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Bible Study: Easter 7 (B) – 2012

May 20, 2012

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

  • Who or what is “missing” from your community?

Jesus leaves the apostles with an extensive charge: to be his witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Similar to what we see in the Acts of the Apostles, today’s church also needs a body of leaders who can carry out uncertain, unpredictable responsibilities. Sometimes, the church needs leaders like Peter who initiate conversation; other times the church needs leaders like Matthias who accept duties revealed by God through community. Every time, however, the church needs leaders who can unite through prayer upon realizing that someone or something is missing.

Psalm 1

  • Where has God “planted” you?
  • What keeps you “rooted”?

In this wisdom psalm, we learn that the righteous are like trees, a simile that—even in contemporary culture—symbolizes strength, resilience, and productivity. Illustrations of “the tree of life” generally depict this life-giving force in nature as having roots that are exposed and visible to the eye. In reality, however, a tree with exposed roots could not survive for long.

Like real trees, we too have roots: in our family, in our tradition, and in the various places we have lived. Also like real trees, these roots are buried deep beneath layers and layers of earthly “dirt.” Thus, we must first sift through layers and layers of dirt if we want to understand our rooted beginnings better. For some, this process is painful and humiliating. During certain seasons of our life, the ground is muddy and the process of making our way through it leaves us messy full of goop. In other seasons, the ground is rock hard and the task of working our way through this life dirt seems impossible. In yet other seasons, however, the ground is perfect for digging. These seasons provide the right conditions for us to rediscover our hidden roots.

1 John 5:9-13

  • Where is your personal testimony most welcome? Most Unwelcome?
  • How do you partner with God’s mission in the world?

Sharing one’s personal testimony can be challenging. The specifics seem clear enough, right? According to First John, the testimony is this: “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” However, what if those listening do not want to hear what we have to say? What if these people tell us that we are wrong?

First John delivers his letter to a community that believes Jesus is the Messiah. Thus, the letter is not meant to be argumentative. Instead, the author seeks to encourage those who have already secured eternal life because they believe.

Studies in church history, however, reveal that truth claims often were a source for argumentation. New methods of biblical interpretation cast a suspect light on former methods and their authors fought to the death sometimes in order to defend their claim. Even today, the increasing awareness of other faith traditions complicates the call to share our own truth. Fortunately, the true faith relies on God’s testimony as well as ours and God’s testimony has not yet been fully revealed.

John 17:6-19

  • How does God sanctify us?

Wait a minute! We do not belong to the world, yet we still have to live here? These verses sound paradoxical since a sense of belonging usually makes us feels more “complete” than a sense of exclusion. School playgrounds across the globe, for one, are filled with children who scream, “I want to play too!”

As we age, the desire to be a part of something continues to echo throughout the various stages of our lives: “Please pick me to join your company’s team,” one might say. Another: “This relationship does not make me feel as ‘whole’ as I thought it would.” On days like this, we may only find a sense of belonging through Jesus’ prayer that we become sanctified—set apart, made holy, and bound to something greater than our human inclinations.

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Christopher Sikkema


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