I think the notion of walking in the truth…the truth of who we are and whose we are…is probably a fairly appealing notion to most of us. Our spirits, I believe, inherently yearn for this type of authenticity. But day to day reality has taught many of us that this is probably easier said than done. There are all kinds of things and forces and entities that tempt us to step outside of our truth, sometimes unnecessarily puffing ourselves up…sometimes tamping down the essence of who we are.
Our scripture reading this Sunday is from Paul’s second letter to the community in Corinth. It’s wonderfully and typically Pauline in all sorts of ways. Upon first reading it, it might appear to be a jumble of words and thoughts. But I invite you to spend some time with it before Sunday and explore where and how Paul’s experience might connect with your own. It’s in this passage that Paul talks about the “thorn in his flesh,” that unknown affliction or malady that companioned him all his life. As he grapples with that particular “truth,” he explores the notion of God’s strength as it makes itself known in our human weakness, inviting us into that powerful and profound reflection along with him.
All are welcome to worship online or in person in the Fellowship Hall at our Worship Watch Party. This Sunday is Communion Sunday. If you are present on campus, please know that we are using individually packaged Communion elements that will be provided for you. If you are worshipping at home this Sunday, you’re invited to gather your own elements, bread and juice, to share in Communion toward the end of the service. While local and state guidelines no longer require the wearing of masks for vaccinated individuals, it is the wisdom and decision of your pastor and Church Council to continue, for the time being, to wear masks at indoor worship. This is consistent with many other local faith communities and congregations. We have made this decision out of love, care and a desire to fully include our children in the life of the church. By continuing to wear masks when indoors at worship, we will provide the safest and most welcoming space possible for those who are not yet able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to age, access or other health concerns. We will assess and reassess this on a regular basis knowing that we all look forward to the day when mask wearing will be behind us!
Beginning July 4th, our worship time will change from 9:00 to 10:00. Both the Watch Party on campus and the online service will switch to the new time. And on July 4th, we will return to a PBUMC tradition…outside church! It is the tradition of this congregation to move the entire service outside on the first Sunday of July. You will receive more information and reminders, but all are invited to gather in the courtyard for this festive outdoors service! I’m looking forward to being with you on Sunday, online and in person, as we worship God and open our lives to God’s grace, peace and invitation!
2 Corinthians 12:2-10 (NRSV)
I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep[a] me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.[b] Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[c] is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Questions to consider:
- How have you held or understood your “weakness” differently at different stages of your life/over the course of your life? How would you describe your relationship now with those things you perceive to be “thorns” in your life?
- What comes up for you when thinking about “walking in the truth” of who you are?
- What is your experience of relying on God’s grace? Does it come easily? Is it a struggle?