Showing posts from February, 2016

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Amos (6)

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016
A God Whose Bark is Worse than His Bite – Amos (6)
Lent 18
The last phrase of Amos’ prophesying says all that really needs to be said. He has thundered and blustered on God’s behalf against the egregious faithlessness of his people Israel. He has sliced and diced them in every was imaginable. And all with perfect right. Every indictment he pressed against them was true. If this were merely a political arrangement, surely the Lord would have washed his hands of these ingrates. If it were merely a contractural agreement, God would have taken them to court to sue them for breach of contract.
If it were an economic relationship, God would have run them out of business and closed down their shop. But it is not any of those kinds of relationships. It is a family relationship. A marriage. An indissoluble bond between a utterly faithful groom and a largely unfaithful bride (remember Hosea 1-3). The groom is driven to the extremity of grief, disappointment, and de…

St. Paul and Consumer Society

by Peter J. Leithart 9 . 25 . 15

According to many contemporary scholars, the apostle Paul didn’t object to “Judaizers” because they taught that salvation is achieved by works. He objected because Judaizers tried to reverse history by imposing the requirements of the old Mosaic covenant on Gentile Christians. Circumcision, dietary laws, and other Jewish practices functioned as “boundary markers,” and Paul insisted that such badges of Jewishness were now relativized to a common identity in Christ. Judaizing disrupted the Church in which there is no “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.”
Some traditional Protestants regard this new reading of Paul with suspicion, partly because it seems to rob Paul’s letters of their timeless relevance. Luther’s Paul always has something to say, because self-salvation is a perennial temptation. But if Paul is addressing a problem specific to the first century, what does he have to say to us now? Can we preach a Paul who is centrally concerned w…

The Gospel You’ve Never Heard

hurch is a bad word in our society today. Or at least a word you don’t use in polite society anymore. Yet that’s what I’m going to talk about. I won’t always use the word but that’s my subject here. I hope at the end that it won’t seem like such a bad word to you.
he Bible tells this story as a drama in six acts: creation, catastrophe, covenant with Israel, Christ, covenant with Church, consummation.
Act 1: Creation
ere’s the deal. God, another bad word in many circles today, created the world and everything and all of us in it. God created it to be a home he could share with his human creatures forever. And the place where God dwells or intends to dwell is a temple.
he creation stories in Genesis picture the creation of the world as the construction of a temple.
-The Garden in Eden reflects the innermost sanctum of Solomon’s temple, the Holy of Holies. This is where God lives.
-Eden itself reflects the Holy Place.
-The world outside Eden, as yet uninhabited, is watered by the four ri…

The Mercy of God: An Excerpt From a Sermon of Karl Barth's Given in a Swiss Prison

For God has made all men prisoners, that he may have mercy upon all. (Romans 11.32)

"Since God's mercy is divine and not human, it is poured out on all people, as emphasized in our text. In his letter to the Romans Paul interprets this mercy by insisting that it is extended to Jews and the gentiles- to those near, or at least nearer, to God and those far away from him- to the so-called pious and the so-called unbelievers- to the so-called good and the so-called evil people- truly to all. God has mercy on all, though each in his own way. God's mercy is such as it described in the parable of the lost sheep, of the lost coin, and of the prodigal son.

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Amos (5)

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016
Response – Amos (5)
Lent 17
Israel’s history with God does not portend a welcome hearing of Amos’ message. As he has in previous sections of his book, the prophet highlights this by a repeated phrase in ch.4: “yet you did not return to me” (4:6,8,9,10,11). In spite of all God’s goodness lavished on his people, they repeatedly turned away from him. How is this possible? How could they (we, me) turn away again and again from such a prodigal lover? This is perhaps the most perplexing thing about us humans. And it testifies to the power of the all that opposes God’s and God’s way in our world. In particular, for Israel and for us, the power of wealth, comfort, and ease is perhaps the most seductive of them. No wonder, the prophets, and above all Jesus himself, warn against wealth’s seductive power, even treating it as a rival deity that challenges and cannot coexist with worship of the true God.
Ken Medema has sung this reality in his “By the Waters of Luxu…

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Amos (4)

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016
The Rhythm of Life - Amos (4)
Lent 14
Amos has sketched Israel’s life from its beginning as a nation due to God’s gracious intervention and rescue of them from Egypt. And his equipping and preparing them for life as his people through whom he will bless the rest of the world. And his promise of his own presence and power with them. Further, has detailed the manifold ways in which the people have failed him and their mission. These failures have occasioned the threat of a “day of the Lord” and the people don’t seem to realize the trouble they are in:
Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why do you want the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, not light;as if someone fled from a lion,
  and was met by a bear;
or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,
    and was bitten by a snake. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light,
    and gloom with no brightness in it? (5:18-20)
The rhythm of life, the way Israel is called to live, is st…

The Change We Should Believe In

Fr. Stephen Freeman 1 Comment

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2Co 3:18)
Among the many losses within modern Christianity has been the place of transformation. Nineteenth-century revival movements and theology emphasized a single experience that was associated with salvation. Those who concerned themselves with what came later, described growth in the Christian life as “sanctification,” and tended to imply that it was optional. Contemporary Christians have settled for a spiritual life in a plain brown wrapper ever since. Read more at
The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016

The Prophet Goes to Meddling! – Amos (3)
Lent 13
We’re okay with prophets as long as they’re goring someone else’s ox. But when they train they guns on us and our practices, well . . . it’s time to run them out of town. Especially if they are an outsider. And Amos was a southerner called not merely to preach but to meddle in the lives and affairs of the northern kingdom! And his meddling is specific and wide-ranging. And precisely in its specificity and comprehensiveness it hits home with us today in 21st century North America. The sheer volume of the indictments in Amos presses on the reader their seriousness. I have reproduced those sections below without comment. I invite you to reflect on them yourselves and feel their critique for whatever area of life they prick your heart and conscience about. “because they sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals—
they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth,