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Myths Surrounding the Birth of Jesus

During the celebration of Christmas, familiar images are recalled in hymns and scripture about the birth of Jesus. In the popular mind, the appearance of herald angels, shepherds abiding in the fields, the star of Bethlehem, the virgin Mary giving birth in a stable, and the adoration of the Magi, have all been melded into one Christmas story. In reality, there are in the gospels, two distinct and at times contradictory stories of Jesus’ birth. A careful reading of the Bible itself reveals that so much about this celebrated birth is myth.

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Shimmers of Peace

In the Greek world, “peace” was often employed to describe an inner state of well-being, whereas in the Hebrew tradition, the word was used primarily for interpersonal or social relations, coming very close to meaning “justice.” Both of these perspectives are found in the New Testament, and though a particular context may emphasize one or the other, neither meaning should exclude the other.

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Reading Jesus; A Writers Encounter with the Gospels

In this impassioned and eye-opening book, Gordon takes us through all the fundamental stories—the Prodigal Son, the Temptation in the Desert, the parable of Lazarus, the Agony in the Garden—pondering the intense strangeness of a deity in human form, the unresolved more ambiguities, the problem posed to her as an enlightened reader by the miracle of the Resurrection. What she rediscovers—and reinterprets with her signature candor, intelligence, and straightforwardness—is a rich store of overlapping, sometimes conflicting teachings that feel both familiar and tantalizingly elusive. It is this unsolvable conundrum that rests at the heart of Reading Jesus and with which Gordon keeps us in thrall on every page.

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Covenant Economics: A Biblical Vision of Justice for All

In this insightful new study, Dr. Horsley contends that God intensely cares about economic justice. As followers of the Heavenly Father, we, too, should be deeply concerned about this vital issue. Horsley divides his book into two sections: “Economic Justice and the Common Good” and “The Renewal of Covenantal Community.” A “distinctively covenantal concern for economic rights and mutually supportive and cooperative community,” he asserts, “runs strongly throughout the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Letters of Paul.”

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Call For Progressive Christian Evangelism

The possibility that Jesus’s message was one of radical fairness, and that following Jesus means creating and living in a world based on non-violent covenant instead of desperate selfishness, has certainly been hidden from view since before Luke decided to tell the story.  It’s time to give the presidents and prime ministers of today the chance to see and hear the alternatives to imperial, retributive, business-as-usual.  It’s time to offer viable alternatives to the feel-good, prosperity-based, exclusive, self-righteousness that passes for evangelism on the right.  As liberal pundit Keith Olbermann has suggested, it’s time for some non-violent democratic action.

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The Hidden POWER of the Gospels

This is NOT just another book about the gospels! With a perfect blend of historical context mixed with contemporary insights, Dr. Shaia opens up the gospels in a whole new way.

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Sound Mapping the New Testament

In the Hellenistic world, writings were read aloud, heard and remembered. But modern exegesis assumes a silent text. The disjuncture between ancient…

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To Have and to Have Not

Luke’s Jesus seems to be saying, pay attention to how you are listening to the message. Are you receptive (fertile); rocky (rejecting); thorny (resisting); or dry (uninterested)? Because . . . but here the non-sequitur called “to have and have not” throws us off the track. The Jesus Seminar scholars suggest that “Luke presumably wants the reader to know that those who grasp at the initial stages of faith will be given more to understand as they mature” (The Five Gospels p. 307).

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Jesus: Magician or Liberator?

For 21st Century Christianity, the question is, which interpretation makes the most sense? Magic and miracle, or liberation from injustice? Scholars and commentators are often accused of reading 21st Century world views back into 1st Century writings.

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Mary and James Meet Joseph of Arimathea- A Drama

A Drama for Good Friday (Act II)*After the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary, his mother, and James, his brother, go in search of the tomb to see where they have laid him. They encounter Joseph under the now empty cross and ask if he knows where they should go. Joseph explains who he is and how he, too, knew Jesus.

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A Progressive Easter Sermon

The following is a message by Rev. Roger Wolsey of Wesley Chapel in Boulder, CO is inspired by the resurrection stories in Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John; the book The Powers that Be by Walter Wink; and the book The Last Week by Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan. A few paragraphs are adapted from the last chapter of Jim Wallis’ The Call to Conversion. 
 

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Texts: John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew. Resource Types: Sermons.

Finding Our Way Home (Luke 15:11-23)

God is so connected to creation, so much a part of our lives that God feels the pain we bring on ourselves when we pursue our selfish desires and cling to our false attachments. The father in the story does not say: “I am through with you. Go your own way.” This father will never abandon the one who abandoned him. And so he looks and longs and waits for the son’s return.

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Topics: Devotional and Progressive Christianity 101. Texts: Luke. Resource Types: Sermons.

From History To Mystery, The Life And Teachings Of The Historical Jesus

This book explores the quest for the Historical Jesus and seeks to discover the original meanings of his teachings, in particular his kingdom of God teachings. You will learn about the last 200 years of Jesus research, including the Jesus Seminar. The author discusses Gnosticism, The Gospel of Thomas, The Secret Gospel of Mark, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene along with the four canonical gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The author spends much of her time investigating the Parables of Jesus. In the parables, Jesus preaches about “the kingdom of God.” This concept is taught by Jesus on two levels. One for the masses and one for his inner circle. The uncovering the “secret teachings” of the parables is very illuminating and inspirational. Whether you are a seminary student, pastor, educator, or layperson; this is a must read on the subject of the historical teachings of Jesus! The book was written by a respected scholar in Historical Christianity, Dr. Lisa Morris.

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WSCF Universal Day of Prayer

First celebrated in 1898, the Universal Day of Prayer for Students is observed on the third Sunday of February; in 2010 it is celebrated on February 21st. The UDPS is one of the oldest ecumenical days of prayer.  In line with WSCF’s theme for 2010 the UDPS theme is ‘Climate Justice’.  Former WSCF Chairperson Rev. Ejike Okoro of Nigeria has prepared the 2010 UDPS liturgy and accompanying Bible study on behalf of the Africa region.

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The Leap of Advent

By: Chuck Queen,  The “Advent” of God in the person of Jesus not only challenged old ways of thinking about God and old patterns of relating to God, Jesus’ Advent marked the beginning of a spiritual revolution, a conspiracy of love.

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