May 9, 2016 - Sunday was the 7th Sunday of Easter. This week Christians around the world celebrate the ascension of Jesus to the eternal realm. Sunday was also Mother’s Day. In some form or another, mothers have been celebrated since ancient times. In the Hebrew commandments believers are told they are to honor their mothers and fathers. In ancient Greece, during spring people would celebrate mothers by making a special offering to Rhea—the mother of the gods. And like most of us, Jesus’ first teacher was his mother.
May 2, 2016 - Sunday was the 6th Sunday of Easter. Next Sunday, along with Mothers’ Day, Christians will celebrate the Ascension of Jesus and the 7th Sunday of Easter. Easter Season then ends, followed by Pentecost, when we celebrate the birth of the Jesus movement. Pentecost is the last major holy day for both Jews and Christians until next fall. We enter a time on the church calendar that is referred to as Ordinary Time. The older I get, the more I enjoy ordinary time! The word “Christianity” is not found in the New Testament and the word “Christian” is found only twice.
April 24, 2016 - Sunday was the 5th Sunday of Easter. The Holy Gospel for this Sunday was John 13: 31-35. Jesus is speaking to his followers for the last time. He gives them the “maundatum novum”—the new commandment--for the New Jerusalem. “Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.” The New Testament reading was Revelation 21: 1-6, in which John describes the New Kingdom that Jesus ushers in. Once again God will dwell with his people. God will wipe away every tear. “Behold, I am making things new. It is done!
April 18, 2016 - Sunday was the 4th Sunday of Easter. The Psalter Lesson was Psalm 23, the best known of all psalms among Christians. The Second Lesson for the 4th Sunday of Easter was Revelation 7: 9-17. Both of these scriptures speak of God as a shepherd, who leads us to still waters and restores our soul. John’s Revelation, however, is certainly a wild story full of symbolism that we must really work at to understand. A few years back at Joaquin Methodist we did a Bible Study on Revelation and used the book Breaking the Code by Bruce M. Metzger. Dr.
April 11, 2016 - Sunday was the 3rd Sunday of Easter, with our Gospel Lesson once again coming from John. Most students of the Bible believe that this last chapter of John was added much later than the rest of the Gospel. Problems of the early Jesus movement were often answered in the early writings of Jesus’ followers, including the Gospels found in the New Testament. In today’s story the miraculous and the ordinary meet. Peter and some of his fellow Jesus followers return to the familiar region of the Galilee.
April 4, 2016 - Sunday was the 2nd Sunday of Easter. The Gospel Lesson for this Sunday came from the John Gospel—20: 19-21. The story of “Doubting Thomas” is one of the best-known post-Easter stories. We know that doubting is part of believing—an emotion that we all feel, and not just in a spiritual sense. We are so familiar with this wonderful story of belief and disbelief that we forget what Jesus promised those that experienced him: “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”
March 21, 2016 - Sunday was Palm Sunday, which begins the fateful week that will end with Easter. During the time of Lent, I have preached a series using the chronology of Mark. Mark tells the important events of each day of Holy Week. Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday in the English speaking world and means commandment or mandate. Jesus tells us that loving God and loving our neighbor are what the Kingdom is all about. In the English speaking world, Friday is Good Friday.
March 14, 2016 - Sunday was the Fifth Sunday in Lent. Oftentimes during Lent Christians would give up something for forty days as a sacrifice and a way to prepare their minds and souls for the coming Easter. The two scriptures that served as the readings for this Sunday came from Luke. I am preaching a series on that last week of Jesus, and this Sunday the focus was on Tuesday. On Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem; on Monday Jesus cleared out the money lenders and others from the temple grounds. In Mark, the next day, Tuesday, was a very important day.
March 8, 2016 - Sunday was the Fourth Sunday in Lent, a time of reflection in Christian communities for nearly two thousand years. I am preaching a series of sermons on the last week of Jesus, ending on that long-ago Easter Sunday. Last Sunday, the one we call Palm Sunday, the scriptures from Mark dealt with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The other procession coming into the city was Pontius Pilate’s. He had been given two main jobs by Rome—collecting taxes and maintaining the peace.
February 29, 2016 - Sunday was the Third Sunday in Lent. This special time of reflection and inward looking is coming to an end. May we use the remaining time to further understand His word. The last week of Jesus’ life is referred to as Holy Week. So much is packed into that week that I plan to preach several sermons on that fateful time. The Gospel writers spend a great deal of their time looking at the events of this one week.