ADVENT REFLECTION: All Leads Back To Hope by R. W. Church

November 30, 2018

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three. (1 Corinthians 13:13) “Faith, hope, love”; these, in Saint Paul’s analysis, are the characteristic elements of the Christian mind.  Saint Paul, as we know, in enumerating them, makes one of them the greatest, in order and in nature – “the greatest of these is love.”  But it is a first and foremost place among equals.  All stand together, as nothing else does, in the front rank of the perfections which make Christian goodness.  All are equally indispensable in those who would please God and follow Christ. But why should hope be ranked so high, placed on a level with faith and love?  We can understand why faith should be so singled out; it is the foundation of the whole [...]

ADVENT REFLECTION: Make Ready by Hugh Latimer

November 29, 2018

From Sermon on the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Advent There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the Earth. (Luke 21:15) How is it that the whole world is so deceitful and false?  Because every one of us would like to fare well; everyone loves to have good meat and drink, and to go gaily.  And when we have not the means to get such things, then we fall to picking and stealing, and to falsehood, and so deceive our neighbors.  But our Savior gives us warning that we must eat and drink measurably and soberly, every one of us according to our estate and measure.  Further, we should labor and do our business diligently, every one of us in that estate in which God has set us; and let us trust in God, who no doubt [...]

ADVENT REFLECTION: Fight Now With Sin by Hugh Latimer

November 28, 2018

From Sermon on the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Advent There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the Earth. (Luke 21:25) There are some who think that there shall be great eclipses, against the course of nature; and you know that there have been strange things seen in the elements many times.  Sometimes there has been seen a ring about the sun; sometimes there have been seen three suns at once; and such like things have been seen in times past: which no doubt signifies that this fearful day is not far off in which Christ will come with his Heavenly host, to judge and reward every one of us according to our desserts. “People will faint from fear and foreboding,” (Luke 21:26); people will be wonderfully fearful; [...]

ADVENT REFLECTION: Our Judge Meets Us At Every Step Of Our Way by Austin Farrer

November 27, 2018

From The Crown of the Year Our journey sets out from God in our creation, and returns to God at the final judgment.  As the bird rises from the Earth to fly, and must some time return to the Earth from which it rose; so God sends us forth to fly, and we must fall back into the hands of God at last.  But God does not wait for the failure of our power and the expiry of our days to drop us back into his lap.  He goes himself to meet us and everywhere confronts us.  Where is the countenance which we must finally look in the eyes, and not be able to turn away our head?  It smiles up at Mary from the cradle, it calls Peter from the nets, it looks on him with grief when he has denied his master.  Our judge meets us at every step of our way, [...]

JESUS: Confirmed Call by Mark G. Boyer

June 7, 2017

Scripture:God’s divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.  For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you. (2 Peter 1:3-4, 10-11) Reflection:The Second Letter of Peter is best described as an essay or literary [...]

JESUS: God Speaks, by Mark G. Boyer

June 6, 2017

  Scripture:Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.  When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4) Reflection:According to the anonymous author of Hebrews, God has been speaking even before there was anyone to hear his words!  The author proceeds to outline a [...]

JESUS: God’s Choice, by Mark G. Boyer

June 5, 2017

  Scripture:Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you Corinthians were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:26-30) Reflection:In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells the Corinthians that they would not have called fellow Corinthians, but [...]

JESUS: Finding Another, by Mark G. Boyer

June 4, 2017

  Scripture:Jesus decided to go to Galilee.  He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth.”  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:43-45) Reflection:John the Baptist is the model of pointing out Jesus to others.  Philip is the model of finding another and bringing him or her to Jesus.  It is important to notice the pattern: Jesus finds Philip, who finds Nathanael.  Once Philip has found Nathanael [...]

JESUS: Lamb Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

June 3, 2017

  Scripture:The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.  One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah,” (which is translated Anointed).  He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John.  You are to be called Cephas (which is translated Peter). (John 1:35-37, 40-42) Reflection: After Andrew hears John the Baptist declare Jesus to be the Lamb of God, he immediately answers the [...]

JESUS: Suffering, by Mark G. Boyer

June 2, 2017

  Scripture:Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.  Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.  Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator while continuing to do good. (1 Peter 4:12-14, 16, 19) Reflection: Just [...]

JESUS: Cross, by Mark G. Boyer

June 1, 2017

Scripture:For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  Where is the one who is wise?   Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and [...]

JESUS: Count The Cost, by Mark G. Boyer

May 31, 2017

Scripture:Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?  Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider, whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?  So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. (Luke 14:26-33) Reflection:The author of Luke’s gospel portrays Jesus as stating [...]

JESUS: Division, by Mark G. Boyer

May 30, 2017

  Scripture:Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39) Reflection:Another cost of discipleship is family [...]

JESUS: Deny Self, by Mark G. Boyer

May 29, 2017

  Scripture:Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)   Reflection:A spirituality of  mission that does not examine the cost of discipleship has deceived itself.  Following Jesus costs disciples themselves.  Therefore, the first thing potential followers must do is know themselves so they know exactly what they are going to deny.  The Markan Jesus makes denying self a prerequisite of discipleship.  The author of Matthew’s gospel [...]

JESUS: Giving Life, by Mark G. Boyer

May 28, 2017

  Scripture:About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church.  He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.  After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.  (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.)  When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.  While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him. (Acts 12:1-5) Reflection:James, one of the twelve apostles, was killed by Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great, who killed John the Baptist.  The narrator of the Acts of the Apostles tells the [...]

JESUS: Philip Interprets Scripture, by Mark G. Boyer

May 27, 2017

Scripture:The eunuch (a court official of Candace, queen of Ethiopia) asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet Isaiah say this: ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth,’ about himself or about someone else?”  Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.  As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water!  What is to prevent me from being baptized?”  He commanded the chariot to stop.  And Philip baptized him.  When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; [...]

JESUS: Living Message, by Mark G. Boyer

May 26, 2017

Scripture:When the leaders of the Jews heard the things about which Stephen spoke, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen.  But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into Heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.  Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.  While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  When he had [...]

JESUS: Unstoppable Mission, by Mark G. Boyer

May 25, 2017

  Scripture:Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.  But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.”  When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching. (Acts 5:17-21a) Reflection:If the mission comes from God, it cannot be stopped.  A spirituality of mission recognizes this, just as the reader of the Acts of the Apostles recognizes it.  Nothing can stop what God wants accomplished.  If authority gets in the [...]

JESUS: Peter Bears Witness, by Mark G. Boyer

May 24, 2017

Scripture:Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this lame man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.  This Jesus is ‘The stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’  There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among mortals by which we [...]

JESUS: Run The Race, by Mark G. Boyer

May 23, 2017

  Scripture:Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.  (John 4:34-38) Reflection: The letter to the Hebrews is one of those New Testament (Christian Bible) documents that is misidentified.  It is best thought of as an exhortation or sermon given to Jewish Christians in exile after the fall of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 CE.  After explaining that [...]

JESUS: No Other Gospel, by Mark G. Boyer

May 22, 2017

  Scripture:I, Paul, am astonished that you, Galatians, are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of  Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)   Reflection:Paul has a problem in the churches in Galatia.  There is a group advocating that Gentile Christians observe the Torah, which Paul insists has been surpassed by the death and resurrection of Christ.  For him the works of the Torah, primarily circumcision, are no longer necessary; a [...]

JESUS: Walk By Faith, by Mark G. Boyer

May 21, 2017

  Scripture:So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:6-9)   Reflection:Paul writes about the body as an Earthly tent in his Second Letter to the Corinthians.  The Earthly tent is mortal; it is like the clothes people wear.  However, while in the Earthly tent, people groan, that is, they yearn for completion, when the Earthly tent will die and they will enter into a house not made by human hands, “eternal in the heavens.”  [...]

JESUS: Basic Message, by Mark G. Boyer

May 20, 2017

  Scripture:I, Paul, handed on to you, Corinthians, as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.  I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 9-10a) Reflection:Out of a solid spirituality of mission a person delivers the basic message, what Paul refers to as the gospel.  As he indicates in his First Letter to the Corinthians, that gospel has three aspects.  The first is that Christ died for sins.  [...]

JESUS: Not Ashamed, by Mark G. Boyer

May 19, 2017

  Scripture:For I, Paul, am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)   Reflection: Paul’s basic theological position is summed up above.  The person who lives by faith, that is, absolute trust of God, is declared righteous, that is, in a healthy relationship with God, by God.  Paul didn’t create this idea; he got it from the prophet Habakkuk.  In Pauline thought, Jesus is the model of the righteous person.  Jesus died in trust of God, and God raised him from [...]

JESUS: Reap, by Mark G. Boyer

May 18, 2017

  Scripture:Then I, John, looked, and there was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand!  Another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the Earth is fully ripe.”  So the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the Earth, and the Earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:14-16) Reflection: The white cloud, borrowed from the book of Daniel, had become standard code for the final judgment by the time the book of Revelation was written late in the first century.  The Son of Man appeared to John of Patmos [...]

JESUS: Righteousness, by Mark G. Boyer

May 17, 2017

  Scripture:I, Paul, thank my God every time I remember you Philippians, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.  And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11) Reflection:In the thanksgiving section of his letter to the [...]

JESUS: Ripe Field, by Mark G. Boyer

May 16, 2017

  Scripture:Jesus said to his disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.  Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’?  But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.  The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.  For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’  I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.  Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:34-38)   Reflection: Jesus comes to Jacob’s well, which is not only a place to drop a bucket, but a sacred spot of [...]

JESUS: Weeds, Net, Judgment, by Mark G. Boyer

May 15, 2017

  Scripture:The slaves said to their master, “Then do you want us to go and gather the weeds?”  But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.  Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:28b-30)   Reflection: Unlike Mark, which groups together parables in one chapter, Matthew distributes them throughout the narrative.  Three in particular concern the author’s focus on the final judgment.  First, in the parable of the wheat and the weeds, a master sows good wheat seed in his field, but [...]

JESUS: Metaphors, by Mark G. Boyer

May 14, 2017

  Scripture:When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)   Reflection:Three metaphors are used in the short passage above to communicate the truth that people are ready to be brought into God’s kingdom.  The first metaphor compares people to sheep.  Sheep are very dumb animals; that is why they need some kind of shepherd – human, alpaca, dog – to help them stay together, find pasture, and locate water.  If the reader thinks the metaphor is an [...]

JESUS: Justified By Faith, by Mark G. Boyer

May 13, 2017

  Scripture:We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.  And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. (Galatians 2:15-16)   Reflection:One of the basic tenets of Pauline thought is justification by faith in Jesus Christ.  Addressing Jewish converts to Christianity, Paul reminds the Galatians that they are not justified by the 613 precepts of the Torah; if they could be so justified, then there would be no purpose for God’s work in Jesus.  Gentiles cannot be [...]