This coming Sunday, June 16, I begin a new summer sermon series titled A Fruitful Life that will explore the nine fruits of the Spirit that the apostle Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-24, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” However, before we get to these wonderful qualities that God wants to grow in our lives, we need to be aware of the alternative, a life guided not by the Spirit but by the Flesh (Sarx in the Greek). When Paul speaks of the Flesh (sarx) he does not mean to limit it to bodily desires, but to the whole of human nature, apart from God. So in Galatians 5:13 the NRSV translates this word sarx by “self-indulgence”; other translations use “sinful nature”. I like Richard Rohr’s choice of “ego” or “small self”. But the point is that our default human perspective leads to all sorts of personal and social problems and vices. We see this happening in our world today with destructive results. So this Sunday I will explore The Self-Indulgence Trap. Then in coming weeks, we will taste, enjoy and be nourished by the delicious fruits of the Spirit of God.
This coming Sunday, June 9th, is Pentecost Sunday. On this day each year we remember the dramatic story from Acts 2 where the Spirit came upon the early Christians, accompanied by the sound of wind and a vision of tongues of fire, empowering them to speak and understand diverse languages. You are invited to wear red, yellow or orange to recall how the Spirit appeared on that day. On this Pentecost we will also reflect on Jesus’ prediction in John 14:8-17 of the coming of the Spirit as God’s indwelling presence in each of us. And we will ponder his surprising claim in v.12 that through the Spirit his followers will do even greater works than he did.
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion or the Eucharist, on the first Sunday of every month. This Sunday, June 2, my message, A More Meaningful Communion, will explore the multiple meanings of what we are doing when we participate in this sacrament. Our scripture texts will be John 6:48-51,60 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-33. I invite you to open your hearts and minds up to the grace of God offered to you in Word and Sacrament.
In John 15:12-17, Jesus tells his disciples that they are his friends, not just his servants. Friendship includes sharing and upholding common values, but living out those values is motivated and shaped by love and not by fear. Love leads even to a willingness to sacrifice oneself for one’s friends. How do you feel about having such a friend in Jesus, and with others he calls friend?
This Sunday we will read and reflect on the story of Thomas found in John 20:19-31. Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them on Easter evening. And he has trouble accepting their story. For this reason he has been called “doubting” Thomas. I think this is unfair. My message is titled Faithful Doubt.
This Sunday, May 12, brings together Music Sunday and Mother’s Day. So our worship will be filled with lots of beautiful special music, and my message will explore how God Loves Us Like a Mother. Bring your listening ears and an open heart. I hope to see you there.
On Easter Sunday, two discouraged disciples where heading home to Emmaus, when they encountered a stranger on the road. They poured out their hearts to him as they walked, and listened as he interpreted their scriptures. But it was only when they invited him in, and he broke bread at their table, that they recognized him as Jesus, their teacher who had been crucified. Our risen Lord still comes to us through scripture and sacrament. Thanks be to God.
We have spent a long Lenten season pondering the seven statements Jesus made as he was dying on the cross. At our 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday Service on April 18, we will remember his Last Supper and reprise the Seven Last Words of Christ by Dubois. “It is finished!” Jesus cried out as he died. Will evil and death have the last word? What will God his heavenly Father do now? I invite you to come to worship next Sunday, Easter Sunday, to hear the good news. Christ is Risen! Alleluia.
On this coming Palm/Passion Sunday, April 14, we will begin our worship with a Palm processional accompanied by joyful bells remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey at the beginning of Holy Week. But then we will return to Jesus on the cross. During his three years of ministry Jesus taught us how to live. Here he shows us how to die well. His final two statements as he dies express resolve, faith and surrender: “It is finished.” and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” I invite you to stop and ponder these words.
The fifth statement that Jesus makes as he is dying on the cross is found in John 19:28; it is a poignant expression of human, physical need, “I am thirsty.” This statement underscores the full humanity of the One whom we confess as “fully human, fully God.” In Jesus Christ the physical and the spiritual were fully joined. Jesus wasn’t just God masquerading as a man. And so Jesus suffered physically and emotionally from hunger, thirst, rejection, and violence, just as we do. Like us, he was also created for relationship with God. And so I will also explore the symbolic meaning of thirst as it is used in Psalm 42:2 “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Are you thirsty? Jesus was.