Joel Peterson | Eldersville United Methodist Church
Flourishing (Like a Mustard Seed)

Flourishing (Like a Mustard Seed)

Mark 4:26–34 [As he was teaching in parables, Jesus] also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. I’ll admit, I’m completely out of my element when it comes to agrarian discussions like the one presented to us by Jesus in today’s Gospel reading. I come from a long line of farmers and smaller-scale gardeners who have toiled in the careful work of planting vegetables and taking care of farm animals. I suppose that family line will have to be carried on by my cousins, because I don’t have so much as a green thumb. I...
A Juice Box Faith

A Juice Box Faith

1 John 5:1–8 (NRSV) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.  Have you read a children’s Bible recently? It’s likely that some of you have, whether its to read a story to your children or to your grandchildren. Some of those Bibles are more comprehensive than others. They all try to hit the major points, especially those that will appeal to children—the creation story, the animals on Noah’s ark, and something about the life of Jesus. In each of these stories, the authors have to make tough choices about how to adapt these stories into language young children will understand. Some of the more difficult elements of Scripture are glossed over, while the love of Jesus and the power of God are emphasized....
An Oasis Encounter

An Oasis Encounter

Acts 8:26–39 (NRSV) Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,     and like a lamb silent before its shearer,         so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him.     Who can describe his generation?         For his life is taken away from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to...
The Good Shepherd Becomes a Sheep

The Good Shepherd Becomes a Sheep

Psalm 23 John 10:11–18 This week, we’re greeted by two familiar texts that are favorites to many. Psalm 23 might be the only complete chapter of the Bible we have memorized. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” For many of us, this text has added significance because it’s a text we turn to for comfort in our darkest hours, when we ourselves are traveling through the valley of the shadow of death. These words are promises of God that we cling to when we feel burnt out and beaten down. The words of this Psalm help to restore our parched souls that desperately search for the water by which we will no longer be thirsty. Sometimes we say these words, and immediately we know them to be true. We’ve been off on the wrong path, but our Lord can guide us back to safety. We are surrounded by evil, but we no longer fear because our shepherd holds the rod of correction and the staff of protection. We hunger for the bread of life, and God provides for that need at the table of fellowship. We may feel alone and exposed on a treacherous road, chased down by temptation and accusation, but we delight in the promise that God will only let goodness and mercy pursue us. We don’t need to fear out on our own, because we have a dwelling place in the house of the Lord. There are times when things around us seem to change, just because we took the time to bask in the promises of God expressed in this Psalm. But...
Witnesses of the Resurrection

Witnesses of the Resurrection

Luke 24:36b–48 (NRSV) Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” On Easter Sunday, we gathered to hear the good news of the empty tomb. Last week, we looked ahead to the impact Jesus’s resurrection had on the way the first Christians lived, as they shared everything they had. Today, we have an opportunity to...