Tagged: light

Ephesians 5:8-14

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on March 26, 2017.

Paul has exhorted believers to shun sexual immorality, greed, or any kind of impurity for these are unfit to God’s people; besides, they provoke God’s wrath (5:3-6). So, they ought to disassociate themselves from disobedient people (v. 7). It is not clear to what degree believers should distance themselves from immoral and greedy people. Should they have no contact with them or simply not share in their immoral behaviors? In 5:8-14 he provides an additional motive for avoiding said misconducts and associations, which are discordant with their new identity. The pericope cuts off the reading before Paul’s more general advice regarding how believers ought to conduct their lives in a society influenced by evil (5:15-33), but the preacher should have them in mind.

According to Paul, believers now have a new existence. Once “darkness” characterized their lifestyle, now “light” does (v.8). It is clear that the source of their new existence is “in the Lord.” This recalls Jesus’ self-declaration of being “the light of the world,” where he uses darkness-light conversion metaphor (John 8:12; 12: 35-36). Similarly, in v.8 believers have a new life as “children of light” and should walk in a way that reveals the light they now are in Christ. Paul is setting the basis for his view that Christ-enlightened persons can have a transforming effect on darkened lives (vv. 11-14). Here Paul emphasizes his pre-conversion and post-conversion contrast (2:2-4, 11, 13).

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Hebrews 1:1-4

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 25th, 2016.

radiance-1929-jpglargeHebrews is distinctive in the New Testament literature.  In the letters of Paul and Peter, we recognize the familiar formula of a letter.  Later the writer of Hebrews will describe this work as “a letter of exhortation” (13:22).   As we read Hebrews aloud, we may hear the exhortation, not just from the writer, but from God.  God speaks in answer to our heart cry, “We need to hear from you.  We need a word from you.  If we don’t hear from you, what will we do?”  Are we waiting for a word?  If God could speak to us, what would God say?  The writer of Hebrews reminds us that the very same God who spoke in the past still speaks today.

A sermon might explore the ways that God speaks to people.  How did God speak in the past?  Not only did God speak through the general revelation of creation.  No, God spoke to and through the personalities of the prophets.  In the Old Testament, we learn that God spoke to the ancestors of the readers of the Hebrews.  Characteristically, the prophets said, “The word of the Lord came . . .” and then they spoke, “Thus says the Lord.”  The words came over a span of hundreds of years beginning with Moses and going through Malachi. God spoke differently to and through different prophets.  Moses heard God’s voice in a burning bush and also in the thunder of the storm.  Elijah heard the “still, small voice.”  Isaiah saw God high and lifted up in the Temple and heard him say, “Who will go for us?”  Ezekiel heard from God on a field trip to a valley of dry bones.  The heavens were not silent as stone.  God spoke to his people through the prophets.  Now, in Christ, God speaks again, to us.

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