Tamar: Mothers of Jesus

img_20161127_110351-1We are all living under either a blessing or a curse. To bless someone is to say, “you are seen, and you are enough.” To curse is to say “you do not matter.” Whichever of these we believe will determine how we respond to the brokenness in our world and ourselves. The story of Tamar, if we listen carefully, can give us a clear reflection of our own situation. Tamar responds to injustice as if she were under a curse, lying and stealing her way into a blessing when, in fact, she had been central to God’s blessing all along. Our liberation from brokenness occurs when we learn from Tamar that we have already been blessed by God. Knowing this transforms us into people who have an infinite capacity for blessing others, even our enemies.

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Gabriel Molinaro

Sermon Replay: “Can’t Help It”

jasonpreachtrinityGod can’t help it when it comes to His grace!

God’s grace in our union with Christ is one of irresistible, hopeful progress that works for the believer’s good and protects from despair in the midst of our struggle with sin.  Through defining the believer’s relation to the Law, Paul provides several dynamics that benefit the Christian in their struggle with the Law and sin:

Distance, (v.7): Paul explains that if the Law reveals sin.  “Sin” simply being the aspect of our will that seeks fulfillment apart from God’s will which the Bible expresses as opposition to God and a alienation from Him.  Paul explains that once He became knowledgeable of the Law, it “produced sin” in him and he became aware of both his desire for sin.  The grace of God in our union with Christ provides us with the knowledge of the distance between ourselves and God, the Law’s standards and our inability to meet them.

Affirmation, (v. 12):  For the Christian, the Law not only functions to reveal the distance between a God and Humanity, it also reveals God’s good character.  Paul says the Law is “good and right”, a reflection of who God is in Himself, (Ex 34:6-7, Ps. 119:68, 71). The grace of God in our union with Christ provides us with a fresh, life-giving view of the Law where we affirm that the Law is good.

Frustration, (v.15):  Ultimately, the Law reveals our sin and reveals the character of the One we love and are grateful for—because He saved us by His pure loving grace, (Eph 2:5, Rom 5:20)—but that leaves the believer in a state of frustration.  The frustration stems from the tension of affections—to demonstrate love for God by following His commands, and the desire to fulfill oneself outside of what pleases God.  The grace of God in our union with Christ provides us with this frustration as it indicates the presence of the Spirit within us whom will certainly “win the war” in the end, (Phil 1:6).

Gratitude, (25):  The frustration that is a part of every Christian’s journey leads Paul to come to the end of himself, “Wretched man that I am!   Who will save me from this body of death?”  This cry of desperation is the perfect place for Paul to be in his continual struggle with sin—it is a desire for help outside of his resources.  Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”, and this verse illustrates that the grace of God in our union with Christ calls us to lift our cries and praises to God who has saved us through Jesus Christ the Righteous One.

Victory, (3-4):  The posture of gratitude and dependence on the Lord is not only the place of forgiveness and acceptance (Rom 8:1), but it is also the place where God empowers the believer to be His righteousness in the world by His indwelling Spirit.  Paul teaches that the condemnation Jesus took on our behalf simultaneously empowers us to walk daily in His righteousness—we become His representatives!  The grace of God in our union with Christ produces a stunning turnaround—that sinners became saints.

How does this teaching shape our hearts today?

This painful, yet wonderfully hopeful passage provides us with a practical snapshot of union with Christ at a practical, emotional level.  The tension between our desire to live for God versus ourselves is a daily battle, and Paul’s testimony in Romans 7 is extremely helpful.  In Romans 7, we understand that this struggle is not native to ourselves individually and that it is this process of struggle is also a process of hopeful progress in the faith.  This teaching shapes our hearts to know that this frustrating process is one that helps me view the Law differently—not as a burden to obey, but as a reflection of the character of the God who loved us and gave Himself up for us.  Where we can’t help ourselves in our stumbles, God can’t help but use these frustrations for our good, (Rom 8:28).  Moreover, there is so much consolation in that the frustration we face is an indicator that we are alive by God’s Spirit and are not just sinners, but truly saints in God’s eyes.

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~Pastor Jason Davison

 

Sermon replay: Rituals For A New Era

unionIn Paul’s letter to the Roman churches, we are let in on a very hopeful message that transcends time, place, and political power. This is the message that we have been elevated, seen, and heard by the only power that matters – our absolute and cosmic source of life. We begin to live into this message not only when we remember how we are included in the narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but when we re-enact this narrative through our daily and weekly rituals.

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Speaker: Gabriel Molinaro

Sermon replay: Staring at Christ

ellenstare“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:1-5)

Museums are tough for me. My daughter can stare at a painting for a long time and see things that I cannot see. I tell her that it’s because she has a degree in Art. She says it’s because I don’t take the time to stare at it.

The intervention of God in human history is an act of such cosmic proportions – that it can’t be appreciated by a simple glance. It must be stared at. That’s all God requires from us. Faith. Trust. He takes over from there. If the gospel is true, it will resonate with us. And the more it resonates with us, the more captivated we will become of his grace in our lives.

And the more we relish this, the less enthralled we become with our own “earthly” means of rescue and self-preservation which are often developed out of our vulnerability as children and re-enacted in our adult lives. These take many different forms, often sophisticated forms of playground bullying or escapism.

Take for instance the use of high ethical standards. It doesn’t matter what you choose to look down your nose at your neighbor. Moral arrogance is as bad as sexual or racial arrogance. And arrogance breeds bigotry. And bigotry leads to violence and disintegration. We should not be silently complicit when it comes to injustice and violence, but neither should we assume that we know more than our neighbor. When “justice” is spoken out of arrogance it merely uses high ethical standards to return one form of bigotry with another.

The height of our arrogance is seen in our attitude towards the Creator himself. It began in the Garden when our first parents presumed to know more than their Creator. When we substitute God with ourselves, the destruction and disintegration hits a cosmic scale. Who can save us from ourselves?

God did so in a way unimaginable. We substituted God with ourselves. This is what the bible calls “sin.” God reversed this by becoming one of us. He substituting humanity with Himself in the person of Jesus. He took the penalty for our violence towards creation and the Creator himself – and he credited to us a ‘moral righteousness’ based on His work and record – not ours – thereby neutralizing any basis for self-righteousness, arrogance and pride.

Christians believe this actually, historically happened. This “gospel” is what Sanctuary attempts to share and spread – first through ourselves, and then through the city – in word, deed, and community. When we trust it, it re-frames everything – as you can imagine something this extraordinary would.

So let’s stare at it for awhile.

~ Ed Park