The Peace That Transcends All Understanding

peace of god

3rd Sunday of Advent: Phil. 4:4-7

There’s a lot going on in this letter to the Philippians. I think it’s worth a brief overview, because some of the issues being addressed here are universal. If we cherrypick the nice sounding verses, we miss the depth of what Paul’s asking this church to do.

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Pure and Blameless

blameless

2nd Sunday of Advent: Phil. 1:3-11

Paul’s letter to the Philippians has a similar tone to his letter to the Thessalonians. Particularly in his desire to see them pure and blameless in the day of Christ. Our 21st century ears hear a literal call to be perfect in this call to action, and yet that doesn’t sit well next to other scripture—even Paul’s other letters. I zero in on this phrase because misunderstanding this it can cause us to do the opposite of what will help us grow in our faith.

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Appeal of the Early Church: Love and Relationships

love and relationship

1st Sunday of Advent: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

The text I’m writing about today is from 1 Thessalonians, which is most likely the first of any of Paul’s correspondence with the early churches. This reading isn’t a list of generic instructions or theological topics, but rather Paul telling this church how much he wants to visit them. He’s also encouraging them to let their love for each other grow.

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Jesus and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

minimum sentencing

26th Sunday after Pentecost: John 18:33-37

John 18 describes the arrest of Jesus and the beginning of his trial. This text focuses on the conversation between Pilate and Jesus. Before this Pilate is trying to get off the hook because it’s obvious the charges against Jesus are exaggerated. When he agrees to proceed, it’s clear that this trial will result in an ancient version of mandatory minimum sentencing.

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Encourage Each Other Toward Love

encourage each other

25th Sunday after Pentecost: Hebrews 10:11-14, 15-18, 19-25

Chapter 10 of the book of Hebrews has a lot packed into it. This text explains the significance of the crucifixion of Christ and how that event brings about the forgiveness of sins. It’s also a call for love and encouragement. Rather than being used to encourage others, it has been used by church leaders to hold people “accountable” for their perceived sins.

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Generosity of the Poor

generosity of the poor

24th Sunday after Pentecost: Mark 12:38-44

God doesn’t need us to be God’s venture capitalist. Maybe that’s so obvious as to be comical. On the other hand, some may see their acts of charity as crucial in the grand scheme of things. The rich might go so far as to publicly deride the generosity of the poor for their inability to do much financial good with their meager donations. That contrast is the point of this lesson.

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