Jesus’ “Bad” Table Manners

The traditional beginning of the Communion story is “On the night that Jesus was betrayed…” But we did more than betray him that night; we denied him multiple times and abandoned him to the “powers that be.” We expressed shock that any of us would desert him, let alone betray him, and we each said, “Is it I, Lord?” Was our fear of authority figures and the awareness of Jesus’ and our vulnerability already palpable at the meal? Regardless, both believers and betrayers were welcome at his table.

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Spiritual AND Religious

A sermon for Pentecost 12B – John 6:35,41-51

Bread, Bread, Bread, the gospel according to John: “I am the bread of life. I am the bread that came down from heaven. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, and if you eat it you’ll never die. I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If any eat this bread they will live forever.” Bread, Bread, Bread, for five weeks in a row, preachers all over the world are doing our darnedest to serve up Jesus as the bread of life, bread for the world, bread that comes down from heaven, bread that provides eternal life. Bread, Bread, Bread. I who am not supposed to be letting bread pass my lips; I have been called upon to create sermons that will satisfy the lectionary’s insistence that we gorge ourselves on words and images which offer up Jesus as bread for the world.

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The Galilean Sandals

FREE! Children's eBook

It starts with a fifth grade field trip, and a pair of magic sandals. Arthur and Rosa can somehow “become” Ben and Rachel who lived around the time of Jesus. As they figure out how their sandal traveling experiences are interconnected, they hear Jesus’ message through the eyes and ears of his followers.

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Suppose it was like this…

Jesus was a man born in the usual way. Mary and Joseph were his parents, and he had some brothers and sisters. His home town, Nazareth, was a small hamlet occupied mostly by poor peasants who eked out a living on small plots of land that were increasingly appropriated by the wealthy. Four miles away, the city of Sepphoris was a bustling scene of government projects that provided day labor for the peasantry, and often Joseph took Jesus with him to the city as they sought to support the family.

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Hymn: Building a community

Building a community of love and grace
Reaching out and drawing in we make a place
Where all can live in unity and find the space
To live and grow in such amazing grace

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Jesus’ Encounter with a Literalist

Scripture Lesson: John 3.1-21

Nicodemus may not have been the first or last literalist that Jesus encountered, but he is one whom most of us would least imagine to be one. He was “a leader of the Jews,” which meant he was well-educated and versed in the scriptures. He would have been very familiar with the nuance of words, and the various meanings that religious words might have. So it seems odd that he would not have known what Jesus was talking about when Jesus spoke with multivalent words.

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From Common Sense to an Age of Reason

The progressive faith movement has deep roots in the 19th century in the writings of Voltaire, in France, and Thomas Paine, in the United States. Paine foresaw that a revolution in favor of democracy would lead directly into a revolution in religious beliefs and practices. Three major periods of revivals in America has kept evangelical faith alive in America while France moved more decidedly in the direction of a more secular approach to life. Still, Paine’s “Common Sense” inspired the birth of democracy in the USA and it led to his writing of “Age of Reason” to encourage religion to focus on moral living and to dismiss creedal or doctrinal theology. What we modern progressives call the primacy of orthopraxy over orthodoxy. Rather than beliefs about heaven, hell, salvation, and invisible beings, progressives believe in freedom, justice, equality, and working for the wellbeing and happiness of all.

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Thoughts about where progressive Christianity is going from here

What are your thoughts about where progressive Christianity is going from here? In some groups I find it barely different than other evangelical sects, and other expressions seem to feel completely new-age without hardly a remnant of Christianity.

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Presbyterian Church USA takes stand on political issues

A denomination not known for controversy is taking stances on issues such as assault weapons, universal health care and President Donald Trump’s border wall.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted a declaration during a meeting of the denominations leaders in St. Louis to stake out positions on several social issues, leaving it up to the church’s 10,000 congregations and 1.7 million members to decide whether to stand behind the declaration.

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Eternal NOW! — BRUNCHtalks4

Can a first century understanding of Hell and Heaven free Christianity from its obsession with the next life and our cultural nonsense about heaven and hell? Exploring a progressive approach to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth opens us to a Way of being in the world that is eternal now. Our BRUNCHtalks continue to explore what it means to be “Progressive in Approach: Christ-Like in action!”

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Getting Started Suggested Reading List

We are often asked by readers for a reading list for those who want to learn more about Progressive Christianity. Below are some suggestions to get you started:

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Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today. He frames his account with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible.

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Where progressive Christianity is going from here

As progressive Christianity has absorbed the Emergent label it has inherited a tension between those two macro factions. Mainly, those who still see Jesus as ontologically unique in comparison to every other human ever to live — and those who don’t.

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Reading Between The Lines, Adult Curriculum (Electronic and Hard Copy)

Reading Between The Lines is a lectionary based life-centered biblical resource designed for small group youth and adult education in church and home, for individual study or as an aid to preachers. One of the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary is chosen each Sunday. The exploration begins with encountering the story found in the biblical text. The focus then shifts to how this story is happening in the world around us. Finally the questions turn toward how the story is an event in the lives of the people in the group. The journey through the text seeks life-giving questions that wait to be lived.

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Credo Novum

I trust
One Eternal Presence,
God of Scripture,
the I am and I will be,
Creative force of the universe, the Source of life.

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Discrimination or Discernment in the name of Religious Expression

Postscript of an Independence Day Observance

What happens when the discernment of one citizen’s religious beliefs are deemed to be discriminatory; infringing upon the civil liberties and rights of another citizen? In fact, what constitutes any set of beliefs as “religious,” with the constitutional protections accorded it?

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The Rich Fool and the Bigger Barn Economy

  And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of …

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Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study

Millennials seeking a new approach to spirituality, those who identify with the “emerging church” identified by Marcus Borg and others, anyone interested in Christ’s Jewishness and the elimination of anti-Jewish bias from Bible study, and women, LGBTs, and others who seek a Biblical approach that overcomes insistence on obedience to questionable Old Testament commands will be intrigued by the new book by Edward G. Simmons.

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