9am Youth Resurrection Day Trip

Easter 6: Scriptures & Sermon Questions

Eastertide at Ascension
Sacred Fire Preaching Series

Scriptures for Saturday, May 5: Acts 11:19 – 30

1. Tell the story of how you got your name or another family story that is often told in your family. Why are family stories so important in forging identity? How do stories of the early church continue to shape the church today?

2. This passage tells how God brought together people from entirely different cultures and backgrounds to form the family of the church. What kind of cultural divisions today are bridged by the church? What ways has the church failed to live up to this vision? How can Ascension embody this vision of a family that cares for each other across different cultures and backgrounds?

3. What do you think is the significance of the story of how Christians got their name?

Easter 5: Sunday Scriptures & Sermon Questions

Eastertide at Ascension
Sacred Fire Preaching Series

Weekly devotional resource is available here.

Scriptures for Sunday, April 29: Acts 8:26 – 40

Acts 8:26-40

1) In his sermon, Fr. Jonathan argued that this text challenges our basic assumption as late modern westerners that the cosmos is ‘secular’ or ‘disenchanted’, a perspective that is fostered by the secularity of the primary institutions of the west. Study and name all the supernatural elements in this text. For Luke the invisible is as real, perhaps even more real, than what we can see. How would our lives be different if we lived with the sense of being in an ‘enchanted’ cosmos, full of God’s presence and that of his angels?

2) Fr. Jonathan argued that even though the Ethiopian eunuch is a wealthy and high status person as treasurer of Queen Candace’s court, he is a deeply lonely and alienated person, as eunuchs were despised people in ancient near eastern kingdoms and, as castrated men, they were prevented from entering the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:1). His baptism is thus a surprising turn of events, but it is also a fulfillment of prophecy (Isa. 56:3-5). For Luke, it is a deeply joyful thing that someone who is regarded as beyond the reach of salvation because he has been physically mutilated has become incorporated into the people of God. Are there people in your life who seem beyond the reach of salvation? Are there people who seem so distant from the kingdom that you have stopped believing that God is drawing them to himself? As these people come to mind, lift them to the Lord in prayer.

3) The text says that after being baptized, the eunuch ‘went on his way rejoicing’ (v. 39). It is hard to overestimate the place that joy has in Luke-Acts. It is always noted as the specific response to seeing God at work in the world (see Luke 1:14, 28; 2:10; 6:23; 8:13; 10:17, 20; 13:17; 15:5, 7, 10, 32; 19:6, 37; 24:41, 52). Would you say your Christian life is characterized by great joy? If possible, name moments where the joy of the gospel has been evident and palpable to you. If any in the group do not feel joy, pray that God would enable your group to see him at work in the coming weeks, that we would experience his joy.

Easter 4: Sunday Scriptures & Sermon Questions

Eastertide at Ascension
Sacred Fire Preaching Series

Weekly devotional resource is available here.

Scriptures for Sunday, April 22: Acts 4:23 – 37

1.  In Acts 4:18-22, Peter and John are ordered by the Sanhedrin not to speak or teach any more in the name of Jesus. In vv. 31 & 33 we are told quite clearly that they continue to speak – giving testimony about the resurrection and speaking with boldness. Obviously they have decided that this speaking is part of ‘listening to God rather than” to the powers that be. When is right for Christians to disobey the authorities? Are there cases in our society when we need to stand against the prevailing opinions – or even laws?
2. In Acts 4:24-30 the church prays both for ‘boldness’ in their own speech and for God himself to act. What kind of boldness does the church need today? What do we need to ask God to do in our society?
3. Read Deuteronomy 15:1-11. This chapter seems to have a tension within it – God promises (v.4) that there will be no poor people in the land of Israel – but later in the chapter (v.11) God says that the poor will never cease from the land. How do we resolve this tension? Deut 15:4 seems to be quoted in Acts 4:34 – how did the early church interpret Deuteronomy 15?
4. In what ways can we follow the positive example of people like Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37) – and avoid the  negative example of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)?

Easter 3: Sunday Scriptures & Sermon Questions

Eastertide at Ascension
Sacred Fire Preaching Series

Weekly devotional resource is available here.

Scriptures for Sunday, April 15: Acts 4:5-14

Sermon questions:
  1. Fr. Jonathan mentioned in his sermon that Luke-Acts is to be understood as a single literary unit, with the Holy Spirit serving a key ‘character’ in both books. The Holy Spirit ‘fills’ Jesus for his earthly ministry (Luke 3:22; 4:1-2; 4:18) and similarly ‘fills’ the apostles to be witnesses to Jesus in Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, and to the ends of the earth (Luke 24:49; Acts 2:4f; 4:8, etc.). In what ways does the Holy Spirit empower the apostles to be witnesses of Christ? Spend time praying that God would fill Ascension with the Spirit to be his witnesses to Pittsburgh, southwestern PA, and beyond.
  2. In v. 9, Peter describes the ‘act of kindness’ done in healing the lame man as a sign of a deeper deliverance and salvation from sin and death. What is your experience of miracles? If you have experienced a miraculous occurrence, how did it relate to the presence of the kingdom in the situation in which it happened?
  3. It is striking how often Acts refers to the power of the name of Jesus. In v. 12 Peter says ‘there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’. Why do you think Jesus’s name is of such importance in Acts? Have you ever found the act of calling upon the name of Jesus itself to be powerful?

Easter 2: Sunday Scriptures & Sermon Questions

Eastertide at Ascension
Sacred Fire Preaching Series

Weekly devotional resource is available here.

Sermon questions:

Acts 3:12-26
1. In this passage Peter seems to be somewhat different from the Peter we usually encounter in the gospels – what has happened to him that gives him the boldness to talk about Jesus (and act in Jesus’ name) in public?
2. What is the connection between the resurrection of Jesus and the healing of the lame man (see his story in Acts 3:1-11)?
3. Jesus is given a number of interesting ‘titles’ in this passage: vv.13 & 26-  servant/son (the word used can be translated both ways); v.14 – Holy and Righteous One; v.15 – Author of life; v.20 – Christ; v.22 – prophet. What do you think these terms would have meant to Peter’s first listeners? Some of these words are only rarely used by Christians today – why do you think that is?
4. There seem to be several promises made to those who ‘repent and return’ (v.19). The first seems clear enough – repentance leads to sins being erased. What do you make of the other two: 1. that ‘times of refreshing from the Lord’s presence’ will come and 2. that God will send the Christ?

11am Choir Rehearsal

10am Easter Vigil Rehearsal

Church Closed for Easter Monday

12:30pm Resounding Grace Rehearsal


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