Archives For Jesus

by Hannah Mullaney

by Hannah Mullaney

Our fourth Sunday in Advent focused on God’s indescribable love in Christ and how the Church becomes, “Christmas for the World!” Each week has featured a video story and a painting – this week was Tim and Hannah Mullaney.  See the video and listen to the sermon here.


Jesus doesn’t love us like a man loves his wife (not EROS),

His love is far greater than a best friend for life (not PHILOS),

Jesus doesn’t hold us in a tight embrace (we are free),

Jesus gives us love with his arms agape (that’s right – AGAPE!)

      Tim Mullaney, c. 2012


“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen

“The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go God’s love for us does not.”
C.S. Lewis

by Kate Safford

by Kate Safford

“Acquire the Spirit of Peace
and thousands around you
will be saved.”

(Seraphim of Sarov, Russia, 18th cent.)

Our sermon series in Advent at Christ Church is called: Give Them Jesus. We are teaching the themes of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE through Scripture, art, and personal stories. The series. None of these four virtues are dependent on our circumstances.

Let me say that again: HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE are not conditioned by “how things are going!”

In addition to the provocative quote above by Seraphim of Sarov, here are a few reminders to help us understand that Peace comes only through communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace 
at all times in every way.

(2 Thessalonians 3)

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt

Kenneth Bailey invested his 40+ year New Testament research and teaching career in the Middle East.  Of his many books, three are on the cultural background of Luke 15 and the “Lost and Found” parables, especially the “Prodigal Son,” or as Bailey titles it: “The Compassionate Father and His Two Lost Sons!” (Luke 15:11-32)

You can listen to Bailey explaining some of his findings at this eProdigals website.

Listen to my whole sermon on the parable here at the Christ Church website where you can download, listen, or subscribe to the podcast.

HERE IS A SUMMARY OF THE GOOD NEWS as seen in the parable – the journey of the two lost sons:

1. The father pays the price of reconciliation by continuing to endure the agony of rejected love.

2. The younger son comes to the end of his resources. In a moment of truth, he sees and admits to himself where his pride has brought him.

3. He turns and starts back admitting that he is wrong – and hoping yet to save himself. [“I know what I’ll do…”]

4. The father demonstrates unexpected love in self-emptying humiliation [by running to meet him.]

5. Shattered, the younger son surrenders completely, and offers no alternative for their ongoing relationship.

6. The younger son confesses his personal unworthiness.

7. The father offers reconciliation and sonship.

8. The younger son accepts in genuine humility, knowing that [his sonship] is a gift of pure grace. His repentance and faith come in “allowing himself to be found.”

9. The younger son accepts (we can presume) the responsibility of sonship with a new heart. Now he knows, accepts, and can return his father’s love. Service is not now a means to gain more, but rather an opportunity accepted joyously to express love and thanks.

10. The older son publicly insults his father and poisons the relationship, asserting his prideful self-righteousness.

11. The father, again in self-emptying humiliation searches out the older son and  gently urges him to accept the invitation to join in the celebration as a reconciled brother.

NOTE: The missing conclusion. The question hangs: “Will the elder brother go into the party?”

[Jesus is challenging the religious leaders to join him in the true understanding of God as the one who seeks and saves the lost and to see themselves as in need of a Savior; to recognize that their hearts are far from God even as they outwardly see themselves as ‘religious’ and ‘IN!’]

__ adapted from The Cross and the Prodigal, and Finding the Lost by Kenneth E. Bailey

I’m convinced that we need to master the “Prodigal Son” parable as one of the best ways to both understand AND communicate the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus!

Christ calls the irreligious and the religious; the law breakers and law keepers, hot rebels and cold rebels – to come to eat with him at the table he’s prepared by his costly grace.

Jesus demonstrates in these parables, how much “lost” people matter to God.

Q – Am I loving the people in my life in ways that allow them to see Jesus as the compassionate one who seeks and saves the lost?

This Monday is a holiday!  Many may not be aware that August 6, for much of the Church,  highlights a vitally important, but often neglected event in the life of Christ – the Transfiguration.

It’s recorded in the Gospels (e.g. Luke 9:28-36) and in 2 Peter 1:16-18.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice
borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

This icon is from the Retreat house where I began my sabbatical, Emery House ( Continue Reading…

40 days after Jesus’ resurrection, (Thursday) Luke records that Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father. (Acts 1)

O Christ our God, upon fulfilling Your appointed work
for our sake, You ascended in Glory,
uniting the earthly with the heavenly….
and cried out to those who love You,
“I am with you and no one is against you.”

(ancient hymn for the Feast of the Ascension)

Jesus, in his resurrected body, has ascended to the right hand of the Father where he not only prays (‘intercedes’) for us, (Romans 8:34) but where He is also sitting in the ‘Control Room,’ so to speak as the world’s only rightful Lord!  As N.T. Wright (Surprised By Hope) puts it, “Jesus is …ruling the world and will one day return to make that rule complete,”  like a new CEO taking charge of a company that is a mess.  And we are his messengers, called to work for our Lord’s “new way of doing things.”

It’s part of that tension – living between ‘the already’ of His victory and the ‘not yet’ of engaging  our mission.

Are we drawing strength from Jesus’ exalted position?  Strength to implement Christ’s Kingdom victory over evil and the Evil One!  As the angelic messenger said to the watching disciples, “Why stand ye here gazing…?” (Acts 1, KJV)  The Holy Spirit was about to be poured out, bringing all the spiritual gifts and power we need!

As disciples of Christ, we are to discern, deploy, and develop our Spirit-given gifts (charismata), capacities, and passion to serve our exalted Lord for the glory of God and the good of people!

 (Jesus) has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.  (1 Peter 3:22)

For your Holy Week ruminations – a scripture, a great book excerpt, and a stanza from a 6th century pastor/poet. Continue Reading…

Adam and Christmas Eve

December 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

Christ Church in winter

The Story of God and Man begins with the creation of Adam – the first icon, made in the image and likeness of God. Though designed to walk with God and rule the earth with him, Adam (whose name means ‘humanity’) falls and God immediately begins the great cracked-icon-restoration project with the promise of the serpent’s ‘crushing’ defeat. (Genesis 3:15) The Bible puts great emphasis on Jesus as the Second Adam. Replacing Adam One – the New Humanity has begun!

Patrick Reardon puts it this way, as seen not just from the birth, but from the death and resurrection of Christ.

(Christ) stands in defiance of Adam’s Fall…Adam no longer had the final word about the human expectation. On the contrary, a new order had been introduced; an order in which death was no longer the last chapter of history. Jesus…radically remodeled human iconography and changed the content of man’s inheritance. With respect to our ultimate destiny, Christ replaced Adam. Paul elaborates: “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam, a life-giving spirit.”
(1 Corinthians 15:45). 

Christmas Eve will mark again, the glorious coming of the Second Adam – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
With the 5th  century hymn writer, we can sing:

Bethlehem has opened Eden, come, let us see;
There a virgin has borne a babe
and has quenched at once Adam’s and David’s thirst.
For this, let us hasten to this place where there has been born
a little Child, God before the ages.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!
Let us Glorify Him!