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Past Fun, Fellowship, and Ministry at Troy First

By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 6:1-13


Thoughts:          When Richard Campbell Raines was appointed bishop of Indiana, he told his wife that now he was a bishop, he would conduct himself with utmost dignity, and he expected to be treated with great reverence and respect.  The next morning his wife awakened him by hurling pillows at him and yelling, “Hi, Bish!”


Our families keep us humble.  The youngest child arrives to find a cast of characters already on stage with well-defined rôles and scripts.  This youngest child has only a bit part, and he needs to learn his lines quickly.


Although Jesus was Mary’s first born, his brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Juda and his unnamed sisters probably paid scant attention to his importance.  “That’s my slingshot!” “Mom gave me this cookie!”  Go get your own drink of water!”


A prophet is not without honor – except at home.


Discussion:        Of what significance are the studies of birth orders in families?


Activity:              Remember to honor our own prophets.  Recently they cleaned and painted and installed new carpeting in our parsonage.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 5:21-43


Thoughts:          Jesus lived in a society which valued sons.  Sons could carry on the family name; they could work in the family business or on the family farm.  Bluntly, fathering sons was considered a measure of a man’s virility.


So it is endearing to hear Jairus speak lovingly of his little daughter.  Our hearts hurt with his as he implores Jesus to come and heal his precious daughter.


We can picture Jairus guiding Jesus through the throngs of people, hurrying desperately to his daughter’s bedside.  When Jesus stopped to acknowledge the touch of a poor, ill woman, Jairus must have wanted to scream, “Never mind her!  We’re wasting time!  We must hurry!  Come on!”


We want attention, and we want it now – full and undivided attention.


Discussion:        During an average day, what events and what people receive our full attention?


Activity:              This Sunday, concentrate on the words of the congregational hymns.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Colossians 3:12-19


Thoughts:          “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  (v. 16)


The relatively new hymn “Help Us Accept Each Other” has these great lines:

                             “To learn to care for others –

                             For all, not just for some –

                             To love them as we find them,

                             Or as they may become.”


What happened to the young man with curly hair who brought roses to his wife for James Monroe’s birthday and praised her tuna fish casserole?


What happened to the slim young woman who put love notes and homemade cookies in her husband’s lunch?


They became older and grayer and heavier and – as the hymn says, “…cumbered with a load of care.”  The money once used for roses pays for braces and college tuition.  The love notes give way to helping a teen-ager through The Scarlett Letter.  By tacit agreement, the tuna fish casseroles disappear.


Discussion:        When you meet someone, what characteristic has you at hello?


Activity:              Listen carefully to a friend’s answer to “How was your day?”

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 4:26-34


Thoughts:          Twenty-seven hymns in our United Methodist hymnal begin with the word “come.”  “Come” implies that we are welcome; we are wanted.  Some of the most familiar hymns are “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Come, Thu Almighty King,” and “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”


Today’s scripture contains some words that appear almost verbatim in the hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” which we sing almost exclusively at Thanksgiving time. The second verse is the best.


              “All the world is God’s own field,

              Fruit unto his praise to yield.

              Wheat and tares together sown,

              Unto joy or sorrow grown.

              First the blade and then the ear,

              Then the full corn shall appear.

              Lord of harvest, grant that we

              Wholesome grain and pure may be.”


On Sunday morning, we see our precious little “blades” running down the aisle for the children’s time with Rev. Hal.  The “ears” blessed us with their stories of the college mission trip.  And we “full corns” must endeavor to be “wholesome grain and pure,” so that we may bring the harvest home.


Discussion:        What nugget from a sermon, what Bible verse, what Sunday School lesson has lived in your mind and your heart?


Activity:              Make one little blade your special friend.  Smile and call him/her by name when you say good morning.  Send your blade a birthday card.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 3:20-35


Thoughts:          Jesus chose his twelve disciples.  Then he went home.


It was not to be a restful visit.  Crowds surrounded his mother’s home, the local people questioning his sanity, and the Jerusalem scribes accusing him of working with Satan to perform his miracles.  Jesus told the crowd that a house divided against itself cannot stand.


More titles have been taken from the Bible than from any other written source.  House Divided is the title for a novel set during the Civil War.  A wealthy white Southern family discovered from family records that they were related to President Lincoln, whom they detested.  One of their ancestors had fathered a child by a kitchen maid.  This child was Nancy Hanks, who became the mother of Abraham Lincoln.


The Bible was one of the few books available to Lincoln while he was growing up, and he knew it very well.  Indeed, he could quote long sections of the Bible from memory.


When Lincoln was nominated for the Senate in 1858, the country was dangerously divided on the subject of slavery.  In his acceptance speech, Lincoln quoted Mark 3:25:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  This speech attracted national attention and helped elevate Lincoln to the Presidency.


Discussion:        What unnecessary divisions arise in daily life?


Activity:              Surprise someone with your sweet reasonableness when he/she disagrees with you.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 3:1-17     


Thoughts:         What queen saved her people?  What minor prophet forgave his unfaithful wife?  Who came to Jesus by night?


These were questions in a game called Bible Lotto, which my family played often.  It was indeed a quieter, simpler time.  We had only one telephone, which did not text or twitter or tweet; it did ot tell time or take pictures or reveal the identity of the caller.


But Esther and Hosea and Nicodemus were well-known answers to us.  I always pictured Nicodemus creeping stealthily through the dark streets of Jerusalem so that he could talk to Jesus privately.


Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews.  Perhaps Jesus expected him to understand his metaphor about being born again.  Did Nicodemus really not grasp Jesus’ meaning, or was he being deliberately obtuse?  Jesus chided him.  “Art thou master of Israel and knowest not these things?” 


Discussion:      What things do we know?  What things are needful?


Activity:            Read more about Nicodemus in John 19:38-42.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Acts 2:1-21


Thoughts:         What do we know about Peter?

1.  He was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew.

2.  He lived in Capernaum.

3.  He has been called the Big Fisherman.

4.  We know he was married, because he had a mother-in-law.

5.  He is named first in the lists of the disciples.

6.  He was the most loquacious disciple.

7.  He was one of the three disciples closest to Jesus.


Do we think of Peter as a scholar, able to quote minor prophets?  Well, no.  But in today’s reading, Peter reels off five verses from the second chapter of Joel.


This passage has a modern outlook:

“ … your sons and your daughters shall prophesy ….”


It has echoes of poetry:

“ … your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions ….”


And it closes with a wonderful promise:

“ … who so ever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


Discussion:      How would a present-day audience react to Peter’s talk?


Activity:            Read the book of Joel – all three chapters.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Luke 24:44-53


Thoughts:         Our family spent several hours in church every week.  Sunday school, morning church service, M.Y.F. meeting, evening church, choir practice, prayer meeting – those all met every week of the year.  Nothing stopped for summer!


Then there were the dreaded revivals, which meant two full weeks of long services every night, conducted by frenetic, perspiring evangelists.  We children were not happy members of the audience.  We would never have chosen to be like the disciples who, with “great joy” were “continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.”


Discussion:      Should all church services continue throughout the summer?  Why or why not?


Activity:            Invite someone to a church service or church activity.  Remember, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’.”

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Psalm 98


Thoughts:         Psalm 98 is titled simply “A Psalm” – the only psalm so designated in the King James Bible. 


Thirty-three psalms have no title.  Eighty-eight psalms are credited to David and/or the chief musician.  Asaph is named in the titles of seven psalms, the sons of Korah in three, Solomon in two, Ethan and Moses in one each.


So – simply “A Psalm.”  The main theme of psalm 98 is praise.  The people are told to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” with voice and harp and trumpet and cornet.


Nature is commanded to join the celebration, with the sea roaring, floods clapping their hands, and hills rejoicing.


Praise the Lord!


Discussion:      Why is Psalm 23 so memorable?


Activity:            Memorize you favorite psalm.  (Perhaps not Psalm 119!)

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         I John 4:7-21



                             “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us . . . . ”


And so we are assured of God’s love in these fifteen verses.  The word “beloved” is used two times; the archaic “loveth” occurs four times; the simple past tense “loved” also appears four times.  The word “love” is used nineteen times – seven times as a verb and twelve times as a noun.


And this is important why?  The repetition emphasizes the importance of this wonderfully comforting truth.  God loves us.  We don’t have to be successful or brilliant or beautiful.  God loves us.


Discussion:      If love is not returned, will it fade?  Why or why not?


Activity:            Read II Samuel 18, the story of a father’s love for his traitorous son.

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