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 this Easter season, we are continuing to travel through Jesus’ appearances to his disciples after his resurrection. Today’s story from Luke 24:36-48 follows immediately after two of the disciples meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus. As they are telling their friends about these amazing events, Jesus suddenly appears among them, saying, “Peace be with you.”
They are afraid, thinking they are seeing a ghost. But Jesus reassures them that he is truly alive. To prove it to them, he eats some food and shows them the wounds from his crucifixion. From there, he opens their minds to the Scriptures and speaks with them about his mission.
There is a lot to talk about in this story, from the meaning of peace, to the spiritual depths of an ordinary shared meal, to the fragile human hands carrying the promise of God’s life. Join us around the virtual table as we delve into this post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus.
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.
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.
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.