Category : Christology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday sermon–What does the Baptism of Jesus Teach us about our Identity (Luke 3:15-21)

Listen to it all or there is more there if you so desire.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Epiphany awakens the question in the hearts of all people–who is this Jesus?

Dear friends, this is the question that the Church wishes to awaken in the hearts of all men: who is Jesus? This is the spiritual longing that drives the mission of the Church: to make Jesus known, his Gospel, so that every man can discover in his human face the face of God, and be illumined by his mystery of love. Epiphany pre-announces the universal opening of the Church, her call to evangelize all peoples. But Epiphany also tells us in what way the Church carries out this mission: reflecting the light of Christ and proclaiming his Word. Christians are called to imitate the service that the star gave the Magi. We must shine as children of the light, to attract all to the beauty of the Kingdom of god. And to all those who seek truth, we must offer the Word of God, which leads to recognizing in Jesus “the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

Benedict XVI.

Posted in Christology, Epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s 2021 Christmas sermon–Three Central Questions for Christmas

Listen to it all or there is more there if you so desire.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christmas, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Flannery O’Connor on the idea of the Need for Redemption being Squashed

My own feeling is that writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eyes for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. In some cases, these writers may be unconsciously infected with the Manichaean spirit of the times and suffer the much-discussed disjunction between sensibility and belief, but I think that more often the reason for this attention to the perverse is the difference between their beliefs and the beliefs of their audience. Redemption is meaningless unless there is case for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.

The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs as you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock, to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures.

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969) pp. 33-34 [my emphasis]

Posted in Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Poetry & Literature, Soteriology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast of the Holy Name

O almighty God, who hast given unto thy Son Jesus Christ the name which is above every name, and hast taught us that there is none other whereby we may be saved: Mercifully grant that as thy faithful people have comfort and peace in his name, so they may ever labour to publish it unto all nations; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Scottish Prayer Book

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Language, Spirituality/Prayer

Frederick Buechner for Christmas

“Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there was no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.”

–Frederick Buechner, quoted at the beginning of A Prayer for Owen Meany, cited by yours truly in the Christmas Eve sermon

Posted in Anthropology, Christmas, Christology

Peter Kreeft on the Meaning of Christmas

Let’s apply the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

Christmas is so familiar that we sometimes wonder whether anything fresh and true can be said about it.

But there is a way to explore its meaning that may seem new to us today, yet is in fact quite traditional, dating back to the Middle Ages and the ancient Fathers of the Church.
Modern interpreters often argue about whether a given Scripture passage should be interpreted literally or symbolically. Medieval writers would question the “either/or” approach. They thought a passage could have as many as four “right” interpretations, one literal and three symbolic.

These were: (1) the historical or literal, which is the primary sense on which the others all depend; (2) the prophetic sense when an Old Testament event foreshadows its New Testament fulfillment; (3) the moral or spiritual sense, when events and characters in a story correspond to elements in our own lives; and (4) the eschatological sense, when a scene on earth foreshadows something of heavenly glory.

This symbolism is legitimate because it doesn’t detract from the historical, literal sense, but builds on and expands it. It’s based on the theologically sound premise that history too symbolizes, or points beyond itself, for God wrote three books, not just one: nature and history as well as Scripture. The story of history is composed not only of “events,” but of words, signs and symbols. This is unfamiliar to us only because we have lost a sense of depth and exchanged it for a flat, one-dimensional, “bottom-line” mentality in which everything means only one thing.

Let’s try to recapture the riches of this lost worldview by applying the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world–but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Christology

Dorothy Sayers on the Incarnation

..[Jesus of Nazareth] was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be “like God” he was God.

Now, this is not just a pious commonplace: it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death he [God] had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.

Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company,1949), page 4 (with special thanks to blog reader and friend WW)

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Church History

The Book of Homilies on the Nativity–‘What greater love could we seely creatures desire or wish to have at God’s hands?’

But, for the better understanding and consideration of this thing, let us behold the end of his coming: so shall we perceive what great commodity and profit his nativity hath brought unto us miserable and sinful creatures. The end of his coming was to save and deliver his people, to fulfil the law for us, to bear witness to the truth, to teach and preach the words of his Father, to give light unto the world, to call sinners to repentance, to refresh them that labour and be heavy laden, to cast out the prince of this world, to reconcile us in the body of his flesh, to dissolve the works of the devil last of all, to become a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world.[48] These were the chief ends wherefore Christ became man, not for any profit that should come to himself thereby, but only for our sakes ; that we might understand the will of God, be partakers of his heavenly light, be delivered out of the devil’s claws, released from the burden of sin, justified through faith in his blood, and finally received up into everlasting glory, there to reign with him for ever. Was not this a great and singular love of Christ towards mankind, that being the express and lively image of God[49]he would notwithstanding humble himself and take upon him the form of a servant and that only to save and redeem us? O how much are we bound to the goodness of God in this behalf! How many thanks and praises do we owe unto him for this our salvation, wrought by his dear and only Son Christ: who became a pilgrim in earth, to make us citizens in heaven; who became the Son of man, to make us the sons of God; who became obedient to the law, to deliver us from the curse of the law; who became poor to make us rich;[50] vile to make us precious; subject to death to make us live for ever. What greater love could we seely creatures desire or wish to have at God’s hands?

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Preaching / Homiletics

(CLJ) Hans Urs von Balthasar for Christmas–Setting out Into the Dark with God

“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you Good News of a great joy . . . This day is born the Savior,” that is, he who, as Son of God and Son of the Father, has traveled (in obedience to the Father) the path that leads away from the Father and into the darkness of the world. Behind him omnipotence and freedom; before, powerlessness, bonds and obedience. Behind him the comprehensive divine vision; before him the prospect of the meaninglessness of death on the Cross between two criminals, Behind him the bliss of life with the Father; before him, grievous solidarity with all who do not know the Father, do not want to know him and deny his existence. Rejoice then, for God himself has passed this way! The Son took with him the awareness of doing the Father’s will. He took with him the unceasing prayer that the Father’s will would be done on the dark earth as in the brightness of heaven. He took with him his rejoicing that the Father had hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to babes, to the simple and the poor. “I am the way,” and this way is “the truth” for you; along this way you will find “the life.” Along “the way” that I am you will learn to lose your life in order to find it; you will learn to grow beyond yourselves and your insincerity into a truth that is greater than you are. From a worldly point of view everything may seem very dark; your dedication may seem unproductive and a failure. But do not be afraid: you are on God’s path. “Let not your hearts be troubled: believe in God; believe also in me.” I am walking on ahead of you and blazing the trail of Christian love for you. It leads to your most inaccessible brother, the person most forsaken by God. But it is the path of divine love itself. You are on the right path. All who deny themselves in order to carry out love’s commission are on the right path.

Miracles happen along this path. Apparently insignificant miracles, noticed by hardly anyone. The very finding of a Child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger—is this not a miracle in itself? Then there is the miracle when a particular mission, hidden in a person’s heart, really reaches its goal, bringing God’s peace and joy where there were nothing but despair and resignation; when someone succeeds in striking a tiny light in the midst of an overpowering darkness. When joy irradiates a heart that no longer dared to believe in it. Now and again we ourselves are assured that the angel’s word we are trying to obey will bring us to the place where God’s Word and Son is already made man. We are assured that, in spite of all the noise and nonsense, today, December 25, is Christmas just as truly as two millennia ago. Once and for all God has started out on his journey toward us, and nothing, till the world’s end, will stop him from coming to us and abiding in us.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Church History, Theology

JI Packer on Christmas

The crucial significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place in the sequence of steps down that led the Son of God to the cross of Calvary, and we do not understand it till we see it in this context…the taking of manhood by the Son is set before us in a way which shows us how we should ever view it–not simply as a marvel of nature, but rather as a wonder of grace.

–J. I. Packer, Knowing God, (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press; 20th Anniversary ed.), p.42

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Soteriology, Theology

Karl Barth on Christmas–A Real Closing of the Breach

God with us means more than God over or side by side with us, before or behind us. It means more than His divine being in even the most intimate active connection with our human being otherwise peculiar to Him. At this point, at the heart of the Christian message and in relation to the event of which it speaks, it means that God has made himself the one who fulfills his redemptive will. It means that He Himself in His own person at His own cost but also on His own initiative has become the inconceivable Yet and Nevertheless of this event, and so its clear and well-founded and legitimate, its true and holy and righteous Therefore. It means that God has become man in order as such, but in divine sovereignty, to take up our case. What takes place in the work of inconceivable mercy is, therefore, the free overruling of God, but it is not an arbitrary overlooking and ignoring, not an artificial bridging, covering over or hiding, but a real closing of the breach, gulf and abyss between God and us for which we are responsible. At the very point where we refuse and fail, offending and provoking God, making ourselves impossible before Him and in that way missing our destiny, treading under foot our dignity, forfeiting our right, losing our salvation and hopelessly compromising our creaturely being at that very point God Himself intervenes as man.

Church Dogmatics (IV.1) [E.T. By Geoffrey Bromiley and Thomas Torrance of the German Original] (London: T and T Clark, 1956), page 12

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Church History

(Peter Wehner) Why Jesus Never Stopped Asking Questions

Malcolm Muggeridge, the renowned 20th-century social critic and British journalist, was an unlikely convert to Christianity. For most of his life, he was an agnostic; faith for him was “infinitely unattainable.” But attain it he did, late in life, and in 1975 he wrote, “The coming of Jesus into the world is the most stupendous event in human history.”

Twenty centuries after his birth, Jesus still holds a revered place in the hearts of billions of people. I am among them. I imagine that it has influenced almost every area of my life, like food coloring dropped in water.

Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him.

Martin Copenhaver, a retired president of Andover Newton Theological School, claims in his book “Jesus Is the Question” that Jesus was more than 40 times as likely to ask a question as answer one directly, and he was 20 times as likely to offer an indirect answer as a direct one. “Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger,” T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Rock.” “Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.”

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Christology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Dorothy Sayers on the Incarnation for Her Feast Day

“[Jesus of Nazareth] was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be ‘like God’—he was God.

“Now, this is not just a pious commonplace: it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—he [God] had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.”

Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949), page 4 (with special thanks to blog reader and friend WW)

Posted in Christology, Church History

Sunday food for Thought from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without contrition. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

The Cost of Discipleship, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Christology, Church History, Soteriology, Theology

(CC) Isaac S. Villegas–The waters of baptism remember

In the 16th century, in Central Europe, Anabaptist communities passed around an anonymous tract, The Mystery of Baptism, which invited peasants to consider other-than-human creatures as Christ’s evangelists. “In the gospel of all creatures nothing else is shown and preached but the crucified Christ alone,” the author explains. “But not Christ as the head alone, rather the whole Christ with all his members—this is the Christ that all creatures preach and teach.” According to this theological vision, God has commissioned animals and rivers and landscapes as guides into Christ’s revelations, Christocentric the­ophanies, a gospel for human and nonhuman creatures alike.

Baptism is our immersion into Christ’s death and resurrection, our creaturely union with the waters as we undergo the labor of another world being born within this one. In the baptismal waters we join nature’s ache for redemption, for restoration. “Creation waits with eager longing,” Paul writes in Romans, to “be set free from its bondage to decay.”

Perhaps the savor of that river water in my mouth was the taste of earth’s longing for heaven, for a healing of our legacies of harm, for creation to be transfigured with God’s glory, for all creatures to be “united and bound together through the bond of love,” as The Mystery of Baptism declares, our belonging “with Christ, one body with many members.”

Read it all.

Posted in Baptism, Christology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Theology

Church of England Evangelist Rico Tice on what is the gospel

It starts at about 32:15 in and is worth its weight in gold.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Eschatology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology

A recent Kendall Harmon Sunday Sermon–Wrestling with the Seriousness of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21)

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Thomas Traherne for his Feast Day–‘The Cross is the abyss of Wonders’

The Cross is the abyss of wonders, the centre of desires, the school of virtues, the house of wisdom, the throne of love, the theatre of joys, and the place of sorrows; It is the root of happiness, and the gate of Heaven.

Of all the things in Heaven and Earth it is the most peculiar. It is the most exalted of all objects. It is an Ensign lifted up for all nations, to it shall the Gentiles seek, His rest shall be glorious: the dispersed of Judah shall be gathered together to it, from the four corners of the earth. If Love be the weight of the Soul, and its object the centre, all eyes and hearts may convert and turn unto this Object: cleave unto this centre, and by it enter into rest. There we might see all nations assembled with their eyes and hearts upon it. There we may see God’s goodness, wisdom and power: yea His mercy and anger displayed. There we may see man’s sin and infinite value. His hope and fear, his misery and happiness. There we might see the Rock of Ages, and the Joys of Heaven. There we may see a Man loving all the world, and a God dying for mankind. There we may see all types and ceremonies, figures and prophecies. And all kingdoms adoring a malefactor: An innocent malefactor, yet the greatest in the world. There we may see the most distant things in Eternity united: all mysteries at once couched together and explained. The only reason why this Glorious Object is so publicly admired by Churches and Kingdoms, and so little thought of by particular men, is because it is truly the most glorious: It is the Rock of Comforts and the Fountain of Joys. It is the only supreme and sovereign spectacle in all Worlds. It is a Well of Life beneath in which we may see the face of Heaven above: and the only mirror, wherein all things appear in their proper colours: that is, sprinkled in the blood of our Lord and Saviour.

The Cross of Christ is the Jacob’s ladder by which we ascend into the highest heavens. There we see joyful Patriarchs, expecting Saints, Prophets ministering Apostles publishing, and Doctors teaching, all Nations concentering, and Angels praising. That Cross is a tree set on fire with invisible flame, that Illuminateth all the world. The flame is Love: the Love in His bosom who died on it. In the light of which we see how to possess all the things in Heaven and Earth after His similitude. For He that suffered on it was the Son of God as you are: tho’ He seemed only a mortal man. He had acquaintance and relations as you have, but He was a lover of Men and Angels. Was he not the Son of God; and Heir of the whole world? To this poor, bleeding, naked Man did all the corn and wine, and oil, and gold and silver in the world minister in an invisible manner, even as He was exposed lying and dying upon the Cross.

Centuries of Meditations 1:58-60

Posted in Christology, Church History

TS Eliot for the Feast of the Holy Cross

“Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.”

– T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” IV

Posted in Christology, History, Poetry & Literature

A Charles Spurgeon Sermon for Holy Cross Day–The Death of Christ for His People

O heir of heaven, lift now thine eye, and behold the scenes of suffering through which thy Lord passed for thy sake! Come in the moonlight, and stand between those olives; see him sweat great drops of blood. Go from that garden, and follow him to Pilate’s bar. See your Matter subjected to the grossest and filthiest insult; gaze upon the face of spotless beauty defiled with the spittle of soldiers; see his head pierced with thorns; mark his back, all rent, and torn, and scarred, and bruised, and bleeding beneath the terrible lash. And O Christian, see him die! Go and stand where his mother stood, and hear him say to thee, “Man, behold thy Saviour!” Come thou to-night, and stand where John stood; hear him cry, “I thirst,” and find thyself unable either to assuage his griefs or to comprehend their bitterness. Then, when thou hast wept there, lift thine hand, and cry, “Revenge!” Bring out the traitors; where are they? And when your sins are brought forth as the murderers of Christ, let no death be too painful for them; though it should involve the cutting off of right arms, or the quenching of right eyes, and putting out their light for ever; do it! For if these murderers murdered Christ, then let them die. Die terribly they may, but die they must. Oh! that God the Holy Ghost would teach you that first lesson, my brethren, the boundless wickedness of sin, for Christ had to lay down his life before your sin could be wiped away.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology

(Veritas revisit)–Quite the testimony from Sarah Irving-Stonebraker: How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus

One Sunday, shortly before my 28th birthday, I walked into a church for the first time as someone earnestly seeking God. Before long I found myself overwhelmed. At last I was fully known and seen and, I realised, unconditionally loved – perhaps I had a sense of relief from no longer running from God. A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night, after a couple months of attending church, I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.

From there, I started a rigorous diet of theology, reading the Bible and exploring theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Ramsey, and F.D. Maurice. Christianity, it turned out, looked nothing like the caricature I once held. I found the story of Jacob wrestling with God especially compelling: God wants anything but the unthinking faith I had once assumed characterized Christianity. God wants us to wrestle with Him; to struggle through doubt and faith, sorrow and hope. Moreover, God wants broken people, not self-righteous ones. And salvation is not about us earning our way to some place in the clouds through good works. On the contrary; there is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to God. As a historian, this made profound sense to me. I was too aware of the cycles of poverty, violence and injustice in human history to think that some utopian design of our own, scientific or otherwise, might save us.

Christianity was also, to my surprise, radical – far more radical than the leftist ideologies with which I had previously been enamored. The love of God was unlike anything which I expected, or of which I could make sense.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Christology, Soteriology, Theology, Uncategorized

(Mockingbird) Joshua Simpson reviews Fleming Rutledge’s newest book–The Gospel, On Repeat

Rutledge repeats a cycle of sober assessment and hope — a hope that is expressly found in Christ. Readers of The Crucifixion will observe that her magnum opus really was the result of a lifelong, cruciform ministry. She reiterates Paul’s exhortation that all are unrighteous and that we must be saved by a power outside of ourselves.

[Jesus] is willing to die even for such poor specimens as you and me, covering our unrighteousness with his righteousness, offering his life to save us from death, victorious over the old Adam, the Judge judged in our place. He has compensated for our too-short list of good deeds by his one great deed.

The sermons are varied and based upon an array of scripture readings, yet more often than not Rutledge sets our gaze on the crucified and resurrected Christ. As I read through Means of Grace, I realized why I am drawn to the writings of Fleming Rutledge: she can’t stop talking about the core event that changed the history of the cosmos. My soul needs to hear the story of Christ’s death, resurrection, and future coming over and over again. I’m not sure that another self-help sermon will change my life. I am not convinced that a preacher will provide five steps to resolve my anxiety, improve my self-esteem, etc. But the problems I face, and perhaps the problems you face, seem far less daunting when nestled within God’s bigger story.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christology, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology

(CC) Daniel Schultz–What does it mean to believe in Jesus in the way John wants?

“Trust me!” Jesus says, and the more he says it, the less the crowd is inclined to go along.

John’s idea of what it means to believe is far different from ours in our scientific, post-Enlightenment world, of course. It’s not assent to an intellectual proposition the apostle is after, it’s that his readers come to better know Jesus, the bread of heaven. The relational aspect finally saves the story from itself. Even as the author fumes about the crowd’s blindness, his main character invites them into relationship. Jesus, ever the teacher, wants to see the light in their eyes as the world opens up before them. He knows there’s no margin in making them feel stupid.

The leader of an immunization advocacy group recently told me it’s well known in that world that you simply cannot argue someone into taking the necessary steps for public health. They may listen to the logic and consider the evidence, but if they’re skeptical, it all goes in one ear and out the other. The only thing to do, in her words, is to offer them “positive feelings strong enough to outweigh the bad.”

The thing to do, then, is to show people “that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” by listening to them, taking them seriously, and building a relationship. In encouraging vaccination, avoid the temptation to scoff at plain ignorance and recalcitrance. In reading John, stop demanding that people think the same way we do. It doesn’t always work—people can be pretty stubborn, after all—but when it does, it brings the joy of watching someone realize for the first time how wonderful and strange life is in the light of God’s love. Why would you want to miss out on that fun?

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Samuel Wells on one man’s question in one group on one particular day–“Where’s my love to go now?…Tell me That”

So I took a risk, and said, gently, “Imagine eternity from God’s point of view. Imagine God having all that love pent up like you have right now. But the difference is, God’s got that love all pent up potentially forever. God’s like you. God’s thinking, ‘Where’s my love to go?’ So God creates the universe. But God’s got still more love to give. So God creates life, and makes humanity, and calls a special people. But that’s still not enough. God’s got yet more love to give. So God comes among us as a tiny baby. God’s question ‘Where is my love to go?’ is perhaps the most important one of all time. Half the answer is the crea­tion of the universe. The other half is the incarnation. On Christmas Day we find out why the universe was created. It was created for us to be the place where God’s love could go.”

In case I hadn’t made myself clear, I added one more suggestion. “So when you ask yourself, ‘Where’s my love to go?’ you’re getting an insight into the very heart of God.”

The pandemic has been about many things, but one above all: powerlessness. It’s been an intensification of life’s fragilities and limitations. We’ve felt fearful, lonely, and disappointed. Where is our love to go? We’ve not been getting an easy answer to this question. We’re getting something else instead: the discovery of what it’s like to be God, who asked the same question and came among us to complete the answer. What the pandemic’s given us is an opportunity to dwell in the very heart of God.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

The Ballad of God-Makers for G.K. Chesterton’s Feast Day

A bird flew out at the break of day
From the nest where it had curled,
And ere the eve the bird had set
Fear on the kings of the world.

The first tree it lit upon
Was green with leaves unshed;
The second tree it lit upon
Was red with apples red;

The third tree it lit upon
Was barren and was brown,
Save for a dead man nailed thereon
On a hill above a town.
That night the kings of the earth were gay
And filled the cup and can;
Last night the kings of the earth were chill
For dread of a naked man.

”˜If he speak two more words,’ they said,
”˜The slave is more than the free;
If he speak three more words,’ they said,
”˜The stars are under the sea.’

Said the King of the East to the King of the West,
I wot his frown was set,
”˜Lo, let us slay him and make him as dung,
It is well that the world forget.’

Said the King of the West to the King of the East,
I wot his smile was dread,
”˜Nay, let us slay him and make him a god,
It is well that our god be dead.’

They set the young man on a hill,
They nailed him to a rod;
And there in darkness and in blood
They made themselves a god.

And the mightiest word was left unsaid,
And the world had never a mark,
And the strongest man of the sons of men
Went dumb into the dark.

Then hymns and harps of praise they brought,
Incense and gold and myrrh,
And they thronged above the seraphim,
The poor dead carpenter.

”˜Thou art the prince of all,’ they sang,
”˜Ocean and earth and air.’
Then the bird flew on to the cruel cross,
And hid in the dead man’s hair.

”˜Thou art the son of the world.’ they cried, `
”˜Speak if our prayers be heard.’
And the brown bird stirred in the dead man’s hair
And it seemed that the dead man stirred.

Then a shriek went up like the world’s last cry
From all nations under heaven,
And a master fell before a slave
And begged to be forgiven.

They cowered, for dread in his wakened eyes
The ancient wrath to see;
And a bird flew out of the dead Christ’s hair,
And lit on a lemon tree.

–G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Posted in Christology, Church History

Soo-Inn Tan–Klaus Bockmuehl and the God of Verbs

He warned against defining God purely through abstract definitions — the usual listing of His attributes, e.g. omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, etc. He was concerned that if this was the primary way we understood God, we risk making God an exhibit in a museum, and the attributes His labels. But God is no static abstraction. He is alive and acts in history. I thank my Pentecostal and charismatic friends for reminding me of God’s presence and power, but the lesson was first drilled into my heart by a German theologian in a Canadian seminary.

A number of implications arise from this understanding of God as a God who acts. One is that we get to know what kind of God He is by His actions. Talking about Jesus, Dr Bockmuehl said Jesus is from above but we know Him from below. In other words, Christ is part of the Trinity, He is from above, but it is His activity in history, His teachings and His actions, that let us know who He is and, therefore, who God is. The supreme act of revelation is of course His death on the Cross and His resurrection. And Israel was always exhorted to remember the Passover and God’s deliverance through the Red Sea. To take God seriously is to take His actions in history seriously.

I am very worried about some of the modern worship music. They either don’t take history seriously, focusing only on the singer’s subjective feelings about God, or they focus only on the personal histories of the composers; what God did in their lives. They are essentially ahistorical and deprive us of the bigger and more accurate picture of God revealed in salvation history and church history. They end up reductionistic and with a much smaller God.

And if our picture of God is smaller and essentially ahistorical, we end up with a weakened faith, not fully confident in what He will do in the present. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, we know what kind of God He is and what He will do by meditating on what He has done in the past. So if we are praying for healing, for example, we know we are praying to a God who hears, who is concerned, who cares and who comes down to deliver. We know the verbs. Knowing He is that kind of God means we pray with confidence both in His deliverance and in how and when He delivers.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Christology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tuesday Afternoon Encouragement–Zach Williams, Dolly Parton – There Was Jesus

Enjoy the whole thing.

Posted in Christology, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Doxology from Thomas Ken to begin the Day

Glory be to thee, O Christ our Prophet, who didst reveal and interpret thy Father’s will and all saving truth to the world.
Glory be to thee, O Christ our Priest, who didst offer thyself a sacrifice for sin and ever livest to make intercession for us.
Glory be to thee, O Christ our King, who dost give laws to thy people, and dost govern and protect us in thy love, and who reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and for evermore.

Posted in Christology, Spirituality/Prayer

Ashley Null preaches on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

The sermon starts about 46 minutes in.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture