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Showing posts from June, 2012

This is NOT Independence Sunday

Reprise:
Reprinted (with minor changes) from 2009:http://www.michaeljgorman.net/2012/06/29/reprise-this-is-not-independence-sunday/

In some U.S. churches, at least some Methodist churches (and I suspect others), this Sunday’s bulletin will announce that it is Independence Sunday—perhaps along with something else (like the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost), or perhaps not.

But it is not Independence Sunday, because that liturgical day does not exist, or at least should not exist. “Independence Sunday” is an American invention, an example of American civil religion: the inappropriate Americanizing of Christianity and Christianizing (in some vague, superficial sense) of America.

The misnaming of the Sunday nearest July 4 is a theological mistake in at least three specific ways. First, it nationalizes a calendar (the liturgical or church calendar) and a day that belong to the entire Christian church. “The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost” or “The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time” or simply “The Lord…

Moses as Spiritual Director (3)

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I. Adolescence/Numbers (6/26/12)
Theme: Rocky Road to the Promised Land

1. Numbers has two parts in terms of

-action (preparation for leaving Sinai [10:10] and the journey itself [10:11-36:13]) and
-two generations (those who left Egypt with Moses [chs.1-25] and the generation after them [chs.26-36])

2. The preparation section shows the care with which YHWH has organized the people and provided for their needs.

a. They journey now with YHWH at their center (tabernacle) and as an Exodus-people (the cloud of God’s presence which had been with them since the Exodus)
b. “swing”-like dynamic: we lean back (into the center, toward the tabernacle and worship) and kick forward (journey outward) at the same time.
c. To go “farther” we have to go “deeper”!


3. Problems on the journey:

a. “Massah and Meribah” complaining (chs.10-11, 20, 21)
Against Lord’s wisdom and provision
b. Leadership revolt (ch.12) & Priestly revolt (ch.16)
Against his chosen leaders
c. Spies’ failure of nerve (ch.1…

Essential Components of Missional Community - Mike Breen

In the last year, I believe we’ve most simply honed it down to these 5 essential ingredients of a Missional Community:

• Size of an extended family. A missional family is best understood in the range of 20-50 people, as it is small enough to care but large enough to dare. From much experience, I’d say it can be difficult to sustain long-term missional activity for a group smaller than this.

• UP/IN/OUT. Intentionally lives out the three dimensions of Jesus’ life. UPward dimension of life with the Father, INward dimension of life with the Body of Christ together, OUTward dimension of fully stepping into a broken world.

• Clear mission vision. Who is this Missional Community trying to bring the Kingdom of God to? The most successful MC’s have a very clear answer that could only be true of their group.

• Lighweight/Low maintenance. If the Missional Community can’t be led by people with normal 9-5 jobs who aren’t paid to do it, it’s not lightweight and low maintenance enough. It’s got to…

Moses as Spiritual Director (2)

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These are my notes for my series on "Moses as Spiritual Director" at Corinth Presbyterian Church in Parker, TX (6/24/12-6/26/12)





I. Birth/Exodus and Childhood/Leviticus (6/25/12)

1. Birth/Exodus
Theme: Freed by Grace, Freed for Gratitude, Accompanied by Glory (29:43-46)

a. Three Crises

i. Who will Israel serve? (3:1-15:21): Pharaoh or YHWH? Pharaoh’s building project or YHWH’s?
ii. How will Israel serve YHWH? (15:22-24:18): Its Own Wisdom and Way or YHWH’s Wisdom and Way?
iii. Why Israel serves YHWH? (25:1-40:38): To participate in his building project

b. Mosaic Covenant

i. The Nature of the Covenant
Grace-based (20:2)
ii. The Nucleus of the Covenant
Idolatry (20:3-17)
iii. The Nurture of the Covenant
Freedom (for God and others)

c. Moses as God’s partner

i. Builds on Abraham’s profile but goes beyond him
ii. Begins in reluctance (chs.3-4) but ends in friendship (33:11)
iii. He has to be a “god-with-you” kind of person (18:19)
iv. Comes to full maturity and recipr…

Moses as Spiritual Director - Conception/Genesis

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These are my notes for my series on "Moses as Spiritual Director" at Corinth Presbyterian Church in Parker, TX (6/24/12-6/26/12)



I. What is the Bible & Conception/Genesis (6/24/12)

1. What is a “Spiritual Director”
a. A friend who walks with us following Jesus, listening to our stories, sharing his with us, and pointing to where we can find God.
b. Moses served this as well as many other roles for Israel.

2. As Christians, we read Moses’ writings through the lens of the cross and resurrection of Jesus and the end of the story God began with his people at creation.

3. We can look to the end (the book of Revelation) to see how the story ends and to show us what’s important to watch for as we read.

a. Revelation – Genesis

b. Revelation: new creation/new Jerusalem – temple
Genesis: first creation/garden temple (people)
c. Revelation: God dwells w/his people on new creation
Genesis: God rests on Sabbath and “walks” with Adam and Eve (God’s presence)

4. Learnings

a. …

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 13th Ordinary (Day 2)

Psalm 130

130 I cry out to you from the depths, LORD—
2 my Lord, listen to my voice!
Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!
3 If you kept track of sins, LORD—
my Lord, who would stand a chance?
4 But forgiveness is with you—
that’s why you are honored.
5 I hope, LORD.
My whole being hopes,
and I wait for God’s promise.
6 My whole being waits for my Lord—
more than the night watch waits for morning;
yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!
7 Israel, wait for the LORD!
Because faithful love is with the LORD;
because great redemption is with our God!
8 He is the one who will redeem Israel
from all its sin.


From The Message:
1-2 Help, GOD—the bottom has fallen out of my life! Master, hear my cry for help!
Listen hard! Open your ears!
Listen to my cries for mercy.

3-4 If you, GOD, kept records on wrongdoings,
who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
and that's why you're worshiped.

5-6 I pray to GOD—my life a prayer—

The church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 13th Ordinary (Day 1)

2 Samuel 1:1,17-27

1 After Saul’s death, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, he stayed in Ziklag two days.
17 Then David sang this funeral song for Saul and his son Jonathan. 18 David ordered everyone in Judah to learn the Song of the Bow. (In fact, it is written in the scroll from Jashar.)
19 Oh, no, Israel! Your prince lies dead
on your heights.
Look how the mighty warriors
have fallen!
20 Don’t talk about it in Gath;
don’t bring news of it
to Ashkelon’s streets,
or else the Philistines’ daughters
will rejoice;
the daughters of the uncircumcised
will celebrate.
21 You hills of Gilboa!
Let there be no dew or rain on you,
and no fields yielding grain offerings.
Because it was there
that the mighty warrior’s shield
was defiled—
the shield of Saul!—
never again anointed with oil.
22 Jonathan’s bow never wavered
from the blood of the slain,
from the gore of the warriors.
Never did Saul’s sword return empty…

The Rise of Popularism

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/opinion/sunday/friedman-the-rise-of-popularism.html
Op-Ed Columnist

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: June 23, 2012 188 Comments

TRAVELING in Europe last week, it seemed as if every other conversation ended with some form of this question: Why does it feel like so few leaders are capable of inspiring their people to meet the challenges of our day? There are many explanations for this global leadership deficit, but I’d focus on two: one generational, one technological.

Let’s start with the technological. In 1965, Gordon Moore, the Intel co-founder, posited Moore’s Law, which stipulated that the processing power that could be placed on a single microchip would double every 18 to 24 months. It’s held up quite well since then. Watching European, Arab and U.S. leaders grappling with their respective crises, I’m wondering if there isn’t a political corollary to Moore’s Law: The quality of political leadership declines with every 100 million new users of Face…

“Christian” Ideas that Aren’t (9)

1. “I’m more of a New Testament Christian.”
2. “The Old Testament is legalistic and about law; the New Testament is about love and grace.
3. “God helps those who help themselves.”
4. “Those who do not work should not eat.”
5. “Minds are like umbrellas. They work best when open.”
6. “My faith is private/personal and nobody else’s business.”
7. “We need to be more spiritual.”
8. “I was saved when I first believed in Jesus.”
9. “In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you believe. It only matters that you are sincere.”

Well, there’s an easy answer to rebut this unfortunately widespread sentiment: Adolf Hitler. He sincerely believed what he believed. And he acted on it! That’s what makes this statement so dangerous. Those who sincerely believe in something, act on it. It can’t remain merely an intellectual belief. Sincerity at least means that we do what we sincerely believe. This statement seems to trade on some such view of sincerity as a kind of mental or emotional state th…

Australians Lose Their Faith

By Shani Raja
http://blogs.wsj.com/dispatch/2012/06/21/australians-lose-their-faith/

Australia is turning its back on religion.

That’s the latest finding from a census completed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which shows more than one-fifth of the nation’s 21.5 million inhabitants now claim to follow no religion at all.

Compare that with the first census taken a century ago, when a broadly similar grouping—including agnostics and atheists—made up just 0.3% of the 4.5 million population. Or with the U.S., where a comparable 2008 survey found just 1.5% claiming not to follow a faith.

Australia’s 4.8 million nonreligious in the 2011 census was also about a million more than was recorded five years earlier at the last national headcount.

Proponents of religion frequently promote it as a route to happiness. But in Australia, whose prosperity has soared in recent years thanks to a mining boom fueled by developing Asia, some believe it might be the country’s rising level of contente…

More "Uncommon" Sense on the creed!

Friday, 22 June 2012
On the virgin birth: or, why it's better to say the creed than to criticise it
Ben Myers (http://www.faith-theology.com/2012/06/on-virgin-birth-or-why-its-better-to.html)

I got an email from someone the other day about a post I wrote (seven years ago!) where I cast aspersions on the "historical" value of the New Testament's virgin birth narratives.

I sent a reply email, and since I felt ashamed when I read that old post, I thought I'd reproduce my reply here:

Barth's famous discussion of the virgin birth is in Church Dogmatics I/2, the section on 'The Miracle of Christmas'. Barth always insists that acts of divine revelation are 'not historical'. But he doesn't mean they never happened. All he means is that revelation is a unique event, an act of God. It's not part of the normal historical sequence, it doesn't belong to a chain of cause-and-effect, and so there's no use trying to verify or disprove it on h…

"Uncommon" sense about atonement.

On Divine Child Abuse
June 22, 2012 By scotmcknight (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/06/22/on-divine-child-abuse/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PatheosJesusCreed+%28Blog+-+Jesus+Creed%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher)

About a decade ago it became avant garde theology to contend the classical Christian theory of atonement was nothing less than divine child abuse. That is, the image of a Father punishing a Son, or exacting retribution at the expense of his own Son, or punishing a Son for the good of others — each of these became a way of deconstructing classical atonement theory. Unfortunately, this approach works from a very simplistic image: a father, a son, and a brutal death and attributes intention to the father as one who brutalizes a son. As an image, it connotes abuse. The image, however, abuses the Bible’s image. (Art is from Rebel God.)

What fell into place after this theory was up for grabs, but one “atonement theory” tha…

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 12th Ordinary (Day 4)

Mark 4:35-41

35 Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36 They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
37 Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. 38 But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
39 He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. 40 Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
41 Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”


Here is a parable for the church in North America today.

Jesus calls his disciples to follow him across to the other side of the lake. Entering a boat, a frequent symbol of the church, the group leaves the crowd behind and launches out on …

The 'me' epidemic

June 21, 2012
Scott Benhase (http://www.faithandleadership.com/blog/06-21-2012/scott-benhase-the-me-epidemic)

In last spring’s issue of “The Hedgehog Review,” Thomas de Zengotita writes about what he calls “the flattery of representation.” He writes: “We have been consigned by it to a new plane of being, a new kind of life-world, an environment of representations of fabulous quality and inescapable ubiquity, a place where everything is addressed to us, everything is for us, and nothing is beyond us anymore” (emphasis added).

Zengotita contends that ubiquitous media flatter us with attention. We get our own personal mobile ring tones and our choice of individualized media when we go online. In this age, life is designed to focus on us and for us. As social media leads to social movements like MoveOn or the Tea Party, it thrives because it creates the illusion that each participant is indispensably at the center of the movement.

The reality, of course, is different. Each participant is…

My Prejudices vs Your Prejudices

Into the Expectation (Matt Gunter)
http://intotheexpectation.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-prejudices-vs-your-prejudices.html
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The difference between my prejudices and your prejudices is that my prejudices (convictions and values so obvious they don’t need explaining) don’t really count as prejudices. They are just the way reasonable, intelligent, faithful [insert whatever self-congratulatory designation suits you] people know things to be. Thus, those who don’t see it that way must be operating out of sin, ignorance, or blind prejudice. And it is, therefore, not mean when we refer to you as ignorant, stupid, afraid, or nefarious. We are merely stating the truth.

This is how most contemporary political rhetoric sounds to me.

It is how a fair amount of Facebook status updates sound to me - whether the prejudices reflected are conservative or liberal/progressive.

Even more sadly, it is also how too much of the 'conversation' on church blogs and listserves sound…

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 12th Ordinary (Day 1)

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

6 1 Since we work together with him, we are also begging you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 He says, I listened to you at the right time, and I helped you on the day of salvation. Look, now is the right time! Look, now is the day of salvation!
3 We don’t give anyone any reason to be offended about anything so that our ministry won’t be criticized. 4 Instead, we commend ourselves as ministers of God in every way. We did this with our great endurance through problems, disasters, and stressful situations. 5 We went through beatings, imprisonments, and riots. We experienced hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger. 6 We displayed purity, knowledge, patience, and generosity. We served with the Holy Spirit, genuine love, 7 telling the truth, and God’s power. We carried the weapons of righteousness in our right hand and our left hand. 8 We were treated with honor and dishonor and with verbal abuse and good evaluation. We were seen as both fake and real, 9 as u…

When Is the End Not “the End”? (10)

Karl Barth gives beautiful expression to the “already/not yet” eschatological dynamic that pervades and structures the New Testament and Christian existence.

“The war is at an end – even though here and there troops are still shooting, because they have not heard anything yet about the capitulation. The game is won, even though the player can still play a few further moves. Actually he is already mated. The clock has run down, even though the pendulum still swings a few times this way and that. It is in this interim space that we are living: the old is past, behold it has all become new. The Easter message tells us that our enemies, sin, the curse and death, are beaten. Ultimately they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we must cease to fear them anymore. If you have heard the Easter message, you can no longer run around with a tragic face and lead the humourless …

When Is the End Not “the End”? (10)

Karl Barth gives beautiful expression to the “already/not yet” eschatological dynamic that pervades and structures the New Testament and Christian existence.

“The war is at an end – even though here and there troops are still shooting, because they have not heard anything yet about the capitulation. The game is won, even though the player can still play a few further moves. Actually he is already mated. The clock has run down, even though the pendulum still swings a few times this way and that. It is in this interim space that we are living: the old is past, behold it has all become new. The Easter message tells us that our enemies, sin, the curse and death, are beaten. Ultimately they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we must cease to fear them anymore. If you have heard the Easter message, you can no longer run around with a tragic face and lead the humourless …

Must be a Red Sox fan!

Fan falls asleep at a Yankee game only to become a section 231 legend. New standing record is 3 full size souvenir cups standing for at least a 3 count. In order to beat record, at least one participant must be passed out and unaware of the cup stack. Good luck to all who take part in the cup stacking phenomenon...

When Is the End Not “the End”? (9)

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 12th Ordinary (Day 1)

Psalm 133
133Look at how good and pleasing it is
when families live together as one!
2 It is like expensive oil poured over the head,
running down onto the beard—
Aaron’s beard!—
which extended over the collar of his robes.
3 It is like the dew on Mount Hermon
streaming down onto the mountains of Zion,
because it is there that the Lord has commanded the blessing:
everlasting life.
May it please the Lord that this be so for God’s people and God’s world!

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 12th Ordinary (Day 1)