A Year of Getting to Know God through the Bible

Welcome to Getting to Know God through the Bible!  Here you will find readings, reflections, prayers, and questions for your own reflection to help you get to know the story of the Bible and the God revealed there. By using these materials, you will come away with a better understanding of who God is, what the Bible really says, and why the Bible is so important to us as a source for understanding who we are too.  On this page, you’ll find the second part of our series–on the New Testament.  Our Old Testament series can be found here.

This series is based on our 5:30 Sunday Evening Worship service at St. Anne’s.  You are always welcome to join us at this beautiful 30 minute service.  Come as you are!

Hear What The Spirit Is Saying: Seven Weeks With The Seven Letters Of Revelation

Our Lord had a special message for seven ancient churches. Each had a peculiar problem. Each was called to take a good look at itself.  As we enter a time of change, inquiry and discernment, we, like our ancient brothers and sisters, are called to tune our ears so we can hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. For, as it turns out, their challenges were not too different from those we and other churches face today. Join us! And bring a friend!

Week Four: The Church at Thyatira

This week’s Scripture reading: Revelation 2:19

‘I know your works—your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first.  But….

Questions for Reflection:

The community of faith in Thyatira was a small group in a complicated, multi-cultural city of regional commerce. All faith communities are influenced by their context.  All Christians are influenced by their cultural context.  How are we as a church and how are we as individuals shaped by the culture around us? And in what ways does our faith call us to be counter-cultural?

This week’s prayer:

Holy God, help us to love this world as you love. But…help us also to see ways in ourselves and in the world around us that do not reflect your love. Bring us back to our center in you that we may know the abundant life you came to bring to all people.  In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Worship Bulletin

Week Three: Pergamum – Home of Satan’s Throne

This week’s Scripture reading: Revelation 2:12-14

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword: ‘I know where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who as killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you.’” Hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches!

Questions for Reflection:

The Christians in Pergamum were of two minds, maybe three. Some were trying to hold fast to their faith. Others were busy making peace with the Roman empire. Compromise is often easier than holding firm. Problems arise when our compromises erode our faith. Are you in danger of drifting into a less challenging faith? Are your ears itching to hear an easier gospel? Pray with 2nd Timothy 4:3-4; and Hebrews 2:1-3 & 4:12.

This week’s prayer:

God our Father, we find ourselves in an often unsteady and confusing world: Show us that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals; open our eyes so that we may see your hand at work in the world about us and open our ears so that we may hear the true gospel of your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Worship Bulletin

Week Two: Smyrna & The Crown of Life

This week’s Scripture reading: Revelation 2:8 & 10

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life: Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches!

Question for Reflection:

Jesus holds out a promise to the persecuted church in Smyrna. If they are faithful, he will give them the crown of life. For us, martyrdom need not require physical death. We can die to self, to sin, or whatever keeps us from fully expressing our faith. What might you lay aside to receive a crown from Christ?

This week’s prayer:

Almighty God, who gave your servants boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.                (Book of Common Prayer, p. 246)

Worship Bulletin

Week One: Ephesus, Queen City of Asia

This week’s Scripture reading: Revelation 2:1, 2 & 7

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. … To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.” Hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches!

Questions for Reflection:

Jesus’ call to the Ephesians is similar to St. Paul’s command to Timothy that he “stir up” or rekindle the flame of love and grace that once burned within him. Sometimes our spiritual fire burns low, or even goes out. Has this happened to you? Is it happening now? If so, how might you “stir up” and rekindle the flame of God’s love on the altar of your heart?

This week’s prayer:

“Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Church and for all those whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the Gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place your servants call upon your Name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 838)

Worship Bulletin

Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome

Week Forty: The God of Hope

This week’s Scripture reading: Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For Further Reading: Romans 5:1-2

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

Questions for Reflection:

Hope and optimism are both attitudes toward the future.  How would you define optimism?  How would you define hope?  How are they similar?  How are they different?  Why is hope so important for faith?

This week’s prayer:

We pray, God of grace and eternal life, that you may increase in us and strengthen in us your hope.  Let us always have a longing for you who are the fulfillment of our lives, let us always count on you and your faithfulness, let us always unflinchingly hold onto your power. Then we can tackle the task of our lives with courage, then there will live in us the joyous confidence of not laboring in vain, then we will do our work knowing that you, the Almighty One, are at work in us and through us. Strengthen in us your hope. (Karl Rahner)

Worship Bulletin

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Week Thirty-Nine: The God Who Speaks

This week’s Scripture reading: Hebrews 1:1-2

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.

Questions for Reflection:

In the beginning, God spoke, and he has been speaking ever since. How is he speaking to you? What is he saying in the silence of your prayer? And, how does he want you to help heal our world?

This week’s prayer:

Almighty God, you have spoken to us through the living word, your son Jesus Christ; open our ears to truly hear his voice when we pray: Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation:

Week Thirty-Eight: The God of Time

This week’s Scripture reading: Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For Further Reading:

Romans 12:1-12

Questions for Reflection:

Is there any good work you have been too timid or skeptical to take action on?  What stands in your way from starting?  Ask God to remove that barrier.  Are you more inspired by knowing that time is limited or that time is a gift from God?

This week’s prayer:

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you;
and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.  (Book of Common Prayer, 832-33)

Worship Bulletin

Stained glass Virgin Mary with Jesus, CURAphotography / Shutterstock.com

Week Thirty-Seven: The Incarnate God

This week’s Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

Questions for Reflection:

Can you think of examples of when strength is shown in vulnerability? What are some implications for how we regard our bodies and physical selves if God became human? That is, if the infinity Deity became someone with a body, all bodies must be worthy of care and capable of holiness. How can we live that reality out in our lives?

This week’s prayer:

May this eternal truth be always on our hearts, that the God who breathed this world into being, placed stars into the heavens,
and designed a butterfly’s wing, is the God who entrusted his life to the care of ordinary people, and became vulnerable that we might know how strong is the power of Love: A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp; a mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore. Amen.
(from http://www.faithandworship.com/prayers_Christmas.htm#ixzz515hivnNh)

 

Worship Bulletin

Week Thirty-Six: The God Who Forgives

This week’s Scripture reading: Mark 2:7

“Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

For Further Reading:

Mark 2:1-12

Questions for Reflection:

What is forgiveness?  How does the God we meet in the bible forgive?  What is the goal of forgiveness in the bible?  How does Jesus fit into God’s forgiveness?  In light of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ, how might we forgive one another?

This week’s prayer:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours.  Now and for ever. Amen.
(New English Version – adopted by the Church of England in 1977)

 

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation:

Anonymous painter from Westphalia, late 15th century – http://www.hampel-auctions.com/

Week Thirty-Five: The God Who is King

This week’s Scripture reading: Matthew: 25:40

Matthew 25:40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.”

For Further Reading:

Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20

Questions for Reflection:

A good king wants everyone in the realm to flourish.  Think of a time you have helped someone in need, or a time you have received help you needed.  What effect did the giving or receiving of help have on you?  Your outlook?  Your sense of being part of a community?

This week’s prayer:

Ruler of heaven and earth, you sent your only Son into the world to be our Redeemer, and by raising him from the dead you gave him the victory over all his enemies. Show us the power of your saving love and bring us to share in your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Savior.    (Psalm 2:1-7, and prayer from The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada, 706)

 

Worship Bulletin

Giselle Bauche Pentecost

Week Thirty-Four: The God Who Shows No Partiality

This week’s Scripture reading: Acts 10:34-35

“Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Questions for Reflection:

Once again, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, God knocks down one of our dividing walls and leaves us astounded. How might we benefit from a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit? What would that look like, and what would be your prayer? James 2:1-9 shows us that partiality is no easy trait to leave behind.

This week’s prayer:

“O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP p. 840)

 

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation:

Cimabue, The Crucifix of San Domenico, Arezzo

Week Thirty-Three: The God Who Is Love

This week’s Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

For Further Reading: John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Questions for Reflection:

What is love?  Is it more like a feeling or more like an action?  What does it mean when we say God is love?  Are we describing how God feels about the world or how God acts toward the world or both?  The author of 1 John points us to sending of Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins as the supreme act of God’s love.  How does the cross reveal God’s love?  How ought God’s love revealed in Christ shape our human loves?

This week’s prayer:

Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of Heav’n to earth come down; Fix in us thy humble dwelling; All thy faithful mercies crown! Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation, Enter every trembling heart.  Finish, then, Thy new creation; Pure and spotless let us be; Let us see Thy great salvation Perfectly restored in Thee; Changed from glory into glory, Till in Heav’n we take our place, Till we cast our crowns before Thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

 

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Week Thirty-Two: The Living God

This week’s Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9

“In every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God.”

Question for Reflection:

The living God of the Old Testament is often contrasted with the dead idols made by man. Psalm 115 and Isaiah 44:9-20 are good examples. In the New Testament, a young woman’s body became the womb through which God entered the world. Two millennia later, what does it mean to say: God is Alive!?

This week’s prayer:

“Lord God of our Fathers and Mothers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; of Sarah, Rebecca and Leah; God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us that we may aid the coming of your kingdom and become instruments of your peace. Amen.

 

Worship Bulletin

Week Thirty-One: God’s New Family

This week’s Scripture reading: Galatians 3:26

“For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

Questions for Reflection:

Through Jesus Christ, God brought a new understanding of family into the ancient world and into our world. Where do you see this new family at work in the Church today? Isaiah 43:19 and 1st Peter 2:9-10 give us a sense of God’s purpose in calling His new family into being. How can our witness as a family where all are one in Christ counter the ongoing divisions in our nation and in the world?

This week’s prayer:

“Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever. Amen. – (BCP p. 835).

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation: