Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 

The Parable of the Lost Sheep 

15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 

3 So he told them this parable:

The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother 

11 Then Jesussaid, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute  living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself withthe pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going
27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the fathersaid to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” 

Have you ever lost something like a wallet or your keys? Do you go and try to find them? Drives you crazy when you can’t right? 

Our gospel lesson this morning finds Jesus telling similar experiences. He’s responding to some of the religious leaders of his day questioning why Jesus hung out with so many folks from outside the religious boundaries of the day. Jesus’ disciples may have been wondering the same thing. It seems like Jesus hung out more with folks on the margins, folks who were outside the religious institutions…prostitutes, tax collectors who weren’t very honest, widows, children (who were not counted fully as people back then…). 

So, Jesus does what he normally does. He tells stories, parables, that have lots of deeper meanings. It’s as if he’s telling a story with a seed planted in the words. When those words hit fertile ground, someone may not notice, but those seeds grow, giving meaning and growth. 

Our opening shares the setting of the grumbling questioning, why is Jesus not only talking to these folks, but he’s eating with them! Which, back in that day, meant that you were building a friendship. 

I get it, that’s why I’m always open for sharing some coffee, drink, or food together! 

Always an open invitation! 

Jesus shares a couple of parables about a shepherd leaving 99 sheep to find one lost sheep, and about a woman having 10 silver coins who loses one and then cleans the whole house, turns it upside down, to find it. The idea of course is that no one and no thing is outside of God’s pursuit, of God’s love and presence. God will not stop until God finds the lost person and brings it back into relationship, into community. 

Then we come to this parable of the lost son, or the Prodigal son. We see a loving father of two sons. The younger son wants to strike out on his own, so he asks for his father’s inheritance. In essence, he’s saying that he doesn’t need the father anymore. Notice that the father gives the inheritance to both the younger son, and the older son. 

What does the younger son do? He goes to a foreign land and wastes his money on prostitutes, parties, and all sorts of other vices. Then comes a famine to the land and he didn’t have anything to eat. He’s left to finding a job feeding pigs, which for a jewish audience, that would be the worst! After a while, he hits rock bottom in his life. Hitting rock bottom either kills ya’ or it makes you think. The younger son is hungry, he remembers that his dad’s servants had it better than what he’s experiencing now. So, he thinks up a great speech and resolves to go back to this dad, plead forgiveness and ask to be one of his father’s hired hands. 

He sets off and as he’s approaching his father’s house, his dad sees him from a distance. Our scripture says that he was filled with compassion. That word in the greek has a deep meaning of movement in the depth of your bowels, it moved him physically with love! He runs out, puts his arms around him, hugs him…then the son tries to begin his speech, but the father isn’t listening, he’s filled with love and tells his servants to give him the finest clothes, put the ring back on his finger signifying that he’s his son, kill the fatted calf, we are throwing a party!!!! He exclaims “my son was dead, and now he’s alive!”… he’s back. The father had not given up on his son and now his son was back! 

But, then there’s the older son. He hears the music and dancing and asks a servant what’s going on. The servant, kind of matter of factly, says that his brother is back and his dad’s throwing a party in celebration! How does the older son react? He’s angry, jealous, and filled with resentment. He refuses to go to the party. But, what does the father do? He loves his older son just as much, he goes out to him as well, away from the party, and pleads for him to go in. His son, with much outward pride, says that he’s been working hard all of these years while his younger son was partying away his inheritance…and his father had never thrown a party for him. The father responds, that yes, he has been with him, but this is his brother, and he was lost, but now found…so we must celebrate. 

We don’t know what happens with the older son. But, both sons were lost, and both had a father who loved them. 

We can all related to both sons if we are honest. We waste our gifts and talents on frivolous living…or we live in resentment and pride when we don’t get what we think we deserve. We often don’t even recognize our need until we hit rock bottom, or we are so unhappy trying to live a false life of pride and works. Yet, we have a loving God who truly is crazy in love with us. That love can cause us to grow in wonderful ways. That love gives us the ability to love ourselves, love others, and to experience love from others. 

There is also a pattern in this passage of loss, recovery, restoration, celebration. 

The loss of relationship with self, others, God.

The recovery of one’s senses, a movement towards action in one’s life. 

The restoration of relationship with self, others, God. 

The celebration of God with one’s self, other, and God recognition…a celebration of embrace and unrestrained love. 

The father shows us how God loves us, how God takes on everything, even our shame… what’s more, this God becomes our shame and transforms and redeems it into something more…God’s embrace that gives us our identity as God’s beloved. We also have to remember that God is both father and mother and many other things throughout scripture. What this and other texts is trying to share with us is that we have a God who is intimate and everywhere and in all things and people shaping us and shaping our world. 

Henri Nouwen, the catholic philosopher, theologian, writer says this in his book The Return of the Prodigal Son, which I’d highly recommend reading, says this: 

“Each time we touch the sacred emptiness of non-demanding love, heaven and earth tremble and there is great ‘rejoicing among the angels of God.’ it is the joy for the returning sons and daughters. It is the joy of spiritual parenthood.” 

We are all invited to be gradually transformed by God’s love from being the younger and older sons, wherever we find ourselves, into the compassionate parent Henri Nouwen goes on to say and to live lives filled with gratitude, celebration, and not resentment 

There is a movement in this story…to be changed by transformational relationship in a world that often only understands transactional relationships.  A new social imaginary, a new way of seeing ourselves.  

May we remember that Jesus shows us through his life and actions that all are embraced by God! This is Good news! Welcome the embrace! Celebrate! 


Luke 13:1-9

Repent or Perish

13 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Many of you know my good friend Sean Gladding.  He’s been a part of Fleming Road UCC’s history in that he’s spoken here, led retreats with us, and many of you have read his books and we even did a book/video study of his a while back.

Sean is one of my best friends and we spent some time together this past Friday.  So good.  We shared, and continue to share, a lot of life.  He’s a true friend that loves me unconditionally, and vice versa.  

He’s also an avid gardener, especially in urban settings.  He has build community for decades and common spaces where things are grown together have been a central part of his community building and organizing.  When I was in Birmingham, England recently, visiting with another friend, Sam Ewall, who also is an urban gardener, Sean was mentioned as an example of living into a neighborhood and using gardening as a practical way to feed a neighborhood, but also contribute to a neighborhood’s financial and relational well-being…it’s growth.

Sean also likes figs and grows them in his front and back yards in his neighborhood.  Those are figs in the slide.  

Which is appropriate in this morning’s lectionary gospel reading.

The writer of Luke starts off with a reference to Galileans being slaughtered by Pilate, mixing their blood in with their sacrifices…which made them unclean in death.  Pilate, like many rulers throughout history, had an ego that was demonstrated with amazing cruelty…much like we are seeing today with Putin and Ukraine.  This was an added insult by Pilate because he not only killed them, but did so in a way that they did not have time to repent.  The next reference about the tower of Siloam, no one really knows about because there isn’t an independent historical record of what happened.  But, the same message, they perished before they repented.  

Now, we know as we have talked about this before…repentance is not harsh, it’s actually pretty simple.  It’s a change of heart, a change of mind.  I would even add a phrase and layer by saying like a shift in “social imaginary”.  Social imaginary is a set way of thinking and being in the world because of values that we are raised in, institutions that we lean into, cultural ways of being.  A social imaginary is a neutral term, it can be good and it can be limiting.  If we experience change in the world in which we live, and our social imaginary limits us to doing things the same we always have…and we don’t shift in that imaginary to adapt to those changes, then we eventually whither away and die.

The gospel message is that our social imaginary is bound up in a dynamic flow with God and with one another that moves us towards living abundant lives filled with love for ourselves, others, in a cosmic divine union.  In that dynamic relationship, we have certain characteristics.  We lean into change, we listen, we grow and produce fruit through giving and receiving hospitality, we respect tradition, but we don’t let it limit us from trying new things…even things that will probably fail, but knowing that, in God’s economy, failure leads to growth and even resurrection.  Exhibit A is the cross…an executioners symbol that is supposed to be emblematic of humiliation, punishment, violence, and the power of the state.  When one is crucified, he or she is put down and has failed in something.  

But, with God, this symbol has become instead a symbol of God’s power which is always being emptied and coming down to us and pushing us towards new growth, to resurrection.  

It can be hard…the Christian way of being…it calls us to lean into the growth process which is not what the systems of the world say…they say win at all costs, be comfortable, avoid pain and struggle.  The way of Jesus is to lean into the struggle, to endure, to find solace in God’s “with-ness”, being with us…and to grow stronger in who we created to be in our true selves.  

1 Corinthians 1:-13 is also one of our lectionary readings.  The writer of this Pauline epistle has some harsh words, check it out, but in the end, it’s reminding us to persevere, to not complain, but to listen and lean into whatever is “testing” us in order for us to grow.

Back to our gospel lesson, the writer of Luke talks about figs.  It usually takes three years for a fig tree to produce fruit as Luke tells us, and Sean would tell us also!

This fig tree hasn’t produced fruit.  The vineyard owner went to the gardener and told him to tear it down.  It wasn’t producing fruit.  But, the gardener says lets give it another year.  He puts manure down…compost.  Waste that is usually thrown away…but, if you garden, you know that our waste, if given oxygen over time, can become nutrients for new growth.  

Friends, our church may seem like that fig tree.  But, God, the master gardener, is reminding us that nothing is wasted, that what we have done for decades, centuries even, can be good nutrients for future growth.  It can be messy, smelly at times.  But, we must have patience with our church, and with ourselves.  We may feel like the church, at times, is not producing fruit.  We may also feel that way about our own personal lives.

But God is reminding us in Luke to take a second and even third or fourth look…at our ourselves and who we are as a faith community.  We have an amazing history, a beautiful present, and the potential for a great future.  But, we have to have a gardener’s patience…and maybe listen to one another, our neighbors, and to God like the gardener did, and less talking like the vineyard owner.  We have time for a change, a transformation, a new social imaginary to emerge from the old one…let’s be patient with ourselves and one another, but let’s also be intentional and listen for opportunities to grow new things.  


Luke 13:31-35

The Lament over Jerusalem

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when[ you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

We’ve all experienced disappointment in our lives.  I know I have.  We can probably all think of times when we hoped for something, and then not have it happen.  This past year in so many ways, has been a series of disappointments as we live through such a period of change with the pandemic, political and social unrest, and our own personal struggles.  

It has been a season of lament.  Which is actually good and a part of a the process towards growth.

It’s especially important as we are in the middle of Lent…a time of questioning and stripping away…of dying even as we head to the cross and on to resurrection.  Jesus understood lament…he embraced it.  And, so should we if we want to grow.

As a church, we often don’t know what we want to see happen other than the church to survive, but maybe we have deeper hopes for it to thrive….yet, our definitions for thriving may be hard to articulate at times.  It’s safe to say that at our deepest hopes are with relationships.  We are wired for relationship with the world around us and with people.  It doesn’t matter if you are introvert or an extrovert, we all crave relationship and put hope into relationships.  

In the passage above, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem when some sympathetic pharisees, or religious rulers warning him that Herod wants to kill him.  Jesus calls Herod a “fox”, which is interesting to note.  The biblical understanding of a fox in this text is not that Herod is cunning, but that Herod is a small animal that does not have power, is impotent.  Jesus says in affect, I’m casting out demons and have the relational power to overcome unseen forces.  Herod has no control over me.  Jesus then goes on to say that he must he has work today for the next couple of days and that it will be finished on the 3rd day.  This could be a reference to Jesus death and resurrection.  

Jesus certainly gives his hearers a reference that he cannot be killed outside of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the center of Jewish faith at that time, the city where the temple of God is.  Jewish folk believed that God’s Presence on earth dwelt there.  It is also the place where prophets are killed.  When prophets came with a message of lament, of a need for change, repentance, relational restoration…the established system, those in power, felt threatened, they would be killed.    

Even though persons in the religious establishment were not joyful, they still had control and did not want to give that control up.  They were in a place of broken relationship with each other, themselves, and with God.  They were what I’d call “resistors” and resistors have roadblocks that can often thwart their growth, their joy, and the growth and joy of others.

Jesus laments, deeply, with great emotion for Jerusalem.  Jesus understands the important of “place”, that people are deeply rooted in a  community and that has potential for great things, but when not living up to it’s potential, when resistant to God’s desire for genuine relationship and community, a place can be destructive.

So, Jesus laments, describes a God who longs to take God’s people, all people, under God’s wings like a hen protecting her chicks.  A God who longs to be in loving relationship with God’s people, to protect them, to bless them beyond measure with friendship and Presence.  

Jerusalem not only signifies the center of religious life for Israel, it can also be descriptive of the church.  God longs for the church to be a place of deep relationship, not only for those inside the church, but for those outside.  Jesus represents all of humanity, and Jesus demonstrates that God is not limited to a building….Jesus goes to places outside of the temple, the synagogue, and continues today to go outside of the church walls.  Jesus says that the temple, the house, is abandoned by God, but God does not abandon God’s people.  

Jerusalem kills its prophets.  But, God keeps on sending those prophets.  There is a flow in and through God that cannot be stopped.

Friends, hear this the good news, lamenting can come out of being dark places in our lives, but lamenting leads us towards growth.  Jesus loves Jerusalem, and Jesus loves his church.  Jesus has promised, and demonstrated, that even though he aches for us, he also aches with us.  He is with us in all that we experience and is with us in the lamenting and in the darkness.  We also know that God, through Jesus, demonstrates that darkness doesn’t win and that we can grow and move towards the promise of blessing as Jesus comes to us.  Lamenting can produce faith.  Faith in and through God’s commitment to us even in the midst of life’s hard places.  

In this season of Lent, may we embrace all of life…even lamenting…and move toward’s the life that God intends for us…a life with the resurrected Jesus…a resurrected Jesus that also bore the scars of crucifixion…a Jesus who understands us and is with us…even in the lamenting that leads towards a deeper growth. 


Luke 4:1-13

The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to protect you,’

11 and

‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

My time away for some study leave, vacation, and pilgrimage to Iona was much needed.  I am so grateful for the grant from SONKA, along with some of my continuing ed funds, and funds from my mom’s estate that allowed me to go on this trip…it seems like my mom keeps on giving to me even now!  This trip was much needed…for those of you who have been tracking with me this past year, you know that it’s been a hard year, filled with lots of questions and loss, so time away was good for my growth and for some perspective.  

It is fitting that we’ve been talking about Jesus’ need for time away…and this morning’s gospel lesson is about Jesus being away…as Jesus followers, it’s good to follow his example and pull away from time to time.

Now, I wasn’t gone for forty days…although, it seemed like it was close to that!  And, almost longer!  When I arrived at Heathrow on Monday, I had to take a covid test, it came back positive and I had to miss my flight and get a hotel room as I couldn’t fly that day.  I tested again the next day and it was negative, so I was able to get a US travel certificate and head home!  I may have had covid, but it would have been the tail end of it, or it could have been a “false positive”.  I’ve tested negative four times since the positive test on Monday.  

And, I wasn’t exactly in the wilderness…but, my pilgrimage to the holy island of Iona, where there has been an Abbey for 1300+ years and where pre-Christian Celts also revered…it’s and island mad of the oldest rock in creation, did seem quite remote and austere…as well as the Island of Mull where I stayed.  

I could have stayed there longer, even 40 days…it was a time of intense and wild beauty, as well as good journalling and thinking…

Now, we don’t know if Jesus was actually away for 40 days…40 is simply a biblical number given to say he was gone for a while.  

While their, he was tempted.  Now, we all face temptations, don’t we?

I know that we all struggle with some temptations.  There are certainly temptations such as eating too much chocolate or going into excess on something.  But, what’s the root of temptation?

A temptation for me, is that I sometimes fantasize about winning the lottery, getting lots of money and funding some of the things that I think are amazing, but seemingly never have funds.  Of course, I always think I’d save a bit of the money to pay off the bills, travel, pay for kids college…and that list kind of grows…of course, then I also realize that 

Our gospel passage this morning presents us with three temptations that Jesus faced.  

  1. Turning stones to bread
  2. Protection from being thrown off the temple roof
  3. Being given the world

Now, on the surface, there are some appealing things to these temptations I’d imagine for Jesus.  There are lots of stones in the world, and lots of starving people.  Wouldn’t it be great to solve the world’s hunger issues by turning stone into bread?  And, with Jesus, you know it would be good bread!

Being able to be protected physically from falling off the temple roof!  Well, we all want to be safe don’t we?  Wouldn’t we like to know that if we jumped off the roof of this building that we’d land safely?  That a bunch of angels would come to our rescue if we are being physically threatened?

How about being given dominion over the world?  Wouldn’t that be great!   We could make everything great and good!  People seem to like to remind us that this world is a mess, that no one is in control.  Well, we are good people, if we had control, then we could make the world safe, we could put our vision into play and make the world a better place…because we know better. We could even end wars like the petty war of ego that Putin is waging, which is causing so much death and destruction.  

Noted author, speaker, theologian and philosopher, Henri Nouwen talks about the temptations of Jesus in his book on Christian Leadership, In the Name of Jesus.  He says that Jesus, like all leaders are tempted in three ways and that we can practice certain disciplines that will help us move towards a better sense of wholeness and health:

  1. The first temptation of turning stones to bread is the temptation to be relevant.  We want to do something that is related to our experiences or others.  Yet, that’s a trap, it’s like me winning the lottery so I can fund the world’s great projects…you can spend so much time on that, that you lose sight of yourself.  Yet, Jesus wants us to know that we are loved and that we can return that love…as we grow in our understanding of God’s love for us, we don’t have to be relevant, yet, we can become confident.  Nouwen goes on to say that the key work or practice for us to move towards a deeper sense of awareness and confidence, is contemplative prayer.  Spending time listening to God’s love for us.  
  2. The second temptation of jumping of the roof only to be caught is the temptation to be spectacular.  Can we impress others with something.  Yet, God calls us to practice the simple work of serving others, of being with people, listening to their stories, encouraging one another, and living authentically.  Our discipline that leads us away from the temptation of wanting to do something spectacular is to be able to confess to others and ask forgiveness.  That’s hard to do, to yield to others, yet that gives us the humility to grow and to mature.  On a side note, our church is practicing this service to others in humility, not only with our local mission partners, but with our church’s giving to humanitarian relief for folks in Ukraine being affected by Putin’s aggression.  Check out the project that Bob Nottingham has set up for us that we mentioned earlier and help out.  
  3. The 3rd temptation of being given the world is the desire to be powerful, to get others to do what we tell them!  To get at others before they get you…really, to have others bow before your wishes, to get your way.  Yet, Jesus tells us that, in order to lead, one has to follow.  And you have to trust others to take you where you may not want to go.  We aren’t given the world, but we are given each other.  Our discipline or practice is to think about God’s actions, God’s word to us, to look at Jesus, to have theological reflection.  That allows us to look at our motives and to be shaped inwardly which moves towards outward actions. 

Temptations lure us in to something innocently enough and with seemingly good intentions.  This season of Lent is meant to be a time of recognizing and resisting temptations, and to take on practices or disciplines to help us to have perspective and grow.  To give us space…space like I had during my time away and the space I’m continuing with, even as I’m home.  I believe we all recognize that when we give into temptations, they become habits of thinking or acting, then they reform us in destructive ways or reinforce bad habits.  Or they can lead to growth if we lean into them and befriend them in ways that lead to maturity.  

Author and speaker, Dr. Brene Brown, in her book Rising Strong, says that our brains get stuck in particular patterns that are hard to break.  The only way to move out of those patterns is by creating a new practice, a healthier practice.   Oftentimes those new practices require courage.  It’s easy to give into the temptations around us, but moving towards a new practice can lead to our thinking patterns being changed and a new way of being.

The early church understood this.  They didn’t have a lot of the dogma that we have today.  For a few hundred years before Christianity became sanctioned by the roman government, practice was more important than doctrine.  Folks knew that they needed community and that they wanted meaning in life and a new way of being.  Christians practiced welcome, grace, hospitality, a sense of equality was practiced between ethnicities and gender, all were one, and there was deep commitment.  When someone joined the church, it was a huge commitment; it could cost you your life.  Yet, the rule of love was so compelling that folks were drawn in…the early church folks didn’t ask new members of the faith a lot of questions about belief, but they took time to be in the practice of loving one another.  It created new patterns of being and doing.  

They also understood that God was committed to them and that Jesus’ actions on their behalf gave them the grace to start over, daily.  They had an understanding of God’s relational nature, which gave birth to the concept of God as trinity, and that Jesus entered into this world, and became sin for us, for all of humanity.  That understanding of trinity was actually embedded in humanity even before Jesus.  Ancient Israelites believed that God was community, check out the first chapter of Genesis where the author states that creation was made in “our image”, God being referred to in the plural.  The ancient Celts also had an understanding that things came in threes, and the concepts of circles…that we need relationship and we can be held together in a circle, in a community.  Jesus’ response to temptation even is our response, we may fail, often, but ultimately, we win because of Jesus’ work for us and in us….and as we practice loving in the way of Jesus, we begin to fall deeper in love with God, we become more of our true selves, even as our overwhelmed with God’s love for and of us.