Monday, June 14, 2010

The Virtual Cathedral Centerpiece Bible Study

Our Centerpiece Bible Study - John 5:1-18
A Fore-Word
John 5: 1-5 is the scriptural centerpiece for our work at The Virtual Cathedral for Christ Enlightenment and Healing(VCCEH) We will refer to this text frequently as we acquaint, you the reader with the mission intention of VCCEH. The first exposition will be a traditional interpretation which provides some historical and cultural perspectives and relevant considerations for Christians today.
The Text
Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
1 After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethsiatha, which has five porticoes. 3In these lay many invalids--blind, lame, and paralyzed 5One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" 7The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me." 8Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk."
9At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. 10So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, "It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat." 11But he answered them, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Take up your mat and walk.' "
12They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take it up and walk'?" 13Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared ind the crowd that was there. 14Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you." 15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. 17But Jesus answered them, "My Father is still working, and I also am working." 18For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. (NRSV)

Chapter 5 makes a major division in the Gospel of John. In the first four chapters John shows Jesus to be the promised Messiah of the Jews. But things begin to change in Chapter 5. John begins to show us a growing rejection of the claims of Jesus by the religious and even by his followers (ch6) – ultimately, this hostility will result in death of Jesus on the cross.
What killed Jesus? Jesus died for our sins but it was human religious ideals that hung Jesus on the cross.
Our text focuses on the healing of a man who had an infirmity for thirty-eight years. Imagine carrying around a problem for that long. The truth is, every one of us carries something around that needs healing. So how do we get our issues handled and our problems resolved? We’re going to get some interesting insights as we see Jesus Heal this man.

Vs I After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
According to Exodus 23, Jewish adult males were required to appear in Jerusalem three times a year….
a. Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) – commemorates the Exodus from Egypt

b. Feast of the First Fruits (Pentecost) Commemorates the giving of the Law

c.....Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) – commemorates life in the wilderness

We are not told, but this was probably the Feast of the First Fruits /Pentecost, because it was the next Feast after the Passover which Jesus attended in Chapter 2. Pentecost means 50 days – the law was given 50 days after they left Egypt…
Vs.2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate (sha’ar), a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethsaitha, having five porches. The sheep gate was the gate through which they would bring the sacrifices into Jerusalem. “Bethsaida” means “house of mercy”.

The pool was first discovered by the Crusaders and they built a church over the top of it called St. Anne’s. After the Crusades, this site was lost until an archaeologist named Schick was digging near the church in 1888 and rediscovered the pool underneath. You can actually visit this site today in Jerusalem and see these porches.

V3. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

What we don’t know is whether this was written by John or added later by a copyist to bring clarity to the context of verse 7 (which refers to the stirring of the water.) What we do know is that occasionally the waters there would be agitated – whether naturally by an underground spring or supernaturally we do not know. But the tradition of the day said that ”an angel stirred up the waters” Either way, it is interesting that some people were healed in the waters.

Picture this pitiful scene- large numbers of sickly people laying around on these porches waiting for something to happen – and Jesus walks into the scene and, evidently, healed only one man.
V5. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been in that situation and condition a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

This is an important question to ask a person who has been seriously afflicted for 18 years. But we know that Jesus asked the question – WHY? – because he always knew – ‘the rest of the story”. There are people who don’t want to be healed. They act like they do, but they don’t want to be helped because they love their weakness and their helplessness. Like a security blanket they hold onto it. Many would rather live with sickness (Mental, Physical, social, cultural) because they fear that healing would mess up their lives. These folks crave attention from others because they don’t want to assume responsibility for their own lives.
There are some people who will run away from help, leaving the church or Dr. rather than face the healing process. WHY? …because they do not want to be healed!

There are at least two reasons:
Some people would rather live with their issues than invest the time and apply the scriptural principles necessary to heal them and make them whole.
Others stay isolated and embrace their dysfunction. They have become comfortable with their issues. If healed, they would have to learn how to cope without their problems and that is frightening.
What about your sickness?
· Most of us have a wound that needs healing. A wound that keeps us lame and ineffective in an area of our life. The Lord is saying to all of us “hey, do you want to be healed?”
· If you say “not yet” or “no” then there is nothing more for you; except Jesus invitation when you decide to accept his gift of healing.

What about the man at the pool? – does he want to be healed? Notice his response...
V7. The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me…..”
The man answers Jesus with an excuse. He says, ‘ Yes I want to be healed, but I can’t. I’ve tried, I’ve done everything I know how. I want to get in the water, but I lack the ability; I’ve got no one to help me. I’ve given up. I have no more hope.

Is that how you feel right now? Have you given up on your situation? Have you resigned yourself to just being a weak, failing Christian? Have you embraced your woundedness?
I know that there is someone reading this that may have problems that you are dealing with right now….. What is it? What are they?
· Maybe you have tried to stop drinking. Alcohol is ruining your life, your family, your home, You!
· Maybe you are addicted to nicotine
· Maybe you have tried to stop taking drugs, but you know that you are hooked.
· Maybe you have given in to an addiction to lust or pornography.
· Maybe you don’t see any hope for your marriage. You make some effort but nothing seems to work and make things better.
· Maybe you have had a parent walk on you or suffer from abuse in some way and feel stuck.
If any of these thoughts fit you, know this. You are right where this man was, with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness of making any healing change in your lives.

This brings us to a critical moment in this story………
Did he say ,” Oh, come on, I’ll help you get into the pool the next time the water is troubles?”………or…..
“Just hang in there. Keep coming back. Maybe someday you will make it on time”…….. or…..
“Well, let’s at least make you more comfortable. Let’s get you a new mattress to lie on, put a few flowers around you and bring you a couple of meals every other day!”
No, these are the responses that people who mean well make but which make very little is any difference in the situation. Jesus speaks differently to people who want to hear from him. Notice that Jesus does not scold him, demean him or berate him for his excuses or problem, Jesus is very gentle yet specific with this man.
Jesus gives him Divine permission to do what was impossible without His Word.
The first step to any healing is to hear and respond to the Word of God.
Jesus is speaking to you right now and HE is saying, “Get up! Quit believing your lying eyes and ears and negative counsel”, and begin to move in the direction of Jesus healing Word.
All of Jesus commands contain His enabling to do them! We are enables to do the impossible when we purpose in our heart to obey Jesus through His Word.
Notice also that Jesus removed all possibility for relapse, “Take up your bed.” Jesus always expects complete healing which the same as wholeness (the meaning of salvation) when we respond to His Word. God will help us remove anything that would make it easy to relapse. What has been enabling you to continue your weakness? You have to take it up and put it away from you.
Finally, notice that Jesus expected a continued success. Jesus has a cure for us that cannot fail if we will continue in His g race and obey His Word. Jesus told the man and tells you,”Walk” – the inference here is “walk away from here. Walk, by faith in another direction. Walk away from your lameness!”
What happened to the man?

Vs9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed and walked. And that day was the Sabbath……The man was found next in the temple where Jesus was too!
Two things to remember:
1. Jesus to all the questions of our lie and he has healing for you TODAY! (Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.)
2. Whatever we need for health and wholeness is accessible to us through the word of God: (Timothy 3:16-17 – “All scripture is given by inspiration of , that the people of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”)
Conclusion and Invitation:
God offers us grace and mercy through Jesus Christ – Grace is getting what we do not deserve (Salvation) Mercy is not getting what we do deserve (Compassion)

If you do not know Jesus or want to renew your knowledge of Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you run the risk of being the lame man in our story.. You are relying on some inadequate remedy to help you with your troubling issues.
The Good News is that God has done all the hard work for your well being and wholeness. Jesus Christ has died for you and me and offers to us forgiveness and eternal relationship with Him, like the lame man Jesus is calling you to look to Him and Him alone

Contact Bishop Joan at the Virtual Cathedral when you want to follow through on your decision to obey and follow Jesus’ Words. We will be privileged to coach you and walk with you into your new found wholeness and well being. God bless you!
Please include your contact info in your email along with any special requests. I will respond within 48 hours or less.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Real Meaning of Halloween?!

Happy All Hallow Eve
So Do You Trick or Treaters Know The True Meaning Of Halloween?
Over 2, 000 years ago, the Celts celebrated a holiday they called Samhain (pronounced "Sa-wan"). Samhain was the name of the god of death. Now you would think that a god of death would be a nasty guy everyday. Well that may be true to the living but not necessarily to the dead. On the last day of October, (when the harvest season had ended and the days were getting shorter and colder) the god Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to visit the homes they once lived in.

Now this was a scary night for the Celts. On that night they would leave their homes and gather together in a field. Once at the field they would build a huge bonfire, this fire was as big as a torcher errrr tool shed, to scare away all the evil spirits and any ghost, goblins, or any other demons that may be roaming around in the night. I remember those times well. It was fun scaring those Celts silly! Oh how I miss those times. I'd go visit my own home that I once lived in but it is now a McDonald's.

The holiday of Samhain was an ancestor of the Halloween of today. Although it was not called Halloween at first. When the Romans first conquered the Celts in the first century A.D., they added parts of two of their own festivals: Feralia, a festival held to honour the dead, and Poloma, named after the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees.

Well eventually the Celt religion was replaced by Christianity. Somewhere around 800 A.D. the Christian church declared November 1st as All Saints' Day to honour all the Saints who did not have a special day of their own. On this occasion people made their old customs from Samhian and the Roman festivals part of the All Saints' Day rituals. The Catholic church also made November 2nd All Souls' Day to honour the dead.

The mass said on All Saints' Day was known as Allhallowmas. The evening before, October 31st became known as All Hallow Eve. Over time the name has been shortened to Halloween.
So to sum this story up, basically I now have 3 days in which to roam the earth scaring people as opposed to the old one night I once had. I would like to take this time to thank all the Christians for their generosity..

History taken from "The Halloween Book" by Sharon, David & Marilyn Mets.

Have a safe, kind and blessed All Hallow Eve!

You're Invited to Give A Statement of Faith!

Every moment of your life, with every decision that you make..... the invitation is extended for you to make a Statement of Belief! Many adults live through many years of attending church - first with parents or by themselves. After a period of independent thinking and decision making which carried them away from the church, they return for marriage or birth and baptism of a child. Wanting something more for their lives , some go to church regularly.They listen to the familiar hymns, spirituals and gospel songs; joining in on responses sung and spoken, learning by rote appropriate creeds, prayers and rituals and often participate but are really unsure of the real reason why. The scriptures and ways of praying and shouting become a part of life - the intonation of the prayer or the preacher often has more meaning than the words being spoken,.

So much for what goes on in some churches. Once to every man and woman comes the moment to decide what it is that you believe and say about y our faith. Your parents, spouse, siblings and friends may have an opinion but what is your conviction- or do you have one?

Do you simply repeat what others have said? Do you have a reason or an experience which convinced you of the reality of God or the importance of Jesus in your life. If neither of these is your case.....what do you believe in?

If you have not thought about it much You are Invited to make a Statement of Faith, right now/ Do so by answering these basic questions to get started.

What is the Good News about Jesus of Nazareth and how is he relevant to your life?
Do you have a favorite hymn, spiritual or gospel song; a favorite passage of scripture. What is it?In what special way does it speak to you and your life?

Seeds have been sown in your life - seeds of faith which often begin to sprout and grow when we are older and for some still a seedling at 70 years old. It is never too late to grow! Many never nurture and take care of the seeds in for for them to take root and grow.

Wherever you may be in the deepening of your spirituality, God eagerly waits, right now - for you to say what it is that you believe about God; your relationship to God; about Jesus; about his life, death and resurrection; and about the Word of God? Speak your personal truth about these questions! Use hymns, spiritual, gospel songs and scripture passages to help you make your point.

If you need help, have questions or would like to share your results please write a comment and I will be honored to respond to you. Come on, let the people of God say so! blessings to you in this time of reflection, discovery and sharing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hope And Wholeness For America.....

....And Every Other Nation
(A contemporary message from Psalm 51:10-19)
I invite you to join me in making this your prayerful intention. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me!" To do this is a commitment to try consciously stay in the Presence of God knowing that the power of the Holy Spirit is with each 0f us all of us 24/7 - in a user friendly way.
If as a person, family or nation we have lost a since of being whole, I encourage you to reclaimj it, especially if you are in the midst of some kind of affliction right now, with a sense of joy. Expect it! Keep a willing spirit to be interconnected with the Creator God, self and others. When we change our minds about our situation, acknowledging Divine presenc and Order, we change our lives.
Once the slightest change or newness comes, open your lips and declare praise for Fod. Do not be afraid or shy about giving ultimate thanksgiving and glory to the Creator God of miracles, changes and new
As a individuals and as a nation we must adknowledge but get beyond the limitation of our human efforts (no matter how outstanding) to acknowledge that SOMETHING (which I call Creator God) greater than you and me. This is sometting that hopefully religious and spiritual people as well as those who have not labeled themselves yet - will do.
The humility to reach to the depths of our soul, grounded in earth's energy, and to the height of heaven acknowledges the gift of universal life flow for each of us and all of us. when we do this we engage God's Love, Power, Strength, and Knowledge which God has provided for the world.
We are newly called to maintain and sustain these intentions indiviually and as a nation. By doing this we offer what the Psalmist would 'right sacrifices' which will usher in peace and good will for ourselves and for the whole earth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Preparing the way for President Obama

Bishop Blessings for January 15.......
With Holy Boldness
( A contemporary parallel to Psalm 97:1-12
based on the Daily LectionaryReadings)
[After reading Psalm 97:1-12 you are invited to think of tthese things: the upcoming Inauguation of President Obama; the present status of our country's rfecession; the demise, sahme and shambles of the wealthy; the scramble and struggles of the poor; the warring madness in other nations; the perserverance of ecological deterioration; and the instgability of people globally. In the face of all of this, the world joins the United States of America in anticipation and great hope in The Change that is about to occur. It is historic and magnificent. what will it take? Read Bishop Blessings everyday as you do your part to help prepare the way!)
vss.1-4 Who is this President who in leading causes many places in the earth to rejoice and be glad and be filled with hope?this man seems to stand on a foundation of doing what is right and just as part of his heart and therfore from the place of his authority.
Even though the thick darkness of the world's turmoil, wars, recession and decline are all around him, adversaries on every side are and will be smitten as his audacity - like lightning - lights up the world. Some will see the light and tremble with joy, some with amazement, some with pride and some with hatred!
vss5-6 Most High God, we pray that this President and his advisors will have conscious awareness of Your Presence, Power and Knowledge and allow these to be the Source of their individual and corporate efforts. May those efforts in every instgance cause the mountains of problems, trroubles and predicaments to melt like wax before them. May all people oof this nation and world behold and acknowledge the Source of our leaders' wisdom and glory.
vs 7 All people - big and small, significant and insignificant - who have worshipped their self made, hand hewn, greed grafted and ego driven idols and images are presently called to bow their heads in guilt. The present darkness is further cluded by the pervasive light of their shame.
vss 8-9 O God may the President and those who walk with him listen, speak and act as an extension of Your Divine Order so that all the people may rejoice and see the transparency of Your grace. May their intent always be to make manifest YOur Holyy Will for us in thhe USA , for the lives of people globally , as well as all of the earth.
vs.10 Only You are exalted over all the earth and no hand held or humanly conceived idol can compare with You. We know that You , O God, love those who hate evil; that You guard the life of the faithful; that You rescue them from the hands of evil and we thank You.
vss11-12 Now Holy, All -powerful, Ever-Present, All- knowing God - coontinue to bring the light of Your Presence to dawn upon The President and his advisors. May they have a sense of Holy Boldness as they seek justice and righteousness for your people of the earth. God we earfnestly commend them to YOu for they deserve the joys which You extend to the upright of heart. With Holy Boldness we continue to pray for The President and his advisors as we continuously give thanks to You, Creator and Source of our lives.