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!
Peace be with you! I think everyone wants to hear this statement. The desire for peace comes up again and again when I talk with people about what they are really looking for. I too keep looking for peace in my day.
Peace Be With You
This phrase “Peace be with you” comes from a story in the Gospel of John. It takes place just after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Imagine a room filled with the twelve disciples and some others. They are scared and confused. Their teacher Jesus has been killed horribly. Some carry the guilt of having run away from him. They had been sure God was going to do something through Jesus, but now even that hope was in tatters. They have locked the doors because they are afraid that they too are about to be arrested. There is weeping and prayers of anguish.
Suddenly, Jesus stands in the midst of them and says Peace be with you. When the disciples get over their shock, they are overjoyed. They can’t contain it. What a transformation in the room! Jesus doesn’t just speak peace to them, but he is that peace, himself, in his person. And then he sends them out into the world, saying, “Just as the Father sent me, so I send you.” He charges them with bringing that same peace to the world.
The Impact of the Gospel Comes through the Person of Jesus
The peace of Jesus is different. It is a deep and transformative peace that made the disciples able to do things that they would never have imagined possible. This is a powerful peace (“Shalom”) of wholeness and harmony.
Do you want this peace? I ask this question because God’s peace impacts and changes us inside. But this peace of Christ is also part of something bigger than us: God’s plan to bring healing and wholeness to the world. This is what the Scriptures call the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). Another term for this is the Gospel.
The Gospel Transforms
“Gospel” is one of these words that we hear so often that it can lose its force. But the point of the Gospel is that it has profound spiritual power. It has the power to fill your soul and connect you with God.
The Gospel is God speaking to us in a new language: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In Jesus, we see God’s love embodied. The Gospel is a message that captivates, calls, challenges, delights, and transforms us.
For the disciple of Christ, the Gospel can’t just be words on a page. It has to be a message that ripples through our lives and changes our hearts. You need to know that you are loved by God more than you can possibly imagine. Does the Gospel impact your life?
This is based on a talk from our 2021 Lenten learning series, Re-boot Your Spiritual Life. You can watch it here:
Join us this week for a conversation about the Transfiguration of Jesus, as recorded in Mark’s Gospel. If this story sounds familiar, you may remember that we talked about it from a different angle back in August. The Transfiguration is worth revisiting, though, because it is one of the key stories in the life of Jesus and his disciples. It reveals something about God through Jesus. It also gives us insight into our own lives as part of the wider human family.
How do you discern a greater reality and the glory of God behind the everyday? Add your own thoughts in the comments below.
All Saints’ Day is one of the great feast days in our church year. Originally a commemoration of martyrs, All Saints‘ draws together several important themes: worship, heaven, redemption, communion, and more. It gives us a window into reality beyond what mortal eyes can see, and reminds us of God’s promise of hope and a future. Join us around the virtual table as we talk about Revelation 7:9-17 and All Saints’ Day.
Please join the conversation! Who is your favourite saint? How do you find hope in God?Add your insights in the comments below.
This meme sums up the season of Lent for me this year. Usually for Lent, we voluntarily give up, or fast from, things we take for granted. The spiritual benefit of a fast reminds us how much we rely on God and how little we actually need the things we often feel we can’t do without. But this Lent is different. We have had to give up many things this year, and they weren’t voluntary. Continue reading “The Lentiest Lent”