There are 27 (twenty-seven!) books in the New Testament. They tell stories and share letters that tell us about Jesus and his followers. More than half of the books in the New Testament are written by the Apostle Paul. Paul was a well-educated man who spoke at least three languages. He did not always follow Jesus. As a matter of fact as a young man he was a Pharisee who persecuted Jesus’ followers; he threw stones at them and put them in prison. What happened to make him change? You can learn more about Paul’s amazing story here: Paul’s Ministry & the Letters of Paul and here: God’s Story: Paul
The important thing is that Paul DID change!
The scripture readings for the first three weeks of June are letters the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians in the City of Corinth; they are from 2 Corinthians.
There are two letters from Paul to the Corinthians. It is hard to learn about and understand a new religion, and the people in Corinth did not like to follow the rules. Paul led the new church and taught them for a year and a half, but after he left Corinth, the Corinthians went back to their old ways. Some church members wrote to him and asked for help. The letters Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians offered the help they asked for. Using kind words he went over the rules and talked about God’s love.
However, some of the Corinthians didn’t like what Paul said in the first letters, and told him he had no right to tell them what to do. They argued with him. Paul had to defend himself and wrote what is known as “The Painful Letter.” 2nd Corinthians includes that letter and other letters that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. Some of the letters in 2nd Corinthians are not as kind or as comforting as the older letters. Paul wrote the sections we will hear this Sunday and next Sunday after “The “Painful Letter.” Paul thanks the people of Corinth for the changes they have made, and explains that Jesus made a covenant with us. You might enjoy coloring this picture of Paul on his travels.
The last words in the passage Cindy Benson will read on Sunday are these:
…Now everything is new!
What a year this has been! There are so many things we could not do in the past year., that we can do again! Our experiences changed us all, making each of us new people. We have learned new things and made new friends. Worshipping together in church is new. Singing together is new. Our summer plans are new.
Each of us is a “new creation.” We are constantly given chances to change – just like Paul did!
I hope that this summer, you spend some time thinking about God. God is all around us. You may feel God’s presence at the beach, in the woods, in your backyard, or in a quiet corner. You may feel God’s spirit when you are surrounded by friends and family. I hope that you spend some time this summer helping others, and sharing with them. I hope that you spend time enjoying and caring for this beautiful world. I hope that you remember these two important commandments that Jesus gave us: Love God, and love your neighbor.
This will be my last message until the fall. I have enjoyed writing these messages and have learned a lot more about my faith. I have enjoyed meeting many of you and hope to see you again over the summer. Reverend Sue and I will let you know of summer activities and gatherings that you’d enjoy.
I wish each of you a wonder-filled summer, full of sights and sounds and moments you will always remember.
You are blessed to be a blessing,