This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on July 23, 2017.
A friend of mine recently adopted a baby. For years she and her husband have been interviewing with agencies, putting together books to describe themselves to prospective mothers, and praying that they might be selected. They want to open their home and hearts to a child in need and extend their family. In other words, they want to become family for a child who otherwise might not have one. Adoption is an extraordinary gift – both for the child and for the new parents.
In this mid-section of Romans 8 Paul transitions to this kind of “family” language, from a human life lived primarily for itself (“flesh”) to the gift of a new relationship to God (“Spirit”) and the household of faith. Paul begins in vs. 12 by addressing his readers as “brothers” (later translations add “and sisters”) and quickly moves to the language of adoption, calling those who are led by the Spirit “children of God.” Then he goes further, even referencing God by the intimate Aramaic word “Abba.” This is one of the words Jesus used in addressing God, which can be translated as “Dad” (Mark 14:36). Note the contrast here between living according to the flesh, which leads to isolation and death, with a life lived according to the Spirit, which leads to our adoption as children of God and becoming joint heirs with Christ. Humans cannot escape being indebted (vs. 12) – all of us serve some type of master. We are either beholden to the “flesh” (our own selfish desires and rebellion against God), or we are indebted to the God who invites us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him– with the promise of forgiveness and adoption as His children.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 20th, 2016.
Jeremiah is concerned with speaking truth, and truth can sometimes be painful. Jeremiah’s opening line of this passage is, “Woe to the shepherds.” The leaders of people of God, here probably referencing the kings of Judah, have failed the people. They have misled them and scattered the flock. A shepherd’s main task is guiding his or her flock, but this group has failed. Any amount of time spent in the church will bring about an example of a shepherd not tending to the flock. We can all think of the prime examples that come to mind. The scandals and swift downfalls are easy to notice. But, we might also do well to remember the small things that can lead a flock astray. Perhaps it is the simple temptation of a little more power. Perhaps, it is the allure of wealth and relevance. These small things can cause a shepherd to mislead his or her flock. As one preaching, Jeremiah’s hard truth probably calls for self-examination as much as indignation.
“I will attend to you.” These words from the Lord are of judgment, but they are also words motivated by care for His flock. The Lord has had enough and plans to take matters into His own hands. First, God will deal with those who have failed at their task. The judgment of God does not come from an arbitrary place. No, God steps into right a wrong to bring justice.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 23rd, 2016.
This sermon series began three weeks ago in Lamentations 1:1-6 and ends this week in Joel 2:23-32. This series allows the pastor 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 series permits a congregation to re-engage the movement of their own life with God through this story, starting in Lamentations with disorientation over their sin and its consequences. This confrontation with sin is necessary if a church is to engage in the faithful application of hope toward Joel’s vision of life and land indwelled with the presence of the Spirit.
Last week, in Jeremiah 31, the text focused on the promise of renewed relationship and renewed covenant. Such a promise is hope on the move, God approaching people to establish relational wholeness, expressed in human relationships and covenant life with God. Today’s passage provides the people of God with a vivid image of the reality of that day. Such a day combines the fruition of created existence with the life-quickening reality of the Spirit of God. The prophet Joel thus communicates an earthly spirituality, one that joins heaven and earth. To illustrate this reality, today’s passage shows that the fear of agricultural loss gives way to abundance. Joel expertly ties such abundance to life in the Spirit, poured out on all people. Joel is written to the nation of Judah, likely after the fall of the northern kingdom. The prophet centers his message around common themes, such as “repentance, guilt, and punishment”. However, the prophet makes sure to balance a word of warning with the promise of God’s rescue and restoration.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 16th, 2016.
This sermon series began two weeks ago in Lamentations 1:1-6 and ends next week in Joel 2:23-32. This series allows the pastor 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 series permits a congregation to re-engage the movement of their own life with God through this story, starting in Lamentations with disorientation over their own sin and its consequences. This confrontation with sin is necessary if a church is to engage in the faithful application of hope toward Joel’s vision of life and land indwelled with the presence of the Spirit.
Last week in Jeremiah 29, the text focused on living in the tension of brokenness and hope. Today’s passage moves from the midst of this tension into the promise that is to come. Here the prophet promises renewed relationship and renewed covenant. This is hope on the move; hope that propels a people into the practice of a future freedom right now in the present. This hope is on the move because God brings renewal. This God-moving renewal establishes relational wholeness. This relational wholeness is expressed in human life together and covenant life with God.