Category Archives: Holy Spirit
May 11, 2017 by jmar198013
May 6, 2017 by jmar198013
The work of the church is to continue what God and Jesus and Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch began. To “take up the cause of all the black sheep,” the ones who have been considered unclean and excluded from God’s people. To bring them to the Good News of God’s salvation—that God has heard them crying out in their shame and humiliation. That they are not strangers to God. That God knows and loves all his children. That Jesus has borne their shame and rejection in his cross. That in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ, Father God has “embraced the company of the lowest.” Our work as the church is to keep fulfilling Isaiah 56 through the Good News of Isaiah 53. We need to know who the foreigners and eunuchs of our time are to do this. I believe we are wise enough to know this.
Because the bottom line is, God has embraced the church in our shame and uncleanness through the waters of baptism. And Jesus’ word to us is the same as it ever was: Do unto others as I have done for you.
April 26, 2017 by jmar198013
Many look to the book of Acts as a blueprint for how the church ought to be, but it’s really more of a portrait of how the church was–and often is.
Luke makes sure we see both the low points and the high spots of the first decades of the church. We see some of these in our lesson today, as the church deals with a problem of neglect of minority widows; overwhelmed (and out of touch?) leadership; and the brutal lynching of one of its ministers. These stories all show us both low points and high spots in the life of the early church.
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December 3, 2016 by jmar198013
Joel’s prophecy begins with terror–fields and vineyards stripped bare by locusts, and the threat of the Day of the LORD, when God will come to shake things up. But it ends with hope–not only will God restore what the locusts took, but he promises a day of hope for all flesh, and all creation, when all will be restored. The season of Advent likewise points us back to a dark time, when a poor man and woman lay their vulnerable firstborn son in a feeding trough. But that child was God’s visitation, bringing hope to all peoples and all creation. Thus is hope born in us, and through us, the world.
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September 1, 2016 by jmar198013
One of the passages Jesus drew upon when the devil tempted him was Deut. 6.16: “Don’t test the LORD your God the way you frustrated him at Massah.” This refers back to an event that happened in Exodus 17. The people came to a place where there was no water, and were afraid God had left them to die of thirst. They lost faith in God, and were about ready to kill Moses. Testing God means refusing to trust that our Father is good and generous and just, and at work in our lives and in his world. It means giving up on God and going our own way. If Jesus had succumbed to any of the devil’s temptations: turned the stones to bread; enforced his will through political means; or stunned people into submission with self-promoting miracles; if Jesus had done any of those things, he would have been testing God. Because that’s not the way God had made for him. God gave Jesus the way of suffering with people and serving them. Not the way of self-promotion and self-service. Jesus still had to go through the Exodus of death and resurrection. To lead us all through the Red Sea of his blood to set us free, and bring us to the home God has promised us.
May 21, 2016 by jmar198013
God has called the church to be communities of comfort. In our day and time, we might mistake that to mean a community where we are made comfortable. A gated community where everyone is making a comfortable living. And we all come home to the latest and best creature comforts. And if anything we’ve experienced that day has made us uncomfortable, we can smother it in comfort food. The problem with that idea of comfort is that it makes us ignore or bury our own troubles and suffering. And soon enough, we will also be ignoring or minimizing the troubles and sufferings of our neighbors.
The comfort Paul talks about in our reading today doesn’t end with us. It’s not a vaccine against suffering. It doesn’t blind us to someone else’s troubles, or deafen us to their cries. No, the comfort Paul wrote about comes through “Christ’s sufferings,” and from the “compassionate Father.” The basis is suffering and compassion. Fred Buechner said that “compassion is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” The comfort that comes to us from the compassionate Father through the suffering Son makes us unable to ignore someone else’s troubles or sorrows. Remember, “God comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble.”
If you have received comfort that doesn’t move you to reach out to someone else, you may not have received that comfort from God.