The Apostle's Tale: PROMISE
Today is about that solid ground of God’s promises for us, especially when we may not see them fulfilled even in our lifetimes. Just as God has formed a covenant with the people of Israel for their salvation and mission in the world, God has just as surely covenanted with all people, Jewish and Gentile alike, who turn to Christ as Savior and commit their way to him as Lord. As dystopian and toxic as this world may seem or be, the promise of complete salvation for us and renewal of all things in creation abides.
- Genesis 32:22-31
- Psalm 17:1-7, 15 (UMH 749)
- Romans 9:1-5
- Matthew 14:13-21
#ThreeSteps In a Christian’s Walk: Step Out...Into Faith
Inigo Montoya’s most repeated and memed line from The Princess Bride is “”You keep using that word…. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” What did Paul mean by “faith?” And what does faith, as Paul meant it, both require of us and empower us to do?
- Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
- Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b (UMH 828)
- Romans 10:5-15
- Matthew 14:22-33
#ThreeSteps In a Christian’s Walk: Step Toward...Your Siblings in Abraham
"For the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:2a, NRSV). Often this text is used (and not entirely improperly) to support doctrine about the permanent nature of spiritual gifts, baptism, and ordination. Once the Spirit has acted, what the Spirit has done cannot be undone, we say. But in context in Romans 11, in the wider context of the whole letter, and, as N.T. Wright argues in his book, Justification, in the context of God’s plan to save the whole world through the promises begun with Abraham and his descendents, something much bigger is at stake. And it calls us, as Christians, to step toward rather than away from persons of other religious who are also Abraham’s descendants.
- Genesis 45:1-15
- Psalm 133 (UMH 850)
- Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
- Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28
#ThreeSteps In a Christian’s Walk: Step Forth...In Your Spiritual Gifts
We step out into our own identity in Christ. We step toward others in our extended family in Abraham. And we step forth, both within the community of the church and toward the wider world, in the power of the spiritual gifts we have been given, whatever these may be. And we step forth not to assert ourselves, our superiority, or our gifts. We step forth, letting the life-giving power of the Spirit flow through us and these gifts within the community of the church and into the world God is out to save.
- Exodus 1:8-2:10
- Psalm 124 (UMH 846)
- Romans 12:1-8
- Matthew 16:13-20
Season of Creation: FIRE
Season of Creation invites us into a time of pause and reflection. With Moses we are given opportunity to “turn aside to see” how God calls to us and empowers us in and through the whole creation God is out to save.
- Exodus 3:1-15
- Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45b (UMH 828)
- Romans 12:9-21
- Matthew 16:21-28
Season of Creation: DEATH
As Christians we have a paradoxical relationship with death. On the one hand, we, with our brother Paul, see death as an enemy whose destruction is already declared in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (I Corinthians 15:26). On the other hand, also with our brother Paul, we affirm that we are baptized into the death of Jesus, and only through experiencing a death like his in baptism are we promised the hope of a resurrection like his (Romans 6:4-8). So already, within some of the most famous passages from one early Christian writer’s most famous work we encounter death as at once enemy and portal to life.
- Exodus 12:1-14
- Psalm 149 or Psalm 148 (UMH 861)
- Romans 13:8-14
- Matthew 18:15-20