The Threat of Grace

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany: Jer. 1:1-10, 1 Cor. 13:1-13, Lk. 4:21-30 Introduction Epiphany is the season that celebrates God’s glory bursting out into this world through Jesus. This began at His birth, but it went public at His baptism, in His miracles, and through His preaching and teaching the Scriptures. In many ways, we can…

Screaming Goat Scandals

One of the important lessons that Christians must learn in the face of sin and failure is honest confession and repentance. This means naming sins biblically. Confession literally means to “agree with God.” This must be done simply, straightforwardly, and cheerfully. At the same time, one of the other lessons that must be remembered is…

Cast to Trust

Almost seven weeks ago, my wife and I brought a baby home from the hospital. We had been expecting for about twenty-four hours. He’s staying with us temporarily until a permanent home can be found for him. But as each day passes, the realization that we will say goodbye to this little friend settles upon…

Religion of the Dead

Judges 21:1-15, Mk. 15:33-41 The Christian faith is not a religion of near-misses and close-calls. The Christian faith is the religion of the dead. Human sin and depravity cannot be coaxed back to life. The sin of Adam did not contract a disease; in the day that we ate, we died. This is part of…

Unexpected Grace

Luke XXVIII: Luke 7:18-35 Introduction This story is all about expectations. John needs reassurance that his expectations about Jesus are correct. Jesus asks the people about their expectations concerning John. And finally, Jesus explains why the expectations of the Pharisees are wrong. And the questions looming behind these expectations are about who Jesus is and…

Tactics of Grace

Luke XXV: Lk. 6:27-38 Introduction When you follow Jesus, you are committing your life to the One who became impoverished for us, hungry for us, sorrowful for us, rejected and excluded for us. This is why when we experience those same things, we can rejoice and be glad. The reason we receive those situations in…

A Statement of Thanksgiving

[Below is a letter we sent out to our congregation a couple of days ago regarding some of the recent questions that have been raised about our pastoral care of a family in our church. This is not intended to be a reply to any particular individual or quarter, but rather, as the statement itself...

Jesus Our Healer

One of the accusations leveled against our community has been our lack of care for the victims of abuse. And wound into that accusation is the assumption that instead of caring for children and victims, our refusal to cow to the accusatory catcalls is necessarily just an act of self defense, defending leaders and pastors…

Grace, Unity, & Orcs

As it turns out, I need to say a few more things about the nature of disagreement in the Christian Church, and I also need to talk about Orcs. First, on disagreement: There’s an easy optical illusion created by the blessing of God combined with just enough geographical distance for people to look at Moscow…

We Do Not Lose Heart

Just a few quick follow up thoughts on grace and justice in difficult pastoral situations. First, I linked a post from Tim Bayly this morning that is a great example of gracious, thoughtful disagreement with the way another session of elders has handled a difficult situation. It is helpful not only because of its tone…