This Sunday, we gather for what churches often call “Palm Sunday,” the day when we celebrate Jesus returning to Jerusalem to give up his life and fulfill the prophecies about him. But in keeping with our “Last Words” theme, we are side-stepping the waving of palm branches (which only show up in one gospel account anyway) and focusing in on what Jesus was telling us by choosing to enter the city on a donkey. Why do all four gospel accounts include that detail? What can Jesus’s journey teach us about his kingdom that is hard for us to embrace?
Jesus finishes his last words to the disciples with a sobering warning, ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus is telling us that if we love people like he did, we can expect to be belittled and disregarded by those who prefer the status quo.
But why should we, if we commit to loving others, expect to be hated? Won’t everybody just love us back?
Listen in to hear why we can provoke such opposition when we love people like Jesus did. And then consider the choices we have and what you’re going to do about it.
As Jesus was speaking to his disciples on the very last night before his death, he took the very small and precious amount of time he had left — and repeated himself. A lot.
Over and over Jesus told his disciples that there was one thing that he really wanted them to do. One thing. And he said it again and again, as though they would forget. As though we would forget.
And so we return again in this series to Jesus’ one command. This time for the people in the back. Because that’s us.
This Lent, we are leaning into the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of John. The night before his death, Jesus assembled his disciples and gave them words that would see them through the gathering storm. Among those words were startling promises: that in dying, God would give us his peace; that in departing, God would give us his presence; and that in demonstrating weakness, God would give us his power.
Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give you peace as the world gives peace. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
What kind of unearthly peace is this? What kind of presence can be given by a dying God? What kind of power can steady a powerless, terrified heart in this violent, brutal world? Listen in to hear for yourselves about what Jesus offers to us, for and in our darkest hours.
In his last words to his disciples on the night before he died, in just one sentence, Jesus offered the only rule that God has for us. One piercing command—and we don’t have to spend our days praying and sweating over what it means. We already understand it; we already know how to live it out. In just one sentence, it’s unavoidably clear.
Listen in as we rededicate ourselves to living out this one thing God asks of us.
In these next several weeks before Easter, we will celebrate the holy season of Lent by looking deeply into our own habits and behaviors so we can evaluate them in light of who we believe Jesus is and how he has called us to live. Together we will walk through the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples before being crucified and contemplate how they speak to us today exactly where we are.
This week in part 1 of the series, we learn that everything Jesus said at the very end followed something very powerful that he did, with actions that spoke loudly and challenged everyone’s preconceptions — including ours — about his kingdom.
Over the weeks, we’ve learned about how shalom was the original state of all creation, all people, and all living things. We learned about how nature itself was bound in an interdependent web of mutual flourishing, and how, ever since the fall, God has been relentlessly restoring all of creation to this state of shalom. We’ve learned that we are called by God to join in the holy work of repairing and restoring shalom. But can ordinary, flawed beginners like us really help in the holy work of restoring shalom? Well, yes!
This Sunday, Lindsay Rich shares a message about Gideon—one of the most unlikely leaders in all of Scripture. Tucked away in the book of Judges, Gideon’s story shows us that God can us two essential truths: God delights in calling people just like us, and the first thing we have to do is the very last thing we’re expecting.
God is steadfastly restoring all of creation to the holy state of shalom—repairing all that was broken and distorted in the Garden of Eden. And when we put our faith in Jesus, God invites us to join him in that work. When Jesus called his first disciples to follow him, they had to leave their previous work as fishermen behind. But why? Why couldn’t Simon, Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee “fish for people” and fish for actual fish? Are we, too, sometimes called to choose between earning a pay check and participating in God’s work of bringing shalom? Listen as we encounter the gospel of Mark and ponder how to work for shalom while we work for a living.
What if you could live in a place where you were safe and had everything you needed to be well? What if, in that place, it wasn’t just you but everyone who had what they needed to thrive? What if it wasn’t just people, but every living creature and all of nature living together without danger, threat, or lack of any kind? That state of balance and bliss we’re imagining? It has an ancient name: Shalom. And we may be just beginning to imagine shalom, but it is the birthright of all creation. Moreover, because Almighty God is determined to restore shalom to his creation, shalom is inevitable. We who know the Lord are invited, even now, to live in shalom and to join God in creating and restoring it.
This Sunday, we’ll read an ancient letter from a teacher named Paul to a man, Philemon, who was caught in the evil anti-shalom system of slavery. Listen in to hear how Paul invited Philemon (who was not a slave, but a slave owner) to take the whole institution down, all by himself.
This Sunday, we’re digging into the book of Amos to see how God’s commitment to Shalom is fierce and unwavering. He is not satisfied with a broken and brutal world—he is resolute that his people will live in a society where covenant is not only worshiped, but lived.