Wineskins of Faith – March 8, 2015

OT Lesson: Ezekiel 16:53-60 NT Lesson: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Gospel Lesson: Luke 5:27-39 During Lent, we have been looking at the issue of discipleship and how we can use these 40 days to grow in Grace and perhaps set some new priorities for our lives. Most of you know I am drawn to the writings of American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr who is perhaps best known for his study of the task of relating the Christian Faith to the realities of modern politics and diplomacy. An example is what he said of the Ku Klux Klan: “It is one of the worst specific social phenomena which the religious pride of peoples has ever developed.” He singled out the KKK as representative of a broader issue within the Christian Faith, which he labeled ‘frantic orthodoxy’. As I have mentioned several times,  according to Niebuhr, frantic orthodoxy – like many examples of self-righteousness – distorts itself through a layered prism The quote – so insightful and so true “Frantic orthodoxy,” said Niebuhr, “is never rooted in faith, but in doubt. When we are not sure, we are doubly sure.” Indeed, frantic orthodoxy frequently masquerades as the Christian Faith’s true religion – always with hurtful and harmful results. Frantic orthodoxy stands in stark contract to discipleship. You may remember our definition of discipleship we discussed a few weeks: Discipleship is ‘a willingness to learn new things.’ Discipleship thrives on revelation as we grow ever-closer to Jesus. But, in keeping with the Adversary’s methods, frantic orthodoxy can seem so appropriate; so logical; so necessary.  Jesus had returned to Galilee, the region of His upbringing....
Gifts for the Journey (Epiphany)

Gifts for the Journey (Epiphany)

OT Lesson: Psalm 103: 1-22 NT Lesson: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 Gospel Lesson: Luke 12: 22-31 Reading of the Magi account: Matthew 2: 1-12   To set the record straight – the Magi were not at the manger. They did not arrive the night of Jesus’ birth. Recall Matthew’s account; ‘when they came into the house….they gave their gifts.’ Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem for the census. Joseph likely worked as late as he could – to earn as much as he could – causing a late start from Nazareth, hence a late arrival at Bethlehem, and at least one night spent in the barn due to overcrowding. Roman rule required payment of all due taxes prior to returning home.  So while in Bethlehem, Joseph probably took some odd-jobs of carpentry to earn enough to pay the tax and have sufficient money for the journey home. Meantime, he found lodging in a house. We are not sure how much time had passed – not really important – but it is interesting that the Wise Men were not there on the birth-night. These Wise Men – astrologers – had probably been en route from the Far East (Iran/Iraq…some authorities cite Africa and China) for two years, as evidenced by Herod’s infanticide decree that all male Hebrew babies two years old and younger in-and-around Bethlehem be killed. Astronomers have for years written of a supernova that appeared in the skies over Palestine around 4 – 6 BC, remaining visible for approximately two years. Of course, the main point is the Wise Men got there, and offered their gifts and their...