28 September 2015

Sermon – “We told him to stop” (Mark 9:38-50)

My dictionary defines the word “paranoia” as “a serious mental illness that causes you to falsely believe that other people are trying to harm you”. It also gives this secondary definition: “a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others”. I just wonder if that isn’t what we see among Jesus’ followers in our reading from Mark’s gospel this morning.
Once again, we find them making their way through the towns and villages of Galilee on their way towards Jerusalem. I can imagine, as it was the pattern of his ministry right from the beginning, that people of all kinds continued to besiege Jesus from every direction. There were the sick and the handicapped, begging to be healed. There were those with all kinds of questions about God and about their relationship with him, desperate to find answers. And then there were the doubters and the skeptics, forever casting about for an opportunity to get a jab in here or a poke there, always wanting to shed doubts on Jesus’ credibility.
I suspect that at those times the disciples must have found themselves acting as crowd marshals, trying to make sure that those really in need had an opportunity to see Jesus and to keep things from getting out of control. (For example, do you recall how, when faced with a hungry crowd, Andrew brought a young lad to Jesus with a few loaves and fish; or how they had been pestered by a Canaanite woman whose daughter was in terrible suffering?) I suspect that there were also times when the disciples found themselves with nothing to do, when they could kind of kick about town. Had there been a tavern, they might have found themselves sitting down for a rest over a pint or two.

Stopping

However, on this occasion I imagine the disciples somewhere on the edge of town when they see something strangely familiar happening. A little cluster of onlookers has gathered and as they come up closer they discover that their interest is focused on a man who is casting out evil spirits. Not only that, he is doing it in Jesus’ name. What are they to do? Who gave this man the right to do this? What was he doing stepping into Jesus’ territory?
Now let me ask a question: Does any of this sound the least bit familiar to you? I suspect that we don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find the same kind of paranoia (if you want to call it that) in the church today. I come from a family of died-in-the-wool Anglicans. My great aunt was a member of the Chancel Guild of the cathedral in Ottawa for forty years. When my uncle announced that he was planning to marry a woman from the United Church, the best that she could do was to mutter, “Well, at least she isn’t a Catholic.”
How contrary such an attitude is to the spirit of Jesus! When the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, there were those who tried to take advantage of the situation. Different people vied to fill the leadership vacuum that he had left behind. Some of the would-be leaders were motivated by selfish gain. Others thought that they could climb to power by denigrating Paul’s ministry. How did Paul react to all of this? Did he curse them? Did he call for their destruction? No. Here is what he said: “What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).
We may not raise our hands and clap and shout “Hallelujah!” all the time in worship. But let us not be critical of those who do. We like to use a Prayer Book. But let us not look down on those who prefer to be more spontaneous. We prefer simplicity in our services. But let us not write off those whose worship involves elaborate ceremony and incense and icons. The key question is, is Jesus being honoured? Is the gospel being proclaimed? Are men and women being drawn into a living relationship with him? Let’s not confuse style for substance. Let us take to heart Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Stumbling

I wonder if you’ve ever heard the old saw that whenever you point a finger at someone else, there are always three pointing back at you. In the conversation that follows this incident, Jesus cautions the disciples not to be quick to criticize others without first taking a careful look at themselves. And the language he uses is stark and uncompromising.
In those days there were at least a couple of ways of grinding grain into flour. Much of the time this was done using a small hand mill, usually turned by women. However, that is not the kind of millstone that Jesus was referring to. What Jesus was talking about was an enormous flat, circular stone weighing hundreds of pounds that had to be turned by a donkey or an ox. Imagine having one of those tied to your neck and then being hurled into the sea!
And if that image were not powerful enough, Jesus goes on to speak about being cast into the fires of hell. The word which our Bibles translate “hell” is actually Gehenna, and Gehenna is the Valley of Hinnom, which runs along the west and south of the old city of Jerusalem. In Old Testament times this was where the worshippers of Moloch had thrown their children onto sacrificial fires. For that reason it was regarded ever after as cursed. In later years it became used as burial ground and in the time of Jesus the Romans used it as a site for cremation. And so you can picture this desolate place, abandoned and putrid with the odor of death.
Neither one is a pretty picture. And it’s not as though Jesus is threatening us with that kind of future. What he is saying is how high the stakes are—how important it is that we attend to the quality and purity of our own personal lives, not only for our own sakes but for the sake of those around us. Being a follower of Jesus is a round-the-clock, twenty-four-hours-a-day assignment.
How crucial it is, then, that we use all our faculties in ways that bring glory to God—and Jesus lists a few of them for us in this morning’s passage: our mouths, our hands, our feet, our eyes. The Bible elsewhere warns us how with the same tongue we can praise God at one moment and slice another person to ribbons at the next (James 3:9). We can raise our hands in worship and quickly use them to hurt and destroy. The same feet that bring us into the sanctuary can also lead us into places of darkness where we never ought to tread. And Jesus’ final warning about the eyes is particularly relevant to our own time, when pornography is so readily available from so many sources. We need to have in mind the words of Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymn of a century and a half ago:
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.

Salting

With this we come to what are some of the most difficult words in this morning’s reading, and perhaps some of the most difficult to understand in the whole of the New Testament: “Everyone will be salted with fire”? What did Jesus mean when he said this? Far better minds than mine have pondered over this for centuries. And to get at what Jesus was saying you have to understand how salt was used in biblical times.
First of all, salt was used as a preservative and a purifying agent. In a hot climate where there were no refrigerators, salt was what was used to keep food from going bad. Salt could also be used destructively. If you wanted to ruin your enemy’s fields so that they could not produce crops, the way to do it was to spread salt over them. Then nothing would be able grow there until the salt had been washed away by several rainy seasons. Thirdly, salt was used in sacrifice. “Season all your grain offerings with salt,” we read in Leviticus 2:13. “Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.”
So what was Jesus getting at when he said, “Everyone will be salted with fire”? When you think of it, fire also can have the same three uses. We roast meat and cook vegetables over a fire to purify and preserve them. We all know the destructive properties of fire, particularly after the wildfires this past summer that wiped out thousands of hectares of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. And of course fire was almost invariably used in sacrifice.
Now, if we put all three of these uses together, I think we can begin to arrive at something of an understanding of what Jesus was saying. First of all, then, there are the fires of trial and suffering that are a part of human life and not least of the Christian life. Yet painful as those trials may be (and I do not want to underestimate that in any way) the Holy Spirit is mysteriously able to use them in our lives to produce in us more of the character of Christ. Again and again in my pastoral experience I have been humbled to see how by God’s grace and through his power men and women have emerged richer, stronger and deeper as they have come through even the most terrible tragedies.
This morning we read from the book of Job in the Old Testament—and if you want to see an individual whose life was afflicted by tragedy, Job is the place to look. Through the loss of his property, his wealth, his children and finally his health, Job is reduced to the point where all he wants to do is die. Yet somehow Job can affirm, “I know that my Redeemer lives and that he shall stand at the last day… My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 19:25; 42:5).
Yet I believe that there is also a deeper meaning. And it comes in the question that Jesus puts before his followers in the final verse of this morning’s passage: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?” How does salt lose its saltiness? It doesn’t happen today when we buy it neatly packaged from the grocery store. But in Jesus’ time, salt was taken from the deposits around the Dead Sea, and those deposits were filled with impurities. Gradually over time the salt would leach out, so that all that remained was a tasteless white powder—and that was what Jesus was talking about.
So let me ask, how do we become the salt that brings flavour and life to the world? Certainly not by criticizing others or writing them off as the disciples did. It will be as we put him who is life at the centre of our lives, as we allow Jesus to live in and through us, as we give ourselves wholly and entirely and without reservation to him.

20 September 2015

Sermon – “The Path to Greatness” (Mark 9:30-37)


This past week I was flipping from one channel to another on the TV, when up on the screen popped Masterchef. I had never seen the programme before and food always interests me, so I watched on for a few minutes while the three chefs prepared their delicacies. Now if you ask my wife Karen, she will tell you without a moment’s hesitation that her husband is no master chef. I do cook the occasional meal, but it is painful for her to watch on when I do. I’m slow. I make a mess. I use far too many dishes. And usually by the time the meal is on the table, something is too spicy or underdone or overcooked.
So I watched on with amazement as the three cooks prepared perfect cheese soufflés and a couple of other dishes, all with flawless timing. Then I began to think: Imagine the pressure. Always under the eye of the camera. Constantly being critiqued by the judges. Never knowing whether your dish is going to come out the way you hoped—whether you’ve achieved exactly the right combination of flavours, how you will score on presentation and a host of other unpredictables. Always on the knife’s edge. Always just one soupçon away from being eliminated.
Now take a moment to imagine what it would be like if the Christian life were like that. Sad to say, there are some people who think that way and we meet with them in this morning’s Gospel reading.
Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus had already told them that this was to be their final journey together—that “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (Mark 9:31). Now for a second time he warns them: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”

A great mystery

 “But,” Mark informs us, “they did not understand …” Of course they didn’t understand. There is a sense in which the cross of Jesus will always remain a mystery. Somewhere among my books that I am still unpacking there is one with the title, Why the Cross? And I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my ministry there are people who have asked me, “Why did Jesus have to die?” The apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing… Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (1 Corinthians 1:18,22,23). Even Pope Francis has confessed that “the mystery of the Cross is a great mystery for mankind, a mystery that can only be approached in prayer and in tears”.[1]
So we really can’t blame the disciples. The apostle Paul and Pope Francis both had the advantage of hindsight. Like us, they could look back on the events of Calvary from the perspective of Jesus’ resurrection. For those first disciples all of this was completely unexplored territory. Now wonder they didn’t know what to think!
But it is Mark’s next comment that I find really revealing. “They did not understand what he meant…” And then he goes on to add, “… and they were afraid to ask him about it.” What made them so afraid? Was it the fear of losing this man who had come to mean so much to them, whose words had become for them the word of life? Or was it the fear of just appearing to be stupid or ignorant? I know there is a great deal of that kind of fear in me. Or should we call it by its proper name—pride?
I’m not good about asking for directions along the road, even when I’m totally lost. When people offer me help, my first inclination is to thank them and say, “That’s OK. I can manage on my own.” We call it independence. Yet so much of what we call independence is really just pride going by another name. And I have a sneaking suspicion that part of the disciples’ unwillingness to ask Jesus what he meant also rose out of pride.
We don’t like people to think we’re ignorant or foolish. I remember many moons ago in my teen years rowing lazily up a little river in Maine with my three brothers. It was getting hot, so I decided to jump in for a swim. As I was enjoying myself in the cool water, some canoeists paddled by and one of them shouted over to me, “Do you realize you’re swimming next to a sewage outlet?” “Of course I do,” I replied, and waited until they were out of sight before scurrying back into our boat to row as quickly as possible back to our cottage and leap into the shower. Now that’s pride with a capital “P”!

Striving to be the greatest

But let’s move along in the gospel story. Jesus and the disciples arrive in Capernaum, the lakeside village that was home to Peter and Andrew and James and John. A chilly silence filled the air. At this point you need to realize that the roads in that part of the world were hardly what we would call roads today. In fact, they were little more than footpaths. And so it was not possible for a dozen or more men to walk along all abreast. They would have been strung out in a long line, singly or at most in twos and threes. While he had not been able to pick up the words of it, Jesus knew that the conversation among some of them earlier in the day had not been pleasant. So he asked them, “What was it that you were you arguing about along the way?” No answer—only an embarrassed silence. I suspect that none of them dared look Jesus in the eye, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. Once again the gremlin of pride comes into the picture.
The word for “great” in the New Testament is megas. You hear it again and again in English. A big personality on TV or in the movies is a star. And we call a really great star a superstar. But an even bigger star is a megastar. So it was that these men weren’t satisfied with just being ordinary disciples of Jesus. They were set on being mega-disciples. Their problem was that somehow they had come to think of following Jesus in terms of Masterchef. It had become all about performance, trying to impress Jesus, all the time constantly worrying as to whether they’d done enough or done it right. And part of that would inevitably have meant comparing themselves with the others around them. Following Jesus had become a competition.
What happens next is as though Jesus took a hand grenade, ripped out the pin and threw it into their midst. He was going to blow their whole world of pride and self-achievement apart. “Anyone who wants to be first,” he said to them, “must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Did you get that right, Jesus? Did I really hear you correctly? Let’s listen to those words again: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” And that is the pattern of discipleship as we find it in the New Testament.
You can see it in the life of the apostle Paul. Early in his ministry he describes himself in this way: “I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle”. A few years later, this is what he has to say about himself: “I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people.” Then, finally, as he nears the end of his life, he describes himself as “the worst of sinners” (1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15). “If I must boast,” he writes elsewhere, “I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” And why? “So that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 11:30; 12:9).
John the Baptist recognized this as he stood on the bank of the River Jordan. Of all the ministries in the Bible, his has to have been one of the most privileged—to have baptized the Son of God. Our Lord Jesus even pronounced that “among those born of women there is no one greater than John”. Yet John said of himself, “He must become greater; I must become less” (Luke 7:28; John 3:30). And who would you say is the greatest figure in the Old Testament? I have no doubt that Moses would rank high on anyone’s list. Yet the Bible tells us that “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). “Of all garments,’’ wrote Bishop J.C. Ryle 150 years ago, “none is so graceful, none wears so well, and none is so rare, as true humility.”[2]

The servant of all

Just in case the disciples haven’t got the point, however, Jesus reaches over and brings a little child into their midst. Holding the child in his arms, he says to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
It is difficult for us to understand how radical Jesus’ words would have been. It’s not that children were not loved by their parents in those days, but they certainly did not enjoy the privilege that they have in our society today. They were taught; they helped with the chores; but by and large we could say they were invisible. So for Jesus to focus attention on a child in this way and to tell the disciples that to welcome such a one was their duty and privilege would have been something altogether new.
It was not that different from the time when he had honored Mary in Bethany for sitting among the men to listen to his teaching, or when he accepted the offering of the sinful woman who had anointed him with her tears (Luke 10:38-42; Luke 7:36-50). What Jesus was saying was that those whom we regard as the “least, the lowest, the last and the lost” all have their place in his kingdom and in his family. Here there is no status, no competition, no arguing about who is the greatest or the best. We are all here to serve one another and to serve the world in Jesus’ name.
And that brings us back in a circle to the opening words of our passage this morning—Jesus’ words, so puzzling to the disciples, about being delivered into the hands of men to be killed and after three days rise again. Here we have the very Son of God, the King and Lord of all creation, stooping down to share our human frame, to suffer and to die for you and for me on the cross. In the words of St Paul,
Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a slave… And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
There on the cross the first became last. On the cross Jesus proved himself the true servant of all, to the point of taking the stain of our sin upon himself. He trod the path of humility to become the servant of all. And now he calls you and me to follow in his steps.


[1]        http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-approach-mystery-of-the-cross-with-pr
[2]        Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Mark, 187

13 September 2015

Sermon – “Who is Jesus?” (Mark 8:27-33)


I count it a particular joy to be with you at Trinity this morning and through this “interim” time as you seek the Holy Spirit’s leading towards a new rector. My experience of Trinity goes way back to 1974, when my wife Karen and I were visiting relatives in Nova Scotia and we came and attended the evening service in the former building on Cogswell Street. Some time after that, as many of you are probably aware, I served as rector of St Paul’s Church, just blocks away, for eighteen years, up until 2004. During that time it was my privilege to meet and work alongside a number of folk at Trinity, particularly in support of the Inner City Youth Club. Then, eleven years ago, I was asked to lead a congregation in Saint Paul, Minnesota; and now, after forty-one years of ordained ministry, we have returned to Nova Scotia to be amongst family and the many friends we made here during our previous time.
There are already a number of familiar faces here in the congregation and I hope to get to know all of you better (and you me) as we seek to minister together in Jesus’ name in this still new location with all its many exciting opportunities and possibilities. And as we worship and work and pray together, my chief prayer and desire is that we should also get to know Jesus better, in the words of St Richard, “to know him more clearly, to love him more dearly, and to follow him more nearly, day by day.”
There could hardly have been a better Scripture passage to set us on that journey than the one that was read from St Mark’s Gospel this morning. Jesus and his disciples had been together now for nearly three years. Some of them had looked on when he was baptized in the River Jordan. They had seen the Holy Spirit come down upon him like a dove; they had heard the Father’s voice proclaiming, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Others had been on the lakeside when they had responded to his irresistible call, “Come, follow me, and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” They had watched amazed as he demonstrated his power over evil spirits, cleansed lepers, enabled paralyzed people to walk, walked on water, stilled a storm at sea, fed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread and fish, and even raised the dead to life.

Who do people say I am?

Now, as they walked along the road Jesus stopped for a moment and turned to them and asked, “What are people saying about me? Who do they say I am?” I don’t think Jesus was asking the question to gauge his popularity level. It was not like what is happening all around us right now as we prepare for federal elections. Each day it seems that the pollsters and public opinion experts are coming out with new figures. (I understand that since the election was called last month there have been at least twenty-five national polls.) No, Jesus was not running for office. Nor was he attempting to measure his ratings in the arena of public opinion.
No, I believe that Jesus was more concerned to discover how much of what he had done and taught had really penetrated, to see if there might be some who had managed to “get it”. And of course the answers he received were many. “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Now John the Baptist had had a huge influence that was still being felt. People had come from far and wide to hear his fiery preaching. I love the way Eugene Peterson translates it in his version in The Message:
Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin… What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire. (Luke 3:7-9)
Then there were those who thought of Jesus as Elijah. Elijah, as many of you will recall, had been one of the greatest and most powerful Old Testament prophets. Added to that, in the years preceding Jesus’ ministry there had grown up a belief that immediately before the end times Elijah would appear again. So could it be that Jesus had come to bring in God’s kingdom?
In many ways things haven’t changed very much, have they? There are all kinds of opinions about Jesus floating around in the world today. In recent times Jesus has been depicted among other things as a clown, as the lover of Mary Magdalene and as the founder of a hallucinogenic mushroom cult. Even within the church there are those who cast doubt on his being God, on the truth of his resurrection, and on the saving power of his death on the cross.
Yet wide of the mark as many of those ideas may be, it is testimony to the fact that, nearly two thousand years after he first asked that question of his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” Jesus remains a source of fascination around the world. He has appeared on the cover of Time magazine more than any other figure. Even as I speak there are thousands of Muslims who are putting their faith in Isa, as they call him in Arabic. Recently news has been coming from Berlin of a church that has suddenly grown from 150 attendees to 600 through Iranian Muslim refugees who have put their faith in Christ.[1]

Who do you say I am?

We live in exciting times, when as much as at any previous point in history and perhaps more, there is a huge interest in Jesus. Yet for each of us there is a more important issue—and it has to do with the second question that Jesus put before his followers. Not, “Who do others say I am?” but, “Who do you say I am?”
At this point I can imagine an embarrassing silence coming over the disciples. Can’t you see them looking back and forth at one another with blank faces? Who is this amazing man who heals the sick, stills storms and raises the dead? And equally importantly, who is he for me? These are questions not only for those disciples of long past, but also for each of us today. Who is Jesus?
In the end it was Peter who broke the silence. (It was always Peter who spoke first among Jesus’ followers.) “You are the Messiah,” he blurted out. I suspect that he didn’t even know where the words came from. Yet suddenly there they were on his lips. It’s not that he didn’t believe them. I believe that they arose from a conviction that all along had been growing within his heart. And now, for the first time, almost by surprise, like a baby chick hatching from its shell, out it came. “You are the Messiah.”
Now messiah, or mashiach, is a Hebrew word. It means “anointed”. And when you capitalize the “m”, it takes on a special meaning: the Anointed One. In Old Testament days pouring oil on a person’s head was a way of setting them apart, designating them for a particular function in the community. Among the people of ancient Israel there were three categories of people who received this special anointing. First there were the priests. As far back as the day when the Tabernacle was first consecrated for worship, God commanded Moses to take anointing oil and to pour it on the heads of Aaron and his sons, thus ordaining them as priests (Exodus 28:41; 29:7-9). And the practice continued across the years right through the Old Testament.
The second kind of person to be anointed was the king. When Saul, the first of Israel’s kings, was appointed, it was Samuel who “took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?’ ” (1 Samuel 10:1). And the same occurred in later generations for David and Solomon and those who followed them on the throne of Israel. And thirdly there were the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Amos and the rest, anointed to proclaim God’s word with faith and boldness.
Now put all three of these roles together—a priest to intercede, a king to rule and a prophet to proclaim—and what you have is not an anointed one, but the Anointed One, the Messiah. For centuries now the people of Israel had yearned and prayed and wept for the coming of this great figure. Now in Jesus he had come.

Who I say I am

Or had he? The problem was that over the centuries all kinds of legendary and mythology had become attached to the figure of the Messiah, specifically the notion that he would be a great military conqueror who would restore Israel to the greatness it had once known in the golden age of David and Solomon. All of this brings us to a third question, one that we don’t hear explicitly asked in this passage, but the one that is perhaps the most important of all: not, “Who do people say I am?” or, “Who do you say I am?” but, who does Jesus say he is? And the answer was one that Peter found unbelievable. Indeed it shook him to the core.
No sooner had those words come from Peter’s lips, “You are the Messiah,” what did Jesus immediately begin to do? He began to talk about suffering, about rejection, about being killed and rising again. I can only imagine than for Peter and those who were with him, this was the farthest thing from their notion of the Messiah. They were anticipating a great confrontation of power, a final conflict where the Romans and their puppet rulers in Jerusalem were finally put down.
However, Jesus had a greater foe in mind, compared with which Caesar and his legions were less than an ant or a butterfly. Jesus’ target was what the Bible identifies as “the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12) and not least the sin that reaches into the very core of the human soul. The conflict in which Jesus was preparing to engage was not temporal but cosmic.
It was the Father himself who had revealed to Peter that the man standing before him was the Messiah. But what he could not possibly have understood at that point or brought himself to accept was that the Messiah’s path to victory would be through his own suffering and death. And Peter was not alone in that. For the world around us the cross of Jesus will always remain an impenetrable mystery, a stumbling block, an offense.
Yet we believe that it was on the cross Jesus revealed himself as the priest who offered not a bull or a calf or a turtledove but his very self (in the words of our Prayer Book) as the one “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”. We believe that it was on the cross Jesus began his reign as the king who has conquered not through “winning” but through the power of his own self-giving love. We believe that on the cross Jesus was the prophet who in his very self is the final and perfect expression of the height and length and breadth and depth of God’s unsurpassable love for you and for me.
“Who do people say I am?” “Who do you say I am?” “The Son of Man must suffer many things…”




[1]        http://www.christianpost.com/news/muslim-refugees-are-being-baptized-and-converting-to-christianity-says-berlin-pastor-144554/