Last week Ruling and Teaching Elders from across the world gathered in Mobile, Alabama for this year’s General Assembly. It was our denomination’s 45th GA. The denomination’s choice of location reminds me every year that our roots are in the south and that is, with a few exceptions, where our largest and most influential churches are. General Assembly is a time for ministers to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. There are seminars offered for continuing education as well as worship services every evening. In addition to all of this, and really at the heart of the Assembly’s work, is the denominational business that is taken care of. Some of it is fiduciary in nature—we have a college and a seminary; the denomination has employees who must be hired and whose budget needs to be approved—and … Read More »
Week 24, Ezra 3 – Nehemiah 11; John 18 – Acts 2:13
One of the cool things about reading through the Bible in a fairly straightforward manner is the way we are confronted with the outworking and flow of the history of redemption. Today’s reading and tomorrow’s remind us of a watershed event in the history of God’s kingdom coming. That event is recorded for us in Acts 2. I am, of course, talking about the day of Pentecost. Pentecost simply means 50 and it was the way Greek speaking Jews described the holiday—the Feast of Weeks—celebrated 7 weeks after Passover. Originally the Feast of Weeks of a harvest celebration, but later came to be associated with the giving of the Law. Like with Passover, Jesus freights these Jewish celebrations with new meaning. The new wine of the Kingdom of God … Read More »
2 Chron. 18 – Ezra 2; John 13:21 – 17
After Jesus’ resurrection he greets his disciples with the simple word of peace (Jn. 20:26). Deeply rooted in the Hebrew tradition and equally rooted in the Hebrew word, Shalom, Jesus’ announcement of peace is so simple and yet so profound. The risen king who possesses all authority in heaven and earth lifts up his hands and blesses his disciples with a word of peace. The war is over. God is for us.
This is most certainly what motivated the disciples and the writers of the New Testament to offer to the churches to whom they ministered words of peace. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Col. 1:2). A simple Bible search on the word peace reveals that nearly every New Testament epistle extends … Read More »
Last Friday was Epiphany and it is celebrated by many churches today. Epiphany is a loanword from Greek. It is used several times in the New Testament and it means appearance. It was used outside of the New Testament to refer to a manifestation of the gods. So appearance, manifestation, and revelation are all good words to think of when we use the word epiphany.
More specifically, Epiphany is a fixed feast day on the church calendar. Since it is a fixed day it is always celebrated on January 6th. When it doesn’t fall on Sunday some churches celebrate it on the Sunday between January 2-8. As suggested by the definitions above, Epiphany is the celebration of Christ’s manifestation, but more specifically his manifestation to the gentiles. This manifestation is codified for us in the story of the Magi—sometimes called Wise … Read More »
1 Chron. 27 – 2 Chron. 17; John 10:22 – 13:20
As we move into 2 Chronicles this week in the OT readings we are presented the accomplishments of Solomon as the kingdom transitions after David’s death. And they are remarkable. Under Solomon the nation is the stability and legacy of a place in the form of a temple. In the early chapters Solomon’s devotion to God is on full display. He prays for wisdom, instead of wealth and self-promotion (2 Chronicles 1). He builds the temple and furnishes it for the worship of God (2 Chronicles 3-4). No small feat. He leads Israel in worship and God responds by flooding the temple with his glory in the form of fire (2 Chronicles 7). He is presented as the king of the nations, with kings and queens flocking to him and … Read More »