Appreciating St. Paul: the Appealing, Appalling, Apostolic, Apocalyptic Preacher of Christ

Sisters and Brothers,

A blessed Easter season to you! The fifty days between Easter and Pentecost are a great time to explore the incredible message of God’s victory in Christ over sin and death. The life of Paul offers a particularly fascinating look at the Gospel’s power to renew minds and transform lives. Paul’s life and writings challenge us to be thoughtful, passionate ambassadors of Jesus in the 21st century.

A new feature film (co-starring Jim Caviezel of The Passion of the Christ as the evangelist Luke) offers Paul’s story to movie-going audiences. A new biography by renowned Paul scholar, N.T. Wright, gives an accessible resource on Paul as man of faith, evangelist, pastor and thinker.

Paul is a complicated figure to say the least. To some he was unimpressive in person and difficult to work with. To others he was a brilliant communicator and dear father in the faith. His letters display sarcasm and consternation with false teachers, passionate concern for fledgling Christians and congregations, and heart-wrenching anguish over fellow Jews who have rejected Jesus as Messiah. He writes glowingly about female partners in ministry and elsewhere seems to instruct women to remain silent in public worship. Some of his words we might gladly excise from the pages of Scripture while other passages inspire us at weddings (1 Corinthians 13) or comfort us at funerals (Romans 8).

We will spend the Sundays of the Easter Season learning from and about Paul the Apostle. On April 8 we will gain a general sense of Paul and his world by watching a Rick Steves travelogue. The following Sundays will move through the life of Paul – from the young “Hebrew of Hebrews” zealous for the traditions of his forefathers, to the convert who dramatically discovered the story of Israel finds its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, to the missionary and martyr whose writings comprise about 1/3 of our New Testament scriptures.

I hope you will join me at 9:45am in the Community Center from April 8-May 20. Whether the life and writings of Paul are new to you or familiar, we would all do well to keep our ears open to his witness.

Pastor Tom