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Showing posts from January, 2014

The Challenges of Christian Ecumenism in Israel and Palestine -- Sightings (Paul Parker)

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Most Americans view the Israeli-Palestinian situation through a rather narrow perspective. We assume that Israeli's are Jewish and Palestinians are Muslim, but too often we forget that there is a small and unfortunately diminishing population of Christians living in these two countries. They represent a wide variety of Christian denominational traditions, and even ethnic origins. Until reading this post I hadn't even thought of the numbers of migrant workers from places like Latin America and the Philippines.  There are also millions of tourists/pilgrims who come and go, most not connecting Christian sites with actual Christians.  This article by Paul Parker is a good overview that might open some eyes.  I encourage a close read and prayers for Christians living in this region -- that they not be forgotten.

The Challenges of Christian Ecumenism in Israel and Palestineby PAUL PARKER
Thursday | Jan 30 2014Ethiopian-Christian pilgrim in Jerusalem                  Image Credit:…

God Breaks Down Walls of Exclusivity -- Alternative Lectionary for Epiphany 5

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What are the walls that divide us today? Americans live in a politically polarized nation -- and that covers a wide variety of divides. Paul speaks of our oneness in Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male and female (Gal. 3:28), but we remain divided nonetheless.  The vision of God, however, is for these walls to come down.  In the reading from Joshua, the walls of Jericho come down.  This might be good text to read metaphorically.  Then there is the story of Peter's vision, opening the door to the Gentiles.  To whom might the door be opened today?  And finally, we have a word about light and vision in the Gospel reading -- what vision does Christ wish to share with us in this moment in time?  I again invite you to consider these alternative lections (Beyond the Lectionary: A Year of Alternatives to the Revised Common Lectionary), provided by David Ackerman, a United Church of Christ Pastor.  
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Epiphany 5
“God Breaks Down Walls …

Let's Not Try to Pretty-Up the Bible (By Steve Kindle)

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The Bible is, in its newest parts, is around 1900 years old, maybe a bit younger.  The world was much different then.  It emerged in patriarchal cultures, and reflects the culture in which the parts were written.  In this it is a very human book.  At the same time, it is considered to be by many sacred scripture.  These texts were written in languages that are foreign to most in their modern form and even more foreign in their original form.  Translators must take all of this into consideration.  There are many factors that go into the process of bringing an ancient word into an understandable form.  In recent years attempts have been made by some to make the text more inclusive.  Thus, the New Revised Standard Version and the Common English Bible will, where the translators deem appropriate, translate a word like adelphoi, the Greek word for brother as "brothers and sisters."  There are some, including my friend and guest poster, Steve Kindle, who think that this may not be…

Table of Freedom -- Post Communion Prayer for February 2, 2014

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Yours is the Table of Freedom.   It is a Table where all are welcome no matter their station in life, Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, for in Christ we are made one.  We give thanks to you for making this table of blessing available to us, so that as we taken up the bread and the cup, we receive into our lives signs of new life and salvation.  As we have gathered at this table, we have shared in fellowship with the one who sets the captives free.  We come to give thanks at this Table for you have set us free from the bonds of sin and death.  And having been set free, we have been reconciled to you and to one another.  As we leave this table, may we share the blessings we have received here with our neighbors near and far.     Amen.  
Written by Robert D. Cornwall
Picture -- Altar of  St. Giles Church, Oxford 

Signs of Blessing -- Lectionary Reflection for Epiphany 4A

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Matthew 5:1-12 (NewRevised Standard Version)


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were…

A Slaughtered Lamb (Greg Stevenson) -- A Review

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A SLAUGHTERED LAMB: Revelation and the Apocalyptic Response to Evil and Suffering.By Gregory Stevenson.  Abilene, TX:  Abilene Christian University Press, 2013.  240 pages.


                The Book of Revelation is one of the most polarizing books of the Bible.  The continuum of responses ranges from the Hal Lindsey types who read every event in the newspaper into Revelation to those, like the late Robert Funk, a co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, who suggested that we would be well served by removing it from the canon.  My expectation is that few Mainline Protestant preachers delve into this book for preaching resources.  Better to ignore than open cans of worms – thus out of sight, out of mind.  But are these the only options?  Since the book is in the canon are there responsible ways of interpreting this book that has lent itself to misinterpretation and misapplication?  It may be a dangerous book, but it is firmly ensconced in the canon of Christian Scripture.   
                For…

Embracing the Mission -- Reclaiming a Founding Vision Sermon 3

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Acts 1:6-11


Every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series – begins with Captain Kirk narrating the mission statement of the starship Enterprise: Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. When Star Trek: The Next Generation appeared twenty years later, the producers made a few changes to the statement. Instead of five years, the new crew was embarking on a  “continuing mission,” and they replaced the words “no man” with “no one.” But, they still had a mission – to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and boldly go to new places.
Although we’re not going into space, the church does have a “continuing mission” to “boldly go where no one has gone before.”  The words I want to emphasize here are “continuing” and “boldly.”  Our mission is rooted in a mission that was established by God long before any of us were …