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March 26, 2017 | Fourth Sunday in Lent
1 Samuel 16:1-13 | Psalm 23 | Ephesians 5:8-14 | John 9:1-41
Associate Professor of Comparative Religion
Lectionaries are so excessive, verses tumbling over verses, tentacles stretching over large spans of the Good Book to pluck a passage here, a passage there. What if the mysterious Assemblers of Lections had a bad day?
Reading through the passages assigned for today, we see themes: blindness/darkness and light, the non-sense of God that exposes our own nonsense, the Lord’s protection of Samuel, the sheep, and the blind man, and more.
Today I am captured by a single phrase from John: so that God’s works might be revealed in him. Forget the blindness for the moment. Ponder this: Were you born so that God’s works might be revealed in you?
How’s that going?
It is the purpose of your birth to reveal God’s works. That is why you were born. And it is the purpose of your birth that God’s works be revealed. You have a special portion of God’s works to be revealed, that will not be revealed unless you do it. It is your charism. But it will be revealed in you. Not by you, so you are not actually doing it. You participate in this revelation of God’s works, but it is not you who is doing the revealing … “the LORD does not see as mortals see.” One must always be suspicious of any claims to know “what God is doing here.” God may be doing something quite different. As we often say, God’s ways are mysterious. “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” We need to be careful of our claims. Our baptism into the womb and wisdom of the church gives us tools for recognition, discernment but not certainty. We know more, but not all.
God’s works are revealed, so there is something that is evidently of God that we will perceive. “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” There is a known change from unseeing to seeing. For what purpose does he now see? Is the revelation simply that his sight is given, or that a new purpose is given? So our purpose is to live knowing that God’s works are being revealed, even if we are not clear what they are, to live purposefully. Mary Oliver writes, “My work is loving the world.” God does the rest.
O Holy Revealer, nourish in me a wonder that I may know that your working is constant around me and in me. I do not know what you are doing, only that you are always at work, never sleeping. You have welcomed me into your church through my baptism. Now send me, dripping with water, into a world in so much want of my tottering love.
The world comes so quickly at us, waves pushing and undertow pulling. Mary Oliver again, “I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have a goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.” The hope of myself. So how does one not just hope, but be hope? Love the world. Walk slowly and love the world. There is no love without hope, and no hope without love. Bow often. This week reflect on this: How do I find the hope of myself? How do I retain it? What makes me lose it?
February 2-4, 2015
Reunion Events for the Classes of
1955, 1965, 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005, and 2006-2014
Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa
Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Baylor University
Beverly Gaventa is Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Baylor University, as well as Helen H.P. Manson Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis Emerita at Princeton Theological Seminary. In addition to numerous articles, reviews, and lectionary resources, Gaventa has written Our Mother Saint Paul (Westminster John Knox, 2007), The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon, 2003), I and II Thessalonians (Westminster John Knox, 1998), and Mary: Glimpses of the Mother of Jesus (University of South Carolina, 1995; Fortress, 1999). She has also edited many volumes, the most recent of which are Apocalyptic Paul (Baylor University Press, 2013), The New Interpreter’s Bible One Volume Commentary (with David Peterson; Abingdon, 2010) and, with Professor Cynthia Rigby, Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary (WJK, 2002). Her current project is a commentary for the New Testament Library on Paul’s letter to the Romans.
When in Romans . . .
Contemporary interpreters of Romans offer up a host of sound bites about justification, empire, covenant faithfulness, and justice. But Paul's most powerful letter defeats our sound bites and invites us to hear the gospel's vastness and consider its implications for ministry in the 21st century.
Lecture 1: When In Romans ... Watch the Horizon
Lecture 2: When In Romans ... Consider Abraham
Lecture 3 When In Romans ... Sing Glory to God
The Reverend Dr. Jack Haberer
Pastor of Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church, Naples, Florida
Jack Haberer was recently called to serve as Pastor of Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church in Naples, Florida. For the previous nine years he served as editor of The Presbyterian Outlook, after having served two other pastorates of 10 and 12 years. He is author of GodViews: The Convictions That Drive Us and Divide Us, and of Living the Presence of the Spirit. He earned a DMin at Columbia Theological Seminary and MDiv at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Modi Apostolandi: How Jesus’ First Followers Discerned God’s Will
Christians look to the Bible to help discern God’s will for their decision-making, but that search has often yielded more confusion than clarity. In this study, which introduces a forthcoming Westminster John Knox book (due out in the spring of 2016), Jack Haberer suggests that the confusion comes from Jesus and apostles themselves, who interpreted biblical moral teachings not as absolutes but as aspirations and benchmarks that create space for approximations and adaptations. In reality, he claims, all believers approximate and adapt intuitively; they just don’t acknowledge that they do. This study will provide language by which we all can better preach what we practice.
Lecture 1: Modi Apostolandi: An Overview of New Testament Decision-Making
Lecture 2: Eros and Thanatos: Modi Apostolandi in Sex and Death
Dr. Kimberly Bracken Long
Associate Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia
Kimberly Long is interested in the formation of ministers for liturgical leadership in the church, with a particular emphasis on the sacramental and eschatological dimensions of worship. In addition to working in the area of liturgical language, she is currently researching the theology and history of marriage.
From This Day Forward: Christians, Marriage, and the 21st Century Church
Lecture 1: What's Love Got to Do With It? The Surprising Story of Marriage
For centuries people married for land, labor, and in-laws‹but not for love. A look at the evolution of marriage through the centuries sheds light on the state of marriage in our time and raises new questions about its future.
Lecture 2: Of Pomegranates and Promises: Rethinking Christian Marriage
In many ways, the church continues to echo antiquated ideas about marriage that have little to do with the way Christians live in the world today. How can the contemporary church construct a biblical understanding of marriage that speaks to the realities of 21st century life?
The Reverend Paul Roberts
Dean and President, Johnson C. Smith Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia
Paul T. Roberts Sr. is the President/Dean of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary (JCSTS) in Atlanta, Georgia, a position he has held since the spring of 2010. Roberts graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture and African-American Studies. After working for eight years in advertising in New York City, he went to Atlanta and earned his Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in New Testament Studies at Johnson C. Smith Seminary. Paul Roberts is an Academic Fellow of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Switzerland. From 1997 until 2010 Roberts was the pastor of Church of the Master (PCUSA), a church founded in 1965 as an intentionally interracial congregation. He is a contributing writer to Pastoral Care: A Case Study Approach by Orbis Books in 1998, and to Feasting on the Gospels by Westminster/John Knox Press released in December 2013.
Monday, February 2 Sermon
Malachi 3:1-4, Hebrews 2:14-18
Tuesday, Feb 3 Sermon
Jeremiah 31:7-14, Ephesians 1:3-14
Dr. Karl A. Slaikeu
Psychologist, mediator, and author
Karl A. Slaikeu, Ph.D., an internationally recognized psychologist, mediator, and author, is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BA), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), and the State University of New York at Buffalo (MA, PhD). He is the author of When Push Comes to Shove: A Practical Guide to Mediating Disputes (Jossey-Bass), five other books, and he has extensive experience in mediating family, organizational, and faith-based disputes.