On Sunday we considered how easy it is to think God is on our side in our conflicts, whether personal or social. Like when the Israelites thought God wanted them to utterly destroy the seven tribes living in Canaan when they got to the Promised Land. We also saw Jesus overturn that notion in his feeding of the 4,000 Gentiles — starting with seven loaves and ending with seven baskets left. In God’s world, all are included at no cost to anyone! Jesus also undermined the idea of people’s relative worthiness before God in his banter with the Canaanite (Gentile/outsider/enemy) woman, when he sets himself up to lose the argument about whether he is called to heal her daughter – and look pretty ridiculous in the process. Are we true image bearers of our non-violent, all-embracing God?
On Sunday we looked at Moses’ life and discovered once again that God does not call us to serve based on our holiness. Rather, God uses all of who we are – the good, the bad and the ugly – to bring us and others to greater human freedom, which is essential to our capacity to receive and give Love. We also saw that once we decide to follow God into freedom, our brokenness and the world’s means the pathway of liberation will include ups and downs, times of getting lost and being found. Are we ready to join in the eternal Exodus from slavery God calls us to? Are we willing to be Christ for others on that journey even and especially when it feels like we’re getting nowhere?
Chapter 9: Exodus 1:1-14, 3:1-15; Psalm 9:9-20; Galatians 5:1, 13-15; John 8:1-11
This week we begin to look at the story of the Exodus – the journey of human liberation – that is carried through the remainder of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Today, more than 30 million people are held in the bondage of slavery, experiencing all the horrors that entails. How does God call us to respond to that reality? People and peoples who are not actual slaves are still often enslaved in many ways. How do you see this in your own life and in the world? What does it mean to live in God’s freedom?
On Sunday we saw how ever-present family rivalries are in the book of Genesis – the story of the beginnings of human society. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Rachael and Leah, Joseph and his brothers, and that’s not all! We also saw how God is forever showing us a path toward reconciliation. But we must choose which road we’ll take. Will we live by rivalry, competition, division and conflict? Or will we live by mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation – even if others have already gone a good way down the road of rivalry? We do, indeed, make the road by walking. Thankfully, as Joseph told his brothers, even when we intend harm God intends to bring good from it. Now that’s mercy!
We had a wonderful celebration of Coming Out / Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists on Sunday! Thanks to Brent Westphal for his courageous witness and to theologian James Alison for helping us understand the story of Peter’s visit to the Roman Centurion Cornelius in Acts 10 – the moment when the early Jesus Movement truly became the Church Universal. One of Alison’s greatest insights is that the Church is always built on the Cornerstone of the rejected and victimized Christ so there’s really no question about “inclusion” of LGBTQ people in the true church. Only the self-exclusion of those for whom the Cornerstone has become a stumbling block in their resistance to the universality of God’s love – and church. Thank you, First Baptist, for standing as an open doorway and inviting everyone into the presence of the one true God who loves and welcomes us all equally!
Home - First Baptist Church - 500 North Clinton St, Iowa City, IA 52240 - 319.338.7995