Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Adult Forum Class, October 21, 2012

About Adult Forum

Please join us Sunday mornings at 9:15am in the Charney Room, hosted by Terry and Danese Grandfield. 

Check here each week to receive a brief synopsis on what we taught the previous Sunday, as well as what we will be working on the following Sunday. We are using a study guide called Living The Good News, a lectionary based program. For those who are not familiar with the term lectionary, it is the book of appointed bible portions to be read during our church services throughout the year, which includes an Old Testament Lesson, The Psalm, The Epistle, and The Gospel Lesson.

There is beauty in how these sections of scripture are chosen. We are privileged to focus on them in our class as well as during our church service, and Father Gern's sermon further adds to what we are sharing during class time.
In a small group setting we also get to know one another more intimately, building friendships and our sense of community, so vital to continuing Christ's work individually as well as collectively. 
We are truly excited to be leading this class. Already we are learning so much ourselves!

The Call to Discipleship

No portion in the Old Testament better describes Jesus as the suffering servant than Isaiah 53:4-12. It is painful to read parts of these verses, especially when we realize it was our transgressions, our punishment, that was inflicted upon him in such a brutal way. The picture Isaiah paints of Jesus uses intense words to provoke very real images:
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed."
In Hebrews 5:8-9 it says "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him"
Throughout the Bible this theme of suffering and servanthood translated to healing and hope reveals God's purpose and plan, even in the dark and difficult parts of our own lives. Jesus showed us in his own willingness to serve that tragedy can and will be translated into a pathway of life to others if we continue to trust him.
What does it mean to heed his call to discipleship? To be servants?
James and John were well known to be Jesus's disciples, part of his inner circle, familiar names to those of us who have been in church most of our lives. In the gospel reading from Mark 10:35-45 they ask Jesus an interesting question, one most of us find rather bold and offensive. One point we discussed in class was how easily they appeared to approach the Lord:
"James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." (Mark 10:35)
Their question implies a close, familial, relationship.  Jesus was easily approached because he presented himself as a servant. Even his reply is somewhat surprising. "What is it you want me to do for you?"
What a servant's heart our Lord has! He doesn't rebuke them for coming to him, in fact, he even encourages them to be specific. After they tell him they want privileged spots next to him when he comes into his kingdom, Jesus corrects them and uses the moment to hit home a deeper truth. Another opportunity for God to help us all to see the real message of the gospel, the true call to discipleship.
To be willing, like our savior, to serve. 
Leadership through kindness, compassion, humility. Leadership that chooses love and understanding. Leadership that is willing to bear the burdens of those who follow.
Leadership expressed in becoming slaves to all.
"But whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
May God grant us through the power of His Spirit the grace to follow His call to discipleship. Amen.

Reflection from Living the Good News

Anyone beginning a career in management or seeking authority should find in today’s readings some nuggets for understanding a leadership role. First, forget the perks. Those with their sights set on the luxury condo, the flashy car or the followers’ adulation might as well quit right now. 
Scripture sets forth entirely different grounds than society’s for leaders. Jesus is the Master because he shares in human weakness and temptation. What we might find our least praiseworthy qualities, he embraces. Furthermore, his followers are distinguished not by anything they have achieved, but by their fidelity to sharing human suffering. If they come into any reward, it is God’s gift, nothing they have earned. 
For example, imagine an awards banquet. Where might we find Christ: with the honoree at the head table, basking in glory and applause, or the server clearing plates and pouring coffee quietly, trying not to interrupt the speeches? We can only imagine the sorrow in the heart of Christ as he sees some religious leaders today making a mockery of his vision. When they follow culture’s dictates rather than the demands of the gospel, they must sorely disappoint him. Sadly he repeats, “It cannot be like that with you.” 

Next week, October 28th:

Title: Rewards of Faith

Bible Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 7:23- 28; Mark 10:46-52

Please join us!

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