A Bible Study for Lent 2020 – Tuesdays for 7:00-8:30 p.m.
WEEK 3: Are You a Regular?
March 17, 2020
To join the Bible study online, either click on the following link or copy and paste it into your online browser: https://zoom.us/j/7184544317
You can also join by phone by calling: 1-669-900-9128. When prompted, enter the following passcode: 718 454 4317
Introduction to Lenten Practices:
So what is a Lenten practice? A Lenten practice is anything we do during Lent that opens us up and brings us closer into God’s presence. A Lenten practice is like going to the gym for your faith. It may be awkward at first and difficult, but afterwards you feel good; and after doing it for a while, you notice changes and strengths, and it becomes so much a part of your routine that you can’t imagine life without it. Some common Lenten practices include prayer, fasting, generosity, confession, Bible study, hospitality, working for justice, and meditation.
The Lenten discipleship practices that we will explore are each tied to the Christian values of generosity, thankfulness, and stewardship. Each week, not only will we learn about a specific Lenten practice, but you will be given ideas about different ways that you can actually do it. Try it; play with it; see how it opens you up to God. By taking this opportunity and trying each practice, you will be making space in your life to actively live out the Way of Jesus.
It is in God that we live, and move, and have our being.
And so, in every moment of every day, we dance with God, and God dances with all creation.
We don’t often notice that we’re dancing.
But sometimes, every once in a while, God’s music and movement break through, and we know!
When we gather together, as community of faith, we gather to help one another become open to the presence of God; we gather to help one another be intentional in that relationship.
We gather to help one another, and in helping one another, we worship God.
Witness of the Stewards:
Last week, we were asked to practice being a blessing in stealth mode. Share a story about how this Lenten disciple worked (or didn’t work) for you to open you up to God.
For the stories we have shared, for the lives we have lived, for the love you have given-
Thank you, God!
May the stories of our friends remind us all that we are on the Way together!
Thank you, God! Amen!
Reading Scripture – Psalm 95:1-7
O come, let us sing to God.
Let us shout with joy to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving.
Let us joyously shout to God with songs of praise! Come, let us bow down and worship, let us kneel before God our maker.
For you are a great God,
high sovereign above all gods.
In your hand are the depths of the earth;
to you belong the heights of the mountains.
The sea is yours, for you made it;
your hands also formed the dry land.
You are indeed our God.
We are your people, the flock that you shepherd. Come, let us bow down and worship, let us kneel before God our maker!
- In lesson 1 of our Lenten Bible study, we explored the practice of saying ‘No!’ to many things based on the values decisions we have made to say ‘Yes!’ to other things. The spiritual practice of consciously basing our Nos and our Yeses on our fundamental values is THE Stewardship and Discipleship question above all others.
- In lesson 2, we looked into being a blessing. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing for others. We looked deeper into THE Stewardship and Discipleship question. As people of faith, it’s up to us to decide how we are going to use everything God has given us.
- Stewardship is really all about caring for, managing, and using something that is not ours, but which we have been given for a time. It’s ours to look after and use on behalf of its rightful owner. A good steward always manages what he or she has been given as a response to the one who owns it and has given it to them. And that includes our time as well as our physical resources.
- So today, we are going to talk about worship – worshipping regularly and often.
- A STORY: One day, two people from the same congregation were having coffee and talking about church stuff. Finally, one says to the other, “You know I’ve gone to worship for 30 years now, and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time, and the ministers are wasting theirs by their giving sermons at all.” The other person thought for a moment and then replied, “You know, I’ve been married for 30 years. In that time, my partner has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my partner hadn’t given me those meals, I might have died from hunger. It’s the same with worship. If I hadn’t gone to worship for nourishment, I might well be spiritually dead today!” Describe briefly how you respond to this story. How is worship a form of essential nourishment?
- According to N. Graham Standish, a U.S. Presbyterian Minister, worship must provide a tangible sense that Christ is in their midst” “…an encounter and experience of God.” (N. Graham Standish, Becoming a Blessed Church [Lanham, MD, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2016], p. 73.) How do you know when Christ is present in worship? How do you encounter and experience God?
- Worship is not just a show we attend on those Sunday mornings when we have time. Worship is not a spectator sport. Worship is not something that can only occur in a church building or a sacred space. Worship does not even require the traditional trappings of a minister, an organist, a choir, a hymnal, and a bulletin.
- Read and react to these words from Jamie Holton and Debbie Johnson: “In worship, as we sing songs, listen to messages, read through scripture, and pray together, we can experience that precious love of God that is for each of us, and in that love discover a sense of belonging and perhaps even purpose for our own lives… worship takes us into the heart of God.” (Jamie Holton and Debbie Johnson, Bullseye: Aiming to Follow Jesus [United Church Publishing House, The United Church of Canada, 2015], p. 45)
- Worship is about our response to God: who God is and what God does. Psalm 95 starts with our response: “Let us shout with joy to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving: let us joyously shout to God with songs of praise.” (Psalm 95:1-2) This sounds like worship. It is our response to “For you are a great God, high sovereign above all gods. In your hand are the depths of the earth; to you belong the mountains. The sea is yours, for you made it; your hands also formed the dry land.” (Psalm 95:3-5)
- We thank God by using some of the time that God has given us to come together with other followers of Jesus – regularly and often – to worship God.
- According to the United Methodist Book of Worship, public worship incorporates the following movements:
- Entering into God’s presence;
- Proclaiming (and listening) to God’s Word;
- Responding to God’s Word;
- Giving thanks and sharing in Communion;
- Departing for mission and service in the world.
How are these five movements reflected in your own experiences of participating in worship?
How can you incorporate these movements of worship into your daily life, making them into spiritual practices and habits?
Prayers of the People and the Prayer that Jesus Taught Us
As a forgiven and forgiving people, we remember others who are in need.
For the world and all that lives in it… (Please pray silently)
For people and places damaged by war and conflict… (Please pray silently)
For people whose humanity is diminished by racism, ableism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and all the other –isms we live…. (Please pray silently)
For all who are afraid, all who are lonely, all who are hurting, in body, mind, or spirit… (Please pray silently)
For our neighbours—those we know and those we will never meet… (Please pray silently)
For our families… (Please pray silently)
For ourselves… (Please pray silently)
For all affected and afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic… (Please pray silently)
Now, with the confidence that we are God’s beloved children, let us pray together the prayer that Jesus taught us:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Announcements and Assignment for Next Week:
- Read Psalm 23. Spend time praying about how God is calling you to develop the spiritual gift of generosity as a key part of your Christian life.
- Practice worshipping alone or with others for a period of time each day as you seek to make worship a habit of your life.
- Other announcements?
Benediction and Commissioning
As we travel this Lenten pathway, we journey together, a community of faith.
As we travel this Way of Jesus, we journey together but also alone.
Let us go into God’s world, practicing our faith,
living Christ’s call to love God with all that we are, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Let us go into God’s world
knowing we are never alone. Christ’s peace, the Creator’s love, and the breath of the Holy Spirit go with us. Amen!
Based on “Called to Be the Church: Congregational Giving Program,” The United Church of Canada