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The Story of God: Hope

Romans 5:1-11, NRSV

Reflections

Hope: an encounter that captivates our imagination so we can’t help but become more than who we thought we were, and find ourselves living for something that is all at once preposterous and impossible.

— Cheryl Lawri

  • We all want a God who would be with us when we are suffering
  • There is no denial of reality when we are facing the prospect of suffering
  • But Grace is assured, Hope of glory is assured
  • We can be sure that God is with us, the God of peace, God of hope in glory, God of Love


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The Story of God: The Faithful One

Romans 1:1-17, NRSV

Reflections

The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate sign that our salvation comes only when we cease trying to interpret Jesus’ story in the light of our history, and instead we interpret ourselves in the light of his.

— Stanley Hauerwas
The Peaceable Kingdom

  • Gospel is good becase:
  • Gospel is news, not advice
  • Gospel is transformative, not exhausting
  • Gospel is accessible, not impossible

  • News, not advice
  • Good news about God’s victory
  • His promise has come true
  • If it is advice, we might “shurg”, “bug” (anger), or “smug” (like Pharisee)

  • Transformative, not exhausting
  • Gospel is about God being faithful, about God fulfilling His promise
  • With resurrection, Gospel transforms Paul

  • Accessible, not impossible
  • Basis of our lives is not based on our own feelings or our thinking
  • It is based on God’s faithfulness, based on what God has done

  • Question for us: How do we respond?
  • We respond in faith
  • Transformation is already yours – Chuck DeGroat


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The Story of God: Mission

Acts 13:1-3; 14:8-20, NRSV

Reflections

No culture is so advanced and so superior that it can claim exclusive access or advantage to the truth of God, and none so marginal that it can be excluded. All have merit; none is indispensable. The ethical monotheism Christianity inherited from Judaism accords value to culture but rejects cultural idolatry, which makes Bible translation more than a simple exercise in literalism.

— Lamin Sanneh

  • Christmas is when God will be with us
  • Easter is when we will be with God

  • The story of Promise and Fulfillment
  • Promise from Old Testament
  • Gospel speaks to every culture; the center of Gospel is free and full of justification

  • v15: Not getting the Gospel
  • It is not our devotion, not with sacrifices, not rituals
  • It is our faith


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The Unique Tenacity of Christian Community

Romans 14:1-13, NRSV

Reflections

Paul derives strenuous tolerance not from a soft theory of moral relativism or a pragmatic adjustment to pluralistic reality…but rather from the action of God in Christ.

— Robert Jewett
Christian Tolerance: Paul’s Message to the Modern Church

  • Fire and religion are alike, could be a great good, and a great harm
  • Sources of disagreement: Historical, Religions, Moral
  • Often 2 Options: tolerance, or strong conviction but intolerance

  • Paul, as Saul, had been the one with strong conviction, little tolerance
  • Then Paul has vision of inclusion
  • Costly tolerance
  • Disputable Matters – let each hold their own conviction

  • God is more concerned with how we handle disagreement
  • It is like parents are more concerned with kids getting along, than ruling every dispute

  • Honor each other’s best intention
  • It is more important to accept each other’s conviction over disagreement


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What The Bible Says and Doesn’t Say

Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, NRSV
1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NRSV
Romans 1:26-27, NRSV

Reflections

for the foreseeable future we must find ways to live within the church in a situation of serious moral disagreement while still respecting one another as brother and sisters in Christ. If the church is going to start practicing the discipline of exclusion from the community, there are other issues far more important than homosexuality where we should begin to draw a line in the dirt: violence and materialism, for example

— Richard Hays
from A Moral Vision of the New Testament

  • Principles, Texts, Objections

  • Theological — Hierarchy of Beliefs:
  • Dogma (esse): Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection
  • Doctrine (bene esse): Scriptural infallibility, Election, Providence
  • Opinion (diaphora): Mega v. Parish, Sabbath Observance, Church Architecture

  • Biblical — Reformed Hermeneutics:
  • Hermeneutics – tools of interpretation, principles
  • Exegesis – act of interpretation, practice
  • Principles of Interpretation: Grammatical, Literary, Historical, Theological, Holy Spirit
  • Example: from Mark Noll’s “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis”, pro-slavery side like Thornwell defended slavery simply by asserting “that the relation between the slave and his master” is in the Bible

  • Pastoral — Threshold for Certainty
  • Enormity of Requirement (e.g. celibacy, divorce) would require High Threshold of certainty
  • Jonathan Edwards: The design of the Scripture is to teach us divinity, and not physic and anatomy

  • Venn Diagram with Theological, Biblical, Pastoral


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The Story of God: Hosanna

Matthew 21:1-17, NRSV

Reflections

Each Sunday is Palm Sunday. Every Sunday we tell the story, remembering the Kingdom of Heaven. Remembering its cost. Remembering its promise. Processing down to the table. Telling the old stories — remembering, rehearsing, doing the theatre. Without the story we are lost. God is nothing but an idea. But Palm Sunday — every Sunday — is our trust marching live into the world and embodying The Kingdom of Heaven.

— Andrew Prior

  • Clash of Hosanna:
  • Saving us with by whom? Romans? Religious Rituals?
  • “Peace” arriving in a donkey
  • Cleansing of Temple
  • Cleansing at personal level, when you follow the story, with God took an unexpected turn, outside of the parade of marching band


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The Story of God: In Remembrance of Her

Matthew 26:1-13, NRSV

Reflections

The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work. I will tell you what I think it is like…. A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.


We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ’s death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans or diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and, even if they do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself. All the same, some of these theories are worth looking at.

— C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

  • Extravagant love of Mary
  • Typical application of this passage: Mary showing her commitment
  • But this application might make us feel guilty
  • Same story in Mark: “She did what she could”

  • Extravagant love of Jesus
  • We always find Jesus to be with the weakest, most vulnerable
  • We do not sacrifice a person for a principle
  • The shepherd would go look for the one lost sheep, even with 99 on hand


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The Story of God: Urgency

Matthew 25:1-13, NRSV

Reflections

I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heart-break, and love. And mother. And God.

— Johnny Cash

  • Parables are for us to think
  • We could be doing a lot of religious rituals, bypassing the heart
  • This parable is threatening, parable of judgement

  • v8-10: You can’t borrow intentionality
  • You can’t live off your spouse’s spirituality

  • v10: You can be too late for readiness, because God is just
  • God is both Love and Justice
  • There is urgency

  • We can get sleepy, because there are things in life we don’t want to deal with
  • It could be addiction
  • v13: Do not get sleepy with spirituality


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The Story of God: The Banquet

Matthew 22:1-14, NRSV

Reflections

“Fears the Lord.” Reverence might be a better word. The Bible isn’t interested in whether we believe in God or not. It assumes that everyone more or less does. What it is interested in is the response we have toward him: will we let God be as he is, majestic and holy, vast and wondrous, or will we always be trying to whittle him down to the size of our small minds, insist on confining him within the boundaries we are comfortable with, refuse to think of him other than in images that are convenient to our life-style? But then we are not dealing with the God of creation and the Christ of the cross, but with a dime-store reproduction of something made in our image, usually for commercial reasons. To guard against all such blasphemous chumminess with the Almighty, the Bible talks of the fear of the Lord—not to scare us but to bring us to awesome attention before the overwhelming grandeur of God, to shut up our whining and chattering and stop our running and fidgeting so that we can really see him as he is and listen to him as he speaks his merciful, life-changing words of forgiveness.

— Eugene H. Peterson
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

  • Possible responses to this tough passage, that the city was burned and destroyed:
  • Justify the violence, and for yourself
  • Run away, and have nothing to do with this act and God
  • Be struggle with it, and deal with it

  • What really gets God angry: Complete refusal of God’s Grace
  • God is the king who invites
  • But we have competing invitations: Beware, it is easy to get distracted in life
  • Some might think it is invitation to be servant for the king, which might mean less freedom, being abused

  • v11: King insists to cloth us
  • We would get thrown out when we refuse King’s Grace
  • People who refuse King’s wardrobe, the robe of Grace
  • Allow Him to cloth you


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Traveling Light

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