Luke 7:1-10 is the basis for today’s message. Here we find Jesus in his adult hometown of Capernaum, where he met a high-ranking Roman soldier known as a centurion. The scene involved the centurion’s slave near death, thereby needing Jesus’ help. Oddly enough, the centurion was well-respected by the local Jews because he had supported a new Jewish house of worship known as a synagogue. The Jewish elders spoke highly of the centurion and they encouraged Jesus to heal his slave. This is highly unusual on two accounts: First, that a Roman military man would build or fund a synagogue and second, that the JewishRead More →

Known as Pentecost, today is therefore a very special Sunday. We’re celebrating the core of spirit, God’s very essence. This is crucial because God is spirit. We are created in God’s image, so we are spiritual beings and as such we are connected to God, spirit-to-spirit. Jesus promised that shortly after his departure he would send the energetic, marvelous Spirit. Jesus did this because he didn’t want his followers to be powerless. A basic biblical message about God’s Spirit is that this essential force comforts and guides us. The Holy Spirit is God’s truest and most basic form. All of this introduces the day ofRead More →

First and foremost, happy Mother’s Day! On behalf of all the fine folks at St. John United Church of Christ we wish all mothers God’s blessings. Moreover, our prayer is that mothers will be blessed and celebrated each day of the year, not just on a set-aside single holiday. We thank God for our mothers, and we ask God to bless us through mothers’ faith and how they demonstrate God’s love. Now to the lectionary text. The world says much about division and separation, but painfully missing are reassuring signs of human unity. Thankfully, there are insights from our faith and other religions that pointRead More →

In two Sunday’s we’ll arrive at Pentecost, the time when we celebrate God’s Spirit empowering believers. As a prequel to Pentecost, let’s introduce ourselves to one of the most beautiful and yet mysterious and controversial aspects of the Christianity: the Holy Spirit (John 14:23-29). Today’s lesson from John’s gospel focuses on Jesus’ promise to send his followers the Advocate, another name for the Holy Spirit. Jesus reassured his followers that God’s comforting, spiritual presence would give them the power and encouragement to live a victorious life. The Christian church was still in it its infancy, and it isn’t a surprise that the early believers neededRead More →

The book of Acts has an illuminating episode about religious rules. The specific issue was the ancient Jewish dietary regulations and whether Jesus’ followers had to follow the traditional strict diet. First some background. Christianity started out as a reform movement within Judaism. Jesus was Jewish as were all of his Apostles and most if not all of his earliest disciples. Gradually, Jesus’ teachings appealed to primarily non-Jews, a fact that began the first great rift in the new religion. Christianity and Judaism made a decisive split during the first century that has since continued. Peter is the central character in today’s narrative. He hadRead More →