Category Archives: 2 Corinthians
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August 8, 2017 by jmar198013
In Acts 2.38, Peter told the assembly: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” When 3000 came forward to be baptized, they were plunged into an old, old story that promised a new beginning. Baptism tells a story as old as the heavens and the earth. And it’s a story that will be re-told in the new heavens and new earth.
June 22, 2016 by jmar198013
There’s a feedback loop between fellowship and generosity. That’s how the Jesus model of generosity works. And that’s what Paul hoped the Judean Poor Relief Fund would accomplish: bonding the Jewish and Gentile churches together as a family. A big, diverse, messy, rich, robust family that shows the world how generous God is.
When we follow the Jesus model of generosity—the self-giving way, the way of sharing-as-fellowship—it changes us. It transforms our hearts, our worldview, our values. We discover that our most valuable treasures are found in each other. And, like the man said: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
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June 17, 2016 by jmar198013
To say that the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is good news because it means that there is a new creation. And this new creation is possible because the fallen creation died with Christ; and when he rose, he brought a new creation with him. And in this new creation, everyone and everything is reconciled to God. This is a very big, very good gospel.
I want to celebrate this very big, very good news. I want us to celebrate the gospel—this gospel—together. But I suspect that some of you might be sniffing around this very good gospel for horse manure. And that’s okay. Some days, I do, too. So if any of you are thinking, “Preacher, either Paul was full of it; or you are; or both of you are”; I get it. That’s totally understandable.
When we look around our world, everything doesn’t look reconciled, does it? When we examine our lives, everything doesn’t feel reconciled, does it?
Some preachers will just tell you not to trust what your eyes can plainly see; what you have learned from experience; or what your heart already knows. But there is a very real tension between what Paul has told us, and what we see and feel and experience every day. It would be dishonest of me; or of you; or anyone, to deny that this tension exists.
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June 3, 2016 by jmar198013
The vulnerable places in our lives don’t have to be places of shame or blame or anxiety or endless frustration. They can be the very places where God’s awesome power pours into our lives, and baptizes every bit of us in his transforming grace.
A wise old rabbi named Bob Dylan once said: “Ain’t no use jiving, ain’t no use joking: everything is broken.”
A few years later, another wise old rabbi named Leonard Cohen answered: “There is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in!”
According to Paul, that’s how the light gets out, too.
May 27, 2016 by jmar198013
The church just isn’t the church without forgiveness. After all, we Christians understand ourselves first of all (or at least we should) as people who need to be—and have been—forgiven by God. But then what does forgiveness mean? Does it mean, for instance, that once an apology has been offered and accepted, everything goes back to how it was before? Is forgiveness a reset button? Must we forget what we have forgiven? Or do victims get a say in setting future boundaries? Are there conditions that need to be met in order for forgiveness to take place? If we insist that victims extend unconditional forgiveness, isn’t that grace for the offender, and law for the victim?
Pentecost: Out of the shadow of Babel (Genesis 11.1-9; Acts 2.1-21; Romans 8.14-17) [Sermon 05-15-2016, Pentecost 2016)Leave a comment
May 13, 2016 by jmar198013
The church is God’s alternative to what we see in a world that lives in the shadow of Babel. A world where people mistrust and fear each other for their differences. A world that routinely disintegrates into fiery conflicts and violence and wars. The church lives in the world as God’s new creation, God’s new humanity. Gathered together by the Holy Spirit in Christ, where “there is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3.28). Although we have been scattered in the world by race and color and gender and language and culture and social status, at Pentecost God began to gather us all into a new family. A family where we learn that our differences don’t have to tear us apart, but can be a source of strength. We all have so much to learn from each other. As God calls us into his family, this new creation, we each bring our particular stories; experiences; ideas; dreams; hurts; hangups; traditions; and perspectives with us. We are never called to leave those at the door when we are adopted into God’s new family. We are called to live and move and work together in Christ; to “accept one another” as Christ accepted us (Rom. 15.17); and “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4.3).