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Liberation Theology

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  Here’s the question for You Choose Sermon number 3 – “how is Liberation Theology historically and presently similar and different to mainline belief?” I begin by defining what exactly liberation theology is.  Liberation theology begins with the idea that Christ is liberator. This is straight out of Luke 4. Christ’s liberation of the least of these mirrors God’s liberation of the enslaved in Egypt.  According to Liberation Theology, the biblical story as a whole is about liberation, about God freeing those stuck at the bottom. God and God in Christ seeks to save those at the bottom first and foremost. Yes, as the idea goes, a rising tide will lift all boats. But it lifts those boats at the bottom first. There’s a phrase that is often attached to the discussion of liberation theology. “God’s preferential option for the poor.” God sides with the poor and oppressed. And God in Christ primarily comes to save the poor. For liberation theology, the God of the Bible again and again joins th

Other Faiths & Christ, Part 2

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A follow-up to the You Choose Sermon from last week (Other Faiths & Christ). This week's meditation is based on the questions, what do other faiths call God and what do they claim leads to God? In God, Christ, and Holy Spirit we have three avenues that lead to connection with God. We’ve heard it said, God has many names. And that’s absolutely true. The Christian notion of the Trinity alone proves that! Within these three avenues with different names that lead to connection with God, we can place various world religions. Let’s go through them, shall we? First, there is the first person of the trinity, God as in God the Father, God of Abraham. We might call this the strict monotheist avenue. We would include in this avenue Judaism and Islam. Now, I’d like to say a word about these two faith traditions. Of course, historically, adherents of these faiths have been on the other sides of a long, continual battle. This historic conflict is mostly related to geo-politics, s

Others Faiths & Christ

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  This is the first of a series of meditations I’ve dubbed You Choose. A few weeks ago, I asked folks to give me their questions, scriptural passages, and topics for me to reflect upon Sunday. I got a few responses. It’s not too late if you want to add your own, but the first question I’d like to reflect on comes from a question regarding non-Christian religions and how they fit into the Christian idea of salvation. Are the faithful of other religions saved? Do faithful Buddhists go to heaven, for example? If so, how? Where does Christ fit in if, using our example, faithful Buddhists indeed go to heaven? Great questions, yes? Whenever a topic like this comes up, an ardent Christian based in the more traditional version of the Christian faith, one of our born-again Evangelical siblings, for example, will recite John 14:6 – I am the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father but by me. In other words, only Christ saves. Unless Christ is involved, the non-Christian faithfu

The God Is Love Revolution

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Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love...  So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. God is Love Those three words are found in two verses both from I John 4. The whole of the Bible leads us to that three-worded creed that in many ways is the gospel – the good news – in a nutshell. We should define what the Bible means by love here. So that’s how I begin this morning, defining the Love God is. We spell the love God is A-G-A-P-E. It is not pronounced like we’d pronounce “agape,” as in open (e.g., “leave the door agape”). It is pronounced a-gah-pay. C.S. Lewis states, Agape… is the kind [of love] God has for us and is good in all circumstances… Agape is all giving, not getting.” Dr. Martin Luther King describes it this way: “ Agape  means understanding, redeeming good will for all... It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless

Our Church, Our Jerusalem Temple

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Our gospel story takes place in the iconic sacred space known as the Upper Room. Tapping into my inner Dwight Schrut, I say this. Fact: the first Christian church can be traced back to the Upper Room. It is where the first communion happened. It is where Jesus revealed to his disciples the full extent of the resurrection. And its where Pentecost happened. The Upper Room was the upstairs space of a larger home in Jerusalem. It is called the cenacle, and it is still there. Its been maintained well all these years and you can visit it. Why was it important to the first Christians 2,000 years ago all the way up to now to maintain that sacred space so well? Why is it important for us to take care of our church sanctuary? That’s the question I want to look at today. To answer this question we must go all the way back to the Jerusalem temple. The Jerusalem temple was segmented into three spaces.    There was the:   Porch:  Also known as the vestibule. This is where people gathere

The Corrective Lens of the Empty Tomb

  Love wins!  That is the reason for the season, friends! This is the point of this day, this Easter day. Hatred and violence had their day. Friday was fueled by sin, by the evil of ending innocence, crucifying compassion and destroying love. Friday saw God, Love itself, killed, saw the lover of all humanity, mocked, scorned, nailed to a cross, murdered, martyred. Saturday, this lover of all went to the darkest depths, to the underworld and to the epitome of suffering. But today, all that’s finished. He has risen, raising us up in the process. Love has won the final victory.  The ultimacy of death itself has died. The eternity of life is today born.   Might I ask you a question this morning? How do you look at the world? Do you look at the world through the lens of the cross? Or do you look through the world through the lens of the empty tomb?  What do you mean by those questions, Rev Don? What does it mean to see the world through the lens of the cross or through the lens of the empty

Temptations of the Church in the Wilderness

  The American church is in the throes of a wilderness experience. For Jesus, it was 40 days and 40 nights. For us, it is going on 30 years. Authors Jim Davis, Michael Graham, and Ryan Burge describe what this wilderness experience amounts to in their 2023 book The Great Dechurching . They write: The U.S. is currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country, as tens of millions of formerly regular Christian worshipers nationwide have decided they no longer desire to attend church at all. These are what we now call the dechurched. About 40 million adults in America today used to go to church but no longer do, which accounts for around 16 percent of our adult population. For the first time in the eight decades that Gallup has tracked American religious membership, more adults in the United States do not attend church than attend church. More people have left the church in the last twenty-five years than all the new people who became Christ