Wondering Questions

WONDERING…Real questions from real people to learn more about faith! Questions are asked by people of all ages, children through adult. Read Pastor Trudy’s thoughtful answers.

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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If Jesus rose on the “third day,” why is Easter only two days after Good Friday?

Nowadays we mark holidays and anniversaries with modern grid-style calendars, but in ancient times people marked time in other ways: length of days, moon cycles, weather patterns, etc. Today we acknowledge midnight as the beginning of a new day, but in Jesus’s time a new day began at sunset. This is why our Easter Vigil is held on Saturday night, after sunset – technically, for ancient Jews, Saturday’s Vigil is the beginning of Sunday! But this doesn’t answer the question: why are there only two days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Or even one day, if we consider that the Good Friday and Easter Vigil services are only 25 hours apart?

According to the synoptic gospels (Mark 15:34, Matthew 27:46, Luke 23:44), Jesus died around 3pm. This is considered “the first day.” We mark the first day as the day of the passion, so when morning breaks on Saturday we are in “the second day,” the day that Jesus descended to the dead. Finally, Jesus is resurrected on “the third day,” which begins at sunset. – Vicar Aaron Musser

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I want to know why!!!

The disciples in our passage this week want a few more details.  Jesus makes clear that no one knows about the day or the hour…not even angels!  The only thing they can do is stay awake. The reality is that sometimes the time and energy we spend contemplating ‘why’ draws us away from other life-giving things.  Where else could your energy, attention and care be offered?  This is not just redirection, it can wake us up to all kinds of things that God is doing, right here, right now!

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If we are commanded to love sacrificially, does that mean we cannot draw boundaries?

I’ll start with my own wondering about how we define sacrificial love.  Too often, we think about love as just doing the thing that feels best in the moment or that will make the person in front of us feel better.  In other words, we are measuring by our feeling or by the other person’s reaction. This kind of loving is exhausting and we often end up pouring out more and more.  In contrast, the commandment to love measures according to the love we have received from God- it is a love that challenges, comforts, clarifies, and holds accountable.  Knowing we are deeply loved by God transforms our interactions with God and our neighbors.

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