Blog
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6   Entries 1-5 of 29
March 31, 2019, 12:00 AM

Choosing Wisdom


Grace and peace to you from the triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

Are you ready? I know most of you are, Not are you ready for some football? Not are you ready for nachos? Not are you ready to party like it is 1899, to quote Weird Al? No are you ready for the return of Jesus? Are you ready for the second coming of the Messiah? Are you ready to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

It is interesting because this passage does not tell us how to prepare for the kingdom of heaven. This passage does not contain the prescription for how to be ready. This passage makes almost no grand statements theologically other than to beg the question of whether you are ready for the return of Jesus. This passage does not tell you how to be saved. This passage simply asks are you saved. In Lutheran terms most of you here are saved because most of you here and maybe all, have been baptized. Baptism is the entrance rite to those who are the adopted children of God, thus if you are baptized you are ready. Baptism is the first half of how Jesus told us to get people ready for the kingdom eternal, the other half being teach them to be disciples.

I think however that this and the passage about the thief coming in the middle of the night speak to one group of people. Many of us have met these people. Most of us at a minimum know of these people. The people I am speaking of are the ones who are waiting until they are closer to death to make their piece with God. The people I am speaking about are those who are waiting until nearer the end to confess that their sins might be forgiven because they don't want to have to repent. Constantine was reported to have baptized all but his arm so that he could continue to fight with that arm. Jesus is coming and no man knows the day or the hour and thus we need to be ready when Jesus returns.

I think the application for us is not direct though because by extension we should not wait for many things. We should not wait to put our affairs in order because we do not know the hour we will be called to our eternal home. We should not wait to make amends to those we have harmed because we know not when we and sometimes more importantly when they will be called to the eternal home.

Think about this. Do you know someone who has said, and maybe it was yourself, but have you ever heard, why did they have to go and die, I had something more I needed to say to them. So we know not the day or the hour of Jesus' return but neither do we know the day or the hour a person is called to the eternal home. We need to maintain our affairs in decent order so that we do not have regret when others go. We also need to maintain our affairs in decent order because we do not know when we will be called to our eternal home.

Moving along, I think our first text is an interesting contrast. The text from proverbs is about wise action instead of being a cautionary tale. Our first text starts with “Wisdom built her house.” I could easily look at the immediate contrast of a text that talks about the ability to throw a feast and the planning that took. I could speak about how having the resources to do what was proposed here is not, “Oh I will get to it tomorrow” but instead the result of planning and doing today. In other words it would be easy to show that wise people go ahead and do what they can today and all of that is right there but it is the last line that caught my eye.

'Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.’

It is not so much that this says anything different that the passages above it but I think the wording spoke to some of what I see happening in the world around me. I am thinking of the youth culture in some ways but not in its entirety. We have all met that one person who continues to act like they are a teenager. We all know that one person that never quite grew up. We have all heard at some point in our adult life where a person was asked why they have not grown up. Part of our faith journey is about maturity. Part of our life journey is about maturity and no I am not talking about the shrivel and die maturity, I am talking about the maturity that comes with allowing ourselves to grow and mature into well form adults.

Ok, there are two groups of adults, those who are shriveled up curmudgeons and those who enjoy life in a much deeper way. There are those sad adults who give up their childish ways but never adopt something better and so are always grieving what they have given up. There are also those adults we see who truly enjoy life, they smell the roses, they play games, they laugh, they realize that being an adult means being serious WHEN APPROPRIATE but that there are things to be enjoyed and times for fun. Often being an adult is what allows us to slow down enough when eating to realized when we have had a tremendous meal. Being an adult allows us to play games, see movies, and go to concerts but also to go to work and earn a living and make sure food is on the table and the house is cleaned without resentment for the work. Being an adult often means the work becomes nourishing as well, especially if cooking means cooking for myself and others, especially if earning a living is also about making the world better for everyone, especially if earning a living allows you to spend free time caring for the needy or can be used to empower others to spend their time caring for the needy.

I have met those who have decided that they never want to grow up and on the whole while they wear it as a badge of honor. They dress like teenagers or children, they think like teenagers or children, they act like teenagers or children and my experience of them is that they are fearful of what they do not know and that they realize they are missing something by not growing up. I have met those who are basically old children and on the whole they are not the ones you go to for help because they tend towards undependable. There is in my experience good reason to prefer wisdom over being and old child.

Most of us here are adults and so what would that have to do with us. I think for those of us who have chosen the path of maturity and realize it is not about getting old and crusty, it is incumbent on us to help those coming behind us to see the benefits of maturity. Much like we need to learn to speak in general terms about what you gain from savings and not just how one day you can retire but how it empowers you to have a nicer car in the near term; We need to learn to speak about some of the benefits of maturity, like how clearer thinking and lower anxiety come from having taken care of things. We need to speak about how negotiating something seemingly unsolvable improved our outlook and world. We need to share how our temperance also brought us to places of joy but with out the later pain of hangover and regret. We need to talk about how emotional intemperance can be as damaging as intemperance with food and alcohol. There are many ways that maturity, for those of us who have chosen it, is far superior to being the permanent child in my experience we just need to be good at sharing that with others and helping them along.

I guess the conclusion for today is don't put off what you can do today but mostly because it will serve you well. Make sure you are ready whatever might come as best you can. And then help others to see the benefits that they to might gain by choosing the path of wisdom, doing today and being ready whatever might come. Amen. 

 




March 24, 2019, 12:00 AM

Invited to the Banquet


Grace and peace to you from the triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

How is your Lenten journey? If you are fasting has it helped to reconnect you with God? If you added a new spiritual discipline has that helped to improve your connection with God? Are you eagerly anticipating the coming holy week as we progress through the cross to Resurrection? Is this a special season in your world and if not is there another special season for you during the year?

I do not miss the winter cold, or shoveling snow or the roads becoming a great big slip and slide. I do miss crocus and daffodils, birds returning from their annual migration, and the budding of the trees that lost their leaves the previous fall. All these little signs that come from the change of the seasons in a northern climate are for me a help in making sense of the resurrection story. Seeing every year a death of sorts when all of the plants went away and the trees lost their leaves was always followed by a period of dormancy and then comes spring Easter story that there is a death and then a pause and then the resurrection. And it is through this whole cycle that we are born anew. It is through this whole cycle that we are gifted salvation . It is through this whole cycle that we gain new life.

What then shall we do with this new life? What changes from our old life? What does it mean for us that we, the wild olive branch, have been grafted onto the cultivated tree? We are asked to embrace salvation through our faith. We are asked to use our faith to help us lead better lives. We are asked to share our faith with others and in so doing to help others come to accept Christ into their lives. What has it meant for you to accept salvation? How are you leading a better life as a person of faith? When have you shared that faith with others? Not so very difficult questions to answer and yet some of us seem to come up short. At times we want to add a reservation on the end, an “out clause.” 

One of those “out clauses” I have heard is that we don't have what we need or know the words to speak. In the parable of the wedding banquet we see the common folk invited to the wedding. They were all expected to wear the appropriate attire for the day and the Host was to give them the wedding robe. Everything needed was provided by the host. In very much the same way we are give all the things we need to have for our salvation, to lead a better life and to share the gospel with others. You have everything you need to accomplish the things that God is asking of you. Much like the guests were given a wedding robe you have been gifted that kernel of faith that starts you on the journey. You are supposed to work on how you lead your life and God gives you both the strength and the instructions to do that. You are supposed to share your faith with others and in my experience a life well lived is uncommon enough that it creates its own starting points.

We already have all that we need and so if we are struggling then it is a matter of reconnecting with, becoming aware of the good nutrition we are receiving, becoming receptive to the lead from and open to the gifts of God. Having troubling with your faith then prayer and meditation helps you hear the Holy Spirit, which is already there. So the Holy Spirit is already present thus it is simply allowing ourselves to connect and that takes prayer and meditation. Having trouble sharing your faith? Does your day to day journey reflect an inward journey that is spent in the things of God? Maybe it is time to spend energy in reading the bible so that you have the ways of God more squarely in front of you, a reminder if you will of the ways of God.  Don't believe you are truly saved because God loves you and wants a relationship, no more, no less, then you are in the right spot and maybe more time in church activities will help you to hear that word of salvation, the message that you are saved by your faith and nothing more is necessary. We already have the resources we need to accomplish the things of faith if we will but avail ourselves of them.

And yet at some level this is the way of the world. There is a reason we have cartoons and commentaries in which the thing a person needs to survive or thrive is immediately next to them and they fail to see the gift, which is so very close to them. We have all heard stories of the blindness of people who do not see the provision they have and only complain about what they don't. We have all heard the stories of those who move forward refusing help of any kind and suffering for it, when help was not far from them and would have gladly chipped in. All to often this last one is wrapped up in pride and/or stubborn belief that we need no help and is prefaced with “I didn't want to be a burden.” Which reminds me of a quote I saw yesterday that spoke about nature. “Nothing in the Nature lives for itself. Rivers don't drink their own water. Trees don't eat their own fruit. Sun doesn't give heat for itself. Flowers don't spread fragrance for themselves.” and thus the reminder that we are to give by nature. Interestingly, sometimes in Lutheran and I suspect in other culturally European spaces, we are good at giving but not receiving. We talk about the difficulty of utilizing the resources provided by God because we want to figure out how we can do it of our own and the whole point is that we can not of our own power. We want to give gifts to others but we never become the willing recipient of the gifts others want to give us. Interestingly, sometimes we need to learn to receive the gifts of others and is this not the position we are in with God. We need to humble ourselves enough to understand that we can not do it of our own power and thus must ask for help, which will come from God.

We are given all the gifts we need to lead a faithful live. You have been given the faith you need. You have been given the tools you need. You have been given the opportunity to share. All you need to do is receive what has already been given. We have the church, the bible and the Holy Spirit, gifts that help us to accomplish that which is expected of us. So, how is your Lenten journey progressing.  Amen




March 17, 2019, 12:00 AM

God's way is not our way


Grace and Peace to you from the Triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

Happy St Patrick's Day. A day we far to often forget is the feast day for a saint who was a tremendous evangelist. Sometime I think he has been reduced to being the patron saint of green beer, shamrocks, corned beef & cabbage and all things we want to call Irish. The shamrocks interestingly at least by legend, were a metaphor for the trinity. We think of only leaf of clover even though the leaf has three lobes and thus it is with God that we have three faces but only one God. So, if we can learn from his example as one who shared the faith with others and who creatively used the world around themselves to explain who God is the I too believe we should celebrate this Bishop of old.

Speaking of Parables we have one from Jesus today. Jesus tells us the parable of the workers in the vineyard. People are called to work at varying times during the day with only the first workers of the day having an agree upon wage. Those who came along at 9am, Noon, 3pm and 5pm were only told they would receive something fair. But what did they receive. 1 Denarius, a days wage, which was enough to feed the family for one day. In other words the land owner made sure that all who worked made enough to feed their family for that day Those who had come early in the day thought that they should receive more even though they receive the wage they had agreed to before starting work.

This brings up and interesting question, “What is fair?” First we know that “fair” means something different in God's Kingdom than it tends to mean for us day in and day out. Here we have people all being given enough to eat for that day. We consistently pray give me enough for today or give me my daily bread and yet when there is only enough for today we get really antsy and uncomfortable.

There was a day in third grade that lives on in my head. I don't remember what exactly had happened but we were being punished as a class. Every person in the class had to suffer the consequences for the actions of one or a few in the class. I was so incensed and thought this so unjust, no having been committed an offense but being required to suffer the punishment that I protested. I apparently protested enough that the teach felt is necessary to poll the class to see if they thought I should be allowed to not serve the punishment, not having been part of the offense. They did not see it as unfair because all were treated equally. Now I can tell you that putting the question to the others was I still think unfair. If the teacher was going to punish all then simply stand up the the third grader and that probably was an injustice but sometimes the only fair way forward is to simply treat all people in exactly the same manner. Often treating all the same is the only way to correct an injustice or to make sure like in this case that all receive enough. Actually, I would go one step further and suggest that sometimes God's sense of justice requires that people who don't deserve be given what they need anyhow. Yes sometimes justice requires that people who don't deserve are given the gift.

You may be protesting in your head that it is unfair to give people something they do not deserve and yet I would simply ask you what you have done to deserve salvation. What action on your part helps you to merit the salvation that God has freely given you through your baptism into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Nothing is the answer. There is nothing we can do to merit the salvation offered through Christ. That is one of the cores of Lutheran theology and grace. It has been argued that even the kernel of faith necessary to initially accept our salvation is a gift from God. No of us are righteous because of what we have done. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All have sinned or done things that separate us from the love of God and yet we are all brought back into the family. So, in one sense it is not fair that all receive things they did not deserve and yet sometimes the just answer is to give everyone equal portions.

Yes this is about salvation but it is also about economic distribution. They payment of wages before the sunset was a requirement of the law as we read in Deuteronomy. We also read that while taking and item in pledge for a loan if it will deprive a poor person of their blanket at night then you need to return it to them before they need it. As if to note that economics are part of the equation here and yes I mean like dollar and cent economics and instruction for those of us who are part of both living on God's green earth and the kingdom of heaven. Today's parable follows immediately after a short segment where they disciples talked about all they gave up to follow Jesus and Jesus telling them they will receive something far more valuable. This commentary by the disciples comes after the parable about the rich young man who was told to sell it all and given his entire wealth to the poor. So, yes there is a component of sell it all and give it to the poor and/or give everyone enough to eat whether they deserve it or not. For those who worry that people won't try if they are given this can be a truly grievous thing. For those who have lots and feel led to give up wealth so it can be distributed to those who might not work as hard this can seem terribly unfair and yet that is God's justice, to use those who have plenty and do well to ensure those who do not have enough get what they need. And when we think it unfair that those who do not receive are given then we are reminded again and again and again of the economics related to our salvation and how none are deserving and all have fallen short of the glory of God. Don't worry if this is difficult to digest, the rich young man who came to Jesus talking about all he had done correctly and then was told to sell it all did not like what Jesus was saying either. As if though to confirm this is not a joke immediately after it we are shown the story of the disciples who upon noting all they had given up are told “and because of that you will inherit eternal life.”

All I have to say in closing is to remember when you read the bible and it seems out of sink with the world you know and what you have been taught, you are probably right that it does not match the ways of the world. It does not match the sense of justice found in the world. The ways of God, which we are to emulate, are not the ways of the world and yet we are no less called to follow them in all we do. Amen.

 




March 10, 2019, 12:00 AM

Women of the Bible and Church


Grace and peace to you from the Triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

I wanted to lift up that Friday was International Women's Day, traditionally an opportunity to celebrate women as people and to work for equality and suffrage (or the right to vote). It was first held February 28, 1909 and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. It quickly spread to many countries and in 1911, one million women celebrated the day in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. Originally it was celebrated on the last Sunday in February. More recently it is celebrated on March 8, which was the Sunday in 1914 when it was held in Germany. Interestingly, March 8 was the day that women gained the right to vote in Russia in 1917.  Since 1975 it has been adopted as a global celebration by the United Nations and has been expanding ever since. Now with corporate sponsorship some accuse it of promoting only the feel good messages and not the real challenges surrounding issues of equality and justice. The UN theme for International Women's Day 2019 was: 'Think equal, build smart, innovate for change'. The focus of the theme is on innovative ways in which to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

I bring this up simply because as the Church we are called to work for justice. This is one of the movements that has tried to do this for women, one of the often marginalized groups in many societies. It is only since the 1970's in the United States for instance that marriage and property laws started to be equalized in a way that allows women to be self supporting and to leave a marriage with what they brought to the marriage and/or some portion of the combined wealth. In our own time we know that the pay rate for equal work is not the same between the two genders. The situation is improving and there is work yet to be done. This is the situation in a well developed, industrial country where the attitudes are relatively favorable toward women but is certainly not the global standard. In fairness, some governments are not following the sentiment of their people but instead leading the way with laws that seek to move the reality and the social understanding of women in their society.

To this end I wanted to first lift up some of the women in the bible who are examples for us to follow. There is the ever popular Esther, who is credited with using her position of privilege and power in a way that could have cost her her own life to save the Israelite people. There is the story of Ruth and Naomi, which shows how they cared for each other and provides a model for good relationships and mutual care but also points out to the reality that is still true in many places, that without a male figure (husband, brother, or son) involved they could not own property or expect to have a stable income. There are of course, also not to be forgotten, Eve the mother of all people, Sara who suffered pregnancy at 100, (well beyond child bearing years I believe it says) there is Rebekah, mother of Esau and Jacob, who subverts the patrilineal system, and we should remember all those who go unnamed like the recipient of the poem known as Song of Solomon.

Moving in to the New Testament we start with Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the mother of John who would announce the coming Messiah and Mary is the Bearer of God (Theo Tokos) or if you prefer mother of Jesus. Both of these women should be lifted up for their witness to being faithful and fulfilling God's call. There is Mary Magdalene who is the one of the consistent companions of Jesus and the first person to the tomb on Easter morning, a person without whom we might never have heard about the resurrection. In the spirit of the Day and the thoughts of equality it should be noted that she may well have been a “disciple” as she often fulfills many of the same roles as the 12 and certainly is as faithful a companion to Jesus. The times precluded her being given equal status with the male disciples, unfortunately.

That is just a few of the women critical to the gospel but that is not the end of the list as we need to remember the women listed in the other parts of the New Testament, especially since they were some of those who ensured the churches finances and who provided space for worship and meetings. There is Phoebe one of the original deacons of the church and proud supporter of Paul. Then we have Lydia, a dealer in purple (one of the royal colors) who was an example of faith and a supporter of the church from the very earliest of times. It is thought that Paul used her as an official courier for his letters which would have meant also being the person who returned with report from the place it was delivered. This is an important part of the transmission and expansion of the gospel message to new areas. In all there are about 60 different woman mentioned in the New Testament, which is especially significant since that was from a time when women were mostly considered property of the men in the society and were often left without means of support if they were not married.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention some of the faithful women in church since that time, people without whom we would not have grown or thrived and people, some of whom have left us a legacy that guides our faith today. There are those we know from the male leaders they raised to be people of faith like Helen mother of Constantine. There are also those we know for their witness of faith and their writing like Catherine of Ciena, Hildegard von Bingen and Teresa of Avila. I think it not too much to say that without women through the course of history that the church would not be what it is today.

Finally, I want to honor some of the women of more modern times. There are those like my mother, my grandmother and my aunt, blood relatives who helped to raise me in the faith. There are also those like Judy Lee Hay (my childhood pastor), Dorothy Conley (grandmother of my childhood church), Kim Young (who befriended me and took me Christmas shopping), and  Mildred and other activist women (who showed me how faith can empower us to seek justice), to name a few.  There is Catherine Jeffereys Schorie the first female bishop of the Episcopal church. There is Elizabeth Eaton our own presiding bishop for the ELCA. There are the many modern theologians who also happen to be women like Barbara Brown Taylor. And the list could go on for days. Certainly it is also true if we even just look around that the ministries of this church would not have been as good without the women of the church.

At its best the church has been a beacon for justice and equality. One of the places this has been sometimes true (and sometimes very not true) is in giving women a place of equality. There are places like India where it is still largely the only place to go if you wish to escape the entrenched inequalities. I pray that we can continue to use the Church to show the world what is possible if we just give all people the opportunity to be themselves and bring those gifts to the table.




March 6, 2019, 12:00 AM

2019 Lenten Study


 

 

 

 

Lenten Study for 2019

 

Grace Lutheran Church of Miami Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Index

 

 

pg 3                 March 12 – Jesus sits with THEM!!!

 

pg 9                 March 19 – Biblical Arguments in Favor of Slavery

 

pg 12               March 26 – Diverse images of God

 

pg 17               April 02 – Contradictory Things the Bible Says

 

pg 19               April 09 – God is Love

 

 

 

 

 

March 12 – Weekly Lenten Study – Jesus sits with THEM!!!

 

Lepers

Matthew 8:1–4

Mark 1:40–45

Luke 5:12–16

 

Children

Matthew 18:1-7

Matthew 9:22-26

Luke 18

Luke 8:41

 

Demon Possessed

Luke 8:26-39

Mark 5:1-20

Tax Collectors and Sinners

Matthew 9:10-17

Mark 2:15-22

Luke 5:29-39

Luke 15:1

 

Enemies (See Roman Oppressors and Samaritans)

Luke 10:25-37

John 4

Luke 3:14

 

The Poor

Luke 14:13

 

 

Preferential Option for the Poor [and young]

The "[preferential] option for the poor" refers to a trend, throughout the Judeo-Christian Bible, of preference being given to the well-being of the poor and powerless of society in the teachings and commands of God as well as the prophets and other righteous people, thought it seems to contradict Leviticus 19. Jesus taught that on the Day of Judgment, God will ask what each person did to help the poor and needy: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."

Available @  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Option_for_the_poor 

 

Apostolic Letter "As the Third Millennium Draws Near" by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, November 14, 1994

51. From this point of view, if we recall that Jesus came to "preach the good news to the poor" (Mt. 11:5; Lk. 7:22), how can we fail to lay greater emphasis on the Church's preferential option for the poor and the outcast? Indeed, it has to be said that a commitment to justice and peace in a world like ours, marked by so many conflicts and intolerable social and economic inequalities, is a necessary condition for the preparation and celebration of the jubilee. Thus, in the spirit of the Book of Leviticus (25:8-12), Christians will have to raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among other things, to reducing substantially, if not canceling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations. The jubilee can also offer an opportunity for reflecting on other challenges of our time, such as the difficulties of dialogue between different cultures and the problems connected with respect for women's rights and the promotion of the family and marriage.

 

Encyclical Letter by His Holiness Pope John Paul II
On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, May 1, 1991

11. Rereading the encyclical in the light of contemporary realities enables us to appreciate the Church's constant concern for and dedication to categories of people who are especially beloved to the Lord Jesus. The contents of the text is an excellent testimony to the continuity within the Church of the so-called "preferential option for the poor," an option which I defined as a "special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity."[36] Pope Leo's encyclical on the "condition of the workers" is thus an encyclical on the poor and on the terrible conditions to which the new and often violent process of industrialization had reduced great multitudes of people. Today, in many parts of the world, similar processes of economic, social and political transformation are creating the same evils.

57. As far as the Church is concerned, the social message of the Gospel must not be considered a theory, but above all else a basis and a motivation for action. Inspired by this message, some of the first Christians distributed their goods to the poor, bearing witness to the fact that, despite different social origins, it was possible for people to live together in peace and harmony. Through the power of the Gospel, down the centuries monks tilled the land, men and women religious founded hospitals and shelters for the poor, confraternities as well as individual men and women of all states of life devoted themselves to the needy and to those on the margins of society, convinced as they were that Christ's words "as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40) were not intended to remain a pious wish, but were meant to become a concrete life commitment.

Today more than ever, the Church is aware that her social message will gain credibility more immediately from the witness of actions than as a result of its internal logic and consistency. This awareness is also a source of her preferential option for the poor, which is never exclusive or discriminatory towards other groups. This option is not limited to material poverty, since it is well known that there are many other forms of poverty, especially in modern society--not only economic but cultural and spiritual poverty as well. The Church's love for the poor, which is essential for her and a part of her constant tradition, impels her to give attention to a world in which poverty is threatening to assume massive proportions in spite of technological and economic progress. In the countries of the West, different forms of poverty are being experienced by groups which live on the margins of society, by the elderly and the sick, by the victims of consumerism, and even more immediately by so many refugees and migrants. In the developing countries, tragic crises loom on the horizon unless internationally coordinated measures are taken before it is too late.

58. Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice. Justice will never be fully attained unless people see in the poor person, who is asking for help in order to survive, not an annoyance or a burden, but an opportunity for showing kindness and a chance for greater enrichment. Only such an awareness can give the courage needed to face the risk and the change involved in every authentic attempt to come to the aid of another. It is not merely a matter of "giving from one's surplus," but of helping entire peoples which are presently excluded or marginalized to enter into the sphere of economic and human development. For this to happen, it is not enough to draw on the surplus goods which in fact our world abundantly produces; it requires above all a change of lifestyles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies. Nor is it a matter of eliminating instruments of social organization which have proved useful, but rather of orienting them according to an adequate notion of the common good in relation to the whole human family. Today we are facing the so-called "globalization" of the economy, a phenomenon which is not to be dismissed, since it can create unusual opportunities for greater prosperity. There is a growing feeling, however, that this increasing internationalization of the economy ought to be accompanied by effective international agencies which will oversee and direct the economy to the common good, something that an individual state, even if it were the most powerful on earth, would not be in a position to do. In order to achieve this result, it is necessary that there be increased coordination among the more powerful countries, and that in international agencies the interests of the whole human family be equally represented. It is also necessary that in evaluating the consequences of their decisions, these agencies always give sufficient consideration to peoples and countries which have little weight in the international market, but which are burdened by the most acute and desperate needs, and are thus more dependent on support for their development. Much remains to be done in this area.

 

 

Women

Summary of Female Characters in the Four Gospels

All the female characters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, organized into categories:

References to OLD TESTAMENT CHARACTERS

MARK

MATTHEW

LUKE

JOHN

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, wife of Uriah (in genealogy of Jesus)

x

1:3, 5, 6

x

X

“Behold, The virgin shall conceive and bear a son…” (cf. Isa 7:14)

x

1:22-23

x

X

Wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Mt “her deeds”)

x

11:19

7:35

X

Queen of the South came to Solomon (1 Kgs 10:1-10)

x

12:42

11:31

X

Widows of Israel & widow of Zarephath (1 Kgs 17:1-7)

x

x

4:25-26

X

“Remember Lot’s wife” (see Gen 19:15-26)

x

x

17:32

X

Daughter of Zion” (Zech 9:9; ref. to Jerusalem)

x

x

x

12:15

MARY, Mother of Jesus; his sisters;
ELIZABETH, Mother of John Baptist; and ANNA

MARK

MATTHEW

LUKE

JOHN

Concern of Jesus’ family (not named)

3:19b-21

x

x

X

Arrival of Jesus’ mother & brothers (not named)

3:31-35

12:46-50

8:19-21

X

Jesus is called “Son of Mary”; mention also of his sisters

6:3

13:55-56

x

[6:42]

Genealogy: “…Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born”

x

1:16

x

X

Birth of Jesus: mother Mary engaged, pregnant, wife of Joseph

x

1:18-25

x

X

Magi visit “the child with Mary his mother

x

2:11

x

X

Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah (brief mentions)

x

x

1:5-7, 13, 18

X

Elizabeth conceives a child & praises God

x

x

1:24-25

X

Angel Gabriel visits Mary to proclaim Jesus’ birth

x

x

1:26-38

X

Mary visits Elizabeth; Elizabeth praises Mary;
Mary praises God in the “Magnificat”

x

x

1:39-56

X

Elizabeth gives birth to John and gives his name

x

x

1:57-61

X

Mary & Joseph go to Bethlehem; she gives birth to her firstborn son

x

x

2:5-7

X

Shepherds visit Mary & Joseph; Mary treasures all things in her heart

x

x

2:15-20

X

Simeon speaks to Mary: “a sword shall pass through your heart”

x

x

2:33-35

X

Prophet-widow Anna praises God and speaks about Jesus

x

x

2:36-38

X

Jesus’ parents (not named) take him to Jerusalem at age 12

x

x

2:41-51

X

Mother of Jesus (not named) at the Wedding of Cana

x

x

x

2:1-12

Jews claim they know Jesus’ “father and mother

x

x

x

6:42

Mother of Jesus (not named) at the Cross

x

x

x

19:25-27

NAMED CHARACTERS / EPISODE

MARK

MATTHEW

LUKE

JOHN

HERODIAS & her daughter (cause John Baptist’s death)

6:17-29

14:3-12

[3:19-20-anon.]

X

Many Galilean women support Jesus & his disciples:
MARY MAGDALENE, Joanna wife of Chuza, Susanna, and many others

x

x

8:1-3

X

Martha and Mary of Bethany host Jesus for dinner

x

x

10:38-42

X

Martha and Mary of Bethany at the death of Lazarus

x

x

x

11:1-45

Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus

x

x

x

12:1-8

Women at the Cross (various names in the four Gospels):
Mark: Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James & Joses, and Salome
Matt: Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James & Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee
Luke: [anonymous here; not named until 24:10]
John: Jesus’ mother, his mother’s sister, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene

15:40-41

27:55-56

[23:49]

19:25b-27

Women see Jesus buried (various names in the four Gospels):
Mark: Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of Joses
Matt: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
Luke: “the women who had come with him from Galilee…”
John: [only Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus]

15:47

27:61

23:55-56

X

Women visit Jesus’ tomb (various names in the four Gospels):
Mark: Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome
Matt: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
Luke: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary mother of James, and the other women with them (v. 10)
John: Mary Magdalene alone (but she says “we” in 20:2)

16:1-8

28:1-8

24:1-11

20:1-2a, 11-13

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (and other women)

[16:9-11]

28:9-10

x

20:14-18

ANONYMOUS CHARACTERS / EPISODE

MARK

MATTHEW

LUKE

JOHN

Mother-in-law of Simon Peter, healed by Jesus

1:29-31

8:14-15

4:38-39

X

Whoever does God’s will is Jesus’ brother, and sister, and mother

3:33-35

12:48-50

8:21

 

Daughter of Jairus, raised by Jesus from the dead

5:21-24, 35-43

9:18-19, 23-26

8:40-42, 49-56

X

Woman with a flow of blood, healed by Jesus

5:25-34

9:20-22

8:43-48

X

Syrophoenician woman (Mt: Canaanite) & her daughter

7:24-30

15:21-28

x

X

Widow at the temple treasury in Jerusalem

12:41-44

x

21:1-4

X

Woman at Bethany (anonymous), who anoints Jesus

14:3-9

26:6-13

[cf. 7:36-50]

[cf. 12:1-8]

Servant girl challenges Peter, who denies knowing Jesus

14:66-72

26:69-75

22:56-57

18:16-17

Pilate’s wife, who tells Pilate of her dream

x

27:19

x

X

Widow at Nain, whose son Jesus raised

x

x

7:11-17

X

Sinful woman, who anoints Jesus in Galilee

x

x

7:36-50

X

Jesus sends out seventy disciples (or 72) on a mission (possibly including some women)

x

x

10:1-20

X

Woman in a crowd, who says to Jesus,
“Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!”

x

x

11:27-28

X

Crippled woman, healed by Jesus

x

x

13:10-17

X

Wailing women of Jerusalem on the way to his crucifixion

x

x

23:26-31

X

Two disciples on the road to Emmaus tell Jesus: some women of their group had gone to the tomb

x

x

24:22-24

X

Samaritan woman at the well, who encounters Jesus

x

x

x

4:1-42

Woman caught in adultery, forgiven by Jesus

x

x

x

[8:1-11]

Parents of the man born blind (implicitly including the mother)

x

x

x

9:18-23

FICTIONAL CHARACTER / EPISODE

MARK

MATTHEW

LUKE

JOHN

Example of a woman who had seven husbands

12:18-27

22:23-33

20:27-40

X

“Alas for pregnant and nursing women

13:17

24:19

21:23-24

X

Parable of a woman mixing yeast & flour

x

13:33

13:20-21

X

Mention of “two women grinding meal together

x

24:41

17:35

X

Parable of the unforgiving servant: mentions his wife & children

x

18:25

x

X

Parable of the ten bridesmaids and their lamps

x

25:1-13

x

X

Parable of wicked manager: beats both men & women slaves

x

x

12:45

X

Parable of a woman who lost & found a coin, rejoicing with her female friends & neighbors

x

x

15:8-10

X

Parable of a widow fighting against an unjust judge

x

x

18:1-8

X

Nicodemus asks Jesus: “Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?"

x

x

x

3:4

John (Baptist) uses analogy of a bride and bridegroom

 

 

 

3:29

Analogy of a woman in labor

x

x

x

16:21

Available @ http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Synoptics_Women.htm

March 19 – Weekly Lenten Study – Biblical Arguments in Favor of Slavery

The Southern Argument for Slavery

Those who defended slavery rose to the challenge set forth by the Abolitionists. The defenders of slavery included economics, history, religion, legality, social good, and even humanitarianism, to further their arguments.

…Defenders of slavery noted that in the Bible, Abraham had slaves. They point to the Ten Commandments, noting that "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, ... nor his manservant, nor his maidservant." In the New Testament, Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master, and, although slavery was widespread throughout the Roman world, Jesus never spoke out against it.

… Defenders of slavery argued that the institution was divine, and that it brought Christianity to the heathen from across the ocean. Slavery was, according to this argument, a good thing for the enslaved. John C. Calhoun said, "Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually."

… JAMES THORNWELL, a minister, wrote in 1860, "The parties in this conflict are not merely Abolitionists and slaveholders, they are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other." …

Excerpted from http://www.ushistory.org/us/27f.asp

 

Lectures on the Philosophy and Practice of Slavery as Exhibited in the Institution of Domestic Slavery in the United States; With the Duties of Masters to Slaves

William A. Smith (William Andrew), 1802-1870 and Thomas O. Summers (Thomas Osmond), 1812-1882

Nashville: Stevenson and Evans, 1856.

Summary

As its title suggests, Lectures on the Philosophy and Practice of Slavery (1856) is a collection of lectures comprising an extended apology for slavery both in theory and in practice. The first lecture treats the condemnation of slavery as an aspersion of the morals of the free inhabitants of the South, and calls the reader's attention to the threat such abolitionist sentiments represent to peace both in the South and nationwide. The second lecture treats slavery as an abstract principle, showing that the principle of slavery is valid because it can be compared to the authoritarian bases of religion and civil government. Both operate through the subjection of one's will to another, and since slavery operates the same way, it is also theoretically valid. The following lectures deal with the question of "rights," pointing out that equal rights cannot apply when humans are inherently unequal in various ways. Smith argues that in the state of nature, humans exist within a network of liberty and servitude according to their conditions. In the sixth lecture, Smith turns his attention to scripture, arguing that since scripture explicitly sanctions political government it can by extension be shown to support the principles behind slavery. He refutes the common distinction made between slavery and hired service, and points out that Old Testament Law expressly institutes a system of slavery.

Christopher Hill

Available @ https://docsouth.unc.edu/church/smith/summary.html
A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF SCRIPTURE TESTIMONY ON THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY,

In an Essay, first published in the Religious Herald, and republished by request: with Remarks on a Letter of Elder GALUSHA, of New York, to Dr. R. FULLER, of South Carolina:

By THORNTON STRINGFELLOW. LOCUST GROVE, Culpeper Co., Va., 1841.

 

BROTHER SANDS:

        Circumstances exist among the inhabitants of these United States, which make it proper that the Scriptures should be carefully examined by Christians in reference to the institution of Slavery, which exists in several of the States, with the approbation of those who profess unlimited subjection to God's revealed will.

         It is branded by one portion of people, who take their rules of moral rectitude from the Scriptures, as a great sin; nay, the greatest of sins that exist in the nation. And they hold the obligation to exterminate it, to be paramount to all others.

         If slavery be thus sinful, it behooves all Christians who are involved in the sin, to repent in dust and ashes, and wash their hands of it, without consulting with flesh and blood. Sin in the sight of God is something which God in his Word makes known to be wrong, either by preceptive prohibition, by principles of moral fitness, or examples of inspired men, contained in the sacred volume. When these furnish no law to condemn human conduct, there is no transgression. Christians should produce a "thus saith the Lord," both for what they condemn as sinful, and for what they approve as lawful, in the sight of Heaven.

         It is to be hoped, that on a question of such vital importance as this to the peace and safety of our common country, as well as to the welfare of the church, we shall be seen cleaving to the Bible, and taking all our decisions about this matter, from its inspired pages. With men from the North, I have observed for many years a palpable ignorance of the divine will, in reference to the institution of slavery. I have seen but a few, who made the Bible their study, that had obtained a knowledge of what it did reveal on this subject. Of late, their denunciation of slavery as a sin, is loud and long.

         I propose, therefore, to examine the sacred volume briefly, and if I am not greatly mistaken, I shall be able to make it appear that the institution of slavery has received, in the first place,

         1st. The sanction of the Almighty in the Patriarchal age.

         2nd. That it was incorporated into the only National Constitution which ever emanated from God.

         3rd. That its legality was recognized, and its relative duties regulated, by Jesus Christ in his kingdom; and

         4th. That it is full of mercy.

         Before I proceed further, it is necessary that the terms used to designate the thing, be defined. It is not a name, but a thing, that is denounced as sinful; because it is supposed to be contrary to, and prohibited by, the Scriptures.

….

The first recorded language which was eve uttered in relation to slavery, is the inspired language of Noah. In God's stead he says, "Cursed be Canaan;" "a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren." … they were holding the posterity of Ham in a state of abject bondage. May it not be said in truth, that God decreed this institution before it existed; and has he not connected its existence, with prophetic tokens of special favor, to those who should be slave owners or masters? … as well as the Canaanites or Africans, who descended from Ham, then it is quite possible that his favor may now be found with one class of men, who are holding another class in bondage. Be this as it may, God decreed slavery--… Abraham, honored in the sacred records with the appellation, "Father" of the "faithful." … he "took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance, that they had gathered, and the souls they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan." Gen. xii. 5.

  All the ancient Jewish writers of note, and Christian commentators agree, that by the "souls they had gotten in Haran," as our translators render it, are meant their slaves, or those persons they had bought with their money …

I have been tedious on this first proposition, but I hope the importance of the subject to Christians as well as to statesmen will be my apology. I have written it, not for victory over an adversary, or to support error or falsehood, but to gather up God's will in reference to holding men and women in bondage, in the patriarchal age. And it is clear, in the first place, that God decreed this state before it existed. Second. It is clear that the highest manifestations of good-will which he ever gave to mortal man, was given to Abraham, in that covenant in which he required him to circumcise all his male servants, which he had bought with his money, and that were born of them in his house. Third. It is certain that he gave these servants as property to Isaac. Fourth. It is certain that, as the owner of these slaves, Isaac received similar tokens of God's favor. Fifth. It is certain that Jacob, who inherited from Isaac his father, received like tokens of divine favor. Sixth. It is certain, from a fair construction of language, that Job, who is held up by God himself as a model of human perfection, was a great slaveholder. Seventh. It is certain, when God showed honor, and came down to bless Jacob's posterity, in taking them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, they were the owners of slaves that were bought with money, and treated as property; which slaves were allowed of God to unite in celebrating the divine goodness to their masters, while hired servants were excluded. Eighth. It is certain that God interposed to give Joseph the power in Egypt, which he used, to create a state, or condition, among the Egyptians, which substantially agrees with patriarchal and modern slavery. Ninth. It is certain, that in reference to this institution in Abraham's family, and the surrounding nations, for five hundred years, it is never censured in any communication made from God to men. Tenth. It is certain, when God put a period to that dispensation, he recognized slaves as property on Mount Sinai. If, therefore, it has become sinful since, it cannot be from the nature of the thing, but from the sovereign pleasure of God in its prohibition. We will therefore proceed to our second proposition …

… And really, in view of what is passing in our country, and elsewhere, among men who profess to reverence the Bible, it would seem that these must be dreams of a distempered brain, and not the solemn truths of that sacred book.

         Well, I will now proceed to make them good to the letter, see Lev. xxv. 44, 45, 46: "Thy bond-men and thy bond-maids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you: of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond-maids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land. And they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children …

…To show that Jesus Christ recognized this institution as one that was lawful among men, and regulated its relative duties. …

  If, therefore, doing to others as we would they should do to us, means precisely what loving our neighbor as ourself means, then Jesus has added no new moral principle above those in the law of Moses, to prohibit slavery …

All 32 pages Available @ https://docsouth.unc.edu/church/stringfellow/stringfellow.html

March 26 – Weekly Lenten Study – Diverse images of God

 

Female Images of God in the Bible

Genesis 1:27 Women and Men created in God’s image ;“Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.”

Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother ; God: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”

Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear ; “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”

Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle ; “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”

Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth ; “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother ; God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 49:15 God compared to a nursing mother ; God: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

Isaiah 42:14 God as a woman in labor ; God: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”

Psalm 131:2 God as a Mother ; “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.”

Psalm 123:2-3 God compared to a woman ; “As the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to you, YHWH, until you show us your mercy!”

Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 God as a Mother Hen ; Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Luke 15:8-10 God as woman looking for her lost coin ; Jesus: “Or what woman having ten silver coins, is she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 

Compiled by the Women’s Ordination Conference

Available @ https://www.womensordination.org/resources/female-images-of-god-in-the-bible/

 

 

 

 

10 Things You Should Know about the Image of God

Sam Storms - samstorms.com

The Imago Dei, Latin for “image of God,” is crucial for our understanding of who we are as the direct creation of God. Here are ten things to guide our thinking.

 

1. Embodied Imago Dei

We read in Genesis 1:26 of God’s determination to create man “in our image (tselem), after our likeness (demut).” Theologians typically have tried to identify one particular element or characteristic feature in humanity that embodies or constitutes the imago dei.

 

2. Uniquely Made

If both humans and animals are created by God, yet the former bear his image and the latter do not, perhaps the image of God consists in some particular feature of a human not found in any animal. In other words, the image is something we possess, some property or properties uniquely characteristic of humans.

 

3. Capacity and Accountability

Some have distinguished between the “image” and “likeness” of God in man, the former consisting of our capacity for reason and choice, the latter of our moral and spiritual accountability to God. Irenaeus (135-205) is representative of this view (he argued that in the fall the likeness was lost, to be regained in redemption, but the image remained).

 

4. A Triune Nature

Thomas Aquinas focused on man’s reason, Calvin on the soul (i.e., the mind and heart), and Augustine on the mental capacities of memory, understanding, and will. Augustine argued that since man’s reason or mind is his preeminent or most important feature that we should likely find in it a reflection of God, hence his triadic model which he believed mirrored the triune nature of God.

 

5. Dominion and Stewardship

According to what we might call the functional view of the imago dei, the image and likeness of God consists not in something man is or has, nor in his relationship with either God or other humans, but in what man does. Primary emphasis has been placed on the exercise of dominion over creation. Note that in Genesis 1:26, immediately after God’s declaration that man would be made in his image, it is said, “and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air . . .” This emphasis on dominion and stewardship over creation is found in Genesis 1:28-30. See also this link between the image and dominion in Psalm 8:5-6 (“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet”). But as Dennis Okholm asks: “Does the imago consist of dominion, or was dominion a result of having been made in the image of God?” (“Theological Anthropology in Christological and Soteriological Perspective,” 7).

 

6. Capacity for Relationship

Some have argued that the image consists primarily in our capacity for relationship and social interaction both with God and other humans. Karl Barth (1886-1968) pointed to Genesis 1:26-27 where God (described as plural, “We/Us/Our”) creates man as male and female (plural). Since there is plurality and thus relationship and interaction within the Godhead, so they who are the image of God are likewise fundamentally relational in nature. I agree with Bruce Ware, however, and wonder “whether the point of mentioning ‘male and female’ was to say that the image of God was constituted by their social relatedness, or might the point more simply be that both man and woman are created in God’s image.”

 

7. Image Lost, Then Restored

Martin Luther (and to some degree, Calvin) emphasized man’s original righteousness as embodying the image of God. Thus, the fall significantly damaged and perverted the image, without destroying it entirely (see especially Genesis 9:6-7 and James 3:9 which indicate that whatever of the image was lost in the fall it in some sense still remains). The image, for Luther, was a special relation man had to God which Adam lost but Christ restores (see Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:10).

 

8. Moving Toward Imago Dei

Then there is what might be called the “dynamic” view of the image of God. This is difficult to explain, but essentially entails the idea that the image is not to be found in the structure of human personality or in our functions or relationships, but rather is a goal or destiny to which redeemed humanity is moving. Daniel Migliore put it this way: “Being created in the image of God is not a state or condition but a movement with a goal: human beings are restless for a fulfillment of life not yet realized” (Faith Seeking Understanding, 128). Although all humans are even now in the image of God, that image is fully embodied by Jesus Christ according to whose image we are being shaped and conformed. Thus, the image is both a present reality and a dynamic and progressive telos (goal) toward which we are moving.

 

9. 3 Claims from 2 Clues

Dennis Okholm expands on the dynamic view by arguing that we have two clues in helping us identify the image of God in man: “(1) we have those references that describe the goal of our regeneration or redemption – viz., Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; 1 Cor. 15:49; and 2 Cor. 3:18; and (2) we have those references that point us to Christ who as the ‘Adam’ is also the very eikon of God – viz., Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3; and 2 Cor. 4:4” (8). He thus concludes with three claims about the imago dei in man.

 

First, the restoration of the image involves “becoming like Christ” (see Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15). To the degree that we correspond to or become like Jesus, the more perfect is the image reflected in us.

 

"The goal of our salvation is the restoration of the image of God."

Second, the restoration of the image is a “continual process” (2 Cor. 3:18). “In other words,” says Okholm, “the goal of our salvation is not to be forgiven of our sins nor to escape hell. The goal of our salvation is the restoration of the image of God” (9). I must say that I don’t agree with this last point. The goal of our salvation is unbroken fellowship in God’s presence and the beholding of his beauty that brings consummate joy and satisfaction of soul.

 

"The 'restoration of the image is not an isolated project of the individual.'"

Third, the restoration of the image “takes place in community,” or more accurately “as community” (Eph. 3:17b-19; 4:12-13,15-16; Col. 3:10-11). The “restoration of the image is not an isolated project of the individual” (9) but occurs only as we grow up together in Christ. (On the element of “community” as essential to the restoration of the image, see especially Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 151-80.)

 

10. A Holistic View

It would appear that each of the above views is true in what they affirm but incomplete because of what they deny. Perhaps a more holistic view is in order that embodies all of these elements. Anthony Hoekema (Created in God’s Image [Eerdmans, 1986]) states:

 

“Must we think of the image of God in man as involving only what man is and not what he does, or only what he does and not what he is, or both what he is and what he does? Is ‘image of God’ only a description of the way in which the human being functions, or is it also a description of the kind of being he or she is?”

 

"...those who relate to and represent God on earth."

Hoekema goes on to emphasize that our structural capacities (reason, will, conscience, etc.) provide the necessary conditions for us to function and to fulfill our responsibilities as those who relate to and represent God on earth. In an unpublished paper, Bruce Ware builds on this suggestion and concludes that:

 

“the structural serves the purpose of the functional being carried out in relationship. One might think of this proposal, then, as advocating a ‘functional holism’ view of the image of God. That is, while all three aspects are involved, priority is given to the God-ordained functioning of human beings in carrying out the purposes he has for them to do. Perhaps our summary statement of what it means to be made in God’s image could employ this language.”

 

"We are images of God in order to image God and his purposes."

Ware then draws this conclusion, and with it I close:

 

“The image of God in man as functional holism means that God made human beings, both male and female, to be created and finite representations (images of God) of God’s own nature, that in relationship with him and each other, they might be his representatives (imaging God) in carrying out the responsibilities he has given to them. In this sense, we are images of God in order to image God and his purposes in the ordering of our lives and carrying out of our God-given responsibilities.”

 

Sam Storms is an A millennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist who loves his wife of 44 years, his two daughters, his four grandchildren, books, baseball, movies, and all things Oklahoma University. In 2008 Sam became Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is on the Board of Directors of both Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam is President-Elect of the Evangelical Theological Society

 

 

Reconstructing Our Images of God

 

As a clinical chaplain and grief counselor, I am often confronted with images of God that create more suffering than solace when people have experienced a traumatic loss. The question they usually ask is, “Why would a loving God let this happen?”  Or they will say, “I thought if I was a faithful Christian and pleased God, nothing bad would ever happen to me, so why did my child die? What did I do wrong?”

 

I tell them that the answer depends what they think God is.

 

If we see God as a man-in-the-sky who randomly dispenses joy or sorrow, reward or punishment,  that God is separate from us, residing somewhere out there in a place that we can never reach. We expect that god to protect us like a doting mother hen, and when protection isn’t provided, we are shocked and dismayed. That god not only fails to protect us (despite our earnest pleas and efforts to “earn” that protection through pious devotion), it places unreasonable conditions on its love. But even if we devote our lives to meeting those conditions and understanding the divine plan, there is no guarantee of protection.

 

Why? Because it doesn’t work that way.

 

Seeing God as a protective/authoritative parent is an infantile view that separates and disempowers us. If we think that God’s love is is supposed to provide us with a conflict-free existence, we will always be disappointed. Because when that expectation is not met — and it can never be met — we end up focusing more on our feelings of anger and abandonment than on the valuable lessons these experiences were designed to teach us.

 

By contrast, if we see God as a connective fiber that links every action in the universe in an interdependent movement toward wholeness, then there’s no reason why this force would shield us from discomfort and conflict. Instead of wondering why bad things are allowed to happen, consider instead that there are no “good” or “bad” things in the universe, only the creations that move us forward in our evolution. We cannot judge these creations, because they are necessary in order for growth and expansion to occur. They are there to provide traction, something to push against, like a swimmer pushing off the edge of a pool.

 

Copyright 2014 by Terri Daniel

Available @ https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/god-needs-a-new-image/

 

 

 

 

April 02 – Weekly Lenten Study – Contradictory Things the Bible Says

 

10 PAIRS OF BIBLE VERSES THAT SEEM TO TOTALLY CONTRADICT EACH OTHER

JULY 14, 2015

To Enslave or Not to Enslave? – Leviticus 25:45 & Isaiah 58:6

These two bibles verses produce mixed messages in regards to the institution of slavery. Leviticus 25:45 reads, “Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.” Yet, Isaiah 58:6 challenges this view when it asks, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished – Matt 5:16 & Matt 6:3-4

The Bible offers different views when it comes to the execution of performing good deeds. In the same book one verse states that one should do good deeds for others to see, while another statement conveys that one should perform good deeds secretly. For example, Matthew 5:16 reads, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” However, Matthew 6:3-4 reads, “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

Is God All Good Or Not? – Numbers 23:19 & Exodus 32:14

Two bible verses have led many to question God’s act of repentance. This is due to the fact that Numbers 23:19 and Exodus 32:14 relay differing messages. Numbers 23:19 states, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” On the other hand, Exodus 32:14 states, “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”

Proverbs 24:17 & Psalms 58:10

Verses of the Bible also contradict one another when explaining how people should treat their “enemies.” For instance, Proverbs 24:17 reads, “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:.” On the contrary, Psalms 58:10 reads the following: “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.”

The Sins of Our Father: Guilty or Not – Isaiah 14:21-22 & Deuteronomy 24:16

These particular verses express different perspectives in relation to the sins of fathers’ children. Isaiah 14:21-22 declares, “Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.22 For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord.” However, Deuteronomy 24:16 communicates, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”

Birthday Mixup – 2 Kings 24:8 & Chronicles 36:9

Two verses of the Bible do not communicate the same age in which Jehoiachin rose to power. 2 Kings 24:8 imparts, “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.” Yet, 2 Chronicles 36:9 conveys, “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

Has Anyone Ever Looked Upon His Face? – John 1:18 & Genesis 32:30

The Bible communicates different answers to the following question: Has anyone ever seen God? This is due to the fact that the messages of two verses completely contradict one another. John 1:18 reads, “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” However, Genesis 32:30 conflictingly reads, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

Foolish Associations – Proverbs 26:4 & Proverbs 26:5

Two verses in Proverbs, though juxtaposed, impart opposing notions. Proverbs 26:4 declares, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” Nevertheless, Proverbs 26:5 declares, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”

God A Respecter of Persons? – Psalms 145:9 & Jeremiah 13:14

The good book also encompasses verses that put forth perspectives that negate one another in regards to who God is good to. Is the Lord good to a select few or good to all individuals? Psalms 145:9 confirms, “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” However, Jeremiah 13:14 confirms, “And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together,’ saith the Lord. ‘I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but shall destroy them.”

Nobody Goes to Heaven Yet? – 2 Kings 2:11 & John 3:13

Two particular verses of the Bible assert conflicting ideas when discussing those who have and have not gone to heaven. This is due to the fact that 2 Kings 2:11 reads, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.,” while John 3:13 reads, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

Available @ https://thafcc.wordpress.com/2015/07/14/10-pairs-of-bible-verses-that-seem-to-totally-contradict-each-other/

April 09 – Weekly Lenten Study – God is Love

 

Love is found in the Bible 542 times (188 in New Testament)(NRSV)

 

Bible Verses about God Is Love. These either show directly the comment God is Love, they show that the nature and character of God is love or they speak of that which is larger that time and creation and thus the basic nature of God.

 

1 John 4:8 ESV           

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

1 John 4:16 ESV

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

1 John 4:19 ESV         

We love because he first loved us.

 

1 John 4:7 ESV           

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

 

Ephesians 2:4 ESV      

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,

 

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV    

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

 

Deuteronomy 7:9 ESV 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

 

Psalm 86:15 ESV        

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

 

1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV         

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Ephesians 5:25 ESV    

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

 

Colossians 3:14 ESV   

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 

1 Peter 4:8 ESV          

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

 

1 John 4:7-8 ESV        

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

John 13:34 ESV          

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

 

Romans 5:5 ESV         

And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 

Matthew 5:43-48 ESV

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? ...

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV        

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

 

Matthew 22:37-39 ESV          

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Galatians 5:22 ESV     

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

 

John 13:34-35 ESV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

1 John 5:3 ESV           

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV         

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 13:8 ESV           

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

 

1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Romans 13:10 ESV     

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

 

John 15:9-17 ESV       

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ...

 

Romans 8:39 ESV       

Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Isaiah 54:10 ESV        

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

John 13:35 ESV          

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Deuteronomy 7:8 ESV

But it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

 

2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV         

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

 

Jude 1:21 ESV

Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

 

John 17:24 ESV

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

 

Psalm 63:3 ESV

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This booklet is licensed as follows under Creative Commons by Rev. Kit Robison

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms

 


Page 1 2 3 4 5 6   Entries 1-5 of 29
Contents © 2019 Grace Lutheran Church and Learning Center | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy