May 31 – Ch. 41 – John 15:1-8; Galatians 3:19-4:7, 5:1, 13-26; Colossians 2:6-7, 3:1-17 // Isaiah 40:25-31; Psalm 26; Gal. 3:23-29, 4:4-7, 5:1, 16a, 22b-26. John 15:1-8
What does it mean to you to say that God is love? What does it mean for you to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength? What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?
May 24 – Pentecost — Ch. 40 – John 3:1-21; Acts 2:1-41; Romans 6:1-14 // Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 104:24-35; Acts 2:1-21; John 3:1-21
The Risen Christ breathed his Spirit into his disciples, changing their lives forever, and promised that same Spirit would bring new life to all the world. Soon after the Resurrection this happened big time among thousands of people gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish Festival of Weeks, which celebrated the giving of Torah on Mt. Sinai as well as the first harvest of spring. (This festival was held fifty days after Passover, hence the Christian Feast of Pentecost held fifty days after Easter.) On Pentecost we celebrate the birth of the church as a grassroots movement known for decades simply as The Way. What are some of the Pentecostal experiences in your own life – when you sensed the Spirit working in you in dramatic ways – and that you’ve witnessed in the wider world?
The resurrection of Jesus shows us – in real time – that the power of God’s Love-Life is greater than the power of death and all the sin and brokenness that leads in that direction. The challenge for us Easter people is to live as though this is true even when everything looks and feels otherwise. On Ascension Sunday, we celebrated the “already and still coming” reality of the Commonwealth of God. When we’re willing to surrender ourselves to God as we take up the crosses that come our way, we not only find personal healing but also take one more step into the New Creation in Christ emerging in every moment. Shall we be on our Way, where human weakness becomes manifest as God’s glory?
May 17 – Ch. 39 – Isaiah 40:27-31; Acts 9:1-25; 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; 11:22-33 // Isa. 40:27-31; Ps. 31; 2 Cor. 6:1-10; Matthew 10:16-22 (We may incorporate some of the Ascension readings – Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47 or 93; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53.)
Human life is full of joy – and hardships. The transience of things can bring relief – and sorrow. The early Jesus movement knew lots of ups and downs, certainly not least of which was the ascension of the risen Christ. How do the ups and downs of life help open your heart to the Spirit? Or close you off from God and others? How do you see this dynamic at work in the wider world?
Very often when Christians talk of stewardship we focus on God putting us in charge of the created world. We forget that while we are indeed asked to tend to creation, we are meant to do so as servants of our God, who is the only rightful owner of anything. Economic systems were originally shaped by religious law and then by civil law developed through secular political processes. As the power of religion and even politics has waned, the Economy has become our new god. We defer to the unholy “mysteries” of scarcity and ‘self-regulating’ markets and globalization (all very human creations), rather than follow the way of God’s compassion and justice. And everyone suffers the consequences, though very differently, to say nothing of the earth. May the Easter uprising of Christian stewardship lead us to re-discover God’s true economy of self-giving and forgiving love made materially manifest for the well-being of all creation!
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