This time of year, we look to the same God as Moses. The one who said I WILL BE WHO I AM is with you. The one who said He would be EMMANUEL, is GOD WITH US! This season, remember that the same God who promised to be faithful to Moses, to Israel, is faithful to you. He is the the one who lit the bush, the mountain and the Bethlehem night skies on fire and who came as a baby to live with you.
We should use the Advent season as a period to identify the matters from which we need to be redeemed. Identify whatever it is that seems to be holding you in its power.
Advent is the time when God breaks in on us with new surprises and touches us with a renewing and restoring power.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. -Psalm 136:1-3
This past weekend, we finished our year-long study of 1 Corinthians. Because we studied Ch 15 ever Easter, we skipped it now. However, I wrote a spoken word piece paraphrasing the chapter. We had three actors read it at the top of our service to provide continuity in our study and to lead us into Holy Communion.
Here is my attempt to give a new voice to 1 Corinthians 15:12-28.
IF HE DIDN’T/BUT HE DID
If some say Christ rose, how can you say, “no”?
If he didn’t rise, then Christ is still brought low.
If he didn’t rise, it doesn’t matter what we believe or say.
Even more, we are liars, for we preach, “Jesus, The Way”.
If he didn’t rise, the dead will stay dead.
If he didn’t rise, Christ lies on his tomb’s bed.
And if he didn’t rise, your faith is empty, you’re full of sin,
And those who have already been…
If only for now we hope in Christ, we’re pathetic…
…and we too are lost.
Christ has risen, he is the first who, in death, sleep.
For since a man damned us, a man will also raise us.
For since Adam killed us, so our Christ must
give us life, but him first then you and me.
And in the end, with all power and authority,
defeating all dominions with his final breath,
He hands the Father a kingdom, defeating even death.
Then the Father, who put everything under the Son,
will have His will done.
And the Son, will put everything under the Father
so we will see God is our history’s author.
Praise our God, three-in-one.
All glory to Christ, the Risen one.
Response, from the very beginning of worship to the end, must be a powerful inner experience of actually being in the presence of God. When we sing a hymn or say a confession or prayer, we are not singing or saying words, but expressing a feeling, bringing our souls, truly responding and communicating to the loving and active presence of a loving and merciful God.
Once upon a time, there was a “man of the road” and a “man of faith”. His name was Abraham. We see that he came to worship by faith alone and was given blessings from God. However, these blessings weren’t for him alone. He was blessed so that he could be a blessing to others…
Maybe you’ve seen the various articles going around about the 100th anniversary of WWI? I’ve looked at various photos of the beautiful, yet abandoned, battlefields, but the most interesting thing I’ve seen is this quote about the religious impact of WWI. It is from an interview with Philip Jenkins on his new book, “The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade”…
SO HOW DID THE PEACE AFTER WWI IMPACT CHRISTIANS WORLD-WIDE?
Between about 1915 and 1930, we are dealing with perhaps the greatest age of martyrdom and mass killing of Christians in history. That includes perhaps 1.5 million Armenians murdered, not to mention mass slaughter by the Bolsheviks in Russia.
That all had two key consequences. One was the creation of Middle East that was more clearly Islamic, with far smaller Christian minorities.
It also ended the long-familiar tripartite division of Christianity into the worlds of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. Although Orthodox believers and thinkers obviously survived, their influence and impact collapsed with the loss of Russia. For the first time, people began to think of Christianity as bipolar—Protestant and Catholic.
*This quote is from this article on the TCG website:
Worship in Wilderness after Eden always involves death. First, there is our death from sin and then the death of Jesus…but as we’ll see in this story…the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.