1. Personal reflections, and
2. a discussion board for Newton Covenant Church. The discussion board idea never caught on, for some reason. I had difficulty moderating the second response for technical reasons. My bad...
Please ignore or comment as you wish!
A quick summary of two sermons, including yesterday's. The intro was great: Rev. Smith, our Jewish preaching pastor(technically, his title is "Directer of Spiritual Formation and Outreach;-) said this:
Often, when people come to a difficult passage in the Bible, they just skip it. The reason is that they've become accustomed to skipping or ignoring passages like today’s text from Colossians, which APPEARS to simply tell slaves and women to accept their lot as weak and inferior. Today’s reader expects a paean to equality and the denunciation of slavery and patriarchy. Given that Paul wrote this while a literal prisoner of the Roman government (he was eventually executed), such language would’ve been anachronistic, futile, and likely only to speed up his punishment. Instead, he knocked the props from under the entire system by proclaiming equality in Christ: we are all sinners, for sure, but also greatly beloved, and called to respond to God’s grace in Christ. Instead of announcing, he demonstrated: The letter to the Colossian churches was sent together with a letter to Paul’s friend Philemon concerning Philemon’s escaped slave, Onesimus. Instead of commanding the release of the slave, Paul simply reminded Philemon that he and his slave were brothers! This was an astonishing statement for the time; indeed, for all time. We don’t have a written record of the outcome, but there is an inscription elsewhere concerning Bishop Onesimus. It seems quite possible that the lowly slave, brother of Onesimus and Paul, became a Bishop: a position of humble service and authority in the church hierarchy. Another example of undermining the system is an earlier sermon preached by Samuel Caraballo, about Jesus’ response to the question “should I pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus asked for a coin, and then asked about its inscription. A typical coin of the period would’ve proclaimed “Caesar is god.” But Jesus’s quiet yet utterly contradictory response (to the assertion on the coin) was “Give to Caesar [only] what is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s”