Have you ever wondered why churches do the things they do? If so, you're in good company! Martin Luther began a movement that shook the church of his day as he asked, "What does this mean?". In John's gospel, Jesus asks about truth and what it means to continue in his word. As we think about this, we're invited to continue this tradition of questioning and seeking to understand how our faith and life intersect.
Gospel reading: John 8:31-36
Have you ever agonized over writing a thank you note? Searched for the right words to convey your thoughts? Here a healed leper doesn't stop to think....he just says, "Thanks!". And sometimes just the words, "Thanks" are good enough!
How much is enough? We live in a culture that tells us that we need more and more and more and more! But what about faith? How much is enough? How much do we need? Faith is hard to quantify and measure, but here Jesus tells the disciples that all they need is faith the size of a mustard seed. Maybe that's to remind us that we're not in control....but God is!
Gospel reading: Luke 17:5-10
What have you shared lately? Your time, your talent, your possessions?
Jesus tells the story of a poor man, Lazarus, and a rich man (unnamed) and their relationship before and after death. In doing so, Jesus points to God's concern that all people would have enough in this world.
Who do you like to hang out with? At a party or event, is there a group that you gravitate toward? When Jesus is critiqued for hanging out with the "undesirables", he shares 2 stories about how God sees the world and its social layers. Will it change who you hang out with? Listen and see.
Gospel reading: Luke 15:1-10
Jesus challenges his followers saying, "Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple". Those are pretty intimidating words. But what do they mean? What does it mean to carry the cross? What does it mean to follow?
If you're planning an event, who are you likely to invite? Friends, family, neighbors? Today, while at an event himself, Jesus critiques who was invited and where they were asked to sit at the party. Jesus reminds the disciples that their first call is to invite those who are the "least of these" my brothers and sisters.
Gospel reading: Luke 14:1, 7-14
Do you have a story of when you followed "the rules" perfectly, only to have somebody else totally ignore them? Doesn't that feel really unfair? A man in today's gospel would say, "Yes, it is unfair". But does Jesus agree?
Gospel reading: Luke 13:10-17
Sometimes Christianity is portrayed as a "nice" religion, where everything is all flowers and rainbows as people love and care for each other. While that would be "nice", it isn't very realistic! Christians, like all people, are sinners. As sinners, we are not perfect. Jesus' words remind us of our imperfection...and also challenge us to work through our sinful state....because God needs us!
Gospel reading: Luke 12: 49-56