First week in a six-week series called A Grace-Filled Way of Life, exploring the Letter to the Ephesians. This week, we explore the bigger questions of predestination, double-predestination and God’s will. What does all of this mean for our lives today. Our hope and prayer is that this conversation opens up space to ask the bigger questions, even if there are not specific and concrete answers to those questions. Asking questions is a part of our faith journey and our relationship to the Holy Trinity – God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
We are in the final week of a six-week series called Lost and Found. We continue to explore how the promises of God are fulfilled in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus through the lens of the Gospel of Luke. In this series, we look at some of the parables of Jesus as well as his death and resurrection. These stories are mixed with immense grief, loss, celebration and joy. We discover that the very character of the Triune God is about restoration and reconciliation of relationships. For what has been lost has been found.
In this episode, we explore the story known as “The Road to Emmaus.” This story wraps up the themes of journey, hospitality and table fellowship, and scriptural fulfillment. It also foreshadows the events in the Book of Acts when Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch. It also has echoes of the Last Supper and the feeding of the thousands. The travelers on the way to Emmaus from Jerusalem, following Jesus’ death, join the voices of the women and testify to his resurrection. However, before they can get to that point, they must see beyond his crucifixion to the acceptance and reality that Jesus’ ministry continues and that he is the redeemer for all people.
Week 5 of a six-week series called Language of the Spirit. This week, we continue to explore the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity or Triune God. We dive back into the Book of Acts to see what the Holy Spirit is up to this time. As Paul and Timothy and Silas begin traveling again, this time to bring the Council of Jerusalem’s decision about circumcision and other, for the lack of a better word, requirements to be a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit prevents them for the time being, from traveling to where they thought they should go. Instead, the Holy Spirit says, “Go, There!” And it is in this new direction that Paul and Timothy and Silas meet the physician Luke and people like Lydia, Jason, Aquila and Priscilla and others who then go on to partner in the ministry of Jesus and share the Good News of his love and grace. What does this story tell us about the work and the character of the Holy Spirit? And who exactly are Lydia and Timothy? What do they teach us about the Holy Spirit’s interventions into the ministry of Paul and our ministry today as followers of Jesus?
Fourth week in a six-week series called Language of the Spirit. This week, we continue to explore the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity or Triune God through the lens of the Prophet Isaiah. Again, we find hope through the Spirit. But we also discover that through the Holy Spirit we experience the expression of grace from a just and faithful God. In this scripture, Rûah, the Spirit, the breath, the wind of God is the source of wisdom, integrity and truth. Rûah destroys the wicked, those that oppress others, not with swords and spears but with justice, equity, and faithfulness. Yet, we have to be careful in our reading of this text. The Holy Spirit does not create utopia. The Spirit will generate something more than just something of this earthly world. The Spirit will create justice for the poor and equity for the meek in a world broken and fraught with political peril. Often, we don’t name and notice the characteristics of justice and equity that the Holy Spirit has. Where else in the Old and New Testaments do you see this very character of the Holy Spirit being poured out to the world? And how does a new shoot from the stump of Jesse play into how the Holy Spirit works in our lives and in the lives of all people in this world?
Third week in a six-week series called Language of the Spirit. This week, we explore the Holy Spirit as God’s breath, spirit, and wind through the lens of the Prophet Ezekiel’s experience in the Valley of the Dry Bones. This breath, spirit, wind is called Rûah in Hebrew. Rûah is the divine animating force of life and new creation. Without it no life is possible. However, Rûah does and can create an experience in our lives that is upsetting, unnerving, and transporting and transforming. And yet, Rûah bring life beyond limits and hope beyond dreams. To the people of God who were exiled and living in captivity in Babylon, this story, this experience of the Prophet Ezekiel brings them hope. Hope that they will be restored once again as a people of God. Hope of new life. Hope and knowledge that God’s presence is still with them. So where do you see Rûah, the spirit or breath of God, working in your life and in the lives of others? How does this very character of the Holy Spirit bring you hope?
Second week in a six-week series called Language of the Spirit. This week, we explore the Holy Spirit. Over the next several weeks, we will take a deep dive into who the Holy Spirit is and the Holy Spirit’s characteristics. And we will attempt to get at your bigger questions of how does the Holy Spirit work in and through our individual and communal lives. Today, through the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans, we explore things like creation, climate change, hope, and the Holy Spirit as a bridge. The Holy Spirit bridges the gap between our present status and our future deliverance. And we discuss how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t have the words to say. How does is the Holy Spirit involved in our prayer life both individually and corporately? And we explore the bigger question, what does it mean when we say that the Holy Spirit is love woke within our hearts?
Week 1 of a six-week series called Language of the Spirit. This week, we explore the Holy Trinity. What exactly is the Holy Trinity or Triune God? We have been taught that God consists of three-parts or three-persons (depending on how you were taught). Those three-persons we have come to know as God the Father, Mother, Creator or by other names, Jesus as Son, Savior, Redeemer, Messiah, and the Holy Spirit, advocate, sanctifier. So how does the Holy Trinity relate within itself and how are we included? What does our relationships with the Trinity look like? These are really big questions that often leave us with more big questions than answers. If you are like me, the Trinity, and especially the Holy Spirit, seemed more like a mystery, a puzzle to be solved when in fact we have no words to adequately describe this Triune God.
The final week of a six-week series called Expanding the Table. Blessed Pentecost! In this episode, we continue exploring the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. In chapters 4 and 5, Paul continues to talk about law and gospel, what it means to be a Christian and he expounds on the concept that persons freed by Jesus Christ, as a response to the love and grace freely given by Jesus, are given the vocation to love one another. The response to God’s grace manifests in the fruit of the spirit that is love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” He talks about how “4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” In Galatians, Paul discusses this love in terms of the fruit of the Spirit, the living breath of God given to all of us at Pentecost. This love encompasses joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. These characteristics are not separate from each other, but are intertwined. This love is what the Triune God desires for us and all of creation. It is why the Biblical writers called God, Yahweh, “Abba”, using the Aramaic word for “Daddy.” No matter what name for the Triune God expresses your experience and relationship, how do you live out and respond to God’s hope, love and grace in your life and in the lives of others, both neighbor, stranger, and to those whom you do not know or cannot name?
Fifth of six-week series called Expanding the Table. In this episode, we continue exploring Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. The Apostle Paul begins this chapter with “You foolish Galatians!” Why? And he also writes to them about being descendants of Abraham despite being Gentiles by birth. What is Paul getting at? Why is it important for Paul to relay this message to the Galatians? The Apostles, evangelists and church elders were discussing at the time about who could be a follower of Jesus. So Paul asks fundamental questions today, such as “Who makes up the people of God?” and “What is the prime feature identifying such people?” Paul says it is not by circumcision, but by faith and how we live out that faith in the world. National, ethnic, gender, and economic considerations no longer count as a criterion for being include as part of God’s people. Paul then presents a different criterion for determining who constitutes the people of God. The door is wide open, and the table is expanded. And we explore what does it mean to “put on Christ.” What do those words mean to you? How are you experiencing these words from Paul to the Galatians and to us today.
Week 4 of a six-week series called Expanding the Table. In this episode, we begin exploring the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia. In less than 150 verses, Paul talks about themes such as freedom and faith, gospel and law, Spirit and ethics. Today, our theology, our study about God and who God is and what God does, comes from this letter. It is from this letter that we come to understand justification by faith, the identity and character of the people of God, and the responsible use of freedom. This epistle, or letter, contains some of the strongest statements about the equality of females and males in the New Testament. Paul begins his letter talking about his own faith journey and relationship with Jesus. He does so not that his faith journey is to be imitated exactly, but that we all have a journey in faith in which we experience Jesus’ grace just like Paul did. Paul, in this letter, focuses on what it means to be a follower of Jesus and the requirements necessary. According to Paul, being a follower of Jesus is about being grasped by Jesus’ grace and love and then pouring that same love and grace into this world. How are you doing that in your life?