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Past Fun, Fellowship, and Ministry at Troy First

By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Mark 11:1-11



John:                  We’re getting near Jerusalem.

James:                It’s going to be terribly crowded.

Thomas:            I doubt if we’ll find a place to stay.

Philip:                Any of you guys have any relatives with big houses?

James the Less:    My Aunt Esther has an extra room.

Nathaniel:        Right – for 13 of us.

Jesus:                 Andrew – Thaddeus – I need you.

Andrew and Thaddeus:    Yes, Master?

Jesus:                 See that barn down the road?  You’ll find a colt outside, tied to the fence.  No one has ever ridden this colt.

Thaddeus:        Well, I don’t want to be the first.

Jesus:                 I want you to untie that colt and bring him to me.

Andrew:            Shouldn’t we ask the owner if ____________

Jesus:                 Just tell the owner the Lord has need of the colt, and he will understand.

Thaddeus:        Do you know the ____________

Jesus:                 Just go and bring the colt back to me.


Discussion:      What colt have you been reluctant to bring back?


Activity:            Send an Easter card to someone who lives alone.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 12:20-33


Thoughts:         Previous to this passage, Jesus had made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday.  This fulfilled the prophecy of Zehariah, a minor prophet.


“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! … behold, thy King cometh unto thee .. riding upon a colt the foal of an ass.”


And you can put this in your Jeopardy file:  Zechariah – Zachariar – Zaccheus was the most popular personal name in the bible. 


Of course the Pharisees were there during Jesus’ one brief shining moment, murmuring enviously, and there were Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. To these Greeks Jesus confided his fear of the coming days.  “Now is my soul troubled.”  To his Father, he prayed, “Father save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour.”


Discussion:      What good may come from our suffering?


Activity:            Give a troubled soul balm, like the balm of Gilead which could heal the sinsick soul.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 3:14-21


Thoughts:         If asked what their favorite Bible verse is, many people would reply, “John 3:16,” and they could quote it verbatim.


Fewer of us would know that this beloved and exquisite verse was part of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.


Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin.  Only John records his nocturnal visit to Jesus.  Later, when the chief priests tried to arrest Jesus, Nicodemus defended him, asking, “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”


And finally, Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathea in his burial of Jesus.  Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of mingled aloe and myrrh to anoint Jesus’ body. He helped Joseh wrap the body in fine linen and place it in Joseph’s garden tomb.


Discussion:      Nicodemus held a position of influence.  How do we use our influence?


Activity:            What symbolic mixture of aloe and myrrh do we have to comfort others?

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 2:13-22


Thoughts:         Beginning teachers have been warned to be very firm and very grim.  No kindness, no leniency, no smiles for the first six weeks. 


Did Jesus feel the need to establish his authority?  Is this the reason that John tells us very early in his gospel about Jesus’ cleansing of the temple?


Sometimes Jesus’ disciples seem rather dense, but his actions in this passage remind them of a quotation from Psalms:  “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”


Discussion:      Jesus told the Jews – always present, always critical – “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  After Jesus’ resurrection, what did his disciples understand?


Activity:            John Calls the temple “a house of merchandise.”  Could our church be described this way?  Why or why not?

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Mark 8:31-38


Thoughts:         When Jesus told his disciples that he must die, Peter did not want to hear this.  Jesus rebuked him.


Perhaps Jesus longed to believe Peter, that surely none of this would happen.  Who wants to suffer?  Peter must be right.  These terrible things would not happen.  God would not permit them to happen.


But Jesus could not accept the comfort of peter’s sympathetic reassurance.  How hard it must have been for Jesus to exclaim, “Oh Peter, you don’t understand!  These things are not of men; they are of God.”


And so Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.  He held fast to his faith in his Father and to his belief that he would come gain “in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”


Discussion:      Why did Jesus tell his disciples (three times in mark) of his coming trial, suffering, death, and resurrection?


Activity:            Pray for wisdom and strength to give comfort to someone whose heart hurts.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Mark 1:9-15


Thoughts:         Teachers of composition often encourage their students to include details in their writing.  Details add interest and color.  Either Mark never took that course, or he scorned its teaching.


These seven verses in the first chapter of Mark compress four significant events in the early days of Jesus’ ministry.

                             1)  Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist

                             2)  Jesus’ days of temptation in the wilderness

                             3)  John the Baptist’s imprisonment

                             4)  Jesus’ first statement in his ministry


This statement of 17 words included two facts:  (1) the time is fulfilled; (2) the kingdom of God is at hand.  It concluded with two directions:  (1) repent; (2) believe the gospel.


And so, straightway and immediately (two of Mark’s favorite words), we must repent and believe.


Discussion:      What is our core belief?


Activity:            Take to heart the repentant echo in our communion liturgy.  “Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father.  Forgive us all that is past….”

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By: Sue Oleson
Scripture:         Mark 1:2:2-9


Thoughts:         “Have you heard?  Jesus is at Ephraim’s house!”

“Oh, let’s go!”


To see him?

To listen to him?

To be healed?

To be forgiven?


Undoubtedly, the crippled man wanted healing most of all.  Perhaps he was surprised and disappointed when Jesus’ first words to him were “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  He may have thought, “Sins!  What sins?  How many sins can I commit when I can’t even walk?  Cut to the chase, man!  I want to be healed!”


Discussion:      Why do we go to church?

To see people?

To listen to the minister?

To be healed?

To be forgiven?


Activity:            We nurture hurts.  They become a part of us.  Begin to forgive a hurt.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Mark 1:29-39


Thoughts:         Mothers-in-law are often the objects of unkind jokes.  The plant called mother-in-law’s tongue has long leaves with vicious points, and “they” say you can’t kill it.


The disciple Peter had a mother-in-law, and Peter and his wife lived with her in Capernaum.  Peter had invited Jesus and the disciples to come for dinner.


With his customary economy of words, mark does not say that Peter’s wife couldn’t cook, but he implies it.  Now a pretty hostess can be very delightful, but there were thirteen hungry men looking forward to a home-cooked meal, and Peter’s mother-in-law “lay sick of a fever.”


Miraculously, Jesus cured her, “and she ministered unto them.”  You can just picture the dear old soul scurrying out to the kitchen, tying on her apron and bringing the potatoes to a boil.


Discussion:      In what ways can we minister unto others?


Activity:            Choose a ministry – however small, however humble.  Send a thinking-of-you card.  Sweep snow off the church sidewalks.  Invite someone who lives alone to Sunday dinner.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Mark 1:14-20



Salome (dishing up potatoes):  You’re late.

Zebedee:  Well, you can thank your precious sons for that.

Salome:  Where are Jimmy and Johnny?  Didn’t they come home with you?

Zebedee:  No, they did not come home with me.  Your sister’s oldest boy – O what’s his name?

Salome:  Zebedee, you know his name is Jesus.  When the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to our Messiah –

Zebedee:  Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that story way too often.  Anyway, this Jesus came by the boat this afternoon.

Salome:  Mary must be so glad he’s home.

Zebedee:  Not a word to me, mind you.  No “How are you, Uncle Zebedee?”  No “Fishing good today?  Oh, no.  Just called to the boyus to come with him.  And they were gone like a couple of jackrabbits.

Salome:  I’m sure they’ll be home soon.

Zebedee:  Left the hired men and me with all the fish to sort and pack, all the nets to fold, all the -


Discussion:      What did Zebedee think Jesus should have said?


Activity:            Is Jesus calling you to help at coffee hour?  To be a greeter?  To send a get well card?

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 1:43-51


Thoughts:         Can you reel off the names of the twelve disciples?  They are listed four times in the New Testament, in each of the synoptic gospels and again in Acts.


Although the gospel of John never lists the disciples, John tells us how Jesus came to Philip and to Nathaniel and asked them to follow him.


Philip lived in Bethsaida in Galilee.  When Jesus found Philip, he said simply, “Follow me.”  Philip’s answer was not recorded, but he found his friend Nathaniel and told him he had found the promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.


Nathaniel lived in Cana in Galilee, a large and centrally located town.  By contrast, Nazareth was considered a frontier town, isolated and provincial.


Nathaniel’s answer to Philip was so human – so timeless.  “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” he scoffed.


In his ensuing conversation with Jesus, Nathaniel was convinced that indeed, something very good could come out of Nazareth.  Philip and Nathaniel (sometimes called Bartholomew) became two of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  And the other ten?


Discussion:      What qualities did Jesus perceive in Philip and in Nathaniel that appealed to him?


Activity:            Commit the names of the twelve disciples to memory.  If Jesus chose them to be his closest companions, they deserve to be remembered.

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