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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

“The Matrix” was one of the most significant movies of the 1990s because it blended avant-garde special effects with a rich mix of spiritual ideas which created a film into which the viewer could easily read his or her own religious beliefs. The special effects created a thing of beauty. The spirituality created a thing of wonder. The delicious mix of beauty and wonder inspired a generation to explore the question of what is reality, and, perhaps more importantly, can I know reality? (more…)

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Throughout this paper I hope to focus through the lens of worship on the two ideas of (1) Spiritual development and (2) the dichotic need for both solitude and community in a healthy spiritual life. In this paper I am going to suggest that worshiping through Fowler’s stages of faith might be an effective way of meeting our spiritual needs.

There is a certain integration that naturally occurs between Fowler’s stages and the ideas of the dichotomous need for both solitude and community. Approximately half the stages tend to lead us to worship more in community and half lead us to worship in solitude. If we are able to worship through each of the stages, rather than just the stage we find ourselves in, then we become able to meet our spiritual needs for both solitude and silence. (more…)

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One only needs to read the phrase, “In the beginning was the word,” to realize that the Gospel of John approaches the story of Jesus in a manner that is truly unique. The gospel of Mark may represent the first unpolished record of the gospel message, and Luke may have finally written “an orderly account,” but it is the author of the gospel of John that truly delves into the theological implications of God coming to earth and dying for humanities transgressions.

There are many times throughout the gospel of John where Jesus tries to make it clear to his disciples that he is God incarnate, who has come to this earth as their savior; as their messiah. Jesus also tries to make it clear that he will die; unfortunately, the disciples never fully understand. One of these occasions occurs near the oratorical climax of the text, while Jesus and his disciples are eating what will be their last Passover meal together. Judas has just left the room to setup his betrayal and Jesus tries to explain to his disciples what is about to happen. The vast majority of John’s account (13:31b-36) of this event is entirely original and holds no semblance to any part of the other three gospels. (more…)

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A Christmas Prayer

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the
brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known
the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him
perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he
lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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Sometimes it seems as though life is an endless series of traditions. Every nation, culture, tribe and family engages in a wide variety of traditional and ritualistic behavior. These traditions are passed from generation to generation. Often the original meaning of the tradition is lost and the ritual may change over time, but there is something about repeating a familiar act that is comforting to each of us.

When I was a boy growing up, one of my family’s thanksgiving traditions was to sit around the television on thanksgiving eve and watch “The Mouse and the Mayflower.” This short cartoon told the story of the pilgrim’s crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the ship Mayflower all through the eyes of a small mouse. I am not going to argue the historical accuracy of the cartoon, but I mention it because approximately one third of the way into the movie the pilgrims sing a song called, “Elbow Room.” This song spoke specifically about the cramped quarters on the ship, but it also spoke metaphorically about the pilgrim’s hope to find a space in the New World where they could be free to follow their spiritual leadings. As we study how religion was imported into the American colonies in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, it becomes apparent that many people and people groups came to the colonies in search of “elbow room.” (more…)

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Facilitating Growth: Acts 2

The focus of today’s message stems from the second half of Acts 2:47. Luke writes, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” We’re going to look a little closer at this passage later, but I want you to focus for a few minutes on that one sentence: the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

How many people has the Lord added to our number today? Anyone? No one that I know of. How many has the Lord added to our number in the last week or even the last month? In the last year how many have been added to the number of saved here at this church? Maybe twenty? Maybe ten? Maybe five? Maybe one?

I don’t know the answer to that question; I’m new here at this church. But for the early church Luke writes that the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. I would suggest to you that we need to allow the Lord to add to our number, and if we are effective followers of Christ then that addition should and could occur daily. (more…)

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Protestant Christianity was a great influence on the United States in the early and mid nineteenth century. However, it could also be truly said that the United States of the early and mid nineteenth century was a great influence on Protestant Christianity. Over the thirty years before the civil war, both pro and anti slavery groups attempted to use their religion to support their views on slavery. Abolitionists turned to the Biblical passages which spoke of all followers of Christ as brothers; supporters of slavery turned to the passages which required slaves to obey their masters. It was a time when Christianity did not so much shape the morals of society as the society shaped the morals of Christianity. (more…)

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