Pentecost* is one of the great feasts of the church. It celebrates the coming down of Holy Spirit on the first disciples. As a result, it sets the beginning of that great family of Christ we call the church.
Acts 2:1-21 describes the events of Pentecost. In this story the disciples are gathered together for a yearly Jewish agricultural feast. By this time in Jewish history, they had long been dispersed across the known world. Even so, those in the diaspora continued to return to Jerusalem for the feast days.
On this Pentecost, something profound happened. The room shook and there was the sound of wind. The disciples found they had tongues of fire on their heads, and they could suddenly speak other languages. They cascaded out of the upper room, proclaiming with boldness the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The lead apostle, Peter, explains what is going on. This event indeed marks the beginning the fulfillment of all that the Scriptures had pointed to. God’s Holy Spirit would be poured out for everyone.
Join us around the virtual table this week as we talk about Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit, the expansiveness of the mission of Christ, and what it means to live in the breath of God.
Christians celebrate Ascension Day every year exactly 40 days after Easter, to echo the 40 days that Jesus stayed with his disciples after the Resurrection. During this time, he met with them, taught them, and opened their hearts to understand the Scriptures. Finally, the disciples witness him lifted up out of their sight as he returns to God.
Even though this feast doesn’t get as much attention as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, it is crucial to how we understand Jesus’ ministry of salvation. It is also the catalyst for the arrival of the Holy Spirit ten days later.
The Ascension marks the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, launching the church to take up the Jesus movement. Join us around the virtual table as we explore the joy-filled Ascension Day.
In today’s podcast, we turn to John 20:19-31 and one of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus. This story centers on one of the apostles, Thomas the Twin, who is sometimes called Doubting Thomas.
It begins a week earlier, when Jesus appears to the disciples, showing them that he is alive. However, Thomas is not present and has to hear about it from the others. When they tell him that they have seen Jesus, he says, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Then one week later, Jesus comes again, and this time Thomas is there. Jesus does exactly as Thomas asked and shows him his hands and his side. Seeing this, Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God.”
This story is one of the most relevant to us today, because following Jesus means giving our lives to someone we have not met in the flesh. That the Bible addresses doubt and faith so soon after the Resurrection tells us how important this topic is.
Join us around the virtual table as we talk about what it means to believe, how doubt can lead us deeper into faith, and how Jesus empowers us to follow him.
In today’s podcast, we are celebrating the defining mystery of our Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our reading from John 20 captures everything of this profound moment in history.
When we join this story, Jesus has been crucified at the hands of the authorities. His followers have taken his body and buried it in a cave-like tomb and rolled a large stone over the opening to seal it. A day passes as they sink into grief and bewilderment. How could the one they believed to be the messiah have died so horribly?
The next day, in the early morning while it is still dark, one of Jesus’ disciples, Mary Magdalene, comes to the tomb. She is horrified to find that the stone has been rolled away. Her first thought is that someone has actually desecrated the grave by taking the body of Jesus.
As Mary waits, sobbing, outside the tomb, she sees a person she thinks is the gardener and begs him to show her where Jesus is. Then this mysterious figure speaks her name simply: Mary. With this, she recognizes that he is Jesus, very much alive.
The moment Jesus rose is the hinge on which everything else turns. It is the reason for our hope, and the source of our joy. Please join us around the virtual table as we reflect on the Easter story and the meaning of resurrection. Alleluia, Christ is risen!
We have now come to the end of our Lenten observance. This weekend, we are crossing the threshold into the short but intense season of Holy Week, so called because it brings us closest to the great mystery of God’s love.
Holy Week leads us into Easter by leading us to the cross. Four important church services give shape to the Holy Week pilgrimage. Palm Sunday recalls Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Thursday, we remember the last supper and Jesus’ betrayal at the garden of Gethsemane. Good Friday marks crucifixion and death of Jesus. There is no service during the day on Saturday to observe the reality of Jesus lying in the tomb.
What do you find meaningful in Holy Week? How is Holy Week speaking to you in 2021? Feel free to join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Many people hold an image of Jesus as a wise teacher who is kindly and serene. This week’s passage, the story of Jesus and the money changers in John 2:13-22, seems to work against that. In this story, Jesus goes into the temple of God. There, he finds that rather being a place of prayer, it has become a place where people are buying and selling.
He goes into the temple grounds and starts overturning tables filled with coins, shouting at people and driving the animals out. He says, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” This is serious stuff. Join us around the virtual table as we discuss worship, justice, and keeping the main thing the main thing, through the lens of this challenging incident.
This week, we’re looking at Exodus 3:1-15, when God calls Moses from a bush that is burning but not being consumed. This is a foundational incident in the unfolding story of God’s work of redemption. Thanks to our special guest this week, Tim Chesterton.
Join the conversation! Please leave your thoughts and reflections in the comments.
Over the past several weeks, I have been writing that Christianity at the beginning of the 21st century is in some ways profoundly different than it was at the beginning of the 20th century. This is because we have learned from the history of the 20th century. History is a hard teacher. We can talk about our ideal theology all day long, but once we try to live it out in our lives in the real world, we end up learning some hard truths. And yet these hard truths often turn out to be great gifts.
When I say that Christianity is different, I don’t mean that it is a different faith. I believe in the covenant that God made with Israel. I believe that Jesus is God’s Incarnate Son. In his death and resurrection for the sins of the world, he inaugurated the New Creation. I believe in the need for atonement, forgiveness, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Holy Trinity. But I also believe that we have new insights into the Christian faith that our forebears did not have.