Thursday, August 28, 2014

From the Pastor’s Pen: A Summer Catechism (A summary of the 10 questions in 20 weeks sermon series)

From the Pastor’s Pen: A Summer Catechism
(A summary of the 10 questions in 20 weeks sermon series)

            The Lutheran understanding of what happens in Communion threads the needle between a Medieval Catholic understanding focused on Aristotelian Logic and a Calvinist understanding focused on a chunkily literal reading of scripture.
            Our understanding focuses instead on Christ’s promise to be present in the meal. Rejoice, he will be there! Rejoice, because his words point us to the reality of his forgiveness—in the meal Jesus promises us forgiveness, life, and salvation. And Jesus doesn’t lie.
What is the significance and meaning of the procession and recession of the cross?
            We process the cross to remind ourselves we are a cross shaped baptized community, a people redeemed by Christ’s actions for us. Having been fed with the bread and the word of life, we recess with the cross to go find God on the cross, following Christ wherever he may lead.

            Reflecting upon the nature of angels helps us to think about redemption as a passive reflection of the good light of Christ, and reminds us that redemption can involve the spirit of whole systems.
            We don’t become angels when we die, but we can trust that all the Saints of God—both living and dead—are one in Christ Jesus.
Is there a particular significance to Jesus casting the “Legion” of Evil Spirits from the Gerasene Demoniac into a herd of swine?
            Jesus found an unclean place for an unclean thing.

            It is unclear, but the arguments people make to link a Winter celebration of Christ’s birth directly with Paganism is not as air tight as it might appear. They ignore weather, historical facts about emperors, and the testimony of Irenaeus, an early Church Father.
Why do people go to church on the Sabbath? What is the Sabbath for?
            Sabbath is about rest, liberation, and holiness.
            It’s about rest, a time that is “good… for nothing.” It is also about liberation, acts of kindness and justice are part of living into the holiness of God’s time. It, finally, is holy in and of itself, dragging us into the reality of God through our worship together in which we receive and cherish the promises of God.

            There is a wide variety of ways to understand marriage and be a faithful member of the ELCA.
            Any pointing to purity laws to justify discrimination or worse against gay folk, if followed through logically, would have such severe consequences for everyone in our society, that it could make the Salem witch trials or the reign of the Taliban, ISIS, and Boko Haram, look tame.
            We are truly at a different place than people in the 1st century were—Romantic love, especially between same gendered individuals, just wasn’t a thing, but it is now.
            Pastor Chris is wholeheartedly convinced marrying gay folk is not baptizing gay sex, but instead creating a healthy and holy space for legitimate yearnings for companionship, the protection of gay parents, and the strengthening of the institution of marriage.

            Between Paul and Luke’s interpretations of the 1st council of Jerusalem, we end up with rules that try to bridge relationships between Christians who are different from one another.
            The basic rules for us Christians are rules that bind us one to another. They bind us economically to one another, but they also bind us to a modicum of decency and consideration for the sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

            When we read about rewards in heaven we are not talking about our salvation, or if we are, we’re talking about God rewarding us because of the promise found in Jesus Christ, and finally, the reason reward makes us feel squirmy, is that at face value it could make us trust in our own goodness, which often is lacking.
What does “greatest” and “least” in the Kingdom of Heaven mean? How does that square with “neither Greek nor Jew” etc,? Aren’t we all equal?
            It is part of Jesus’ inversion of values, Jesus taking the God’s eye view instead of the human view.
            Proclaiming that when God rules, the last are first and the first are last.
            In Baptism we are entering into that God’s eye view, we’re struggling—just as the Galatians and Paul himself struggled—to live into who we are together—live into our calling to be part of the Body of Christ—live into the vision of humanity set out by God through Jesus Christ—a vision that breaks down barriers between believers and allows for nothing to get in the way of life together resting in God’s grace.

            The Church Universal, in this in-between time, suffers while fulfilling the Great Commission, so that Christ may be all in all.
Explain, “Death has died.”
            The whole creation will find redemption. All of us will find ourselves in the fullness of the Body of Christ. Even that last enemy, death, will be destroyed. Through the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, we can truly say Death has died.

Are mistakes “sins”? Are there degrees of sins? Is the sin in the intent or in the action or in the consequences? Ie. If you intend to do something good for someone and it turns out to hurt them?
            They are all Sin and the effects of Sin. Sin being a much more all encompassing thing that “sins.”
Explain, “Keys to the Kingdom.” “Which you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” etc.
            For Lutherans the key to “the Keys of the Kingdom” is the Word of God comforting our consciences.

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