Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sermon Discussion - the main message

Date: January 18
Topic: Awakening our hearts to the main message
Text: Acts 2:1-41

Now that the holidays are over, I'm happy to re-introduce study materials to help in the digesting of Bethany's Sunday teaching, including questions that can be used for a small group.

This week we're considering the significance of both the events of the Acts 2 Pentecost and Peter's message given on the day the Holy Spirit came. The main point of these section is to show how Pentecost was the beginning of a new world order, and to challenge us to live within it.
The meaning of Pentecost: This was a Jewish festival that marked the reception of spiritual fruit from God (the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai) and physical fruit, once Israel had settled into the promised land (as people brought the first fruits of the harvest as an offering during this feast). On this particular Pentecost feast, we see new "first fruits" celebrated:
1. the first fruits of the resurrection, as seen in Jesus
2. the first fruits of the Holy Spirit, as seen in the wind, fire, and tongues of this chapter
3. the first fruits of God's reign, as Christ is declared to be the new king of a new kingdom.

Here's the cynic's response? "New world order? Really? I don't see a new world order - I still see wars, disease, famine, injustice, loneliness, and death. I see it everywhere. In fact, I may even believe that God is worse than irrelevant - maybe He's the cause of these problems. After all, look at the Crusades, political corruption in the church, and of course, the greed and sex scandals. I like it better this way: 'imagine there's no heaven... no religion's easy if you try'.

1. How do you respond to this cynics challenge?
2. What signs can you point to, today, that there is indeed a new world order, a different king?
3. How has this new kingdom changed your priorities? In particular, what areas of your life have been altered, and how?
4. The religious people of the 1st century basically missed the signs. How can we attune ourselves so as to better see the signs of God's reign in our world?

I welcome your thoughts on any of these questions... thanks in advance.


At 14/1/09 16:36, Blogger Donte said...

To the cynic—
Don’t blame God, blame Satan. If you think the world is bad there is something you can do about it. Come join the winning team! Accept Christ and fight against injustice. As Desmond Tutu reminds us, “We are the agents of transformation that God uses to transfigure his world.”

If you truly hate wars, disease, famine, injustice, loneliness, and death you should be happy to know that you are in agreement with Christ! Because of Him, we know that none of this will last. So what do you say…want to join us?

At 16/1/09 14:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, am so tired of this world. So weary of fighting the injustice and its ugly results. But God's justice is not promised for today on Earth -it is coming. And it takes my breath away to imagine the day it comes. Let me tell you about what the gospel says...(insert gospel here)

What can WE do? Paul is an amazing example of one who knows that he has the responsibility to share the gospel verbally, but that words in and of themselves are powerless unless the Holy Spirit goes ahead of him to prepare a heart. But we are still to share. That is our role.

How do I know? Where do we see God working today? I see God working every second of every day IF I am in tune with him in relationship. When I slip out of spending time with him, I notice that I MISS EVERYTHING he is doing around me. But the second I allow him to come back in and live this life for me (gal 2:20), I immediately see his hand at work throughout every day.
SO, we can encourage each other to lose ourselves, seek Christ, and then share with each other the ways we see him move every day.

Good questions....thought provoking and hopefully life changing for all of us.

At 16/1/09 22:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One time when doing a club talk on the resurrection, I reminded the kids that when we turn away from God, we turn away from the source of life. We choose death. God, in his great love and grace has bridged the gap for us in the world our self-worship has created.
But, He is a perfect gentleman (I steal that phrase from a pastor) and will never force Himself on us, even though He has sacrificed everything for us. Creation (untouched creation)testifies to God's perfection. Tainted creation illustrate perfectly who is responsible for what.
If God was only just, we wouldn't be breathing today, but hurrah that He passionately loves us.
Then, I pray I consistently love him/her like Jesus does to back it all up. I actually like to do that first before the speaking, but God doesn't often cater to my plans :)


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