For some reason, whenever I hear the term “circumcision party”, I picture the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice and Wonderland. I’m not completely sure why. Perhaps it’s the overall absurdity of each statement that is somehow laced with just enough reason to make it somewhat comprehendible. Reason turned on its head, but reason nonetheless.
They call it the Great Commission. It is the sending out of the Church of God with a purpose, a mission that gives it its definition. This is not a one-time or temporary thing the Church is to do, like a checkmark on a long list of other priorities. No, this is its very identity. It is what we are to fill our days with as we await the end of all things and the return of our Lord. On a mountaintop in Galilee Jesus meets His disciples. There they worship their resurrected Lord and He says to them, “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
I must have been in Sunday School when I first learned the song. It was one we loved to sing because there were hand movements and parts we got to shout out. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
The great forerunner, John the Baptist, has been imprisoned by Herod Antipas and the time has come for Jesus to begin the public work for which He was sent. He leaves behind His home town of Nazareth and travels to Capernaum by the sea. His movement is like the inbreaking of a great light into a land trapped in darkness. As Isaiah declares, “Those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” For as John had preached and baptized for repentance, as he had so faithfully pointed to our Lord and declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world,” now we hear from the lips of our Savior the great call of faith. The light that breaks into that darkness comes in the gift of His Word as he now declares, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
I have always had an appreciation, perhaps even a fascination, with a good fairy tale. Our children grew […]
Simple questions do not always have simple answers. For instance, have you ever pondered the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” Well, we might say a Christian is a follower of Christ or a disciple of our Lord or something along those lines. But then we need to unpack what those things mean and all their various contours and implications. To be a Christian might mean something very different to two Christians sitting in the same room.
A few years ago, I read a fascinating and somewhat controversial book called The Churching of America, by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark. In it the authors examined and brought to light the history of religion in America by arguing it works as a free market economy, an economy in which there are winners and losers. The authors were not pastors or theologians, but professors of sociology and they tackled the issue as sociologists. They do not speak much about orthodoxy or heterodoxy or faithful confessions but use the language of economics.
By Paul Koch – At the end of the Nicene Creed, we confess together, “I believe in the […]
By Paul Koch –
We have all known those people who seem to take joy in tearing down what we’ve built up. Perhaps it is the kid at the beach that just can’t help kicking over the sandcastle that you just finished building. Or it is the big sister who knocks over your stack of blocks. When we grow older, these people are still around. They call themselves realists or even pessimists. You speak of something you have accomplished or some great adventure you want to do and all they want to do is tear it down. They attack your planning or your foresight or the practicality of it all. We don’t like to be around those people. We don’t like to spend our days with those who won’t let us dream a little, those who seem intent to kill what we love. Perhaps, this is why prayer and worship are so difficult. Maybe this is why it is uncomfortable to faithfully proclaim the Word of God. Because if we are honest, no one seems more persistent to tear down the things you love than your Lord Jesus Christ.