Showing posts from May, 2016

Elijah and Religious Truth

1 Kings 18:20-39
At this point in in 1st Kings, King Ahab and his wife, Queen Jezebel, have been on a mission to introduce worship of foreign gods into the culture of Israel. And not only introduce it, but make it dominant and even suppress the worship of Israel’s God. This is an incredibly dark time for Israel. Elijah announced that God was going to cause a drought because of Ahab’s disobedience. Baal was believed to be the god of rain. The drought was to declare that the God of Elijah had power over the rains, not Baal. So the drought has been ongoing for 3 years. Things have become desperate. Now Elijah has arrived on King Ahab’s doorstep and has asked him to call a meeting. He tells him to call the people of Israel to Mt. Carmel and to come with the prophets of Baal.

They meet and Elijah declares the reason for the meeting. The people of Israel haven’t consciously rejected God, but they have also been worshipping Baal. They have been thinking they can have it both ways. Elijah …

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday is a difficult Sunday for preachers. We are given the task of taking a complex idea, like the Trinity, and communicating it simply and clearly. The idea of the Trinity is this- God is one in nature, but three in persons. … If you ask what God is, we say “God”. There is only one such being in that category. If you ask what we are,… we say human. God is in His own category. … If you ask who God is, we say “Father, Son, Spirit”. … As we speak we have to be careful not to mix the persons of the Trinity together. However, we also need to be careful that as we describe the Persons of the Trinity that we don’t divide their nature- which is God- one and unified. That’s the basic idea. Three persons. One God. It is not necessarily an easy concept to hold in your head.

As we try to make it easier to understand we quite often get into trouble. We try to make it easier by imagining that God changed into three forms. So he was The Father, then he became the Son when Jesus was born…

Pentecost- the work of the Spirit- overcoming division

Acts 2:1-21

The preacher John Stott said, “As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead”. The Spirit is the life of the church. The goal of the Christian life is to love and serve God and through this we enter a shared life with God. God becomes an everyday reality for us and there is a mysterious peace and joy that exists and grows as our life becomes unified with Christ. The Spirit’s desire is to develop this process in each of us and to have this process spread to as many people as possible.

The Spirit seems to be very concerned with joining people. St. Augustine described the Holy Spirit as the love that exists between God the Father and God the Son. From all eternity God the Holy Spirit exists as the unity and love between two persons, and that is what He continues to do. We could say the Spirit exists as the love between you and God. When you are minding your own business and your heart starts to burn within you and you have an overw…

Why did Jesus leave? Ascension

Acts 1:1-11

For a long time I had many mixed feelings about Jesus’ Ascension. I never quite understood why Jesus left. It was as if he was “beamed up” to the Starship Enterprise boldly going somewhere else and leaving us all down here to deal with our problems on our own. I wondered if the Apostles felt the same way.

It was pretty obvious that they still needed Jesus’ help. In our reading from the Acts, the disciples ask Jesus a question- "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" John Calvin commented on the Apostles’ question and stated that there are almost as many errors in that question as there are words. Keep in mind that Jesus has been teaching them for forty days after the resurrection, and that is on top of the three years they spent together. They were still stuck in that old way of thinking about the messiah as a warrior king that was going to save the nation of Israel from the bad Pagans. Jesus would lead his army to kick out the Rom…

Living with our roots in the future

Rev 21:10, 22- 22:5
My mother in law used to read the end of a mystery novel to figure out if the book was worth reading. … Well, in our reading from Revelation, we get to the end of the story. Revelation is a complicated book. It is so full of symbolism and allusions you really need to have the rest of the Bible in your mind to grasp all of them. For example, our passage today is drawn heavily from Ezekiel 40—48. Throughout the book we see the numbers 12 and 7 and multiplications of 12 and 7. 7 symbolizes perfection and 12 symbolizes a kind of completeness. If the 12 tribes of Israel are present, then they are all there. If the 12 Apostles are present, then they are all there. No one is missing. The number 1000 symbolizes greatness and abundance, so we find 1000 used to multiply with other numbers to show the symbolic greatness. For example, Revelation speaks about people numbering 144,000. That is 12 times 12, which is 144, which is then multiplied by 1000. It is a number meaning …