Rev. Nathan Russell came to bring us the good word from Matthew 25:31-46 -- Jesus' last substantive teaching before his arrest and execution. Reading the gospel before the sermon, Nathan asked the church to withhold their "Thanks be to God" following the reading and instead answer two questions: "Is it true?" "Is it meaningful?" When he asks those questions again at the end of the sermon, I guarantee nobody's answers were the same as the first time.
Filtering by Category: Post-Pentecost 2014
Virgins and lamps, slaves and money... Jesus has us scratching our heads when he says God's reign, God's impending future, is like these. Maybe we have to figure out what he's not saying before we take a stab at what he is saying. Matthew 25:1-30. Yeah, read the whole thing.
We're in those pesky parables offered by Jesus in Jerusalem, the power center of his world, where he is making enemies faster than you can say "wicked tenants." Matthew 21:33-46.
We're back into Jesus' parables, drawn this time from the set that comes late in Matthew's gospel. We're trying to learn to see the world (and its people) the way God sees it (and us). It's very strange, how this "landowning man" does business. Read Matthew 20:1-16 where Jesus quotes Bob Dylan. Or something like that.
We finished up our worship series on the Lord's Prayer, reading Matthew 6:6-13 for the umpteenth time until we've almost got it -- get this -- memorized! Leah Jordan, a third-year student at Brite Divinity School, joined us to talk about the final petitions of the prayer: "Lead us not into [temptation, the time of trial]; deliver us from [evil, the evil one, the brokenness of everything]." It wasn't an easy assignment, and we'll be thinking about her words for long time to come. The prayer, like God's mercies, like our lives, is new every day. Thanks, Leah.
"On earth as it is in heaven," we pray. So what does that mean about heaven? And what does that mean about earth? Wherein a plane ride with a fellow believer helps us clarify what we do, and don't, hope for our future with God.
We began worship in our brand-new space with a contemplation of the first lines of the Lord's Prayer: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name." Hallowing, holy-ing, remembering that God is God and we are not. And we asked God to hallow the theater by praying all over it -- backstage, the balcony, even the bathrooms.
A well-known homiletician says the most important part of the sermon is the first paragraph; within a few lines people decide whether to keep listening or check out. So this sermon begins with maybe the best/worst first paragraph ever. Exodus ends in Galatians: "For freedom Christ has set us free!" We read selections from Galatians 5 -- see the photos below.
Here was our communion devotion for the service with Exodus 16. Wowie kazowie.
Tonight we skipped ahead in our story, reading all of Exodus 16. "Freedom from Pharaoh's economy" was our theme. We made pillows. You'll see why.
We're making progress through the Exodus story, and landed here on Mount Horeb with Moses and that spontaneously combusting-but-not-consumed shrubbery. We read Exodus 3:1–4:5, then sang the strangest song I've ever had the pleasure of yelping along with in worship. Then a sermon about the ineffable Deity we like to call God.
Listen to the strange and perfect song here.
Continuing our reading of Exodus, we took a chunk from the latter half of chapter 2 (verses 11-25), a piece of the story not often told. Moses is a confused adult, driven to rage and exile by his identity crisis. Hebrew? Egyptian? Who is he?
And who are these people he leaves behind, the suffering slaves that are Moses' biological kin? They have been "Hebrews" up to now, ethnically kin but fragmented from each other. By the end of the chapter, they will be "Israelites," one people united in suffering, heirs to the promise of God to their ancestors. How do they change from one to the other?
God promises us freedom from isolation and fragmentation. Pinky swear.
And now, Exodus. The prequel for Moses, 1:8–2:10. Before anybody says, "Let my people go," five women have to say, "Let this baby live." Can they do it? You bet your buttons. Our service was about "freedom from helplessness."
Tonight we started a new worship series, "For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free: Stories from the Exodus." But we weren't quite ready to read Exodus. We started with a condensed version of the Genesis-to-Exodus narrative from Psalm 105. We read the whole darn thing, and so should you before you listen.
Also, we had a worksheet. Fun times. (One of those Hs should be a Z. Bonus points if you find it.)