Archive for February 2010

Koinonia with God

February 15, 2010

Happy Presidents’ Day! I’m looking forward to going to Williamstown, Mass. with Sharon to visit the Clark Art Institute today. But before we take off I just had to note what a great follow-up today’s epistle reading is to yesterday’s sermon. For example, Paul writes: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship (koinonia) with the Spirit….” Yesterday we talked about how much God wants to have koinonia (i.e. fellowship, communion, community, sharing, partnership, intimacy) with us. It still blows my mind that he actually wants that with me.

We also talked about the need to be born [again] of God, and that what that means matters more than when or how it happens (given that it happens in so many different ways). What being born [again] of God involves is putting our past behind us and having a new start, following a new Leader, and living by a new Power.

Many of us know something about living for God, but how many of us experience the sustenance and joy that comes with living by God? This has been working in me since yesterday and I’m quite excited about its implications. In today’s reading Paul specifically talks about our having koinonia with the Spirit. The Spirit is here to lead, to illumine and to empower. Later in today’s reading Paul says that we should be filled with “fear and trembling,” or a sort of nervous awe, before the potential of this great salvation that Christ has won for us and the fact that God himself is living within us to help us realize its implications. We definitely have a part to play in working it out, and it’s with the awareness that there is this enormous Power and Presence that is both within us and around us which is the driving force and purpose of our lives.

These are amazing lives we’ve been given, brimming with potential. In fact, God fully intends that we “shine like stars in the universe….” What means does the Spirit use to make our potential actual? Come and learn more on Wednesday night.

Faith That Rocks

February 4, 2010

Today’s Hebrews reading contains verses I memorized many years ago: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-2). These are great verses for describing the Christian life.

The “therefore” that begins this passage refers to the previous chapter which was all about faith. It lists many of those Old Testament figures who exercised faith in what often seemed like impossible circumstances. Because faith is so important for following Jesus, let me suggest some things to keep in mind when we think about faith, and especially when we practice it:

~ Faith doesn’t just believe in spiritual reality but emphasizes it, constantly leaning and living into it. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses….” (more…)

Disciples, Not Pros

February 3, 2010

“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…” (Genesis 22:2).

The Old Testament reading for today is a tough one. It’s the story of Abraham being told to sacrifice his son Isaac. So often in the Bible God or even Jesus does or says things that can make us think, “How could God…?” Thing is, you and I don’t have a clue as to what it takes to run a universe or bring a cosmic dream to fulfillment or even transform a single life. Just as children don’t have a clue as to what it takes to be a parent, our little pea brains cannot begin to connect all the dots or imagine what it takes to be God. (more…)

Living Bread

February 2, 2010

I know that several of us are reading the daily lectionary. (For people who read this blog and don’t receive the monthly lectionary handouts at our worship services, you can go to look the readings up for yourselves.) Periodically I may use this blog to reflect on something I read in the lectionary. I hope that you will do the same through your comments.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” What does that mean? The rabbis in Jesus’ day often used the Old Testament image of manna — God’s daily provision for the people of Israel as they traveled those 40 years in the desert — to represent the Old Testament Torah, or law, as well as “wisdom.” Jesus doesn’t simply replace the Torah with his own teaching; he himself is the bread of life. Not only his teaching but his very presence in us gives life now and forever. (more…)