Today is the Sunday when we celebrate Pentecost. The disciples, hiding in fear for their lives, gathered on the 50th day after the second day of Passover week, known by the Jews as the Festival of Weeks. They didn’t know what to expect for the future. They wanted to trust God, but fear held them in its grip. Witnesses to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Messiah, they couldn’t imagine what God was about to do.
Joel prophesied of the day when God would pour Himself into His people, all people, and restore the relationship He wanted with us. He writes;
The date is May 24, 1738 and a dejected John Wesley half-heartedly attends an evening meeting with some Moravian Christians on Aldersgate Street in London. Wesley’s career at this point seemed to him a disappointment. Having returned from Georgia with little success among the indigenous people, even less with the English, he struggled with his faith. The Oxford graduate, described as a fervent preacher, was no stranger to hard work and discipline, but, he longed for more from his faith. He wanted something he saw in the Moravians who sailed with him both to and from the Colonies.
The church is at the same time a creation of God and of humans. Beginning with God’s Presence in the wilderness with the children of Israel, God wanted a relationship with His creation. Of course, the story tells us God offered Himself to individuals previous to this, but sin limited those opportunities in every way.
After the anointing of David as King, the Ark of God found a home in Jerusalem. Only during Solomon’s reign was the Temple constructed for a permanent home for the Presence. At this point in history the Israelites worshiped Yahweh, an unpronounceable term of reverence, who is the God who miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
In a letter published here, our new Bishop, Rev. Lawson Bryan, addressed an upcoming meeting of the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church. In a 6-3 vote, the Judicial Counsel upheld the UM Book of Discipline. The 19-page decision that the consecration of an openly gay Bishop, married to another woman, is against church law places the Wester Jurisdiction on notice concerning their response. As I understand the ruling, the Western Jurisdiction acted illegally in electing to the office someone who isn’t qualified to serve as a Bishop of the entire Church, meaning she cannot serve since the office is part of more than just one conference or jurisdiction.
The Barna Group, a Christian research and polling organization, and The American Bible Society offer a yearly study on how Americans view the Bible. Repeated every year for the past six, they identify trends both large and small in the direction of the country and its churches.
This year, in an article called “Bible Engagement in a New World,” they reveal several challenges and some encouragement. First, a growing skepticism about Christianity and the Bible bring more hostility to the idea of faith. Also, in the eyes of the culture, self-fulfillment offers the highest moral good.