Ransom. Substitution. Satisfaction. Words that we can define that describe Jesus' death on the cross. They just don't do much for our spirit. Expiation. Propitiation. Words that not many of us can define that do the same thing. Still nothing for our spirit. What words can we use to understand the atonement and draw us closer to God?
Wrath is a rather ominous word. I wasn't sure what ominous meant actually, so I looked it up. Here are some synonyms: threatening, menacing, fateful. Those words definitely seem to capture some feelings we have about wrath. We think of Sodom and Gomorrah or the plagues of Egypt. No doubt thinking of wrath leads us to think about God. God seems threatening and menacing too.
To be righteous is to be committed to what is right. God is righteous. We can all agree on that. The question is, what is it that God is committed to? It makes a difference.
Gospel means good news. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote gospels (other people did too, but they aren't in the Bible). Some of the things they wrote don't sound very good. What's up?
Baptism is an important ritual in the Christian church. It represents a lot of the blessings and benefits that God promises. We know that Jesus was baptized. We know that Jesus instructed his disciples to baptize. But, did Jesus ever baptize anyone? If not, why not?
You'll notice the odd spelling of the title of this sermon. I received a number of comments pointing out the "typo." It's not, by the way. The question that prompted Sunday's sermon was, "Why do we talk about race so much?" More than once in the Bible you'll find that God's grace is closely tied to race.
During the 4th of July weekend, we celebrate our independence, our freedom. The TV and radio take the time to listen again to the voices of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and others who pushed this country toward liberty. Freedom is one of those things that Americans hold dear. But, is there a difference between American freedom and Christian freedom? What would Jesus and Paul insert into the American conversation about liberty?
Church growth seems to be all the rage these days. I guess it's always been a big deal, but it's just taken on different forms. There were new church starts to keep up with population growth, foreign missions, the mega-church movement. All of these have been good. And, now we have church planting again; not to keep up with population growth, but to reach the disenchanted. Also good. In the RCA it's called Church Multiplication and it's everywhere. In fact, it gets so much air time that established churches are left to wonder if the only churches considered successful are those that are growing and multiplying.
This Sunday, Easter Sunday, is about Jesus being raised. It's on this Easter Sunday that we celebrate the beginning of the new life that we found in Jesus Christ. Our goal today, is to stand with the women at the opening of the empty tomb to see if we can relate to their feelings of amazement and terror.
In this church last week, we talked about advocating for moral leaders, for people who would be humble enough to serve people rather than their own prestige. This week we'll be considering what it means to advocate for more faithful systems, whether they be immigration or any other type. In fact, this is one way to look at Jesus' triumphal entry.