Category Archives: Musings on Scripture

continuing the conversation: The Only Way?

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Yesterday morning John preached on the question of whether Jesus is the Only Way…we read from the gospel according to John, chapter 14: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

There are lots of questions embedded in this one question. Are people who aren’t Christians going to hell? What about people who faithfully follow other religions? What about people who demonstrate what we might call Christian life (love, compassion, helping, etc) but don’t believe in Jesus? What does “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” mean?

John talked about the idea of the Jesus Window–that Jesus is a window through which the light of God shines on us and a window through which we can see God. If there are many dwelling places in God’s house, that also likely means there are many windows. What do you think of this idea? John went on to say that he believes the Jesus Window to offer the fullest view of God and to let the most light in. What are your thoughts?

At 9:00 the song after the sermon was called “Cannot Keep You”–how does this song help or hinder your pondering of this topic?

Click the “comment” link to join the conversation with your ideas, thoughts, prayers, and questions about this topic!

with the Word online Bible study–seeing-believing

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Mark 8.27-33

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

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What pops out at you in this story? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

Have you ever felt like Peter–getting it right and then immediately wrong in the next sentence?

In our world today, who do people say that Jesus is? who do YOU say that Jesus is? and who does JESUS say that he is? How do these three descriptions go together?

What does it mean that Jesus is the Messiah? What connotations does the word “Messiah” have for you/in our culture? How does Jesus meet those expectations (if at all)? What expectations does Jesus meet (if any)?

When have you, or we as a church, set our mind on human things instead of divine things? How do we get back on track?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?

With the World online Bible study–Golden Age-Promise

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When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mould, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.’ They rose early the next day, and offered burnt-offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’

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What pops out at you in this story? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

Statues of gods were common practice in the ancient world, but the God of the Israelites did not have a statue representation. How does that make it easier or harder to be faithful?

The Israelites are impatient waiting for Moses to come down the mountain–have you ever felt impatient waiting for God? What did you do while you were waiting?

The choice to make statues to stand in the place of God (and to carry attributes of God, like “brought you out of Egypt”) is in many ways a look back at the good-old-days, as the Israelites tend to do (you can often find them whining about how great Egypt was, compared to the wilderness…never mind that they were slaves in Egypt!). When you are tempted to idealize the past, what helps you to look forward at God’s promise instead?

It can be hard to look mystery in the face and still walk into it…sometimes the past we know (however good-bad-mixed it may have been) is easier and more comforting than the wilderness of promise and mystery. How do we discern which is the right way, and how do we then walk that way?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?

With the Word online Bible study–familiar-unknown

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Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

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What pops out at you in this story? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

Can you imagine (or have you ever) leaving everything you know and heading out into the unknown? What might that be like (or what was it like, for those who’ve done it)?

Why was Abram chosen for this journey?

What choices did Abram have to make? Could he have heard this call and chosen to stay where he was? To go back to where his father had come from? To go somewhere else? What might have been the consequences of those choices, compared to the consequences of choosing to follow this call?

How do we make choices when we hear the call? How can we be certain it’s God calling, and what do we do when we think God might be asking us to go into the unknown? Does God ever call us to stay in the familiar?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?