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Trinity Sunday

Romans 8:12-17, NRSV

John 3:1-17, NRSV

Reflections

Trinity Sunday is the day when we stand back from the extraordinary sequence of events that we’ve been celebrating for the previous five months — Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost — and when we rub the sleep from our eyes and discover what the word ‘god’ might actually mean.

— Tom Wright, For All God’s Worth

  • Discovering God thru journey and pilgrimage
  • God is rescuing you, is leading you to new creation, is the Father, the Creator, the Indweller
  • Heaven and Earth are closer than we think
  • Church (temple) is not safe heaven from earth; it is where Heaven and Earth comes together
  • There were thoughts that God would lead Israelites another Exodus, out of Romans
  • The disciples were on the journey/pilgrimage themselves, leading all the way to Jesus’ resurrection

  • God begin change of the world is not the way people often think, e.g. military power with armies and tanks, but thru the weak, the meek, the broken-hearted, to help others of weak, building schools and hospitals
  • We cannot be just passage of journey/pilgrimage, we are to born again

  • Trinity is more than just dogma, more than intellectual theology
  • Romans 7-9 is really an Exodus story
  • Christian is to inherit the new creation on earth, not the Heaven

  • Flesh in the world comes to us and say, we owe them
  • Flesh is human nature
  • Flesh or spirit, slavery or freedom, our choice
  • Jesus’ Abba the father experience, prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, being torn over doubt and temptation


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The Story of God: All Will Be Well

Romans 8:28-39, NRSV

Reflections

A good man may look down upon all the whole army of worldly afflictions under his feet and you may consider with joy, however great they are and however numerous, let them all join their forces together against him and put on their most rueful and dreadful habits, forms and appearances, and spend all their strength, vigor and violence with endeavors to do him any real hurt or mischief, and it is all in vain. He may triumph over them all knowing this: light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall only work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and, that although sorrow continue for a night, yet joy cometh in the morning: remembering God’s promise that all things shall surely work together for his good.

— Jonathan Edwards in Christian Happiness

  • Context of this passage, Paul’s suffering (v35)

  • Promise
  • Bad things do happen, but God takes the bad and work it out for the good
  • Why can we trust God’s promise? v31-32

  • Definition of Good – more than just circumstances
  • v29: We become more like Jesus when we suffer
  • God doesn’t waste pain, it is for further transformation
  • Jesus suffer is not so that we don’t suffer
  • But when we suffer, we become more like Christ
  • Our calling, to be generous, to invite others to church for the good news

  • Guarantee
  • v31-39: I am loved, therefore I am


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The Story of God: Union With Christ

Romans 6:1-14, NRSV

Reflections

I’m always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is that God is sovereign and Christ is savior. The reality is that prayer is my mother tongue and the Eucharist my basic food. The reality is that baptism, not Myers-Briggs, defines who I am.
Very often when I leave a place of worship, the first impression I have of the so-called “outside world” is how small it is–how puny its politics, paltry its appetites, squint-eyed its interests. I have just spent an hour or so with friends reorienting myself in the realities of the world–the huge sweep of salvation and the minute particularities of holiness–and I blink my eyes in disbelief that so many are willing to live in such reduced and cramped conditions. But after a few hours or days, I find myself getting used to it and going along with its assumptions, since most of the politicians and journalists, artists and entertainers, stockbrokers and shoppers seem to assume that it’s the real world. And then some pastor or priest calls me back to reality with “Let us worship God,” and I get it straight again, see it whole.

— Eugene Peterson

    • Christians being old and the same is not good; it’s no good to have no growth
    • David Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Benchmark of true Gospel Preaching: There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the gospel of salvation than this: that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. If my preaching of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.
    • Sin is not just bad behavior, not just at the superfical level
    • It is the unwillingness to grow and to be more Christ-like
    • It is over-desire even when desire is a good thing, when it is becoming an idol

 

    • Justification – by God alone
    • Sanctification – partner with God, for our process to grow, to be more Christ-like
    • Progress is to be more and more dying to sin, more and more living in Christ

 

 

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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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