Trinity Sunday (May 27, 2018)

This Sunday morning we looked at the Great Commission through “trinitarian” eyes attempting to enlarge our perspective of the God that calls and sends us. We are helped in our perspective this week by,

Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance

Darrell Johnston’s Experiencing The Trinity

Dallas Willard’s The Renovation of the Heart

These works push us to consider the breadth and depth of our understanding of the God scripture reveals, and the width of our soteriology and theology. I hope that as we immerse ourselves in the metaphors that unveil the three that are one we will find ourselves drowning in their presence.

Epiphany: Authority in Mark’s Gospel

This past Sunday we found Jesus in the Synagogue teaching and rebuking unclean spirits. In both of these acts Mark introduces us to the authority of Jesus, a theme he will develop throughout the good news he is sharing. This authority is declared both by the people hearing Jesus teach, and the demon that is cast out.

We compared this display of power and authority with Mark’s account of Jesus calming the wind and the waves in Mark 4, noting the similarities in Jesus’ commands, and the response of the those who witness the event.

We concluded with a few essential questions for each of us to wrestle with, and settle in our own hearts, minds and lives. These questions boil down to, “Does Jesus have authority in your life, and if so, what does that look like in your day to day living, working, and relating?”

There are a few resources that helped shape these questions and reflections for me, perhaps they can be helpful for you as well.

http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2343

http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=3511

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/MkEpiphany4.htm

http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=218

Grace and peace.

Epiphany

This week we did a brief survey of the main themes we will explore during the season of Epiphany. As we focused on the Baptism of Jesus as Mark records it, we “looked forward and backward” noticing connecting points between the primary images in Mark and listening for echoes from other texts.

The first image we spent time considering is the “tearing open” of the heavens. Helped by http://leftbehindandlovingit.blogspot.ca/2015/01/the-sky-tearing-and-voice-crying.html, we looked to Isaiah and Mark’s passion narrative for a vivid declaration that the distance and barriers between heaven and earth, between God and humanity, have been rent from top to bottom in the incarnation and ministry of Jesus.

The second feature of the baptism account we listened to was the voice, crying out from heaven, “this is my Son whom I love, and with Him I am well pleased.” Again we looked “backwards” to Isaiah to the “servant I have chosen and put my Spirit on” and forward to the transfiguration and the cross where Jesus is declared to be the Son of God.

For more echoes, and help with the themes of the text and message, these 2 sites were encouraging, shaping and helpful for me…

-http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=3459

-http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/MkBaptism.htm

 

Advent 1

As we begin this “new year” we adjust our posture to prepare for the coming messiah. This first week of Advent we pause to consider the hope we have in Christ Jesus. This hope is simultaneously a present reality and an anticipated future.

The obvious hope we are “anticipating” is the birth of Jesus in 3 short weeks. But, as the first series of readings for Advent remind us, we are also looking forward with hope to His second advent. With this second set of eyes, we turn to the Gospel text to consider the 3 primary “interpretive lenses” we place over the text to understand the message Mark is crafting. These lenses are the Preterist perspective (all of “these things” have already happened), the Historicist perspective (some of “these things” have happened, some are currently happening, and some will happen soon), and the Futurist perspective (we are waiting for “these things” to begin to unfold). We then move on to consider the parable at the end of the passage to hear Mark’s main point, “stay awake!”

A few resources I found helpful in sparking some thoughts and questions are:

  • http://www.davidlose.net/2014/11/advent-1-b/

I often look to see what Dr. Lose is wrestling with in the lectionary readings for the week. This week he helps us stay in the tension between perspectives rather than reinforcing one fixed point-of-view over another

  • http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=184

I found Berge’s perspective on the connection between the parable at the end of the text and the passion narrative that follows interesting. We did not talk about this Sunday morning as it falls too firmly in the Preterist camp to serve the purposes of the message… perhaps food for discussion Sunday evening…

  • http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/MkAdvent1.htm

Dr. Loader consistently is helpful in framing a text and drawing solid conclusions. He ends his consideration in the same location as the text and the morning sermon… waiting, watching, staying awake.

  • http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/pmol/pastissues/2005%20Advent/magnov27.htm

Dr Busic does a nice job setting the scene and setting this text as the foundation for the rest of their proposed sermon series.

  • Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (by S. Gregg)

This volume does a wonderful job of laying out the 4 main interpretive options for understanding the book of Revelation verse by verse. It is very thorough, and a little dense to try and read, but it is a very helpful reference resource for personal study.

  • Discipleship on the Edge (D. Johnson)

This is my “go to” resource for Revelation and all things apocalyptic. Dr. Johnson will radically alter our hearing of the text if we will take this journey with him.

I hope this consideration of the variety of perspectives can be helpful in our personal understanding of apocalyptic literature, and in our interpersonal discussion about the eschatological vision contained in the text.

Christ the King

November 26, 2017

Reflecting on the theme for this Sunday*, I thought I’d post a little background info. to fill out our time in Ephesians 1:15-23 This text is an introductory prayer of thanksgiving for the church at Ephesus. In verses 15-19 Paul thanks God for the “relational resources” He has blessed the Ephesians with; revelation, wisdom, open eyes and an eternal hope. I was inspired in this section by NT Wright (https://ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.php/TIS/article/viewFile/1215/931) who talks about how the Ephesian church, and our contemporary churches, seem to have lost sight of the hope held out to us in scripture and in the resurrection power of hope.

As we move into the last few verses of this text we encounter the main theme of the morning, the authority, power, and position of the resurrected and exalted Jesus. Jesus as King certainly has universal and eternal scope, but our 3 main reminders come as we try and grasp how He functions as head of the church. To illustrate this principle, we tried to stay in the metaphor of a head governing and exercising authority over a body. In thinking about this, I came across a helpful article by Frank Viola (http://pastors.com/5-ways-jesus-head-church/) which helps us frame our thinking in this relationship. When Viola’s ideas combine with the teaching of people like Dallas Willard about spiritual formation we have a potent combination of ideas.

  • Jesus directing His Church in obedience to His call, giving specific commands, in specific circumstances, for a specific response. God still calls His people to obedience and service in the same ways He spoke to Peter, Paul, Phillip, and others in the New Testament.
  • Jesus forming the Church to His character, through spiritual formation. Dallas Willard has been heavily influential in this area of our understanding, describing the role of spiritual disciplines as enabling us to something we could not otherwise do by direct effort. (Renewing the Christian Mind p. 32)  The church learns to display His character as it practices simple obedience, expresses love for one another, serves the oppressed, worships together etc.
  • Jesus nurtures the church through communion, as we encounter his spiritual presence, engage in service and receive the sacraments. As His people, we are sustained by Christ’s presence in us and with us, as we are filled with His Spirit, incarnate His presence in serving others, and receive His gracious presence practicing the means of grace He instructed.

*I will be posting reflections like this throughout Advent as a way of sharing some resources that are helping me, shaping me, and informing my understanding of the passages we are studying together.