Can we Fully Understand Anything?

Is it okay to misunderstand things in our faith? Is it okay if a neighboring church misunderstands something? Is it okay to believe we might not know it all? Our Coffee Break Bible Study looked at the Bread of Heaven passage last week - a "hard" saying, as the disciples now complain, and a hard saying that has divided Christian churches over the centuries. Does it matter that we don't all interpret it the same way? I hope we'll conclude in this week's study that there are more important things to worry about.

(44) Rejection or Misunderstanding? Christian churches still choose to divide themselves by how they interpret the Bread of Heaven passage. How comfortable are you accepting that other Christians might have different interpretations?
1.Read John 6:60 If this is, as the Bible and the disciples say, “a hard saying,” should any of us expect to fully understand it? Does the Spirit give us complete understanding, or sufficient understanding? 2.Read John 6:61 What …

What are we looking for?

Jesus fed the 5,000 then disappeared. When he reappears, the crowds gather to meet him. Are they looking for food, healing, teaching... or just for the next new thing? If they were looking for teaching, they certainly found some, though the disciples described it later as a "hard teaching."

What are we looking for?

(43) Hard Teaching Jesus has just fed the 5,000; John records this as Jesus’ fourth “sign” (Read John 6:14—the signs so far are: wedding feast at Cana, healing the official’s son, and healing at the pool) and so a seriously big deal in determining who Jesus is. Jesus then sails across the water (and walks on water—last week’s study). Meanwhile… Read John 6:22-24 1.How do the crowds react when Jesus has “disappeared”? 2.What efforts do we make to “find” Jesus when we don’t sense his presence? Jesus lands at Gennesaret (probably Kineret on the Northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, not far to the west of Capernaum). Read Matthew 14:34-36, Mark 6:53-56, John 6:25 1.Ho…

Lent starts tomorrow... are you ready?

Today's the day for pancakes back home - Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday; the day before Lent begins. I loved pancakes as a child; Lent not so much, since giving up chocolate always seemed like more than I could do. I saved myself from too serious a commitment though, reminding myself that it would be "unkind" to refuse gifts of comfort food from my non-Catholic relatives. And now, here I am, a mongrel Christian indeed... and here's pancake Tuesday with me wondering if I can make gluten-free pancakes (they never quite work)... and here's Karen May with a fantastic book for Lent, Holy Week and Easter, for Catholics, Protestants and Mongrel Christians, and for anyone else wondering what the whole Lent and Easter thing is all about. Thank you for this great excerpt from your book Karen!

Excerpt from Walking Through Holy Week
Chapter 3: Good Friday Part I: Walking the Road to the Cross

  How meaningful it must have been for the followers of Jesus to stand in the plac…

Are You Drowning?

Our Coffee Break Bible Studies continue in familiar territory this week with Jesus walking on water after trying to escape from the crowds. But why doesn't he just calm the storm, rather than walking out in it? Or was he walking out there (on the water) to check if his friends were okay? It's nice to think he might be walking around (in the Spirit) to check if I'm okay when I'm drowning in things that go wrong.

(42) Are you drowning? Jesus has just preached to and fed 5,000 people. At least some of his disciples must be asking now if he’s Moses, Elijah or Elishah. Some of the crowd as well. Can you imagine how rumors might fly, and how dangerous the result might be for a preacher? So he slips away… or perhaps the disciples do… Read Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 6:45-46, John 6:16-17
1.Why do you think Jesus wanted to be alone?
2.When might you want to be alone with God? What can you do/has God done to make it happen?
Read Matthew 14:24-26, Mark 6:47-49, John 6:18-19
1.Why was Jes…

Feeling Hungry?

We're reaching some familiar territory in our gospel Bible studies now, with the feeding of the 5,000. So let's find some coffee and cookies and imagine the scene... Are you feeling hungry?

(41) Are you hungry? John places the feeding of the 5,000 in Galilee after Jesus’ second period of teaching in Jerusalem. Matthew, Mark and Luke place it when Jesus retires to a quiet place after the return of the twelve from teaching two by two (and after the death of John the Baptist). John says the miracle took place just before a Passover, perhaps when lots of pilgrims were heading to Jerusalem. We’ll imagine it as after the 2nd Passover (after the healing at the pool)—maybe near the 3rd? As always, we don’t know for sure—we make our best guesses and follow the journey into Jesus’ final year of ministry. Read John 6:1-4, Matthew 14:13-14, Mark 6:30-34, Luke 9:10-11. Where are they? (And why? – see last week’s study) 1.How does Jesus react to the crowds? How would we react if we were tryi…

Who was the Girl who Danced?

So here's Jesus, sending his friends out to preach, wandering the countryside--maybe not alone, but without so many beside him. And there's John, in jail. And there's the "evil king" and the "conspiring queen," together with the "innocent daughter"... We know the story don't we? And her name? Who was the girl who danced?

But, just maybe, some of the things we know aren't so sure. Maybe some of the details we remember aren't so relevant, and some of the assumptions we make aren't so helpful... in the present as well as in history.

This week, our Bible study group's going to read the Biblical story of the death of John the Baptist. Join us!

(40) Paying the Ultimate Price Mark—“nothing but the facts”—recounts John’s death straight after the sending out of the twelve. With Luke, he adds the rumors of Jesus being “the resurrected John” (fitting, if John has just died). But Matthew inserts the story of John asking if Jesus is “the …

Sheep, Wolves, Serpents, Doves and more!

So... Jesus sends out the twelve, and we're wondering, are we the sent or the ones receiving, or both. But we'll pause for a moment to read the instructions to the sent, where we'll find sheep, wolves, snakes even!

(39) Hard Harvest Matthew’s second “sermon of Jesus” (1. Sermon on the Mount, 2. Little Commission, 3. Kingdom of Heaven, 4. Church, 5. End Times) is set in the context of Jesus sending out his disciples (possibly two by two, possibly just to the Jews). This is often viewed as the end of the second year/beginning of the third year of Jesus’ ministry: ·The first year began near Jerusalem with Jesus’ baptism. For the purposes of this study, we’re assuming Jesus ministered in Judea from then until the first Passover is reported in John - the first time Jesus cleanses the Temple. ·This makes Jesus’ second year of ministry take place mostly in Galilee, stretching from the arrest of John the Baptist to Jesus’ second Passover in Jerusalem, when he performs a Sabbath he…