Beginnings, and a Time to Be of Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent one picture

Beginnings, and a Time to Be of Service

Yes, here we are at the end of November, the waning of the calendar year. Yet—here we are at the beginning of the liturgical year—the beginning of Advent.

I led the worship service today, highlighting the first Sunday of Advent. A Sunday of waiting. A Sunday when we look forward to Jesus returning for the second time. It is also traditionally a Sunday of hope.

Sure, when some people think of Advent, they want to get through it quickly! Let’s get to Christmas, already! Enough with this waiting, this time of preparation. Race ahead to the baby Jesus, being born in Bethlehem. Yet—our Scripture passages for the first Sunday in Advent do not tell us about that baby Jesus, and a warm, fluffy Christmas card picture. Instead, we are focusing on the hard stuff. On the fact that Jesus is coming again in power. On the sin, and unworthiness, and the fact that God takes us dirty, sinful, unclean people and cleans us up.

At our church today, we had a guest preacher, a student from one of the local bible colleges. Noah preached a sermon on one of the readings for the day, from Isaiah 64:1-9. He did a fine job at explaining the text. I built the whole service around that Scripture passage, lifting up various parts of the passage in the different hymns and prayers, besides the reading of the sermon text.

So, that was how I was of service today. In formatting the worship experience today, I hope I tied it together with a biblical bow—I kept ringing the changes of Isaiah 64, in different ways.

I earnestly tried to make a cohesive structure for our congregation. And, I was glad Noah helped me to lead in worship today. All in all, I did the best I could. Or to paraphrase the words of the prophet, from Isaiah 55:11, I provided a space for the Word of God to go forth. God, bless Your word. I pray that it accomplishes that for which You sent it forth. Amen!

@chaplaineliza

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Of Service through Bible Study

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 22, 2014

flowers Isaiah 55-11

Of Service through Bible Study

Lots to do today! I had some email correspondence to go through this morning (at home), and then went to church to get ready for the bible study. A member of the board and I were talking, and before I knew it, it was after eleven. After the time bible study was to begin! So—the two of us dashed into the meeting room. I apologized up and down. But it seemed okay. Several people were practicing on special music for Sunday while they were waiting. I’m so glad I didn’t leave people just twiddling their thumbs!

I taught the next installment in the study. Good topic, although I felt the study wasn’t quite like the previous weeks. Somehow, not as insightful. However, I hope and pray that the church members who attended received a blessing from what we read today. I’ve always found it good to open the Bible and study more in depth, even when the questions were not as penetrating and thoughtful.

Contemplating on this makes me wonder: what does God think of us when we study the Bible? (Even when the questions don’t pack much of a punch . . .) I am leading the midweek study group through a series of studies on the titles and names of Jesus, found in the Gospels. Last week’s study was on Servant—we looked at Jesus in the Upper Room, and discussed Him washing His disciples’ feet. Excellent study, and wonderful discussion, too! But—not today. I tried to help the study along, but I wasn’t able to do as much.

I suspect God is pleased whenever believers gather to study the Bible. I know there are many places in the Scriptures where the study of the Word of God is praised and lifted up. I know many devout believers in God search the Scriptures regularly, and write commentaries and bible studies and other biblical and devotional literature. Moreover, they pray and meditate on God’s Word. And, I get to do this, too! I love to lead people in study. I relish teaching others about the Bible, letting them know more about the things I have studied diligently, over many years.

One verse does come to mind, regardless of whether I have an excellent study or not. As Isaiah 55:11 states, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Even so, God’s Word is living and active, not static. Readings from the Bible will always bear fruit. Regardless of whether the study has mediocre to poor questions, or whether the teacher is more or less dynamic. God has promised, and I believe in the truth of God’s promises.

So—I find I have the best team-teacher in the world—God. And, I can truly be of service when I teach about God: service to others, and service to God.

@chaplaineliza

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