“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness–on them light has shined.” Isa 9:2 NRSV The prophet Isaiah lived at an unusual point in the history of the Israelite people. His prophetic ministry overlapped the Assyrian conquest of Israel in 722 BCE and their subsequent siege of Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19). The beginning chapters of the book
Silence is a sort of nothingness. In spite of this, silence often possesses a variety of qualities. We may experience the angry silence of a hurt loved one, the peaceful silence of the person at rest, or the patient silence of a watcher. The silence of persons turns out to be something. It may be a lack of sound, but it is filled by the quality of a human person. Humans spend much of their
In a sermon preached the same year that Augustine began to write his City of God, he told his congregation: “Brethren, when I speak of that City, and especially when scandals grow great here, I just cannot bring myself to stop…” (Enarr. In Ps. 84.10). As in Augustine’s time, so in ours as well scandals increase. Whether they do so more in our own time, I am not one to judge (though I rather doubt
“If you took away the sermon from your worship service, what sort of theology could you construct from what remains?” Sometime back, a Facebook friend shared this quote from Pastor Mark Jones and it got me thinking. What would a sermon-less church service look like? What messages and theology would it convey? Would we attend? Just how central is the sermon to Christian worship? In order to really consider this question, consider the state of
Every week, millions of people around the world situate themselves in moderately uncomfortable seating and listen to someone talk at them for an extended period of time. I am, of course, referring to Christians who attend church services and listen to sermons. But how can we tell if a sermon is good? This article suggests three sets of questions for reflecting on this question.
The Proclaimed Word of God Too often when I enter the pew on a Sunday morning, I dread the coming sermon. Like many raised in Evangelical circles, the singing and musical part of the service seems the most natural. It is easy in our modern culture to connect emotionally and spiritually to music, perhaps too easy. Yet I know that after 20 minutes or so of beautiful hymns, I will have to endure 30 to
My previous post on the “Word of the Lord,” drew a few different comments encouraging me to expand on what I had written there. Many of them had to do with the fact that I hadn’t fully come to terms with what I wanted to say. I find that much of my writing reflects the fact that I am on a journey towards understanding, as Origen is fond of saying in his Commentary on the
This article is based on notes from a lecture delivered by Dr. Robert Louis Wilken at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis on 3 December, 2015. Gregory the Great said that the Word of God exercises the understanding of the wise, and nurses the simple. To some it speaks openly, to others it holds things in secret—leading them to loftier matters. It is a river both shallow and deep. The lamb can find footing, but the elephant
To be a Christian means to take up our Cross. Our cross turns this life into a mystical adventure. Christ does not expect us to blend in with our society. He expects us to transform it. The only way we can accomplish that goal is to be willing to be transformed ourselves.
“But what would have been the good?” Aslan said nothing. “You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?” “To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.” “Oh dear,” said Lucy. “But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them
According to Webster, nativity means “the process or circumstances of being born.” For the Orthodox Church the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does not focus on Jesus as a cute little baby in a manger. The Nativity of Christ is mostly about the incarnation of God. This season is about the union of God and man. “Sharing wholly in our poverty, You have made our clay godlike through Your union and participation
Christ has come to give us life, and that in abundance. He does not hold back. We ask to know Him, we ask for mercy, we ask Him to show us the path. And He answers us with the truth. There are no riddles to decipher or secret panels to open.
“And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many
“And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians,
Luke 16:19-31 As I read the Gospel for this week I noticed that in the title, “The rich man and Lazarus,” the rich man has no name. Names are so important. One of the very first things we do when we meet someone is to ask their name. Names are much more than letters that have been strung together. Ben. . .David. . .Mary. . . John. Names indicate who we are. So, for the
Our life in Christ is a life of freedom and love; and because it is, we must choose this life. Not just once, but continually. This Gospel is so simple and straight forward that it becomes problematic. The Author of life encounters death and the outcome is exactly what we expect. We understand immediately what the Church is trying to teach us. We see a prefiguring of Pascha. We see that death has been overthrown;