Monthly Archives: June 2021

Sermon: What Are You Building? (Eccl 3; 6; 7)

Things fall apart, and they don’t bear fruit like they should. Sometimes, a farmer plants a seed in the ground—and there is no rain. Sometimes, an entrepreneur builds a great business by wise decisions and honest dealings—and a hurricane wind comes through and wipes her investment away. Sometimes, a married couple tries for years and years to get pregnant—with no success. Sometimes, a single mom works for years scrubbing floors to get out of debt—and then she gets sick, can’t work, and falls right back into debt. In a broken world, wisdom, hard work and obedience to God’s law don’t always yield the results they should.
But the good news, Paul says, is that there is hope for redemption and re-creation. Human beings subjected the world entrusted to them to frustration, to futility—but because of what one perfect Human Being has done, all of creation can be reborn. The creation itself, Paul says, groans as if in labor pains, waiting for us as reborn human beings to be re-created in our resurrection bodies. In one sense, the creation has more “faith” and hope than we humans have! The trees and beasts of the field know that Jesus Christ is risen, and when he returns they will rejoice to see him restore creation to its full purpose. Continue reading

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Pandemic Sermon: Job 42:10-17 and Isaiah 49:14-23, “Receiving Double from YHWH’s Hand”

COVID-19 and the reaction to it has caused deep divisions in our societies, and right down the middle of Christian communities as well….When we come back to meeting together, as a full church, or as an LCC family, or as societies reckoning with the effectiveness of policies (as I hope there will be investigations and evaluations, based in actual scientific understandings of how these viruses work that we had at the time), there will be anger and resentment that has to be dealt with….If we don’t, we could have a permanent division in our communities, which would be tragic.
…As we build back our lives, and build back our church community, can we think of our process as parallel to this—and also see it as an opportunity? Can we articulate our losses, express our anger and our sorrow, hear the anger and sorrow of others, and pray that God would help us to direct it and deal with it appropriately? Can we accept that nothing happens outside of God’s knowledge or control? Continue reading

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Online “Church”: Are the Kids Really Fine?

The older generations, having come of age in cultures of society, church and education that are formed by reading physical books and encountering peers and authority figures in physical space and time, are better equipped to transfer those educational, spiritual, and social habits into the digital realm and to cope with the shortcomings of digital media, than are younger generations. Put succinctly, we think the kids are fine (even perhaps doing better than we are with all this Zooming!), but they’re not. Continue reading

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Pandemic Sermon: Ezekiel 11:14-25, “I Have Been a Sanctuary”

The human desire to commune with God is very powerful, and when sacrifice according to God’s law was not available, it was very painful. Many allowed themselves to be squeezed into worshiping God on their own terms, rather than according to God’s law. But other Judeans were faithful and accepted the promise of God’s continuing presence through this time of suffering, a presence revealed in ways that they hadn’t seen before, and trusted that he would eventually bring this time to an end. For these Old Covenant saints who were truly seeking YHWH God, this disruption was a time of “creative destruction” that stripped away many beliefs and practices, and allowed them to see just how big and powerful YHWH truly is. Continue reading

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Online “Church”: United, or Merely Simultaneous?

If the entirety of my pre-COVID worship experience has been simply passive and receptive (hearing and observing the preaching and the musicians) while I am standing or sitting beside someone else in the assembly with whom I am barely acquainted—then there is little benefit to the incidental simultaneity of our passive reception of the information presented to us by the pastor or the worship leader. If this is all that church has been, then it is not surprising that people would feel little loss by introducing the mediating technology, i.e., receiving preaching and music while at home—with or without a pandemic. Continue reading

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Pandemic Sermon: Numbers and Chronicles, “God Draws Near”

Throughout this time many of us are simply missing human touch and human contact, and direct interaction not through a screen. We are doing the best we can, but it is not the same. I imagine those families in ancient Israel who had loved ones with skin diseases, who had to stay outside the camp or the city and only call out to one another from afar. But there is hope, there is Good News. God was not satisfied with living in a tent or a stone temple among his people. As John writes in his Gospel, “The Word became flesh, and pitched a tent among us, and we beheld his glory.” Continue reading

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How Did We Get Here? The Pre-COVID Road to “Online Church”

Even before the pandemic, “word” and “image” had been technologized with some extension of their reach—but with increasing fluidity, and at the cost of “presence,” which cannot be replicated. Technology makes us feel as though we can replicate presence, but it rather enables us to persist in practices that do not really satisfy or edify. Continue reading

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Halting In-Person Worship: Christian Liberty? Obedience to Romans 13?

Christians are obliged to respect civil authorities (Rom 13:1–7), and should be willing to lay down our rights for the sake of others (1 Cor 8:9–13). If the government says we may not meet or should not meet, mustn’t we take that into account? Continue reading

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Franklin on Why the Christian Response to COVID-19 Must Change

It is my pleasure to commend to you Dr Franklin’s recent piece, “Metaphysics, Medicine and Modern Science: Why the Christian Response to COVID-19 Must Change.” Continue reading

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Science, Worship, and an “Epistemology of Love”

So far we have seen that a modern scientific worldview has difficulty accounting for the immaterial “essence” of human personhood, and therefore cannot meaningfully balance the risks of physical and spiritual harms. In this installment, we compare “scientific” ways of knowing (epistemology) with other means of knowing that are just as important for human life and purpose: knowing through love, and knowing through ritual. Knowing truth about God and ourselves by these means gives us purpose and hope. Continue reading

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