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Romans 8:22-27
May 18, 2021

CONTEXT
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter in the year 57 to the early church in Rome.  In this letter he details what we believe and how we behave as God’s children, having been redeemed by Christ’s saving action in the world.  In our reading for Pentecost Sunday, we see what our life in the Spirit is all about: God’s redeeming of all creation, our need to patiently wait on God, to trust God’s Spirit will pray for us and to hope for the future glory that awaits all life.

TEXT please read Romans 8:22-27 “The Spirit Intercedes for Us”

REFLECTION
Paul says, “The whole of creation” groans in labor pains.  What is being born anew now?

After a year of a pandemic, how have we and all the earth been suffering to make new?

We are given “the first fruits of the Spirit.” What gifts in creation do we celebrate most?

Pentecost is a spring time festival.  What are the first fruits that give us so much joy?

Easter, springtime and resurrection are about surprises.  How does God surprise you?

Paul says we too “groan inwardly.”  What spirit questions do we have after COVID-19?

Paul tells us we are waiting for “the redemption of our bodies.”  What does that look like?

In hope “we were saved.”  Does this mean God has already redeemed us in our fragility?

“Who hopes for what is seen?” What are the hopes of the world at this time?

Rockets and explosives destroy people, habitations, and creation. Is there a Spirit hope?

What are your hopes for the world, your loved ones, your enemies, strangers and yourself?

To wait in patience is good or bad for justice and equity?  Is incrementalism really denial?

To wait patiently upon the Lord is good for our Spirit life.  Are we usually too impatient?

What would your day look like if you were patient with the Lord, yourself, and others?

Pentecost is about dreaming God’s dream for the world.  Describe what God hopes to see.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”  How do we best reach someone who is struggling?

Has anyone tried to give you hope or help and you could not accept it?  What is solidarity?

Paul says a weakness is not having the words to pray.  What takes our breath away?

The Spirit intercedes for us with “sighs too deep for words.” Describe times that happened.

“God searches the heart.”  What if we do not even know what is on our heart? Does God?

What is “the mind of the Spirit?”  Is that God’s will for us?  Is that in us but not of us?

“The Spirit intercedes for the saints.”  What prayers do we speak for another’s well-being?

Can we co-create the world with God using intercessory prayer?

What would resolute and resilient prayer be for you?

For what things must we persist in prayer?

PRAYER

May the Lord bless all creation with the Spirit gift of a resilient, persistent hope. Amen.

Bible Study Helps       

 Acts 1:1-11
May 11, 2021

CONTEXT
This week we celebrate the Christian festival called “The Ascension.” The story begins at the end of Luke and is taken back up again in the first verses of Acts, both books written by the same Luke. In the Gospel of Luke, we hear of what Jesus did. In Acts we hear what those first apostles did as moved by the Holy Spirit. The followers were not just spectators of Jesus’ miracles and teachings, they themselves participate and become God’s ears, eyes, feet, hands and heart at work in the world after Jesus is “ascended” to heaven.

TEXT please read Acts 1:1-11 “The Ascension of Jesus”

REFLECTION
One cannot “explain” the ascension. So, let’s explain what happens to Jesus’ body after Easter?

When a community loses a leader how do they react? What happens to Jesus’ followers?

Church communities can be small, vulnerable, and fragile. How do they do God’s works?

What happens in the ascension is “unutterable” and mysterious. Is our worship like that?

What happens to Jesus in the story is unpredictable. Is our faith life like that or ordinary?

Are churches to be about convention and tradition or imagination and transformation?

What would you do if you saw Jesus’ feet going up into a cloud like in the great art works?

The story is that Jesus spent forty days after being risen with his friends. What does that mean?

Jesus “showed them many proofs.” Is the world still looking for many proofs before belief?

Jesus orders them not to leave town. What are the hardest kinds of waiting time?

Jesus promises the coming of the Spirit. Are we still in this “in between time” with God?

His people ask, “Is this when you will restore the commonwealth of God?” Is that a real king?

The power Jesus gives is spiritual and physical. Are we still witnesses with those powers?
Jesus commends the group to go out to their own, and to “the ends of the earth.” Is that us?

Just like the miracle stories, do you believe Jesus was lifted out of sight into the clouds?

What are the hard parts of faith that make us act with empowering energy yet can’t see?

Discuss our comforting line about our dearly departed: “Is Jesus ‘up there’ watching over us?”

What is the difference between “up there” and “is still here at work in us?”

What acts are the church called to do and why so many different church denominations?

Who were the mysterious men in white robes who question the followers cloud gazing?

Is the question, “why stand and look up to heaven?” to encourage us to get moving on earth?

They tell us Jesus “will come in the same way” he went up to heaven. Are we still waiting?

Name the tasks and ways the church follows in Jesus’ earthly footprints left behind?

Like the prophet Elijah who gives Elisha a double portion of power, why does he have to go?

What times in life after a loss of health, loved ones, a job, home, relationship is like this story?

PRAYER
Dear God when we look up to you, move our feet to be in the right places for faith. Amen.

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