinthians

June 10, Third Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Cor 4:13-18

The Corinthian correspondence was written to a people in crisis. Paul had originally preached the gospel to the Corinthians, but they had succumbed to factionalism, with ‘heart divisions’ (one very appropriate way to translate the Greek word that has historically been translated ‘schism’) ripping apart the body of Christ. These heart divisions tore the body itself apart and led them to doubt Paul’s efficacy as an apostle. 2 Corinthians is Paul’s spirited defense of his ministry to the Corinthians, which he strikingly casts as an illustration of the ‘power of the cross’, which he had already proclaimed to them ‘as of first importance’ (1 Cor. 15:3). Anyone concerned about our present ‘heart divisions’ in the church should want to hear about how the apostle Paul’s ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21) and how it formed hearts and minds in ancient Corinth and can do so again in our midst.

 

Sermon Questions:

1. In 2 Corinthians 4:13 Paul quotes verse 10 of Psalm 116 (it may look different in most of your Bibles because Paul is actually quoting from the Greek version of the Old Testament rather than the Hebrew version). The verse says “I believed and therefore I spoke” – or,  “I remained faithful, therefore I spoke.” Read over all of Psalm 116. The Psalm is written by someone who is has been in deep trouble. What is the Psalmist’s situation at the time of writing?

2. How does the situation of Psalm 116 fit in with Paul’s situation?  What troubles has Paul seen? What is his stance in the midst of his problems?

3. How does Paul’s faith in the resurrection of Jesus (v.14) and “things that are unseen” (v.18) help him to cope with “things that are seen”?

4. Have you been tempted to lose heart? How have you seen God sustain you?


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