Galatians 3: 23-29

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  • Transcending the Tribe

    by Gilbert Bowen
    Many years ago in India, a group of men traveling through desolate country found a seriously wounded man lying beside the road. They carried him to the Christian mission hospital and asked the physician who met them at the door if a bed was available. The physician looked at the injured man and immediately saw that he was an Afghan, a member of the warring Patau tribe. "Bring him in," he said, "For him we have a bed." When the physician examined the man, he found that an attacker had seriously injured his eyes and the man's sight was imperiled. The man was desparate with fear and rage, pleading with the doctor to restore his sight so that he could find his attacker and extract retribution. "I want revenge," he screamed. "I want to kill him." The doctor told the man that he was in a Christian hospital, that Jesus had come to show us how to love and forgive even our enemies. The man listened unmoved. Revenge was his only goal, vengeance the only reality. The doctor rose, saying that he needed to attend to other patients. He promised to return to tell the man a story, a story about a person who took revenge...
  • Sermon Starters (Christmas 1B)(2020)

    by Doug Bratt
    A number of years ago even the bastion of religious orthodoxy that is The Washington Post, in an article entitled, “O Come, All Ye Advent Carols,” weighed in on the controversy over the appropriate time to begin singing Christmas carols. It pointed to the Christ Lutheran Church in Georgia whose pastor longs to sing Christmas carols before Christmas Day. During the four Sundays in Advent, however, his church sings only Advent hymns, not Christmas carols. It sometimes seems as if the debate over when to begin singing carols is between some church musicians and other church members. So, for instance, the Post reports how members of the Christ Lutheran Church were so desperate to sing Christmas music before Christmas that they held a carol service on a Saturday night. However, some church musicians insist it’s premature to sing songs about the birth of Christ before we actually celebrate his birth. One hymn writer compares it to sneaking into the closet and ruining the surprise by peeking at your Christmas presents. “It’s a bit of a letdown,” she opines. The music director at the National Cathedral agrees, asking, “Would you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ before someone’s birthday?”
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 7C)(2019)

    by Doug Bratt
    Imagine for a moment that you’re walking with someone out to the parking lot after a worship service. As you walk and talk, you notice a couple of people standing and talking together out in the lot. One of those people is a man, the other a woman. One is quite tall, the other relatively short. One is fairly heavy, the other fairly trim. One has brown hair, the other black. One’s hair is graying a bit, the other’s is not. One is wearing a stylish brown coat, the other a ragged green one. One is smiling, the other is not. And, oh yes, by the way, one’s skin color is darker than the other’s. Now imagine saying something like, “I think I know that person.” And your companion answers, “Which one?” How might you answer? How might any of us answer a similar question in a comparable setting? Of course, you might refer to the person’s comparative height or weight. You could point to the color of the person’s hair or coat. It’s possible you’d refer to the gender or relative age of the person I think I know. However, if you’re anything like me, you’re naturally most likely to identify the person by the color of his or her skin. By nature I would answer, “The black guy,” or “The white woman.”...
  • Preaching Helps (Christmas 1B)(2017)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Some years ago many of us were riveted to the fine—but at times searing—movie 12 Years a Slave. In it we see the true story of Solomon Northrup, who had been a free black man living in the North in the years before the Civil War. Through a series of tragic circumstances, however, Northrup is abducted and sold into slavery where he remains for a dozen years before another series of (this time good) circumstances leads to his being freed. The nightmare scenario of the film is obvious enough: when you know what it is to be free, you never want to become a slave. And if for some reason you do, your life falls apart. You very nearly lose your own identity, and the dignity you once had as a free person can begin to feel like a distant dream...
  • A Chevy Nova, Tea and the One in Which We Live and Move and Have Our Being

    by Dawn Hutchings
    In his book, A New Harmony the Scottish mystic John Philip Newell tells a story about his first trip to India. “One day,” says Newell, “as I sat in the Lal Bagh Gardens in Bangalore, I was approached by an elderly Indian gentleman. He greeted us kindly and we entered into conversation. After a few pleasantries, in which I learned that he was a retired banker, he said with a gentle sideways wagging of his head, “I have one question for you. Who are you?”
  • Proper 7C (2004)

    by Paul Larsen
    Bob Stamps is a delightful man with a good sense of humor. He is also as bald as a cue ball. One night Bob and his wife decided to go out to dinner. So they hired a babysitter to take care of their little children. While they were gone, the babysitter got interested in a television program and wasn't watching the children very carefully. Their little boy Peter, got into his father's electric shaver and shaved a big landing strip right down the middle of his head. When Bob came home, he was furious. He said, "Peter! I told you never to play with my shaver. Now you are going to get a spanking that you will never forget!" He was just about to administer that spanking when Peter looked up at him and said, "Wait until you see sister!" Bob said that he and his wife were horrified when they went into the next room and saw their little four-year-old daughter with all of the hair shaved off of her head. She looked like a skinned rabbit. Now Bob was really furious. He grabbed Peter and said, "Now you are really going to get it." Just as he lifted his hand and started to bring it down, Peter looked up at him with tears in his eyes and said, "But Daddy! We were just trying to look like you!" There was one little boy who didn't get a spanking that night. Instead he got a hug...
  • The Next Step in the Churches

    by Jim McCoy
    A few weeks ago, a friend introduced me to an amazing fellow Baptist who had never made it onto my radar. Walter Nathan Johnson was a high level denominational official who left the Southern Baptist mainstream to focus on revitalization of congregations, and on how “church involvement” could involve one’s entire lifestyle. In the mid-1920’s he began to publish a newsletter on a shoestring budget from a little office in Mars Hill, NC. For the next 25 years (!!), he wrote and published “The Next Step in the Churches.”...
  • Feminism and the Bible

    by David Russell
    Sayers wrote a wonderful little book called Are Women Human? And she talks about Jesus and women. She said, Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man - there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature...
  • Heirs According to the Promise

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("A man I know grew up with two names. His mother divorced his father when he was nine months old. His real father chose to have nothing to do with him, so he didn't feel like he belonged to his father. His mother remarried and for the next fifteen years he went by his stepfather's name, not his father's name. He knew what his real name was. That was the name that appeared on his birth certificate...")

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