Archive for November 2011

In Abundance

November 29, 2011

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2). Grace. Peace. Abundance. I loved reading those words in yesterday’s epistle reading. That’s what God wants for each of us. That’s what God wants for our families. That’s what God wants for our family at BRC. That’s what God wants for the whole world.

This week we are asking people to consider making a covenant with God for this next year. It’s important to see our covenants in the context of that larger covenant, what the New Testament calls the New Covenant. It was a covenant signed with Jesus’ own blood (“This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”) It is a covenant that promises freedom, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, restoration, and more than ample provision for our daily needs. It is a covenant marked by grace, peace and abundance. It is a covenant that God makes with anyone who gives their allegiance and life to Jesus Christ as Lord. These are people who trust him, obey him and serve him and his mission. Jesus becomes their life. Another way of putting it is that we give our lives to the one who gave his life for us. (more…)

Money and the Kingdom

November 22, 2011

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” This line from today’s gospel reading raises some interesting questions: Are rich people evil, so evil that they have no place in God’s kingdom? Why is Jesus making such a big deal out of money and wealth? Why does he seem to be sticking it to this guy who seems to come to Jesus with a sincere heart and a desire to do the right thing?

This morning’s lectionary reading (Matthew 19:13-22) got me thinking about why Jesus thought that money and possessions were so dangerous. Can a rich person enter the kingdom of God? We know that Christians in the first century worshiped in rich people’s homes. (The wealthy were the only ones who had homes big enough to worship in. Archaeologists have unearthed some of them.) Jesus’ main financial support probably came from rich people, especially rich women. Jesus was buried in a rich man’s tomb. His name was Joseph of Arimathea. (more…)

Living Souls

November 21, 2011

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls”
(1 Peter 1:8-9). Question: what is the soul? I grew up thinking that the soul was that part of me that went up to heaven when I died. I wasn’t quite sure how much of me that included. One thing I was quite sure it didn’t include was my body. The body stayed here, the soul went there. Over the years I’ve heard quite a few sermons that confirmed that impression. (Come to think of it, I preached a few of those myself.) (more…)

Intimate and Mysterious

November 1, 2011

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1-4).

Three things occur to me as I read these words. First, they speak loudly of the importance of Christ. Without the vine, there are no branches. There is no Christian life without Christ. We can live religious lives without Christ. We can adopt a few Christian values without Christ. But the Christian life itself cannot be lived apart from Christ himself, no more than a branch can exist apart from a vine or tree. (more…)