As twenty-first century westerners, we live in a world of unprecedented prosperity and wealth — a life far more pleasant than the lives of our ancestors. And yet, rates of depression and anxiety are rising, especially among the young. Why hasn’t our ever growing material prosperity resulted in ever growing levels of contentment and joy? To quote the scriptures, “Man cannot live by bread alone.” There is a hole within the human heart that no food, drink or entertainment could ever fill. We were all of us born with a deep, spiritual thirst. Jesus knows this. That’s why he says, in today’s Gospel reading, “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.” The “waters” that Jesus offers to give us is the Holy Spirit. Today, on Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. How can we receive the Holy Spirit? What does it mean for our lives if we do? That’s what Terence will be talking about in his sermon.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, leaving the physical presence of his disciples forever, he promised them a gift: the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus would be with his church forever— indeed, until the end of the age. However, the Holy Spirit does not come immediately. Rather, the disciples must stay in Jerusalem and simply wait. What does it mean for the church to wait upon God? This is what Jasmine will be exploring today in her sermon on Acts 1:1-11.
After a long journey from the land of Egypt and through the wilderness, the Israelites finally arrive on the outskirts of the land that God promised to give them— a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Through Moses, God instructs the Israelites to select 12 men (one from each of the 12 tribes) to go and explore the land. These 12 scouts are to bring back information about the kind of people who live there, how strong they are, whether or not the cities are fortified and the quality of the farmland. Moses even tells them to bring back some grapes from the promised land so the people of Israel can see for themselves the kind of fruit that grows there. After 40 days, when the 12 scouts return from their journey through the promised land, they share what they've learned with their countrymen. However, instead of going forward to take the land that God promised to give them, the people opt to return to Egypt. How is this story relevant to our lives? What can we learn from the error of the Israelites? We'll discuss this in today's Bible Study on Numbers 13:1, 25-14:4.
Goodbyes can be extremely difficult. This is certainly true in the case of Jesus and his final hours with his disciples. Here, in the small upper room of a house somewhere outside of Jerusalem, Jesus informs his friends that he will soon have to leave them. However, at the same time, he also adds, "I will not leave you orphaned." Indeed, he promises to give them his eternal presence through the power of the Holy Spirit. In today's sermon, Coralie will elaborate on precisely what this means for us, the people of Christ's church.
Over the course of the past few weeks, our policy makers have been forced to make some tough decisions— among them, to sort the “essential” services from the “non-essential” services. As we all know, church gatherings ended up in the non-essential list. This is quite understandable given the fact that worship gatherings are not absolutely vital to people’s short-term health and survival (that is, not in the same way that hospitals and grocery stores are).
However, the designation of “non-essential” has forced many of us Christians to ask an important question: Is there a sense in which the church IS essential to the world? And if so, how? This is a topic that Terence will be exploring in his sermon today on I Peter 2:1-10.