Salvation Among the Thorns

Salvation Among the Thorns

OT Lesson: Genesis 22:1-18 NT Lesson: Titus 2:11-14; 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 Gospel Lesson: John 1:19-34   “It cannot be utopia if I have no choice.” “I am not free if I have no voice.” “Can love be true if required?” Thus did my Humanities professor succinctly state in 3 sentences what has been argued through countless words in millions of books. From the political: there can be no real freedom if the participants have no real say. To the theological: The great risk of Eden was free will, without which there would be no Eden; only a lovely prison. To the personal: Forced fidelity cannot be foundational. Hence did the world see Communism’s real substance: touting 95% voter turnout for elections with but one candidate; The tragedy of the Fall: offered everything, human nature seems hell-bent on choosing nothing; The cosmic interplay between Grace and obedience: Grace is free. Abundant life comes only through discipleship. Grace is a gift of God. Abundant life is up to us. In the mystery and inscrutability of God’s being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth ; in this great mystery did God ordain the cycle of creation completely without input from me…or from you…or even from the super religious, or the super intellectual, or the rich, or the beautiful. But we risk much when we do not realize the same attention to detail that ordains creation of human life out of sperm and egg brings to bear that same intelligent divine energy to creating unseen realities such as love and hope – propitiation (a conciliatory offering) and atonement (reparation made for an...
The Breath of God

The Breath of God

Today is Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012, – when the Church commemorates the gifting of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and believers at Jerusalem soon after Jesus’ ascension. OT Lesson Genesis 1:26-27 Genesis 2:4-7 Genesis 4:13-14 Genesis 6:1-8 NT Lesson Acts 1:1-21 Gospel Lesson John 14:15-27 Pentecost was a feast of the ancient Hebrew people held each year on the 50th day after the offering of the 1st sheaf of barley harvest. Thus we can see in Pentecost when: -The Law was given from Mt. Sinai – after Israel’s salvation from Egyptian bondage. Perhaps we could call this the Letter of the Law. -The Advocate was given – after the Resurrection had procured our salvation from the bondage of human nature and sin. We could call this he Spirit of the Law. Perhaps these together complete ‘the breath of life’ – ‘the breath of God’. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ You can live some weeks without food. You can live some days without water. What about breath? The world-record is 8 minutes without breath. If you have ever been really short of breath you know of the distress; a quiet panic. All our body’s systems immediately react. Surely one of the most severe discomforts is to be short of breath; starved for oxygen; drowning. If you’ve ever been hospitalized, you’ve likely worn a device on your finger to measure your oxygen’s saturation rate. My research is that any number under 92% sets off alarms and any lower number is a big problem. If your sat rate is less than 90% you may be in big trouble. The point of course is any number...
Managing the Pendulum

Managing the Pendulum

OT Lesson: Isaiah 43:15-26; 44:1-5 NT Lesson Ephesians 4:17-24 Gospel Lesson: Luke 6:36-45   When Caroline and I were first married we lived in perhaps the most rural part of Alachua County. It was 9 miles to the nearest minute-market. We were building a deck across the entire back of the house, accessible from the family room on one side and our bedroom on the other. Barney and Alice and my father helped us build the frame and joists, and we were ready to put down the decking. We ordered enough 16’ 2X4’s to floor the deck from end-to-end; nearly 60 feet. We had a Jeep. Now Jeeps are great for pulling themselves almost anywhere, but with such a short wheelbase and notoriously under-powered, they are not much for pulling a trailer. I borrowed our neighbor’s flatbed trailer, hooked it behind the Jeep and drove to the Scotty’s lumber yard which was then on US 441 north in Gainesville. The lumber-yard crew said they would load the trailer while I went inside to pay. When I went back outside I did not check the load, assuming the crew knew how to properly load a big bunch of lumber. What I failed to see was that the lumber was too far toward the back of the trailer, creating a situation where there was little-or-no  tongue weight on the trailer hitch. I could feel the load as I eased out onto US 441, headed north toward SR 121. My speed was maybe 40 mph. The Jeep had a canvass top and I had taken the canvass doors off, so when I...
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...