Tag Archives: word of God

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You Have a Holy Book? You Have Issues

pier-perspective_1Like a perfumed letter from your mother that you keep in your wallet to remind yourself of her and because reading her words renders a presence of her; or like an old phonograph album, with its scratches and pops, that you play because that recording of that particular song or symphony is your favorite and you can still hear it despite the scratches; so is the bible.  It is not an infallible book dropped from heaven. And those who assert such a thing, name their churches after it, place it as a talisman on their coffee table, come close to bible-olatry.

Many of us are recovering fundamentalists or bible-olaters.  Some are not recovering but repress those attempts made by parents or churches to conform them to cultural norms dipped in the ink of the bible in order to give sacred stamp to what is at best traditional viewpoints and at worse,  oppressive measures to manipulate a person.  Take for example the report in the Washington Blade, “D.C. Church backs ‘shaming’ of LGBT people” of August 10.  Capital View Baptist of Washington DC apparently “adopted a revised church constitution last year that says, ‘shaming and shunning are acceptable Christian responses’” to LGBT folk.

Well, if you have a holy book, you have issues.  And here is the overarching problem:  the Holy is communicated through the lens and pens of human beings and cultures so that the person who reads a holy book must be diligent about sorting through what is culturally and historically confined and whatever Truth is being communicated.  One example is the church who encourages its members in homophobia.  It cannot reject pre-scientific views of human sexuality because it embraces pre-scientific ideas embedded in the text of their holy bible.  Mind you, that church is using electricity, its members make dental appointments instead of calling an exorcist and so on and so forth.   They cherry-pick the scriptures while munching on bacon, a food (pork) described in the bible as an abomination.  Another example is slavery. Another is the role of women.  Another is …

I invite you to identify examples and issues and join with me on Saturday August 25th in a walk & chat along the Wharf at 10:30 a.m.    We’ll meet at the end of the Recreation Pier (I’m calling this event Pier Perspective).  That pier runs perpendicular to Maine Ave. at 7th, SW.  We’ll have a nice time ambling about and talking for about one hour.  And I’ll pass along any insights I might have but especially encourage us to work out a method of interpretation so we can receive the Truth of the bible while not being entangled in views that dehumanize us.  I hope to see you Saturday!  ~PSTR

 

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Tweetless, Restorative Silence and God’s Word

Do we really need another sham debate in this gruesome election cycle?  This is not unlike one more nuclear weapon—for what? To bounce the rubble?  What a shameful spectacle the United States has put on for the rest of the world and I’m not talking solely about the politicians who befoul the public square but I am talking about the citizens of this country that put up with this, promote it and behave like craven lunatics.

How many hours in a day do you devote your eyes and ears to the rhetoric of political discourse and news in this country? Take a break.  Seriously. For your own well-being, turn off the taps at the t.v., the computer, your smart phone and whatever other device you rely on to fill your mind with the bleak words of a dying culture.

The world has always been somewhat noisy.  John the Baptizer was out in the wilderness tweetless for a reason.  Silence may be the most underrated power available to us for healing and restoration.  Aren’t you sick and tired of all those words chewed on, the cow curd of a debased society tossed up for us every day over and over and over?

There is a Word from the Lord, however, that is restorative and in one hour in a week, in a middle school auditorium (Jefferson Middle School Academy where we worship for the near future and interim) you can access both silence and that Word; contemplation and proclamation aimed at your soul.  Isn’t it time for some soul care?

The Word of God severs and dissembles/the Word of God repairs and restores. The Word of God shatters and shakes/the Word of God rattles bone to bone and remakes. The Word of God pierces hearts and minds, unveiling all it finds/the Word of God clothes hopelessness with the raiment of grace.  The Word of God confounds the unrighteous and the wicked/the Word enlightens the wise and provides for the weak.  The Word of God divides the sea, straightens crooked paths, makes low every mountain, lifts valleys so that the uneven ground is made level and all flesh will behold the glory of God because, as Isaiah said, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:1-5]

We need to hear the Word of the Lord.  May the Word of God in Christ remove the stigma of your wounding, restore you heart, soul, mind and body.  Let nothing terrify you; but in all you face and within all you do, may the Word of Christ so fill you with courage that you withstand and stand.  The triune God engrave the eternal name upon your hearts.  Stand on your feet and live.  Enter the silence. Hear the Word.

~See you Sunday

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Speak, For Your Servant Hears

You go to the cinema and you pause long enough to determine which seat you prefer to sit in, not necessarily for comfort (since the seats are all the same) but because you desire to position yourself in the best possible way to hear and see the movie.

You pay for a class and upon the first day of entering the classroom (be it an academic setting, an art or craft class, or a one-time lecture) you take a moment to determine where you will sit.  Factors may enter into your decision like how best you can hear or see the screen or chalkboard or how isolated you might be from interference from others taking the course.  You do this in order to maximize the experience and get as much as  you can from the class.

Positioning ourselves, orienting ourselves toward the source of information is something we do every day and certainly in moments like those noted above.  This is a skill that can serve you well as you ponder your spiritual life. Consider the boy, Samuel.

In our First Sunday Bible Study this past Sunday, we discussed chapters 1-3 of I Samuel and in that narrative there comes a moment when the young boy, Samuel, hears a voice calling his name in the middle of the night.  He goes to the high priest, Eli, and says to him, “Here I am, you called me.”  Eli, in so many words, tells the boy to go back to sleep.  ”I did not call you. Go back to bed.”  The third time this happens, Eli realizes that the Lord God is the one beckoning to Samuel. And then we read this in chapter 3:

“Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

This week, every day if you can, upon awakening, position yourself as Samuel did and say, “Speak, for your servant hears.” The point here is not to pry some mystical experience out of you.  You and I may hear nothing like Samuel heard. But the point is to position ourselves in a way that we may hear what God is trying to tell us.  And, of course, one way to do that is by worshipping together on Sunday as the Word of God is addressed to all of us through scripture and proclamation.  God is calling to us.  ~See you Sunday

Pancakes & Sermons

 

Pancakes

Because of the devotion and skill of our bass player, we have some sermons back up for you to read and to listen to.  Our bass player also is I.T.  savvy.  So thanks for helping us out–you know who you are.  

I feel somewhat like the cook at a diner.  You know how you order your pancakes and while you wait you hear a bell ding? And you know the ding of the bell means “Order’s up!”    So imagine a bell dinging and me saying, “Sermon’s up!”  They’re ready for consumption.  Proceed to the buffet line on the “sermons” page.

Sermons are little emblems. They are snapshots of theology, praxis, philosophical and hermeneutical approaches to scripture and the world around us.  I hope you will take time to read and listen to some of these.  They are handcrafted.  I don’t just pull them out of a hat.  And more importantly, a sermon participates in the mystery of the Logos, the Word of God manifested to the world in Christ.  Through the poverty of our language we are ushered into the riches of God’s love.  Pancakes & Sermons. Get fed.

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The Church is…

“Now, anywhere you hear or see [the Word of God] preached,

English: 500th day of birth of Martin Luther (...

believed, confessed, and acted upon, do not doubt that the true ecclesia sancta catholica, a ‘holy Christian people’ must be there, even though there are very few of them.”

I like this assertion and description of the Church by Martin Luther.  You’ll note that his definition of the Church is not institutionally based. That is, it is not dependent upon some fuzzy notion of apostolic chain of command nor it is relegated to the history of any one church (like say the Orthodox or Roman Catholic).  The definition rotates around the proclamation of God’s Word.  Hence the Reformation principle of sola scriptura.

I also like that he comments that such a true holy Christian people is not dependent upon some large number of folks.  In the United States, where bigger is better, Christians—and particularly Evangelicals—are inclined to believe that a bigger church is somehow more a church. This is nonsense, of course.  I’ve said for a long time that I’d prefer to be in the midst of a small number of devoted and authentic Christ-like persons than a horde of fools.

As this new year begins and we, Riverside Baptist Church, are faced with remarkable opportunities and solemn decisions that will configure our future for another generation, let’s keep Luther’s assertion in mind.  We are not an institution. We are not a building. We are not a creed.  We are the ecclesia sancta catholica, the holy Christian people who are formed at the point of God’s Gospel to us proclaimed.  I hope you will do your best this year to be in worship with us every Sunday, because the Word is proclaimed, believed, confessed and acted upon in that holy context.

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