JULY 26, 2020

10:15am I Facebook Live

Seeking to Understand, Truly Understand

 

Question of the Week

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

When was a time that you felt truly understood? Like someone around you genuinely understood what you were going through/feeling?

​Teaching: Find the passage Acts 28

 

The Big Idea:

Complicity is dangerous and contributes to the harm and oppression of marginalized groups. Paul warns those listening of not to let our heart grow dull and invites us to open our eyes and ears to better understand. Without understanding, we cannot make forward progress to solve the problems happening in our world.

Context:

Paul finally makes it to Rome where he is allowed to live while he waits to make his appeal to Caesar. In the world epicenter of knowledge, learning, discourse, and progressiveness, and yet Paul heads a warning from Isaiah that they will keep on hearing, but never understand. They will keep on looking, but never perceive. Their hearts have become DULL! Can you imagine living in Rome and you live surrounded by statues, modern architecture, scrolls, travelers, language, ceremonies, and scholars, and then Paul comes to town and tells you that your heart is DULL.

 

Questions for personal or group reflection and study:

What is one thing you are learning about and want to truly understand?

What does seeking to understand look like to you?

What makes you feel understood?

Communion/Reflection/Offering 

 

Benediction

God, may the words of Isaiah stay with us as we seek to listen and understand to our siblings in Christ who experience the world differently from ourselves. Please guard us from dullness and in moments of frustration, remind us of the hope that understanding brings. In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

For the Kids and their Families

In this passage, Paul refers back to an Old Testament passage in Isaiah that speaks about our eyes, ears, and hearts.  Listen to this song by Rain for Roots.  In the song,  the singer says, “Plant the seed of understanding; grow it up like the tallest tree.”  It’s a great time to plant a sunflower or marigold seed.  As you water it each day and watch for the sun on it, talk about how your child is growing, too.  What things are important for your family to pour into yourselves so that you will grow to understand and perceive?

 

 

For Further Reflection & Action:

On Listening:
Preemptive Love Coalition Blog: The Most Important Thing We Do

 

On Racial Reconciliation: 

Be the Bridge

Brene Brown with Austin Channing Brown on I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

 

 

JULY 5, 2020

10:15am I Facebook Live

The Pause has a Purpose

I’m frustrated with our text this week, but I’m frustrated with lots of things lately. I’m frustrated that we have so many details about this particular part of Paul’s story and so few about other things I’d like to know about. Paul’s return to Jerusalem and his subsequent interactions with the Sandherin and Roman governors starts in chapter 21 continues for all of the next five chapters. That’s almost six whole chapters spent on back-and-forth arguing, political intrigue, and frustrated murder plots. That, friends, is A LOT of Biblical real estate. When you think how much, relatively, is given to things like Jesus’ childhood, the Sermon on the Mount, the story of John the Baptist, passages and stories that I long to know more about, I wonder why this gets so much ink? 

 

But I wonder if Paul was frustrated too, and maybe that’s the point. He already has the promise of God from the angel (Acts 23:11) that he was to give his witness in Rome. I wonder if he thought, “Come on already!” Instead, one proconsul keeps him locked up hoping to get a bribe to release him, the next one does the same as a favor to the local, his enemies keep trying to get him executed... surely he had intense times of frustration and maybe even doubt. What was God revealing in him, to him, through him during this time? 

 

And what about us? What happens when all our plans and hopes and expectations are put on indefinite hold? What can we learn from this? Let’s dig in this week and see what we can find out. 

Grace and peace, y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

 

Question of the Week

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

What’s something you’re waiting for right now?

​Teaching: Find the passage Acts 25

 

The Big Idea:

Times of waiting teach us things we can’t learn otherwise.

 

Questions for personal or group reflection and study:

What are you learning during this time of cancelled plans and uncertainty? Specifically, what are you learning that you couldn’t have learned any other way?

 

Communion/Reflection/Offering 

As you know, we’re in the midst of trying to sell the property at 2828.  We’re doing everything possible to limit costs related to this building as it’s not being used.  Our prayer is that it will sell quickly to someone who sees the opportunity here, and we’ll leave with some assets to use in the ministry to which we feel we’re being called.  Your gifts are a temporary investment in the building, and a future investment in our hope.  Giving is also used to pay our lean, part-time staff of three, and to reach out in compassion to our community through digital messaging, teaching and fellowship as well as in gifts to the poor and marginalized in our area.

Benediction

God of our waiting, give us eyes to see what we couldn’t see in the rush.

God of our longing, give us ears to hear what we couldn’t hear in our fullness.

God of our anxiety, give us hearts to rest in ways we couldn’t when assured. 

God of our waiting, give us minds to discern what it is we couldn’t understand before this.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

For the Kids and their Families

With events slowing down, and more time spent at home, have you noticed any changes in the world around you? Maybe you’ve noticed bigger blooms on plants, or sighted animals you haven’t seen before. Possibly you’ve looked in the distance and have seen a bigger view than you did in the past!

 

Scientists say it’s an effect of lowered emissions and improved air quality as fewer people have been commuting and traveling. In a time of rest, how can you look for the positives? Try this acronym out with your family this week and

 

LOOK for ways to be the hands and feet of Christ:  

L:  Love God — Give thanks before meals and sing songs of worship. Go out on a hike and be thankful for God’s masterful creation—check out Tanyard Creek Nature Trail or another one you haven’t explored.  

 

O:  Others — Clean out your pantry and take some food to the Little Free Pantry, take adult-sized jeans, shorts, and new or used towels to 7hills, bake some banana bread and take it to a neighbor, put a happy sign of encouragement out on your lawn … think about what might encourage someone else today.  

 

O:  Offset waste — In our “normal” days, we’re often too busy to be thoughtful about our consumption. Now is the perfect time to try to reduce waste. Maybe you can make your own pitcher of lemonade or fruit-infused water instead of purchasing single-serving containers. 
 

K:  Knowledge — Build up your knowledge! Dig into a book of the Bible as a family, reading a chapter each day, or read the psalm with the number of the date, i.e. on July 5, read Psalm 5. Check out the local public library online offerings; you can still sign up for summer reading programs.

 

 

For Further Reflection & Action:

What did Paul write while in prison in Caesarea?

Bonus

How to pray for an end to oppression

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