Throughout 2017, this year that marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we are tracing the history that led to the founding of our church through the lives of key people in that story. We began before the Reformation with
John Wycliffe and John Hus, and then looked at the lives of Martin Luther and John Calvin.
But for us to trace the story from the continent of Europe to the New World, we have to see w
hat happened in England and Scotland. And there’s no better single person to look at than the great Scottish Reformer, John Knox, whose life intersected with the great rulers of his day—the English Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I; and the Scottish Mary of Guise, Mary Queen of Scots, and James VI. Through these connections—and his often controversial stances—Knox helped lay the groundwork for many theological and philosophical truths we take for granted today.
Title: John Knox
Text: John 17.20–23
- Knox and Mary of Guise
- Knox and Edward VI
- Knox and Bloody Mary
- Knox and Mary Queen of Scots
image courtesy of PJ Media
The story of the rich man and Lazarus is one of the best-known of Jesus’ parables in the New Testament. But what is it about? What is the point?
It seems quite clear: the story is about hell. Perhaps every sermon I’ve ever heard on this passage has zeroed in on verse 24, and specifically the words “agony” and “fire.” Whole messages have been built on those two words.
But as I’ve reflected on this story, I think that focus actually misses the point. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it isn’t about hell. But I am suggesting that it’s not mainly about hell. And like Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” if you listen carefully to what Author of this parable says—not only within the text itself but also in its context—you might discover the main point makes Jesus’ words about hell all the more vivid.
Title: A Word about Hell, A Word about Privilege
Text: Luke 16.19–31
photo courtesy of money crashers
Jesus’ parables can be difficult to understand for many different reasons. Some are challenging because of their cultural distance from our late modern world (for example, the parable of the ten virgins). Others deal with difficult topics, like money or hell. Still more leave readers wondering what point Jesus was making, such as the last of the kingdom parables in Matthew 13).
This passage includes all three challenges, and for that reason demands much reflection. When I first laid out our sermon series on Jesus’ parables in Luke, I entitled this message “A Word about Shrewdness.” But the more I think about it, the less I believe shrewdness is really the main point. What our Lord is talking about gets at the heart of who we are, and why we’re here.
Title: A Word about Shrewdness?
Text: Luke 16.1–15
image courtesy of minotfirstnaz
The story of the prodigal son—and his older brother—tells us of two ways that we can be dead while still living. And it points away to the One who was dead but is alive again, whom we celebrate on this Resurrection Sunday.
Included in this audio is the testimony of the one baptized as part of our worship service.
Title: A Word about Living Again
Text: Luke 15.11–32
- dying while living
- dying and rising
Posted in Transformative Stories: Jesus' Parables in Luke
Tagged Baptism, Gospel, Islam, Moralism, Parables, Resurrection, Resurrection Sunday, Self-centeredness, Self-righteousness, Slavery, Testimony, The Cross, Transformative Stories
image courtesy of James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love, p. 13
I distinctly remember the first time I heard this passage explained in a way that left me angry. It was the summer of 1994 and I was a student at Cornell, taking class on political theory. My professor was a highly respected historian, and he worked sequentially through Western political theory beginning with Socrates and Plato and ending with Marx.
This passage came up in his section on Christian theories of politics, during which he focused on three peo: Christ Jesus, Paul, and Augustine). What he said about verse 26 shocked me: “Jesus was a radical who opposed traditional family values.”
I was incensed. How dare he speak like that? And yet over time I’ve come to realize that he had probably reflected on that verse more carefully and more fully than I had. Granted, the professor was trying to be provocative, he sought to incite a response. Then again so was Jesus. But we Christians often try to limit the provocation, the truly radical nature of this statement—and in so doing, we’ve removed the teeth of this passage.
So what was Jesus really saying? What does it mean to hate father and mother and the rest of your family—to follow him? How could Jesus dare to say such a thing?
Title: A Word about the King
Text: Luke 14.25–35
- disordered loves
- divine claim
- terms of peace