Monthly Archives: November 2016

  • Advent

    Happy New Year! This is the first Sunday in Advent, which is regarded by Western Christianity as the beginning of the liturgical year. Sometimes Christians mistakenly think of Advent as being synonymous with the birth of Christ or with Christmas. But it really isn’t. In fact, Advent’s primary focus is on what we usually call the second coming of Christ. It’s for this reason that you will find the lectionary readings of the church focusing on this topic, this year. (Psalm 25; Luke 21, for example.)

    I like what Laurence Stookey says about this:

    What may seem to be an anomaly is a very important theological point: The beginning of the liturgical year takes our thinking to the very end of things (Christ’s Time for the Church, 121).

    Advent is a time for repentance and preparation.

    This is important because beginning at … Read More »

    Posted in: Pastor Brian's Blog
  • Read through the Bible, Part 31

    Last week we finished reading through the book of Hebrews. Toward the end, in the last couple of verses of Hebrews 12, a serious note is struck: let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (12:28b-29). The writer’s statement shines a spotlight on the seriousness and importance of worship. Worship is not something to be taken or treated lightly.

    The reason reverence and awe are required is because of what is at stake. The goal of worship is just that: worship. That is, the goal of worship is that God is worshiped. And, evidently, there is worship that is acceptable as well as worship that is unacceptable. Penultimate, but still very important, is the inner transformation of the worshipper. In other words, there is a pastoral concern at working hard to … Read More »

  • Read through the Bible, Part 30

    The book of Hebrews is full of what interpreters often refer to as warning passages. Warning passage is a technical phrase that refers to a strong warning sometimes found in the Bible directed toward God’s people to keep them squarely on the path of faith. For example, consider the one in 3:12: Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Or again, in 6:4-6:

    For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of … Read More »

  • Read through the Bible, Part 29

    Our year is coming to a close and so is our reading of the Bible. In the New Testament we have finished our reading of Paul’s letters and have begun the catholic epistles, the first of which is the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is an anonymous book. For whatever reason no name was attached to it. That, however, has not stopped people from speculating about who the author may have been. Luke is often suggested because of the style of Greek. Others say it was Barnabas because of his Jewish background. And it was Luther who suggested it might have been the well-learned Apollos.  One thing we can almost be certain of — as certain as one can be when talking about anonymous sources — is that it was not written by the apostle Paul. There are many reasons that … Read More »