Genesis 40:1-23 God never does leave us, but sometimes it seems that he does. What happens to the human soul when our dreams are forgotten in a prison of silence? Our blessed narrator has no fear taking on these questions. And the tale that he weaves will shape Israel with a spirituality that enables her to live in the worst of times. The question for us is whether we are courageous enough to receive it.
Genesis 39:1-23 One of the greatest difficulties in the Christian life is bridging the gap between the promises of God and our everyday life. A powerful truth believers celebrate is the fact that the Lord is “with us.” But what happens when you pray for God to be “with” you or your children, and tragedy occurs? Or to be “with you” at work, and you are laid off? Or to be “with you” in your marriage and you end up divorced? Or to be “with you” in your cancer treatments and they are unsuccessful? What then? Come this week and discover how God is “with Joseph” even in the midst of betrayal and prison.
Genesis 38:1-30 What happens when a prominent leader in the community leaves God and forsakes his family for wealth and pleasure? It happens so often these days, it is easy to become callous, until it happens to you and your world is turned upside down. What do you do if you are the victim with no support? Who will rescue the family and confront the abuse? Tune in or come to church this Sunday and discover how God transforms his broken family through an unconventional source. (note: this text is not appropriate for children)
Genesis 37:2-36 This week we begin the first of a nine week series in the life of Jacob’s favored son, Joseph. We pick up the story of a dysfunctional family that is riddled with raging resentments, violent outbursts and gaping wounds. The heroic faith and sacrificial love that characterized Abraham has been all but lost on the fourth generation. The Joseph narrative dramatically details how, in the hidden ways of God’s providence and the gift of dreams, a broken family is transformed and an evil empire is overcome. Joseph is the recipient of the dreams, but he has no idea how God will fulfill them, as his dreams first provoke jealousy and hate which escalate to abduction, slavery and prison. After years of suffering, not one, but two sons are transformed into leaders capable of bringing about the reconciliation of the chosen family. This text could not be more relevant to our current world that is riddled with hate, bigotry and impenetrable division. It is my prayer that God will use these sacred texts to transform us into “ambassadors for Christ,” bringing the gift of reconciliation to the church and the waiting world. Amen.
Luke 24:13-35 He has risen! … He has risen indeed! Just like that song in Disney’s Aladdin, when Jesus rose from the dead, he ushered in “A Whole New World.” As we explore the Emmaus Road scene for Easter this Sunday, we will reflect upon the characteristics of this whole new world that Jesus has brought with his resurrection. Note that this Sunday will be a communion Sunday, and as is PBCC tradition, we will have testimonies from our body at the end of each service.
John 8:21-58 Although this week is Palm Sunday, we will stay in the Gospel of John, chapter 8 this week. And, we come to holy ground. As Moses took off his shoes when he stood on holy ground, so should we as we enter this text. Jesus has already claimed to be the giver of living water and claimed to be the light of the world. In this text, he claims to be the great I AM – during the Feast of Tabernacles! Come this Sunday as we explore the background to this great claim as well as the implications of this great claim.
John 8:12-20 The Feast of Tabernacles is now over. After a week of joyful festivities, including the morning water drawing ceremony and the evening lighting ceremony, the focus now shifts to the following day. Jesus has just poured a shower of grace and mercy over a woman caught in adultery. Presumably that evening, where the lights of the Temple had been ablaze each night of the previous week, Jesus makes another great claim, “I am the light of the world.” Into that dark night and into this dark world, Jesus says he is the light. Come and join us this Sunday as we explore this extraordinary claim.
John 7:53-8:11 Last week we heard Jesus’ invitation to come and drink his living water. This week, we get an example of how this living water washes over someone. The religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus to have him pronounce his verdict on her. What will he do? Will he condemn her to death or will he let her go free? Join us this Sunday as we explore this ugly-turned-beautiful scene.
John 7:25-52 We enter back into our studies in John this week in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles. As we explore the details of this feast, we continue to see conflict and division over the identity of Jesus. The authorities even send officers to arrest Jesus. And, on the last day of the feast, above the joyous crowd celebrating the feast, Jesus shouts his great invitation, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! And, if you do, out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water!” It’s a stunning and remarkable invitation, which is why those officers come back without arresting Jesus. And why? In their words, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” Indeed, no one has ever spoken like Jesus did.
John 7:1-24 This Sunday we enter back into the amazing Gospel of John. Over the next five weeks, we will explore chapters 7 and 8, the very heart of the book. Hostility and conflict surrounding the identity of Jesus characterize almost every scene in these two chapters. The instant pot is building pressure. Who is he anyway? Is Jesus “a good man,” meaning is he really connected to God, the source of all goodness (John 7:12)? Or is he an imposter? These two chapters invite us to decide for ourselves, and a lot hangs in the balance.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-18 Most of us work to earn money so we can eat our daily bread. Is work good or bad? Is it a necessary evil to be endured? Or is it a valuable use of our time? In Thessalonica there were some Christians who had stopped working and were expecting others in the community to supply their daily bread. We’ll see how Paul responded to them, and why he chose to work as a tentmaker while engaged in Christian ministry.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 God is love: a community of perfect love, flowing between Father and Son through the Spirit. In generosity he shares his love in creation and in redemption. When we respond to the gospel in faith we enter the Beloved Community. The Thessalonian Christians were a local chapter. They were the Lord’s beloved, and they were beloved of Paul. Their present suffering did not indicate that God did not love them. Paul prayed that they be drawn more fully into God’s love. On this Valentine’s Day, do you feel part of the Beloved Community?