Last month, during one my sermons, I gave everyone an opportunity to ask whatever questions were on your minds about faith, the Bible, God, pretty much anything you wanted to ask. As I went through the questions, I was blown away by the depth of thought that went into them, despite not having a ton of time to formulate your thoughts. Now, some of the questions would require a larger space for discussion, and if you want to talk about the question you tossed in the bowl, come talk to me, or shoot me an e-mail – I’d love to talk to you about your questions.
However, some of the questions were ones that I would be able to answer right here. I’m going to paraphrase some of them, and of course, since I don’t know who asked what, everything is anonymous. So here we go, question and answer time!
1. Who can take communion and when can kids start taking communion? Will there be classes?
Within the last decade or so, the ELCA has changed their “official stance” regarding who can take communion and when. Now, of course, within this stance, each church is allowed to develop their own traditions and programs for first communion, but here’s where we stand. Any baptized Christian is welcome at the Lord’s Table, regardless of age. We believe that any person who has been baptized should be able to partake in communion, so in short, if you want your child to take communion—THEY CAN! However, it is important to educate our children to help them learn about the gift they are partaking in through communion. If you would like your child to take first communion (or just communion) classes, we will be having a session on Saturday, May 21 from 10:00 -11:30 a.m. Children who haven’t taken communion yet will then be welcome to partake in their first communion on Sunday, May 22, Holy Trinity Sunday. If you have any more questions, get in touch, and we’ll plan together.
2. Where was Jesus between the ages 12-30?
Great question! Although the answer is a little unfulfilling, because the answer is simply…we don’t know. The records we have in the gospels, which are our best source for information on Jesus, don’t give us information on this time of Jesus’ life. There are a couple of assumptions we can try and make, even though they are just that…assumptions. We can assume because of Jesus’ eloquence in Jewish teaching when he was an adult, he would have continued in his schooling and education throughout his teenage years, learning about scripture and the Jewish faith. As Joseph’s adopted son, we can also assume that Jesus would have helped Joseph in developing his carpentry business and served an apprenticeship at some point to learn more about the family business. One theory—and I emphasize that it’s a theory—is that Jesus might have traveled to the Far East to learn more about Eastern religions, before he returned to start his ministry.
3. Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married?
This is another answer we truly have no way of knowing. From what we have from the gospels and other ancient texts, the answer would be no. Over the last few decades there have been a lot of popular culture theories, as evidenced in books like “The DaVinci Code,” that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, but it’s really just speculation. It isn’t a far-flung idea to imagine that Jesus, as a healthy, faithful Jewish man, may have been married, but we truly have no way of knowing if he was married or to whom if he was. It seems like a vital detail the gospels would have included, were it the case.
4. How did Mary’s pregnancy work?
There had to be a human component, right? We truly hold to the gospel account of Mary’s pregnancy, that she was impregnated by a miracle through the Holy Spirit, with no other human agency. She and Joseph were engaged, but we do believe that Mary was truly a virgin, and that Jesus’ birth was the greatest miracle, a gift from God. It was the work of the Holy Spirit.
5. How do we have a Bible that preaches love, while also talking about and advocating for things like slavery?
This is a question that has been struggled over for well over a century. During the Civil War, abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates both used scripture to support their stances. The important thing to remember with the Bible is that while it is the Word of God, and is divinely inspired, it is the product of human hands, written by people during very specific times during history. At the time the Bible was written, slavery was a commonly accepted part of society. As culture and society have changed, we have had to adjust how we read these passages, and to recognize that some things like this issue were extremely contextual for the community for which they were written. There are a lot of things in the Bible that were relevant to a very specific community, and as faithful believers, we have to read scripture with a discerning eye to see how God is still speaking through these texts and speaking to us today, even if it’s in a way that says this is no longer how the world works and doesn’t necessarily apply to us today.
Ok, there were a ton of others, and I’ll try to answer a few more next newsletter, but for now, keep pondering and wondering and questioning. The questions are what keep our faith fresh, alive, and relevant.
Peace it Together,