Change in the church is always a contentious issue. But even Jesus assumed that it would happen. And the book of Acts gives an example of a significant change. What these biblical texts give us is a Spirit Led pattern. This sermon takes Jesus’ words as the basis and Acts as the enaction of those words. Peter’s “ordered argument” is meaningful. It is not that revelation or vision and experience are meaningless. They are quite meaningful and Peter includes both as part of his argument. But his real argument is “remembering the Word of God.” This sermon looks at Peter’s Spirit led example and encourages us to examine our own changing in the same light.
The recording is of the full tenebrae service. The sermon is by parts between the readings. The theme would be the dual apocalypse or revelation of the cross. The first is what the passion says about us, the second is what it says about God. And the day ends with the challenge, waiting for the Day of the Lord.
The creeds are the definition of the faith. They are the Faith which is believed. The Athanasian Creed, of the three great ones of the Western Church, is a masterful presentation of what we know. All of it can be tied to revelation, but the creeds presentation moves from those things which might be available to gently assisted reason to the more concrete revealed reality. The creed uses the names Father, Son and Spirit, but it starts out more philosophical with what might be call the attributes of God, shared by the Godhead in unity. The Christian Faith attributes these to the God of the Bible, but honestly many of these things are the god of classical theism. The second part of the creed moves into deeper revelation. It confesses and instructs how that God has revealed himself in three persons and how those persons are unique. The uniqueness that it wishes to establish is not hierarchy, but an order: Father Is, Son begotten, Spirit proceeding. The last part of this creed confesses the most concrete, but also the most controversial part of Christianity – the incarnation. In 40 verses it is an inexhaustible source of contemplation.
This sermon merely scratches the surface. It is more a Trinity Sunday encouragement to turn away from the confusion of our age and once again take up the solid definitions which are the gifts of ages of the church past.
Today was All Saints (observed) on the church calendar. In Lutheran circles All Saints is not a celebration of some spiritual elite but the celebration of the church in all its dimensions – the church militant, the church at rest, and the longed for church triumphant. Given special notice are those who have entered rest in the past year of the congregation’s life. Because of this juxtaposition of those of us still struggling and those at rest, as well as its position toward the end of the church year, it opens itself to a meditation on our now and not yet existence. Now we are children of God; not yet do we fully know what that means. That is John’s writing. We see the Love of God, but every time we see it, it is met with challenge. Satan challenges it, the world refuses to see it, and even our own weary flesh can challenge what has been revealed to us. God loves us. When Christ appears, we will be like him in glory, in that resurrection body. We know this because we’ve seen it, or have accepted the witness of the apostles. That is what we know by faith and by hope. And because we hope, we live into that not-yet reality now. “We purify ourselves as he is pure.” No, we will not always be successful. But blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Ever felt that everything was going to crap? That something you had invested all your hopes in was coming up snake-eyes? That moment in the ministry of Jesus is what this sermon is about. That moment is the Word of the Cross. That is what I hoped this preaches.
The text is Jesus’ words “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”. As a church we spend a good deal of time on way and truth but comparatively little on life. What this sermon does is examine the modern problem with experiencing the life (materialism), look at the ways we might get shaken however briefly out of our materialist slumbers, and then it proclaims how god – the life – goes beyond that god knowable to reason and reveals himself as Father and Son (and Spirit). The revelation of Jesus forecloses some conceptions of God and assures us of our place in The Life.
Progressive Revelation, Christ & The Church, The Form which governs Christian Sexuality
Leviticus is a tough text for modern ears. This went a little longer and cut off a little quicker than I might has liked. And I just ignored the NT reading. I think the key to understanding such texts is to understand the special calling of Israel and by fulfillment the church. It is not that what is immoral changes. Jesus re-ups the moral law and in fact increases its weight in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1ff). And Jesus’ understanding of sexuality is completely governed by the pre-fall vision of the garden (Mark 10:1-12). And notice the two stories that are conjoined with that teaching in Mark 10: the kingdom belongs to the children and the Rich Young ruler. Jesus’ teaching on sexuality is tough. It would have to be accepted as children and grown into. It will also turn away many as just impractical. Yet, Jesus calls us to be a Holy Nation, a Royal Priesthood (1 Pet 2:9). We are to be different from the world. The reason for this difference is fully revealed to us in in the revelation of Christ. The reason doesn’t change the law. What it does hold out is grace. Where Leviticus states is baldly and expects us to keep it without knowledge, the church has been given the Spirit to grant knowledge and grace for living as exiles. It should not come as a surprise that powerful young men walk away. But the answer is not to deny the law. The answer is to be found in grace. Where the land used to gather up the uncleanness and spit out, today the uncleanness is devoured by the cross and the offer of grace.