Today is the first Sunday of Advent; the season leading up to Christmas. During Advent, the Church remembers the anxious waiting that preceded the coming of the Christ. Although I posted the following sermon text last year, I am re-posting it (with modifications) as a reminder of the hope and expectation that the first Sunday of Advent usually focuses upon.
Simeon and Anna: An Expectant Faith.
In the last couple years, consumers have started to voice their displeasure with stores advertising for Christmas earlier and earlier. Stores couldn’t wait till Thanksgiving day – the decorating, the sales, and the preparations began shortly after Halloween. The situation seems to have improved, but stores still send out flyers throughout November to entice us to spend as much money as possible on black Friday. Have you received any flyers? Over the last month many Christmas sale flyers have made their way into both my postal and electronic mail boxes. These flyers tell us to be expectant and prepared because our shopping hopes will soon be fulfilled. While many are looking forward to saving 25% on electronics, just as many people wish that stores would at least wait until Thanksgiving before bombarding us with Christmas advertising. Before we become too upset with all this pre-thanksgiving Christmas advertising, we should realize that the first Christmas was actually advertised, and prepared for, centuries before the actual day. Continue reading
Study Bibles with reference notes have become very popular in the last few decades. While the common refrain of “my Bible says in the notes . . . ” has derailed many group discussions, Bible study notes do more good than harm. These notes often provide helpful cultural or linguistic information to help modern readers understand the author’s intended meaning. One example of this benefit is found in Jesus’ well-known interaction with Nicodemus in John 3.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ 3:8 The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (NET Bible)
Those who have not studied Greek usually do not realize that in
this passage the English word “spirit,” “Spirit,” and
“wind”are translations of one Greek word: pneuma.
I posted an outline of the Gospel of John in Russian a few days ago. You can find the English version below and as a PDF on the page devoted to John’s Gospel.
Gospel of John Outline
Prologue: 1: 1-18 The eternal Word enters the world.
Part 1: Testimony and Signs (1:19 – 12:50)
1:19-34: John testifies Jesus is the Son of God.
1:35-51: Jesus Gains Followers.
From Cana to Cana, signs 1-3. (2:1 – 4:54)
2:1-12: 1st sign, water into wine.
2:13-22: 2nd sign, Clearing & Establishing the Temple.
2:23-3:21: Nicodemus, re-birth to eternal life.
3:22-36: John’s last testimony.
4:1-26: Messiah offers living water to Samaria.
4:27-42: Samaritan Belief & Testimony.
4:43-54: 3rd sign, healing a Nobleman’s Son.
(Вы можете скачать эту информацию в файл PDF на нашей новой странице «ЕВАНГЕЛИЕ ОТ ИОАННА»)
СТРУКТУРА ЕВАНГЕЛИЯ ОТ ИОАННА
Пролог: 1:1-18 Вечное Слово вошло в мир.
Часть 1: Свидетельство и Чудеса (1:19 – 12:50)
1:19-34: Иоанн свидетельствует что Иисус есть Сын Божий.
1:35-51: Иисус привлекает учеников.
Кана цикл, чудеса 1-3. (2:1 – 4:54)
2:1-12: первое чудо, вода в вино.
2:13-22: 2-е чудо, очищение и создание Храма
2:23-3:21:Никодим, перерождение в вечную жизнь.
3:22-36: последнее свидетельство Иоанна.
4:1-26: Мессия предлагает живую воду в Самарии.
4:27-42: Самарийская вера и свидетельство.
4:43-54: 3-е чудо, исцеление сына царедворца.
Those who want to study the Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel are confronted with an enormous body of literature. Below is a bibliography of scholarly works (grouped into monographs, dissertations, and articles) that focus on the Spirit in the Fourth Gospel. To limit the scope, I have not included commentaries or general theologies on John; nor have I included systematic works on pneumatology unless they have a heavy focus on John’s presentation of the Spirit (even though these more general works should be consulted when studying the Spirit in John). I also have not included anything before 1950. I have, however, included articles that examine specific passages in John that feature the Spirit. Due to the shear volume of material, I am sure some works have been left out. Feel free to post any suggestions in the comment section.
The New Testament came through first-century writers who held to particular assumptions and a particular worldview. As twenty first-century Christians seek to discern what those writings are saying to them, they carry different assumptions and a different worldview. This discrepancy often causes contemporary Christians to interpret the Bible in a way that the authors never intended. For those Christians who hold to a high view of scripture, the author’s intended meaning is inspired by God and the guide and authority for faith and practice today. It is crucial, therefore, to be aware of our assumptions and the subtle ways they steer our understanding of the text.
Today’s blog addresses individualism. Western 21st century culture sees everything through the lens of individualism. Merriam-Webster defines individualism as “the belief that the needs of each person are more important than the needs of the whole society or group.” Western Christians unconsciously adopt this individualistic worldview because it surrounds us every day and in every interaction. In contrast, the biblical writers and their audiences were surrounded by assumptions that emphasized the community. While the biblical texts also addressed individuals, they did so through the communities these individuals belonged to. Contemporary Christians tend to read the Bible in the opposite direction–as if the Bible is addressed primarily to individuals and secondarily to the communities these individuals belong to.
The disconnect between 21st century versus 1st century assumptions manifests itself both in theology and practice. From my experience as a pastor, the affect on practice is more pervasive because assumptions guide every person whether they think about them or not. Churches are filled with people who interpret the Bible, their lives, their relationship to God, and their relationship to others through the lens of individualism. Continue reading
On my way back to the United States from Amsterdam, I intentionally booked a several hour layover in Dublin. A 6 euro aircoach bus ticket brought me to Trinity College, the home of the famous Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is an illuminated Latin manuscript containing the four Gospels written around 800 C.E. This lavishly decorated manuscript is one of Ireland’s national treasures (digitized page images of the Book of Kells can be viewed at: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/home/index.php?DRIS_ID=MS58_003v). Purchasing my ticket on-line was a good idea; the cheaper 10 euro walk up price came with its own price–standing in a long line. While seeing this ancient manuscript was worth the time and money, I was more interested in another one of Dublin’s attractions (no, not Guinness) . . . Continue reading