Why is it that when someone makes a good choice or does the right thing, we take it for granted? Our culture is quick to criticise, but we are not as good at complimenting and that's too bad. It's interesting how many times I've listened to people who have gotten into trouble, deep trouble, who begin with, "Well, at the time I knew it was the wrong choice, but it seemed like a little thing," or "I thought just this one time", or "who will notice?" The little mistake sadly led to larger and larger ones. Back to my original question. Why was it so hard in the beginning to do the right thing? The next time you see someone make a good choice, choose the noble course, make the honest decision, take the higher ground, don't shrug your shoulders and say, "What's the big deal, that's what they are supposed to do." Instead, say, "Hallelujah!! Thanks be to God!! We need more people in the world like you to set the right example."
Our Sunday morning Adult Education Class and Thursday morning Calvin Group recently finished Harvey Cox's, The Future of Faith, where Dr. Cox predicts that in this modern age, faith will replace dogma. Now we are on to more studies about the future of faith. In Phyllis Tickle's, The Great Emergence, she claims that every 500 years the church has a giant rummage sale. Out with the old and in with the new. In the 6th century it was the fall of the Roman Empire and Gregory the Great. In the 11th century it was the great schism and in the 16th, the Reformation. What will happen in the 21st? Brian McClaren in A New Kind of Christianity, believes we will leave behind the old Plato/Aristotle western philosophical foundations that influence a theological dualism of heaven and hell. The good news is that he wants to keep heaven! What will happen to hell? You'll have to come to class to find out!
What better way to begin the year than with Jesus' first public preaching found in this weeks Lectionary reading in Mark 1:15, Time's up, God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message. (from The Message by Eugene Peterson) The Greek word translated change your life, literally means to change your mind or turn around. It can sound like a one time decision. You are going the wrong way, make a U Turn and live happily ever after. However, as we read through the Gospels, we quickly see that the disciples kept veering of in the wrong direction and again and again and had to be brought back to the right way by Jesus. The Old Testament Lectionary Lesson comes from the Book of Jonah, which is a whale of a turn around. (Pardon the pun.) Yet, even after being spit up on the shore by the big fish, Jonah's path with God is still not easy, smooth or direct. What has been your experience? Has your Christian walk been a quick turnaround and steady climb, or has it been more like the disciples and Jonah, full of ups and downs and turns around?
In this weeks Lectionary reading for Sunday there are three references to sacred places. In 1 Samuel 3:1-10 it is the Temple, in John 1:43-51 it is the fig tree where Nathaniel is studying and in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 it is the body. What do these three have in common? I could really use your help this week, so pray hard over these scriptures and blog back.
In the Acts 19:1-7 lectionary passage for this Sunday, St. Paul encounters a dozen followers of Jesus who were baptized into repentance through John the Baptist. Since they had not received the Holy Spirit in John's Baptism, St. Paul baptizes them with the Holy Spirit. Did you receive the Holy Spirit in your baptism? If so, what difference does it make? What do you think? These and other questions will be addressed this Sunday. Let me know if you have a query about baptism you would like me to answer from the perspective of our Reformed Tradition.
The Lectionary readings for the First Sunday in 2009 are full of grace, especially Ephesians 1:3-14 and John 1:10-18. What do you make of grace upon grace in St. John or grace lavished upon us, in the Words of St. Paul? Why so much grace poured out upon us? Perhaps another way to ask the question is to pose it like this. In this fallen world where we daily experience the folly and pain of others and add to that foolishness and suffering through our own acts and deeds, can we ever get enough grace? What do you think?
Here are the readings for this Second Week of Advent:
Monday: Zechariah 6:12-13 Tuesday: Micah 5:2-4 Wednesday: Malachi 3:1-6 Thursday: John 1:1-8 Friday: John 1:9-18 Saturday: Mark 1:1-3 Sunday: Luke 1:5-13
As you read through these I would like your help for my Sermon on Sunday the 14th. The title is Christ Presents, instead of Christmas Presents, which make us think of what's under the tree the morning of the 25th. I'd like you to remember with me that the original gift of Christmas was Christ himself, coming to be with us.
Using the readings above, what are we called to do to Present Christ? I will be interested in your answer.
First Presbyterian Church of Newport, Oregon welcomes all persons to join in worship and fellowship within a community of hospitality. We share a vision of Jesus Christ calling all to His table: There is no longer Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave nor free, there is no longer male nor female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28
First Presbyterian Church 227 NE 12th ST Newport, OR 97365