April 2024

When the resurrection comes, will we see our family and friends…and will we recognize them?

It doesn’t sound very heavenly if we aren’t with the people we love and miss, does it?  No single scripture tells us exactly what we can expect, so we have to do some imagining.  I think about people who travel to the country their family immigrated from, even if they’ve never lived there, they often describe a deep connection to the place and people there.  I imagine heaven being like that.  Revelation 21 describes a world with no more crying, and no more pain.  1 Thessalonians 4 describes a great cloud where we meet those who have died in the resurrection.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul describes that our bodies will be transformed.  The Gospel of John describes a dwelling place with many rooms.  When we put all of these together, it seems like our connections are deeper than the bodies we currently inhabit and when we have completed our earthly journey,  we will feel connected and like we are home.

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Why did Paul’s letters become such an important part of our scriptures?  Who put him in charge?

Paul was a well educated Roman citizen in addition to being a faithful Jew.  This allowed him to travel freely and to be able to communicate in many more places than Jesus’ other disciples.  This led him to plant/start many churches.  It was natural for them to reach out to him for support and advice, which he gave through actual letters.  We read them because it is the first record of how diverse groups of people can find common ground in Jesus.  Still, he was writing to particular communities with particular challenges.  We have to do our work to discover which parts of the letters speak to our churches today, and which parts need to be understood in their context. – Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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Why does the message about Jesus cause trouble?

It doesn’t cause trouble for everyone.  When Jesus proclaims that the poor in Spirit are blessed, that the peacemakers are blessed, that the grieving are blessed, it is very good news for those who are struggling.  But for those who have come to believe that the things they have are the sign of their blessing or that they are blessed by good things happening, it causes some discomfort.  But when you boldly say that death doesn’t have any power any more, then you have stepped into an entirely new way of being in the world. – Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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Are there solar eclipses in the Bible?

There are mentions of the sun turning black, or being darkened, in scripture. Today, we might identify these events as eclipses. There are references in Matthew, Acts, Isaiah, and more! These descriptions are part of a warning or an omen; eclipses, in ancient literature, are often warning signs. Unfortunately, very few people had eclipse glasses back then, so the warning sign probably resulted in lots of eye damage. – Vicar Aaron Musser

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What is “Ascension”?

We are reading the Ascension texts this coming week (Acts 1:1-14): Jesus tasks the disciples with their mission, and “Ascends” into the clouds. This doesn’t mean that Jesus is no longer present, however. In the story, the disciples look up where Jesus ascended; two people “in white robes” (angels?) appear, asking why they are looking up and not around? The point is: Jesus doesn’t go away in the Ascension; he becomes more immanently present in more mysterious ways.

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