Showing posts from February, 2018

Faith vs Scientism- Romans 4- Lent 2

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38
In the letter to the Romans, the faith that Paul is talking about is trust in God to do what seems impossible. Abraham and Sarah believed in God to give them a child, even in their old age. In a sense, it was a promise to bring life out of a dead womb. Paul relates this to the faith Christians are to have. Just as Jesus was resurrected- life out of a dead tomb- so Christians trust God to bring life out of death. 
Being “right with God” doesn’t come from obeying the law. You can obey a lot of rules while not really trusting God. Actually, Abraham didn’t have any rules to follow. He had no Law. He trusted in God and the promise that was made. Faith is a relationship word. It isn’t about proofs. It isn't really about knowledge. It is a recognition that God is in control. Faith is choosing to trust that God is good and will follow through on promises made. Faith is trust in God’s actions and God’s motivations.

Faith has become a t…

Lent 1- Noah’s Ark

Genesis 9:8-17;1 Peter 3:18-22

There are a few directions we can go when it comes to dealing with the story about Noah’s family and the flood. The first is the story we often tell on the walls of nurseries- It is a floating zoo and wouldn’t that be fun? We don’t go much further than that though.

Others will look at the story and seek out a way to prove the story as a historical reality. Could it be that 7-9000 years ago the straight between Greece and Turkey breached and the Mediterranean flooded into the basin that is now the Black Sea, making it seem like the entire world had flooded? … Others look for clues while scrambling up frozen glaciers in the Turkish mountains searching for wood and nails, evidence of a lost ship run aground in the mountains. They seek to prove the historical event that inspired the story we have about Noah.

Still others will read the story and dismiss it. It is sheer myth…

Ash Wednesday

Matt 6:1-6, 16-21
When I noticed that Ash Wednesday (the official beginning of Lent) falls on Feb 14th this year I found myself fantasizing about drawing ash hearts on people’s foreheads.

“Saint Valentine”, the (probably legendary) 3rd century Roman priest and martyr who is connected to the day of romance lends nothing much to the day, save his name. Chocolate, flowers, and heart-shaped everything are the true icons of the day.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against romance. I got my wife a heart-shaped something. I do, however, think it is interesting that these days overlap this year. There is no lack of tension in the air tonight.

In our society we generally dislike the challenge of Ash Wednesday. It feels like such a downer. “Remember that you are dust” doesn’t get the heart pounding in the same way as “be my valentine”. February 14th this year is an unfair fight between a romantic dinner and liturgical reminder of our brokenness and death.

Perhaps there is a connection, though. T…

Epiphany 6- Is God a Dude?

Is 46:1-13; Col 1:15-23; Mark 9:2-9
The question we are going to deal with today has to do with the maleness of God.

Throughout the Bible, God is constantly referred to in male terms. In the Old Testament, the grammar of the Hebrew describes God as male. In the New Testament we see a similar theme in the Greek grammar and with Jesus referring to God as “Father”.

There are, however, a few hints of God being referred to using female imagery. For example, Hosea 13:8 describes God as being like a mother bear. Deuteronomy 32 uses similar female imagery describing God as a mother eagle (vv11-12) and as giving birth to the nation (v18). Isaiah compares God to a mother in a number of places (66:13; 49:15; 42:14). One of the Hebrew words to describe God’s compassion is (R-H-M) rachum, which is related to the word for womb, rechem. So, we might say God’s compassion is womb-like.

In Luke 15 Jesus compares God to a woman looking for a lost coin (15:8-10). In Matthew Jesus says to Jerusalem, 
“… How …

Epiphany 5- Suffering

Gen 3:1-19; Psalm 22:1-21; Romans 8:18-30;Mark 8:31-38 

The next theme for our Epiphany sermon series is inspired by three questions:
“If God is so loving, why does he allow all the hate and suffering of so many of his people?”“How do we know that Jesus is with us in our darkest hours (especially when we don’t feel it)?"And, “We know that God is our lighthouse- but sometimes the waves in our lives toss us about and hide that light- I need help to keep my sight on that lighthouse.”
The first question is more philosophical. It is about the compatibility of a loving God with a world that has suffering. The other two are much more experiential regarding feeling God’s absence in the midst of suffering.

I just want to point out that when we ask these questions we are surrounded by numerous Biblical voices.

Think about Job, who lost everything and cries out to God for a reason for his suffering.

Imagine Joseph who is sold into slavery by his own brothers. He does well as a slave and works…