This Sunday I will be starting a five week sermon series titled “Violence and God’s Redeeming Love”. The weekly subtitles are:
January 19 – Desire and Scandal
January 26 – Scandal, Violence, and the Law
February 2 – Sacrifice, the Scapegoat, and Mythology
February 9 – Revelation in Jesus
February 16 – Redemption with Compassion OR Apocalyptic Violence
Think of this sermon series as a love story with two possible but exclusive endings. How will the story end?
Our scripture lessons for this first Sunday are:
Genesis 2:15-18, 25, 3:1-7, 20-24 – These passages are part of the second creation account. The love story begins. When the human was created from the mud of the earth God placed him in the Garden and said “Eat whatever fruit you want except . . .” The human was lonely and God created animals. But the human was still lonely and God created woman. Then along came the snake who said “Wait a minute . . . God said what?” And the man and the woman where scandalized that God would withhold anything from them. They, who once only desired God, now desired something they couldn’t have. And death entered the world, but that is next week’s story.
Romans 5:12-21 – What came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin and death, has been redeemed by the Jesus through grace which leads to life.
Matthew 18:6-9 – As you read this familiar passage substitute the word “scandal” or “scandalizes” when you read “stumble” or “stumbling block”. The Greek word is “skandalon”. We stumble over scandals.
While I am in this sermon series we will not be using the Lectionary Readings but I, as I have always done, will continue to list and comment on them for your spiritual growth.
Isaiah 49:1-7 – The second of four “Servant Songs”. Here, the servant is identified as the nation of Israel, who is despised and abhorred.
Psalm 40 1-11 – In these verses the psalmist is faithful to God in everything. He seems to only desire what God has and gives. Then, in verses 12-15, we hear the voice of a victim of enemies, perhaps a victim of society. In the final two verses, 16-17, the psalmist places his trust total in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 – The first of six readings in chapters 1-3. These are Paul’s opening remarks to the believers in Corinth. This church would be called a “conflicted church” these days and an interim pastor who specializes in healing conflicted churches would be called or appointed. Paul writes a letter.
John 1:29-42 – John the Baptizer declares Jesus to be “the Lamb of God” and a couple of John’s disciples decide to follow Jesus instead. The invitation by Jesus was “Come and See”. How do you invite other into a relationship with Jesus and our church? Is “Come and See” sufficient these days?
Have a great week serving God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor