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Past Fun, Fellowship, and Ministry at Troy First

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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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Mark 1:4-11


Thoughts:         “Dove” rhymes with “love” and often does in bad poetry.  At some (expensive) weddings, doves are released to flutter over the wedding party.


Doves coo.  They do not squawk or chirp.  Doves are small and white, with little nembs and dainty feet.  They do not have hooked beaks and fierce talons.


Doves symbolize peace.  When Noah released a dove from the ark, it returned to him with a green leaf in its beak – a welcome sign that the flood waters were receding.


Doves also symbolize sacrifice.  When Joseph and mary took Jesus to the temple for his ritual circumcision, Mary presented two doves for the required sacrifice after the birth of a child.


All four gospels tell the story of Jesus’ baptism.  All four tell us that after his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.


Discussion:      What characteristics of doves should we emulate?


Activity:            Endeavor to bring green leaves to those who wait.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Matthew 1:1-12


Thoughts:         Only Matthew tells the story of the wisemen.  Through the years we have added to his narrative.


We have determined that there were three wisemen, one for each gift:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


We have decided these men were kings, because (1) they had the means and the leisure to undertake a long journey, and (2) they could afford to bring lavish gifts.


We have named the wisemen Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar.


And although Bible scholars believe the wisemen found Jesus and his family in Nazareth when Jesus was two years old, we cling to the traditional scene of the poor shepherds and the rich wisemen clustered about the manger in the stable in Bethlehem.  There the wisemen laid their “intricate gold upon that simple straw.”


Discussion:      What would Matthew think of his embellished story?


Activity:            Read Psalm 72 and Micah 5.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Luke 2:22-40


Thoughts:         Have you seen Anna?”

                             “She never leaves the temple.”

                             “Always fasting and praying.”

                             “Poor old soul, she doesn’t’ have any family.”

                             “They say she can predict the future.”

                             “Did you hear how excited she was when that country couple came in with a baby?

                             “She said the baby was the Messiah!”

                             “Yeah, she was going on about this baby’s bringing redemption to Jerusalem.”

                             “Well, you know she never had any children of her own.”

                             “No, she didn’t.  She’s probably lonely.”

                             “And as old as the hills.”

                             “Let’s check out the sale at Micha’s!”

                             ”And then we can have lunch at Zelophehad’s new place.”:

                             “And then we ------“


Discussion:      And then we can - go to the after-Christmas sales?


  • Return that dreadful scarf from Aunt Atossa?


  • Hold close the wonder of Christmas in our hearts?

Activity:            Invite someone who lives alone to come over for tea and Christmas cookies.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Luke 1:26-38


Thoughts:         Gabriel – God – Galilee – Nazareth – Joseph – David – Mary


An angel – a deity – a region – a town – a fiancé – a king – a virgin – who is quite important, even though she is named last.


Almost without exception, when an angel appears to a person, the person is frightened, and the angel hastens to reassure him or her.  Indeed, Gabriel has the highest praise for mary.  She is highly favored, blessed among women, chosen to bear the messiah.  And – on a chatty, newsy note – the angel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth is expecting a baby.  Can you believe it, at her age?


Mary responds with grace and dignity beyond her teen-age years.  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”


Discussion:      What parts of our lives are unto us according to God’s word?


Activity:            During this Advent season, what part of your life might you change, with God’s help?

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