A Year of Getting to Know God through the Bible

A new series started Sunday, March 5, 2017, at our 5:30 PM service: A Year of Getting to Know God through the Bible. Over the course of the next year, we’ll base the music, readings, prayers, and message of our service on the story of the Bible and the God revealed there. This means that in thirty minutes a week you can get to know God and the Bible better. In the course of a year, you will come away with an 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.

 From a Book of Hours, by William de Brailes, ca. 1230, in the Collezione Naya-Bohm, Venice, Italy

Week Six: The Gracious God

This week’s Scripture reading: Genesis 3:1-24

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the LordGod called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’ The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this,  cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’ To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’  And to the man he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it”, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’

The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.

Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’— therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.

Questions for reflection:

Why do you think God calls out to the man and woman, “Where are you?” God loves us with a relentless love that pursues us no matter what.  Is there anything that keeps you from fully believing that?  Is there someone in your life who has helped you understand the extent of God’s love for you?  How did they do that?

This week’s prayer:

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.  (The Book of Common Prayer, 41-42)

 

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation:

Lucas Cranach the Elder - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed byDIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.

Week Five: The Creator (Part Two)

This week’s Scripture reading: Genesis 2:4b-25

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’   Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

For more, read Psalm 19, Psalm 136:1-9

Questions for reflection:

How is the picture of God in this creation story different from the one in Genesis 1?  How is it similar?  What is the relationship between God, humans, and the rest of creation like in this story?  Can that relationship be a model for us today?  Why or why not?

This week’s prayer:

For all things bright and beautiful, for all things dark and mysterious and lovely, for all things green and growing and strong, for all things weak and struggling to push life up through rocky earth, for all human faces, hearts, minds, and hands which surround us, and for all nonhuman minds and hearts, paws and claws, fins and wings, for this life and the life of this world, for all that you have laid before us, O God, we lay our thankful hearts before you.  In Christ’s name.  Amen.  Prayer by Gail A Riccuiti, in The Complete Book of Christian Prayer (Continuum, 2000), 30.

 

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation:

Week Four: The Creator

This week’s Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1-3a

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.

For more, read Genesis 1:3a-4

Questions for reflection:

How can we picture an act of creation?  Like a builder who constructs a house?  Like a flame radiates light?  Like an artist who creates something beautiful?  How do you picture the way God creates?

This week’s prayer:

O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (from the Book of Common Prayer, p. 814)

 

Worship Bulletin

 Listen to Spoken Meditation:

Week Three: The Redeemer Comes to Announce Good News for All

This week’s Scripture reading: Luke 4:14-20

At his baptism, God claims Jesus as son and agent. God anoints Jesus with the Spirit of God. In the power of the Spirit, Jesus returns to his hometown. He picks up the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, unrolls it and announces God’s mission. In Jesus, God will bring good news to the poor, free all who are in bondage to sin and death, return sight to all who are spiritually, physically, and morally blind, liberate all who are oppressed by the forces of darkness. God’s purpose in Jesus is to heal, save, and free—not just you and me, but all of us. Not just personal salvation but the redemption of all creation.

For more, read Colossians 1:11-20

Question for reflection:

How does the experience and hope of salvation in the Hebrew Scriptures come true in the person of Jesus? Do you understand that the word Jesus means “God saves?”

This week’s prayer:

Loving God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: accept our prayers. Grant the power of your grace, that the weak may be strengthened, sickness turned to health, the dying made whole, and sorrow turned into joy; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

 

Worship Bulletin

Week Two: The Redeemer is the Creator

This week’s Scripture reading: Psalm 77:14-20

You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples. With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

For more, read Exodus 15:1-21

Question for reflection:

How does the experience of salvation shape your understanding of God?  How does it change how you understand God the Creator?  How does knowing that God the Creator has acted for your salvation affect your faith and assurance?

This week’s prayer:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation:

Week One: The Bible

This week’s Scripture reading: Romans 15:4-6

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For more, read 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

Question for reflection:

Do you have a favorite Bible passage or words from the Bible that have special meaning to you? Ask someone you know if they have a favorite passage or story from the Bible and if they would share it with you.

This week’s prayer:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From the Book of Common Prayer, page 236

 

Worship Bulletin

Listen to Spoken Meditation: