Can anyone really understand the Holy Trinity? Many people have fought and wrestled and argued over how to understand God through the many different ways that God is revealed in the Scriptures.
We approach this topic from two angles this week. First is the Gospel reading from John 3:1-17. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night to try and figure out what Jesus is all about. Jesus doesn’t give a direct answer. Instead, he talks about the Holy Spirit, and God’s only Son given for the love of the world.
A Long Struggle to Articulate the Nature of God Faithfully
From there, the church through time has extended and developed its understanding of the nature of God through prayerful study in community. You may have noticed that the word trinity doesn’t actually appear in this reading, nor indeed anywhere in the Bible. Jesus just talks about God, the Son, and the Spirit, but he doesn’t say anything about how they all relate. Are they the same? Are they different? That was left for the following generations to wrestle with.
So, we must turn to how Christians have articulated the one God as three ‘persons’ in the centuries that followed. This is the reason we celebrate Trinity Sunday, the great feast of the church that takes place this week.
Knowing God More Through Understanding the Holy Trinity
Don’t make the mistake of assuming this is just a dry, dusty intellectual exercise! Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity is the best way the Christian faith has found to capture the heart of a God who is both perfectly united and relationship-driven, willing to dive into the messiness of human existence. Paradoxically, the mystery of the Holy Trinity gives us the clearest possible picture of who God is, and who we are in relationship to God.
Please join us around the virtual table this week for this celebration of God as unity and trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Today, we are looking at John 15:9-17, one of the core teachings for which Jesus is best known. It centers on the command to love one another, such that our lives reflect and display the love and life of God. This is not often easy; embracing the challenge of love stretches us at every turn.
The instruction to love one another resonates within and beyond the Christian faith. Jesus says to his first followers and us: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” He then goes on to elaborate that he no longer calls them servants, but friends. They are his friends if they love one another like he loves them.
This simple but profound teaching forms the heart of Jesus’ message and underlies everything he does. His love takes him all the way to the cross. Sharing and participating in that love in big and small ways shapes and challenges us more than anything else. Join us around the virtual table this week as we delve into the challenge of love.
Last week, we explored the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Today, we look at a very different metaphor from John 15:1-8: we are called to abide in Jesus Christ, who is the true vine.
Jesus introduces this teaching by saying, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.” He follows this metaphor with four images. First, he says that if he is the vine, then the disciples are the branches that come out of the vine. Second, he tells us that the branches must bear fruit. Third, he tells us that branches that don’t bear fruit need to be pruned back. Fourth, the relationship between the branch and the vine is one of abiding. Like the branch abides in the vine, so we must abide in Jesus.
Join us as we reflect (with too many gardening metaphors!) on bearing good fruit as we are nourished in the life of God.
This week, we are turning to John 10:11-18. Jesus describes his ministry through the well-loved image of himself as a shepherd who cares–and ultimately gives his life–for the sheep. But it isn’t just a pastoral scene; this teaching challenges the religious leaders. It also places us where we are truly held: in the heart of God.
Join us around the virtual table for this week’s conversation on Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Click here to listen.
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!
In today’s podcast, we jump nine chapters ahead fromlast week to John 12:20-33, which looks toward the crucifixion through the image of a grain of wheat that dies.
The passage starts with some people from outside the Jewish faith wanting to talk with Jesus. This is a symbolic moment in Jesus’ ministry. It leads to a reflection on the deeper meaning of what he is working to accomplish.
Jesus starts to look ahead to his painful death on the cross using the metaphor of a seed. A grain of wheat must be buried in the ground to die before it bears life. Similarly, we are all to see ourselves in the grain of wheat that dies. This leads to a conversation between Jesus and God the Father that some hear as thunder from Heaven. Then, Jesus gives a final reflection that his death is not just a tragedy, but it is the judgement of the world, drawing all people to Christ through the cross.
Join us on this final Sunday in Lent around the virtual table as we plumb the rich depths of this reading, exploring the significance of Jesus’ upcoming death and what it means to ‘die to oneself’.
In today’s podcast we are looking at a passage from the Gospel of John that contains perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.
The passage flows out of a conversation between Jesus and a religious leader named Nicodemus. Our topic for the podcast today comes from this longer passage, John 3:14-21. It hangs on an important question: how to we know heavenly things? And more specifically, how do we attain to eternal life? The answer of the passage is through Jesus.
To help us understand it, the speaker points us back to a much earlier episode in Israelite history. It is a story where, centuries earlier, people were being bitten by poisonous snakes and getting sick. Moses was instructed to put an image of a snake on a pole. Then, if the Israelites looked at it, they would be healed. By referring back to this story, the Gospel of John is telling us that if we look to Jesus and believe in him, we too will be spiritually healed and receive eternal life.
Join us around the virtual table as we talk about what “God so loved the world” has to say about condemnation and love, staying close to God, and what it really means to believe.