By Jeff Pulse

Our Old Testament text for Lent II, February 25, 2018, comes to us from the first book of the Torah, Genesis. The text is Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 and is the establishment of the covenant which is marked by the Sacrament of Circumcision—although the actual verses dealing with circumcision have been left out of the pericope. This is unfortunate because the cutting of the covenant (berith karat) includes the mark of the covenant in the flesh: circumcision. We even have the language that indicates that everyone who is not “cut” shall be “cut off” (vs. 14).

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for Lent I, February 18, 2018, is from the first book of the Torah, Genesis. The text is Genesis 22: 1-18 and is not only the well-known, much discussed account of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac, but it also holds a special reverence among the Jewish people who refer to it as the “Aqadah,” which in Hebrew is “The Binding.” The reason this account stands out for the Jews is the unique circumstances that surround it. The Abrahamic covenant is in great danger because the LORD has called upon Abraham to sacrifice his only son, the son in the Messianic line. In addition is the peculiar kind of sacrifice; Isaac would be the ONLY living sacrifice in the Old Testament.

By Paul Koch

When we arrived in the city of Cologne last November you could clearly see the tall spires of the great cathedral towering over the rest of the town. Our local tour guide called it the Black Gothic Mountain. The sulfuric acid in the rain from the burning of coal slowly turned the white sandstone this dark grey, black color. Every time you looked at that building you couldn’t help but slowly lift your eyes heavenward. The architecture was designed to pull your gaze upward. Whether you were standing outside examining the flying buttresses and gargoyles and spires, or you were inside its massive unobstructed nave lined with stained glass windows where the flood of light made you feel small and insignificant compared to the glory of God, you seldom found yourself looking down or even straight ahead. It was imposing, beautiful and massive. It was a confession in stone and mortar of the glory of our Creator.

By Graham Glover

Wait, what? Protestants reject grace?

Huh? Isn’t it the other way around? Aren’t Protestants all about grace?

The popular narrative says that Protestantism was born to combat the false doctrines of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches who teach that we are forgiven and made right with God not by grace alone, but by grace and works. Protestantism claims that its intent was to “reform” the Christian faith back to its original and true teaching – a teaching that proclaims salvation is found only and exclusively in God’s grace.

By Paul Koch

There is a certain and definite uneasiness that comes with the sound of silence. When no one is speaking, when all distractions are removed, when you are left with just your own thoughts and feelings, you will find a desire to fill the silence with something. Almost anything. TV’s become background noise though no one is watching, people play music on the radio or busy themselves with some activity that takes their minds away from the silence. We may long to get away from it all, to escape to the mountains or a warm beach, to be away from the distractions and noise.

By Paul Koch

So here we are once again standing at that strange moment in the year when we are going to turn the page on the calendar. Tonight, at the ringing of midnight we will welcome in the year 2018 and say goodbye to 2017. There will be celebrations around the globe as different cultures mark the passing of time in their own way. Some will be at late night parties with friends and family, some will gather in big cities and countdown the final moments with total strangers. I, for one, look forward to a champagne toast and a kiss from my bride as we ring in the new year. One of the great things about New Year’s Eve is it’s a rare moment when we stop and consider the passing of time. We turn our attention to the years that have already gone by and the pondering of how many years we may have left. Amid the parties and the celebrations there is a real attempt on this night to reflect on our use of time.