1 in Faith: A Christian Bible Study - Sermons

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Sermons

These sermons interpret the Christian Bible in order to proclaim the good news of the gospel. 

MLD

If there is Godóif we live and move and have our being within, and with, such a Loveóthen this Love must be with my granddaughter now.

A Church Mary Can Love

This op-ed by Nicholas D. Kristof is a "sermon" in the best sense of the word.

Welcome to Our Home

We should remember Prisca and Aquila, and all those who supported Paul and other preachers in these early house churches, with gratitude.

Healthy Faith

Does faith guarantee a long life or good health?  No, but faith is healthy.

A "Good Sam" Health Care System

We may have more Good Samaritan hospitals than any other nation, but our health care system does not embody the moral conviction of a good neighbor.

What is Revealed by Scripture?

We need not interpret the testing of Abraham as revealing a God who demands sacrifice, but may see instead our propensity to attribute what we do not understand to God. 

Fight Evil with good

Christian faith does not offer an illusory hope of life on earth without evil. Christian faith calls us to fight evil with good.

Green Faith

Green faith means accepting nature as it is, and being filled with wonder. 

Earth Home

Living faithfully now means reducing our devastating impact on the earth's ecology. 

Easter as Irony

Easter is about life coming from death, but it does not confirm that God is almighty. 

God Is and Isn't a Person

Perhaps thinking of God, like we think of a loving father, means God is like a loving person.

Noah and the Flood: An Ironic Allegory

If we read the story of Noah and the flood literally, we miss its irony.  For as allegory, this Bible story reveals that the God of the Bible is not always God.

Earth Story

The theory of natural selection describes how diverse species evolved.  The biblical story of creation tells us why life began. 

Changing Our Past

The past is always heavy with sorrow, but we can choose to remember how those who loved us helped us get beyond our sorrow.  

Faith in the Power of Good

Both Muslims and Christians have been peacemakers and warmongers, yet we may discover that faith in the power of good is at the heart of these two traditions.

Christian Conscience

None of the statements attributed to Jesus in the gospels include the Greek word for conscience, but we find this idea in the New Testament letters. 

Faith and Ethics  

Is ethics possible without faith?  Is faith only Christian?  Might religious and secular people share a faith that matters for ethics?

America's Sin

Sin is the evil that good people do.  The war on terrorism is America's sin.

Overcome Evil with Good

Violence may provide some protection against terrorism, but only good will overcome evil.  And for the goodness of God to work, we need to repent of the evil we are doing.

The Promise of Resurrection

A dialogue sermon using the accounts in the four New Testament gospels and also Paul's testimony in 1 Corinthians 15.

I Wonder

In the gospel of Thomas, Jesus says: "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a wonder, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a wonder of wonders."

Forgiving

If we are to pray today that our debts be forgiven, we must forgive the debts of those unable to repay their debts.

Living Truth

If truth is known through living, and is living, and requires living to be true, what might this mean for the life of the church?

God in Three Persons

The outrageous Christian story is that God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, suffered and died in the life of a poor person belonging to an oppressed people.

Scripture Fulfilled?

Crucified and resurrected truth means finding Christ in strangers and forgiving God for death. 

Doubting Thomas

The gospel of John creatively links the Thomas tradition of apostolic teaching with the witness of the apostles who followed Peter.

Sown like Seeds 

Resurrection is not resuscitation. Our Easter faith is that death is not the end of life, for we are "sown like seeds" in the kingdom of God.

Death

All four New Testament gospels present the crucified Jesus reciting from the Psalms, the Jewish literary tradition of longing for hope in the face of personal distress and national disaster.

When God is Silent

We are now, as always, at the foot of the cross, where we are challenged to embrace our silent God with faith, hope, and love.

Deliver Us from Evil 

In this moment of enormous peril, our prayer to God "to deliver us from evil" must not mean simply "deliver us from evildoers," but must include a prayer to deliver us and the world from the evil that we, with our nationís great power, might do.

Care of the Soul

We know soul is being cared for when our pleasures feel deeper than usual, when we can let go of the need to be free of complexity and confusion, and when compassion takes the place of distrust and fear. 

Right and Wrong 

Knowing right from wrong now requires that we admit what we do not know, and then share with one another what we do know, so together we might come closer to knowing and living the truth.

The State of the Church

The state of the church is no better than the love and grace manifested in Christian living. 

Original Blessing

We may seek to realize together the first blessing, the blessing of God in the creation story of Genesis, given to Adam and Eve and, by implication, to us all. This original blessing is a promise to humanity that men and women will be fruitful and multiply, if they live faithfully. 

To Follow Jesus

What does it mean to follow Jesus? Throughout the centuries, there have been many ways of answering this question. Our calling is not to condemn, but to carry on.

King of the Jews 

The gospel of Matthew appeals to Jews to accept Jesus as king of the Jews and Messiah. Christians today read the story of the wise men as a childís story about "God with us."

The Word Made Flesh

The church must say that statements in the gospel of John made in the first century by 
Jews about other Jews should not be read as a condemnation of the Jewish people. 

A Christmas Faith? 

Christmas is a mirror in which we see reflected what life might be. We see ourselves moved by generosity, inspired by hope, uplifted by love. 

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

The story of Mary is at the heart of Advent. We prepare for the birth of Jesus by remembering a young, Jewish woman in Palestine two thousand years ago, whose unexpected pregnancy has become a sign of hope for millions of Christians.

John the Baptist

Whoever John the Baptist was, the New Testament gospel writers cannot leave him out of their stories.

Mary Magdalene

We will never know the historical Mary of Magdala. The New Testament gospels are not journalistic accounts of first century events, but are narrative sermons witnessing to the meaning of Jesus Christ for the first century Christians who wrote them. However, these meanings include a prominent place for Mary Magdalene, as a supporter and confidant of Jesus, and as a model of faith for many Christians in the first three centuries. 

James the Just 

In the gospel of Thomas, when disciples ask Jesus who will lead them after he is gone, Jesus answers: "You are to go to James the Just."  In the New Testament Matthew 16:18-19 identifies Peter as "the rock" on which the church will be built, and Acts confirms that Peter supported the mission to the Gentiles. So Peter, not James the Just, is the leading apostle in our understanding of the churchís story.

Facing Fear with Faith

Faith is not trusting in religious rules and rituals, but trusting in the God we know on the cross, who leaves the tomb to call men and women of faith into communities of justice and peace. With this faith, we can face the fears of our time.

Spiritual Stuff?

Reality is material and spiritual. Life is in the real world, and love is about real people. If we embrace the material stuff of our lives, weíll be able to let go of it, share it, even give it away. Because itís all spiritual stuff, and so are we. 

Call to Christian Citizenship

The Roman Empire sought to destroy Christians, who refused to give absolute loyalty to their government, and in three centuries the Christian witness transformed the Roman Empire. The call to Christian citizenship should now stir us to seek justice and peace through the rule of law.

An Open Canon

We can correct the mistakes of the Protestant Reformers by opening the canon to include the Apocrypha and first and second century writings excluded from the fourth century canon.

Open Hearts? 

The New Testament message is shocking. The first shall be last. The divine is human. Heaven is on earth. The kingdom of God is within us. Here. In the world. In our lives. Now.

Open Minds?

We must acknowledge that evil is a power that possesses people. We must accept the New Testament witness that only the love of God can defeat the power of evil. We must live the faith that allows Godís love to manifest its power through us.  

The Fourth Freedom

Are we called by God in Christ to ensure "freedom from want" for all people? If we are, we should support economic. What would the church look like, if it took this calling seriously?

Are We Samaritans?

As religious and nationalistic "orthodoxy" gains power in America and elsewhere, the history of the Samaritans may remind us of the dangers of religious intolerance. 

View from the Red Tent

The story of Jacob and his sons in Genesis 34 does not judge the sons of Jacob for the murder of the men of Shechem.  In "The Red Tent" Anita Diamant speaks for Dinah.

Fair Trade

Wealth is not simply a human possession. Justice and peace require an economic system that checks great inequities. Anything less than a living wage is unfair.

Working Out Spiritually? 

A regular spiritual workout is just what the doctor ordered! But will it bring you closer to God?

Whose Promised Land?

The terrible and tragic truth is that our Bible says God sanctioned ethnic cleansing so the chosen people could have the promised. We cannot, however, accept this as God's will

One Nation Under God?

The debate about the Pledge of Allegiance is unimportant, if it only concerns whether or not the Pledge contains the phrase "under God." The real issue is the meaning given to the phrase "under God." Will we, and other Americans, take to heart the meaning that this phrase had for Lincoln, who saw the Civil War as Godís judgment on America?

 Where is Creation Going?

Our question should be, not where is creation going, but where are we going? Do we seek life with God? Are we embracing eternal life now, as we live?

Is Faith Blind?

Because we are finite, we are blind. Faith is how we are able to embrace life Ė despite the blindness of our finitude Ė with courage, hope and love.

Is Jesus the only Lord and Savior? 

We must now interpret the metaphors in scripture about Jesus Christ in a way that makes sense both of what we now know and what, as finite beings, we cannot know.

What is our Good News?

It is not that Jesus Christ will free humanity from bondage to Satan. For centuries this has been horrible news for Jews and Muslims and people of indigenous traditions.

Should Christians Proselytize?

Witnessing to our faith means doing God's will and explaining why we continue to be Christian in a world that offers many other ways of believing and living.

Women with the Apostles

The apostles we know about, the disciples of Jesus and also Paul, are men. But the New Testament is filled with women, who worked closely with the apostles. 

 What Does Salvation Mean?

Christians understand salvation in various ways, but affirm Godís love for those who live faithfully does not end with death.  In Christ, love overcomes hate, and death leads to eternal life.  

Forgiving God?

Why celebrate the Easter story as though it is literally true, if we do not believe that it is? How would you explain to friends, who may not be in church this morning, why you bothered to come? 

Are We Worshiping Ourselves?  

Our language about God is our way of understanding what is beyond our understanding. So how are we to avoid worshipping ourselves? Perhaps by the way we worship God.

Is the Christian Story True?  

Our faith offers a living truth, if we acknowledge our shortcomings, forgive others, and love our enemies. Faith in the God of the Christian story, and faith in one another, may be a true way of living, for us and for others.

 What does "Faith in Christ" mean?

Christ is not the object of our faith. In faith, we enter into Christ,  into the kingdom of God. Faith is how we live out the Bible story. Faith is not a way of thinking, but a way of being and becoming.  

Facing the Great Tempter

The point of the story of the temptation of Jesus does not depend on whether or not we think Satan is a real person. The story is like a bad dream, for the characters in the story represent aspects of the dreamer. And who is the "dreamer" of the story? This is Godís dream.  

Living the Christmas Story

The Christmas story opens that last chapter of the biblical story of God. Our faith is a decision about a Bible story that is both factual and fantastic. At the intersection of fact and fantasy, we are confronted with a choice: What story of life will we live?

Fighting Evil with Good

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12:21) This Christian teaching is good advice. May we take it to heart and put it into practice.

Almighty God

Despite my doubts, despite my despair, despite the darkness that threatens to overwhelm my spirit and our time, I worship the God of Hannah and Samuel, the God of the psalmist, the God of Mary and Jesus ó Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit.

Giving Thanks for Family

Our expectations for the church are too high, but that's all right if we understand why. We are looking for a home. We want to belong to the family of God.

What Does God Expect?

The "Lilies of the Field" passage is telling first century Christians to strive for God's kingdom and righteousness in their life together.

Why Mission? What Mission?

Why mission? We might as well ask, why Christian faith? Being Christians means reaching out to others, sharing our faith, and welcoming them into our community of love and forgiveness. 

Mission and Message

The mission of the church will be manifested primarily in what we do, not what we say.

Called to be Neighbors

We too easily praise the Christian ethic of love and ridicule our characterization of Jewish law. We need to face our "unwritten laws," which stand in the way of living the Christian ethic of love.

The Sin of Hypocrisy

Are we practicing what we preach? Do we acknowledge the evil that we, as good people, do?  We are called to proclaim he good news of the gospel by exalting God, not ourselves.

Promise of Resurrection  

Paul preaches a spiritual resurrection and not a physical resurrection, but the gospels portray a physical resurrection.  A dialogue sermon exploring this difference in understanding.

A Liberating Gospel  

The New Testament called the early Christians to resist state idolatry. What might that challenge mean for us today?

Completing the Reformation

Paul's teaching about resurrection challenges us to move from literal truth through liberal truth to living truth.

Blessed

The "beautitudes" (Mt. 5:1-12) call us to trust in God. If we seek first the kingdom of God, then we will be blessed and our lives and our work will be a blessing to others.

Chosen People(s)  

Our faith is that the love of God, which is manifested in the covenant with Israel and in the writings of the Old Testament, has in Jesus Christ and the witness of the New Testament been revealed as offering forgiveness for the sins of all people.

Come Holy Spirit

We declare that the things that are to come will not be determined by the social and political events of our time, and that the destruction of peoples and the degradation of nature are not the final act of creation's play. We trust that the Spirit of God (Jn. 16:13) will guide us into all truth

Epiphany

In the third century Greek Christians using the Alexandrian calendar celebrated Epiphany and the winter solstice on January 6th.  A century later Romans using the Julian calendar celebrated Christmas and the winter solstice on December 25th. When the church began to celebrate both Christmas and Epiphany, Epiphany (January 6th) became the 12th day of Christmas.

Faith (not Belief) is Saving

Through the witness of the New Testament, God asks for more than belief in law, more than belief in good works, more than belief in Jesus as the Christ. God asks us to follow Jesus, who faithfully loved God and his neighbors.  This is how we need to understand John 3:16.

Faith as Practice

If you can open your hearts and minds to the eternal Spirit of life, in prayer, meditation and worship, you will find the joy of life that is there for all with ears to hear and eyes to see.

Faith in Human Rights 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 laid the foundation for human rights law.  Support for human rights involves faith as well as law and politics.

Forgiving Love

The parable Jesus told about the prodigal son (Lk. 15:11-32) shows us what love means. The father forgives his younger son, completely and unconditionally. 

Free in Christ

The good news proclaimed by Paul (Gal. 2:1-16) and by the gospel of John (Jn. 8:31-36) is that we are free in Christ. We are not saved by keeping the law, or by being Jewish or Gentile, or by following Jesus because we agree with what he says. We are saved by the love of God.

Jubilee 2000

The gospel of Luke (Lk. 4:16-19) proclaims that Jesus the Christ is good news for the poor. As Christians we are called now in the spirit of Deuteronomy 15:1-6 and Leviticus 25:8-17 to support a jubilee year that forgives the debts of the impoverish peoples of the earth.

Living Our Faith

Can the church today that is divided by beliefs be united by a living faith? Let us pray that the Spirit will bring forth in the church of this new millennium a renewed commitment to love God and our neighbors, so that others may know we are Christians by our faith, our hope, and our love.

Luke's Christmas Story

The gospel of Luke reminds us that poverty is not a mark of human failure or divine rejection.  This story of women, a baby in a manger, and shepherds in the fields who come in wonder to the stable, should elicit in us a renewed sense of awe and gratitude for life. 

Making Sense of the New Testament

As Paul and other Christians realized that salvation is not a matter of keeping religious laws, today we need to understand that salvation is not a matter of having the right beliefs about God or Jesus or the Bible. Salvation is the gift of God's love to those who have faith.

Matthew's Christmas Story

This story reminds us that human rulers are subject to God. The star created by God summons the three wise men. Herod is foiled in his attempt to destroy Jesus, who will be king. The birth story in the gospel of Matthew tells us that the promises of God will be fulfilled.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is a celebration of the triumph of God in Christ, not of our triumph as Christians. In worship we begin with confessing our sin and then hearing the good news that we are forgiven by the love of God in Jesus the Christ. That is the triumph we celebrate on Palm Sunday.

Peasant Prophet of Galilee

Jesus calls us to enter into the kingdom of God by loving our enemies, rejecting all discrimination based on social, economic and political power, and affirming that character is more important than creed. He challenges us to give up our role as caretakers of religious institutions so we may become teachers, healers, and prophets of the living God.

Proclaiming the Gospel in a Pluralistic World

We must come to see our faith as a way of life, and then live it. We must embrace a spiritual and ethical practice that is grounded in a biblical faith. We must seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. If we do this, then others will know what it means to be Christian.

Renewing Our Churches

Renewal will come with wondrous worship. Renewal will come with greater openness in contemplative prayer. Renewal will come with new forms of bold service. Renewal will come because we are and will continue to be inspired by Jesus and by women and men in the Bible and in our own communities of faith. Renewal will come, as the gift of the Spirit of God.

Renewing the Good News

We should proclaim a gospel of faith and love, for this is how we have come to know eternal life. But we should also acknowledge that Jewish teachings led Jesus and have led many Jews to a deeper experience of God and love for their neighbors, as have religious teachings from the great spiritual traditions of the world. This is part of the "good news" of God's love.

Set Free by Christ

We can engage scripture thoughtfully, reverently and critically in a discipline reflecting our trust in God. We can encounter the God of freedom through the witness of the scriptures to the freedom experienced by Abraham, by the Israelite prophets, and by Jesus the Christ. We can enter into the faithful stories of the past in order to embrace the present with faith, hope and love.

Freedom of the Spirit

Human rights law guards our fundamental civil and political freedoms, but we must find our eternal freedom in the Spirit of truth (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Trusting in God

The faith that saves is the result of God's grace, which is freely given and is not a reward for good behavior or for correct beliefs. We are not saved by keeping the law, or by doing good works, or by adhering to church doctrine. In Christ, we are saved by the love of God.

Who Will Guide Us?

In the time of "the great dying" our faith must be rooted in the community of the faithful, the communion of those throughout history who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and found they were not alone.

 

 

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1 in Faith: A Christian Bible Study Ü Copyright © 2000 by Robert Traer