Paul teaches that Christ brings peace and unity among the divisions of Jews and Gentiles, insiders and outsiders. Christ heals our divisions and brings together all of God’s holy people into a holy, spiritual temple. Who are the insiders and outsiders today? What divisions do we need to heal? How can our faith community be a holy temple?
Paul writes to God’s holy people in Ephesus that as faithful followers of Christ, God “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love” (v.4). What is holiness? Why did God call us to be holy? What area in our lives do we need to work on to be holy and blameless in love?
Jesus takes his holy work to his hometown and sends out his disciples to do holy work as well. Jesus calls them to share the good news, cast out demons, and heal the sick. John Wesley called this social holiness. What is social holiness? What holy work are we being called to do?
The scripture for this Sunday is the Parable of the Growing Seed & the Mustard Seed in Mark 4:26-34. Jesus uses these parables to teach his followers that while they may plant the seeds for the Kingdom, it is God who causes those seeds to grow into something great. We don't have to understand all the mysteries of God, just have enough faith that if we do our part of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, God's Kingdom will become a reality here on earth.
In the 4th chapter of Mark, Jesus teaches his disciples about the Kingdom of God using parables. The scripture for this week is the Parable of the Sower which describes four different instances of a farmer sowing seeds. In three of these attempts, the seeds never bear fruit because of the challenges they face, but the fourth attempt produces a crop of geometric proportions. What determines the success of growing and bearing fruit as disciples of Christ?
The Youth take over worship during our annual Youth Sunday celebration. This year's theme is Blooming in the Dark, led by our 3 graduating seniors.
What do you do when you want to pray to God but don't know what to say? Paul addressed this spiritual dilemma in his Letter to the Romans: "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." (8:26) We still depend upon the Holy Spirit to intercede for us when we need to connect with God but are overwhelmed by the circumstances of our lives. Today's scripture provides a path for this spiritual practice.
We celebrate the Day of Pentecost on this Sunday which marks the birth of the Church following Jesus' Ascension. In the passage from Acts 2, the event is marked by a violent wind and tongues of fire descending upon the Jewish pilgrims who were worshiping in Jerusalem. Peter interprets this phenomenon for the crowd as the arrival of the Holy Spirit, allowing each to understand one another even as they speak their own native language. The Church today is still alive and changing as we move into a post-pandemic era.
Parting with a loved one is never easy. The Ascension of Christ would seem to be an emotional goodbye for the disciples, but Luke says they returned to Jerusalem “with great joy.” How did the Ascension bring great joy to the disciples, and how does it bring us great joy?
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12) These words spoken by Jesus to his disciples are part of his final instructions to them before his betrayal and arrest. It is an unbroken connection: God loves Jesus; Jesus loves the disciples; the disciples love one another. Following this new commandment is the path to joy in life.