This selection of a sermon comes from John Zahl’s collection, Sermons of Grace, available here. For those who made it to Liberate this year, the moving illustration towards the end should sound familiar:
My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Unlike the peace of the world, the peace of God lasts. The forgiveness of God is not a bait-and-switch trap. It does not expire. When Jesus uttered those fateful words on the cross, “It is finished,” he meant what he said. The heavenly parking meter is not ticking.
Imagine, if you will, a cup of…
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“Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin being so deeply curved in on itself (incurvatus in se) that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them, as is plain in the works-righteous and hypocrites, or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake.” —Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans
It is hard to believe that Ash Wednesday is upon us, with Lent coming in its wake. This season always stirs up some theological anxiety for me. I think it does for many of us. Each year, we hear the incredible story of Jesus heading into the desert. Here from the Gospel of Luke:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
There is a widely preached theology which tells us that we can somehow identify with Jesus. This lens is…
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Last night saw the completion of a five-week series here at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA of a five-week Introduction to Christian Theology class, taught by our own Will McDavid. Recordings of the lectures (about 70 min each) are linked below to entries on our Resources page. Each entry also contains the recommended readings that are discussed during that class. Enjoy:
Week 1: Theology and Bible – What’s the Bible? What’s it do?
Week 2: Creation, Fall, and Sin – Sinful why? Sinful how?
Week 3: Christology – Why is Chalcedon so wordy? Atonement how?
Week 4: Soteriology/Christian Life – Sanctification? Really?
Week 5: Trinity and (Brief) Eschatology – To the inner mysteries of things like spiration
Another gem from theologian Gerhard Forde, via one of his responses in Five Views of Sanctification, pg 192:
The language of grace must be a language that comes totally from without. It does not call on the old self, not even the inner life of the old self, to somehow traverse a new way. It announces him who is the Way. It is thus a use of language which does not call on the old self to “surrender”; rather it is a use of language which through its very givenness slays the old by the absolute unconditionality of the gift itself… the Word does not call on our old being to die. It simply announces that we have died, and sanctification occurs to the degree that we get used to that fact…
Love is the source and goal of sanctification, but the only way to bring that about is to simply announce, “I love you.” The word of grace must bring the old unlovely and unloving existence to an end by the sheer strength of the promise, the gift, which breaks into our dreary lives and just announces flat-out that the old has passed away and the new is here.
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she…
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The following comes from friend, fellow Atlanta Hawks fan, and Georgia Tech Anglican Campus Fellowship priest, Collin Setterberg:
There’s something about the game of basketball that elicits thoughts of the divine. The three point shot, the three-point play, the three-man weave, the triple double…you get the point. Tonight I’m watching the Atlanta Hawks live for the first time this season. Like most people who live in Atlanta, I haven’t been super “into” the Hawks; that is, until recently. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the team this year, their unselfish play and beautiful style of basketball. So after lots of…
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Not the actual car- it wasn’t nearly this bad.
The family car was involved in a hit and run last week. Police are still looking for the woman in the red van who sped off, the insurance company is working with us to get the car restored, and we’ve made the appointment with the body shop to get it all fixed. Duct tape has been deployed to keep various automotive parts in place. Can I confess to you that the car is a 2006 PT Cruiser? We’ve affectionately nicknamed it The PT Loser for being a mechanically challenged money-pit. Between…
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Luther said “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. “Bound by the Scriptures” with a conscience “captive to the Word of God” hardly sounds like freedom. But scripture’s freedom has never been an isolated, individualistic, lonely and ultimately death-dealing notion like the ones that capture our imagination today. True freedom is being captivated by Christ’s promise for forgiveness of sins. It is like getting a tune stuck in your head that you can’t get rid of, only this time instead of a legal refrain, “Have you done enough?” it repeats a promise: “God is pleased with you, on account of Christ.”
Herr Tchividjian’s second talk from Houston, in which he comes clean about the Christian life in no uncertain terms:
The Risk of Grace, part 2 – Tullian Tchividjian from Mockingbird on Vimeo.
Speaking of our man Tullian, just found out that he’ll be with us in NYC in April to lead an on-stage conversation with his good friend Nadia Bolz Weber (on Saturday morning). Should be incredible. And don’t forget: the LIBERATE conference is only a month away!
Several months ago I wrote a post on the well known and now deceased “Painter of Light,” Thomas Kinkade. I addressed Kinkade’s tragic backstory of suffering and how his pain never came through in his I’m-OK-you’re-OK artwork. Most of all I lamented that Christians in particular promote his brand of sentimental artwork because it is safe. What I originally thought would be an obscure post actually got a lot of attention. I was surprised that it struck such a nerve. One redditor called me patronizing: “F*ck Matt Schneider. This piece was condescending and nauseating.”
I don’t usually criticize individual artists and thinkers publically,…
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Having just come off a bevy of year end retrospectives, and faced with the horrible news from France, Nigeria, and half a dozen other places, I keep wondering what we will be saying about this year in late December. If you happen to catch The Today Show or some such show in the beginning of January, they often try to encapsulate the depressing news by telling us this was a “tough year” as they show footage of natural disasters and acts of terrorism. Sometimes I wish they’d say, “Just like every other year humans have been running the show, 2014…
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