"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57
Monday, December 29, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Somehow, the local York, PA newspaper found about this little piece of trivia and recently did a story on what it's like to be an SC pastor in a PSU church. You'll find the short video interview on the right side of the link above.
Enjoy the video.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Sermon - "A Sign of the Times"
Friday, December 19, 2008
- The writing style of this book feels less like a letter and more like a summary of proper ethical conduct for Christians within the church.
- The author presupposes that the Christians are living in an alien world filled with immorality (reminds me of the Book of Revelation in this regard.)
- The primary audience appears to be Jewish people who have become Christian and who live outside of Palestine.
- There is an emphasis on the second coming of Jesus Christ.
- Tradition claims that the author, James, is the brother of Jesus. Because of the sophisticated Greek style of this book and the late acceptance of this book into the biblical canon, some bible scholars think it may have been someone else.
One of the problems in trying to figure out who wrote the Book of James is because James was such a popular name in the 1st century as well as within the New Testament itself. The reason for this is because the English name of James is a variant of the name Jacob from the Old Testament, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. People would have been very proud to name their sons after this Old Testament hero in the faith.
And now to complicate things...which is why it's good to be part of a bible study to sort out some of these unanswered questions! For all we know, there might be only two people with the name of James in the New Testament or as many as eight different people. Here are the eight references:
- James the Greater (One of the 12 disciples)
- James the Less (One of the 12 disciples)
- James the Just (Listed in the Book of Acts & Brother of Jesus)
- James the Writer (the author of the Book of James)
- James the Son of Cleopas (Luke 24:10 & John 19:25 - Is this referring to someone other than the mother of Jesus?)
- James the Kinsman of Jude the Apostle (Luke 6:16)
- James the Brother of Jude the Writer (from the Book of Jude)
It's interesting that in our last bible study topic on the book, "The Blue Parakeet: How to Study the Bible" by Scot McKnight, the author sees a connection between Mary, the mother of James/Jesus (her focus on God's concern for the poor: see the Magnificat & the focus on taking care of the poor in the Book of James.) Did Mary teach James when he was a child about taking care of the poor and then he focuses on the poor this in his letter?
Finally, I mentioned that the Revised Common Lectionary which is a three year cycle of readings for each Sunday includes six different passages from the Book of James. We are presenting in the middle of the three year cycle which has five of the six James readings. The other James reading appears in the first year of the cycle.
Next summary on the Book of James: January 8 (when our bible study resumes after the holidays.) And of course, the fun part of this bible study series will be to sort out the whole "faith" (Apostle Paul) vs. "works" (James) debate.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Sermon - "When Hope Is Not Enough"
Friday, December 12, 2008
This final session was basically a summary of our past sessions regarding the themes in this book which is that we are to see the Bible as a grand narrative (Story) which includes several smaller stories within the story. The key to interpreting the bible is to wisely and prayerfully decide the cultural context of each biblical passage and determine what truths are meant to carry over into our present day and age. The author argues that what we tend to do is take short-cuts in drawing conclusions regarding a particular text in scripture.
One example of this is the whole issue of whether or not women should teach/preach. In the United Methodist Church, my hunch is that most people in our denomination see this as a non-issue since women have been ordained in the Methodist church since 1956, however, based on some things I hear from female clergy colleagues, we still have a ways to go!
Our bible study group must be farther along than most bible study groups because we ended up having an honest and insightful discussion on the controversial topic of homosexuality by applying what we learned from the "Blue Parakeet" book. We shared opinions which represented a variety of perspectives on this issue.
Just to make sure that the readers of this book do not forget that the bible is a grand narrative (Story,) the author points to Stephen, the first martyr of the early church, who tells the story of God, (Acts 7) beginning in the Old Testament the whole way through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are to be like Stephen and remember to not take any particular part of the bible out of context but always locate a passage of scripture in the larger grand narrative.
For anyone who is interested, our next bible study topic will be on the Book of James beginning next Thursday at 10 A.M. at the church.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
If you weren't able to walk through the 25 minute exhibit, this brief video will give you an idea of what it was like. http://www.wvexperience.org/video_trailer.asp
As I think about yesterday's 2nd Sunday of Advent scripture readings which include the cries of the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist, I think of how our church can join other United Methodist Churches in offering our prayers, gifts, and love to families and children who are hurting this day because of the terrible disease of AIDS.
"...the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" - Mark 1:3
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Features - 3rd Sunday of Advent; Commissioning of Confirmation Mentors; Children's Musical (11 A.M.); Holy Baptism (11 A.M.); & Coins for Missions Sunday (Coins placed in the offering will help support St. Paul UMC Outreach Center in Dayton, FISH Food Pantry, the Caring Place Meal Ministry in Xenia, & IHN which provides temporary housing for families in need)
Scriptures - Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 & John 1:6-8, 19-28
Theme - John the Baptist testifies to the light of Christ. He humbly points people to Jesus by fulfilling the words of the prophet, 'I am the voice of the one crying in the wilderness.' God has sent people into our lives who give testimony to the light of Christ. These people give testimony by serving as leaders in the church, sharing their faith, and offering their gifts. We can thank God for their testimony.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, let us remember to join St. Nicholas in offering our gifts to people in need.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
- I was able to prepare a future sermon and worship service. I'm always in a good mood when I get most of the planning done. Thanks be to God!
- A parishioner calls me to let me know that she was offered a job after being let go from a previous job. While the salary isn't as high as the previous job, the health insurance is much better. Plus, there's room for advancement. Thanks be to God!
The last Trustees meeting of the year was held at the church tonight and we were able to offer our appreciation to three board members who have faithfully served their term and serve their church well. Plus, someone brought pizza to the meeting and I had missed dinner. Thanks be to God!
For much of the day, a beautiful light snow fell to the ground reminding me of how special this time of year really is. Thanks be to God!My day started with scripture readings from "The Daily Office" and one of the readings from Isaiah 1 summed up the hope that we find in this season of anticipation and expectation:
26 And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city ofrighteousness, the faithful city. 27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.May this Advent season be filled with the hope and anticipation of the coming fulfillment of God's promises!