Our pub ministry is back in action tonight at the Pizza Lounge. We’ll enjoy some awesome pizza and great conversation. I’ll be bringing some thoughts of doing some work and leading youth on a mission experience up in northwest Arkansas. I anticipate our friend Robert Hearne being back to share a bit about working with youth and seeing the beautiful expanse of Alaska. We start gathering at 7:30 pm – hope to see you there!
Since it’s the first pub of the month, we will have free childcare at the church from 7-9:30 pm. It’s open to anybody with little kids. You can drop them off at the nursery – come to the back parking lot of the church to get in. Our attendants always take down cellphone numbers, so if there is anything that comes up, you will be a short phone call away.
Tony Jones has a great piece up on Patheos which gives an introduction into atonement theory – basically, why did Jesus die for my sins? How did that work? This is a great companion to our conversation on Tuesday night at the pub, as we wondered why Jesus asked God to “take this cup from me” in the Garden of Gethsemane. Was there another way? Numerous theologians, scholars, and faithful Christians have struggled to answer it over the years. Tony lays out two major views and looks at a couple of others.
Christians know why Jesus died: He died for our sins. That’s what we’re taught from the earliest days of Sunday school.
And we all know how he died: A particularly gruesome form of public execution known as crucifixion.
But many Christians are less sure of how it works. How is it that Jesus’ death accomplishes the forgiveness of my sin? By what cosmic mechanism does that take place?
In other words, there comes a time in every Christian’s life when the Sunday School answer, “Jesus died for my sins,” falls short. We want to know how it works.
Read more at Patheos.
Where do I stand? Like Tony, I love the “solidarity” idea. For one, it integrates Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection into a whole message of God’s love. The other views, while I think they are very interesting and give some different insights, tend to push Jesus’ ministry into the background. They overemphasize a single event in Jesus’ life. If he just needed to die for us to save us, why bother spending all that time on earth anyway? Why bother teaching and healing all those people? Just show up and get killed.
What’s your view on this? Do you understand how it works? Share a comment on the story here – I’d love to reflect with you.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday at the Table, and during worship, we will explore Jesus as Messiah. Messiah means “anointed”. It comes from the Hebrew Bible originally as a way to talk about those who would eventually become kings and had been anointed by prophets (or God) to lead God’s people. The Gospels in the New Testament seem to paint a broad picture of people hungry for a messiah, an anointed one to come and throw off the yoke of the Roman empire. This is all fueled by the prophets of the Old Testament who spoke of a suffering servant or fulfillment of God’s plan in a person who would restore Israel’s fortunes and bring about restoration (spiritually and politically).
Wow, I know that’s a lot of words.
In a sense, I break it down like this:
- The people had expectations for this person who was going to change their situation. I see parallels in the way we look to others to solve our problems or give us wisdom to live our lives by. A Messiah, in our modern day, could easily be a politician, preacher, spouse, boss, family member, product inventor, salesperson, or activist.
- The challenge with a messiah is that such a person was called by God not the people. In other words, their agenda is likely different than the people’s expectations. Like an elected official who votes for a bill that his constituents are against (even if it makes sense and is helpful to those they serve), these conflicting realities rarely lead to good times.
- If someone we pick as a messiah to save our college basketball program, church, organization, business, city, or country doesn’t live up to expectation, it’s pretty easy for us to latch on to a new messiah and toss the old one out. However, if we keep doing that, we are likely to go nowhere. It’s not that we need to put up with bad leadership – it’s sometimes not the leader that is the problem.
- Jesus was a weird Messiah anyway. He was clear with his disciples that he was going to be put to death by the hands of the empire and the people. Still, no one seemed to get it. They were so eager to put their own expectations on him, that they failed to listen and realize the deeper thing Jesus was about – ushering in a new reality, a new kingdom, on earth. Like the clip above, did those crowds listen or did they hear what they wanted to hear?
- Finally, Jesus’ parade (or death march) ultimately led to a confrontation of all that is evil and all that is broken about the human condition and our world. Kind of funny that few people seemed to think of that as something their messiah might be about… and yet, isn’t it a lot better than just overthrowing an empire?
If you want to join the conversation tomorrow with some of your own questions or perspectives, join us tomorrow at the Table, 9:30 AM, in the Community Room.
Holy Week is like the central week of the Christian year (next to Christmas). We worship in different ways, beginning with palm branches being waved in an ad hoc parade, reflecting on the final teaching of the prophet Jesus, sharing something a little bit like the Passover meal (or remembrance of), reflect on the deep darkness of the cross on Friday, and then celebrate new life breaking into our world on Easter morn. It’s a dizzying week. Some folks just go from palms to Easter, but that seems a little too easy when you recognize how Jesus got an up close picture of humanity’s own tendency towards cruelty and hate in those days in between. It wasn’t like the whole week was just an extended drum roll to the big reveal on Sunday morning. Jesus confronted the powers of domination and oppression of his day and seemed to lose, scattering his most trusted followers in defeat. And yet, at the last minute, Something Extraordinary Happened.
Maybe those different kinds of worship opportunities aren’t your thing. Maybe beer and conversation is. That’s why we’ll be hosting a special Holy Week Pub at Bryan Street Tavern on Tuesday evening, 7:30-9:30 PM, discussing whether or not Jesus knew he was going to be crucified. Did God want Jesus to be crucified? Did he have to die in such a way? Why did Jesus ask God in the hours before his death, “God, please take this cup from me”? Heavy questions. Was Jesus on a direct path of confrontation to the powers who were willing to crush him like they did to so many other rebels before? Or was this some divinely ordered, cosmic event? Or both? Or neither?
The conversation should be great. The cold beverages will be great. The pizza will be delicious. We even have free childcare at the church, so you will know your kids are having a good time while you are too. Register on our little Facebook event page to let us know you are coming.
Suresh, our tech leader, has been diligently getting our video up from our conversations. They have been rich, intriguing conversations. I am so thankful that we have switched from the regular sermon message to this more conversation based time. Check out this one about Jesus as Prophet with the gifted, brilliant, amazing Rev. Dr. Irie Session.