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I have always been a bit hesitant to say what I do at Holy Family because I am not sure what you make of having a theologian among you. Because theology has become one subject among others in the contemporary university, I fear you may think that a theologian, like academics in other fields, may know something about their subject you do not know. For example, you may think that a theologian is an expert about Christianity or, God help us, even God.
Theologians sometimes encourage you to think they know more about God than you do. They do so because they have a doubtful status in the university.
Most of their colleagues in other disciplines in the contemporary university think theology is a subject at best equivalent to witchcraft. One of the ways theologians try to secure some status in the university is to pretend we are really historians who do not necessarily believe in God; rather God is what people we study believe.
That strategy seldom works. For the theologian, therefore, to be regarded by Christians as having some authority is reassuring given the lack of status theology has as a university subject.
In truth, however, without the practice of the faith in Jesus Christ by the church, the work of the theologian is unintelligible. Our job is not to know more than those who gather Sunday after Sunday to worship God, but rather our job is to help us all better understand what we do when we are so gathered. The work of the theologian, I think, is not unlike English teachers who insist that the noun and verb agree.
English teachers do not make us speak and write English with nouns and verbs.
Rather they help us speak and write English well. Those of us who have felt the fury and scorn of good English teachers because our verb and noun did not agree may sometimes wonder if English teachers do not make a mountain out of a mole hill. We suspect they may do so in an effort to make themselves more important than they are. But English teachers are right to think how we say what we say matters.
The work of theology is probably not as important as the work of English teachers, but our work, like theirs, entails attention to grammar. By now you may well be thinking, "He really is a hopeless academic.
He has forgotten that this is supposed to be a sermon rather than a lecture. But I have not forgotten that this is the Second Sunday of Christmas. I have begun making these general remarks about theology because I hope to show you that our texts demand a certain attention to the grammar of the faith. In particular, they invite us to think about the mystery of the Incarnation. For example, consider Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
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After beginning with his usual salutation, he provides a blessing—a thanksgiving—to God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. He continues by noting that we have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing because we have been chosen "in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love" Ephesians According to Paul, we have been destined, elected, adopted from eternity by Jesus Christ to be God's children. Paul's blessing, a blessing he seems to think is not in any way extraordinary, entails what I can only describe as maximalist Christological claims.
Paul assumes that Christ was with God before there was a "was. Unlike us, there is no time when Christ was not. This reality, i.
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The Gospel for this morning is about a twelve-year-old boy who went with his parents to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. After the festival was over his parents began their trip home, confident that Jesus was with relatives and friends. Discovering that Jesus was not with relatives or friends, his parents returned to Jerusalem only to find him in the temple expounding Torah with teachers who were amazed at his understanding. Mary was, as we say in the South, "none too pleased" with him. In fact, we are told, she was astonished, not only by his ability to hold his own with the teachers in the temple, but because he seemed to care so little about how Mary and Joseph would feel once they discovered he was not with relatives and friends.
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Jesus does not seem the least bit ashamed telling his mother that he must be in the house of his Father, that is, the God of Israel. An extraordinary claim they failed to understand at the time, though we are told Mary treasured "all these things in her heart. He gave his approval for. Christians to be killed. Whether he actually participated is unknown. There on a street called Straight Saul met a Christian named,.
Ananias laid hands of him and he regained his sight. Then he baptized him and. God forgave Saul of all of his sins. Memory is a great blessing, but it can also be a curse. GRACE—3 times. Paul said he was formerly a blasphemer, persecutor, and a violent aggressor. Not all guilt is bad. Guilt can be like a check engine light in your car. The Holy Spirit is convicting us about. Guilt is a gift from God.
Guilt hurts, but it is for our healing—how did Peter feel when he denied Jesus? The ability to feel guilt is good because your conscience is tender not hardened. I fight it, but I don't know what to do about it.