Tagged: culture

Acts 17:22-31

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 21, 2017.

Many believe this passage in Acts to be a summary rather than a verbatim manuscript of a sermon Paul spoke to the leading philosophers gathered in Athens on the Areopagus.  It is highly unlikely that a preacher like Paul would preach only about a two-minute sermon when given the opportunity to stand before the most highly recognized court of philosophical influencers and worldview shapers of his day. This message he spoke in Athens, while highly criticized by biblical scholars and theologians throughout history, is one that brilliantly shows Paul understanding his audience as he attempts to live by his own strategy to become “all things to all people.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

After Paul had engaged with the people of Athens day after day in the marketplace sharing ideas about Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:17-18), he was brought before the Areopagus to explain his teachings (Acts 17:19-20).  The Areopagus was an esteemed place and group who gathered as a sort of court of philosophical experts of that day based in Athens.  From the 5th century BC Athens was the primary city of influence as it pertained to shaping the culture and the philosophical thought patterns of the ancient world with the Areopagus being the hub from where such influence emanated.  When Paul was invited to share his case about Jesus and the resurrection to the Areopagus, this was a signal of honor for Paul, since only the most learned lecturers and scholars were invited to address the court, whose main job it was to determine religion and philosophy for the masses.

Paul’s sermon receives criticism by some because he never once explicitly mentions Jesus by name in this text.  Some believe Paul later regrets his philosophical approach to his sermon among the Areopagus as the basis for what he wrote to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.  Nonetheless, Paul’s preaching in Athens was used by God to open doors and hearts for further conversation about the gospel that did lead both men and women to repentant saving faith in Jesus (Acts 17:32-34).

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Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 9th, 2016.

cry of prophet jeremiah on the ruins of-jerusalem 1870This sermon series began last week in Lamentations 1:1-6 and ends in a few weeks in Joel 2:23-32. This allows the pastor the opportunity to trace the arc of redemption as told through Israel’s story with God. This is the foundation of Christ’s coming, through which this story finds its fruition and fulfillment. Such a sermon series allows a congregation to re-engage the movement of their own life with God, starting in Lamentations with disorientation over their own sin and its consequences. This confrontation with sin is necessary if a congregation is to engage in the faithful application of hope toward Joel’s vision of life and land indwelled with the presence of the Spirit.

Therefore, this sermon moves with Israel deeper into the anguish of exile that Jeremiah describes, and initiates anew for God’s people the foundational posture of life with God – hope and faith. Hope and faith are the posture of God’s people that propel them into a world that lacks, a world whose reality remains a pale vision of God’s covenant promises. Jeremiah began his prophetic career at the end of the seventh century, at the close of Assyria’s reign, and he prophesied through the Babylonian conflict and the subsequent exile of God’s people. Although Jeremiah consistently warns of doom for Israel at the hands of Babylon, his book is primarily about hope, the hope of Israel’s restoration. This theme is explained as Jeremiah communicates that Israel’s God is in charge of creation and is eternally faithful to God’s own promises.

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