The book of Jonah is often considered a story for children, yet it communicates to us some very important and challenging messages. Jonah reminds us that God's care and concern extends far beyond our own lives and the lives of those like us. Indeed God cares even for those we might consider enemies. Like Jonah, we often find it difficult to accept this truth and let it shape the living of our lives.
As we approach Pentecost, we revisit the Easter proclamation of Christ's resurrection. in particular we examine the repercussions of worldview fully focused on the here and now, a worldview that rejects any spiritual or metaphysical reality, a worldview that dismisses even the possibility of life beyond the grave. Though we are prone to avoid or deny these repercussions, such a worldview can lead us only to one place, the ultimate and utter meaninglessness of our lives in the undoing of any enduring hope. The gospel provides another possibility, the possibility that our lives are full of meaning and of a hope that can endure even in the face of grave.
In today's message we consider a portion of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, where he address divisions that had taken root in that community of believers. Are we prone to the same? What is the impact? What can we do to strive for unity in Christ's Church?
Today we find Paul sharing the gospel in Thessalonica. Many come to faith but others do not respond very kindly. We are reminded in our passage today that the gospel is by nature a troublesome thing. It challenges systems of power and the status quo. It challenges us as well, to reexamine the living of our lives.
Today we consider the two fold healing of a man whom Peter had found begging outside the temple. The first aspect of his healing was physical. The other aspect was the healing that comes with reconciliation to the community. This later healing is something all Christians can and should freely offer to the world.
Just before his ascension, Jesus tells the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit. Jesus also tells them that after the Spirit has come, they will be his witnesses. After his ascension the disciples then devoted themselves to prayer. In this way, they waited for, welcomed, and even sought the promised Spirit. During this time of isolation we would be well served by doing the same. We ought to be inviting a fresh encounter of God's Holy Spirit that we might be guided and equipped to serve him in a changing world.
The gospel of Mark offers a unique look at the Resurrection. It is one that leads us to the mystery of an empty tomb and then leaves us with a promise. The promise is that he who is risen goes before us, that we may very well meet him along life's way. That promise can be both comforting and disconcerting. If Jesus lives, that alone changes everything. That alone ought to be enough to disrupt and forever change the way we live our lives. If Jesus were to show up and make himself know, that surely, would take our lives in directions we never imagined.
This message was offered for Palm Sunday while our in-person services remain suspended. It reflects on Jesus' unique ascension to the throne. He is king, yet he comes to his place of authority by way of a cross and a tomb. He is not the sort of king we may have expected, but he is the exactly the sort of king we needed. He is one that not only rules, but saves.
The coming of God's Kingdom is always accompanied by some level of disruption. When God's rule comes to bear in ways and places it had not been brought to bear before, the status quo will be overturned. At this present moment we are already experienced a rather large amount of disruption. There is no question that what had been the status quo has been overturned. While this is distressing and stressful, it is also an opportunity to invite the Kingdom to draw nearer still. During this period of chaos, why not invite God to reorder our lives further still, that even when this crisis is ended we might more fully live as citizens of God's kingdom.