The world the apostle Paul inhabited was dramatically different from our time. He knew nothing of capitalism, or physics, or Zoom, and more significantly, Paul was a regular in Caesar’s prison. For us, “Caesar” is a salad. But a constant in the human story is that every life faces suffering. Paul’s life was no different. And yet, on Paul’s worst days, he still exhibited a spirit of joy. In this spirit of joy, Paul offers us some inspiration. Joy is not a common reality in modern life. We are more acquainted with anxiety and fear, and on good days we can settle for happiness; but joy is less common. The worst days come to all of us. At some point the dreams die, the body fails, the spirit is crushed. Those days leave their mark on us. But an imprisoned apostle passed down 104 verses to an ancient congregation in Philippi, and they have passed it down to us. It is their testimony that when the worst days come—and they will—they do not have to be the end of joy. Indeed, they might be the beginning.
Rev. Tom Are Jr. revisits parables in this Village Connect Small Group Ministries series entitled, “The Stories Jesus Loved to Tell.” This series reflects on parables from the Gospel of Luke. Luke is the only Gospel to include some of our favorite parables, including the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Also included are lesser loved parables, like the parable of the Rich Fool and the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge. Yet each story provides a word of wisdom for our own time. More than providing information about God’s promised day, the parables offer an invitation for us to live each day seeing our lives defined by the wisdom included in these stories. The videos come with a leader study guide written by Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka.