Sermon Series “Lost in Translation”

Four week series to help ensure Christianity does not get lost in translation in our post-Christian country.

Video MessageResources
Week 1:
America is Athens
Monday Memo notes

Explore More This Week
– Want to read the backstory that brought Paul to Athens? Check it out: Acts 17.1-15 NRSVA
  – A quote worth reconsidering about the dying, inadequate gods of our world: “The gods of this world are sick unto death…And we all shudder at the sound because to witness the death of gods is a fearsome thing. Which gods? The gods that we worship. The gods that our enemies worship… These are the gods in whom the world has put its ultimate trust. Some of them are our particular gods, and there are plenty of others each can name for him or herself. And where are they now? They are dying, and their twilight thickens into night. Where is the security that they promise? Where is the peace? The terrible truth is that the gods of this world are no more worthy of our ultimate trust than the men who created them.” (Frederick Buechner, in The Magnificent Defeat)
– Read Richard Foster discuss the alternative Christianity offers culture, including challenging cultural, inadequate idols: The Contemporary Battlefronts – Richard J. Foster
– Two short devotionals on our personal idols: How Many Gods Do You Have? and Nothing Special
– A somewhat dated but still useful paradigm from a leading evangelical church researcher on how to differentiate the receptivity and needs of unchurched and nonChristian persons: CityLife Church Melbourne Australia and CityLife Church Melbourne Australia
– As we prepare to look in depth at how Paul explained Christianity to entirely nonChristian people, this might be a way to prime the pump…it’s an 80 minute free online seminar by Trevor Hudson (remember that name?) entitled, “Finding Good Words to Share the Good News”: Finding Good Words to Share the Good News
Week 2:
Who God Is and Who He Isn’t
Monday Memo notes

For this Week
1) Scripture reading this week: 
– On God not needing our offerings and sacrifices, see Psalm 50.7-15 NRSVA
– On what God wants from us, rather than offerings, sacrifices, and other religious rites: Psalm 51.16-17 NRSVA and Isaiah 1.10-17 NRSVA
– On God being greater than our ability to express in an idol or artistic physical form: Isaiah 40.12-26 NRSVA
2) A short, simple sermon from a small UCC church in MA on God being greater than our words and imaginations: God Is Bigger Than We Can Imagine!
3) A leading American New Testament scholar on the clear N.T. claim that Jesus/God is Lord, which means Caesar is not: If Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not | Scot McKnight
4) A thoughtful article entitled “5 Things God Is Not
5) A devotional on God being a giver as an expression of His love for us: God Gave
Week 3:
All of US
Monday Memo notes

For this Week
1) Scripture reading for the week – about the inclusive, universal, equalizing good news of Christianity: 
– Read both halves of Ephesians 2 (1.10 and 11-22) and note how universal its perspective is…we all have the same problem, we all have the same solution, we are all being built together in God’s new temple and people: Eph 2 NRSVA
– Read through the first eight chapters of Romans and pay attention to every way Paul levels the playing field, and lumps all human beings into the same boat, e.g., all of us have access to God’s truth (either through the O.T. law or our own conscience) in Rom. 2, we all defy that truth in Rom. 3, we are only saved through faith in God’s grace in Rom. 3-4, and so on: Rom 1-8 NRSVA
2) A book excerpt in which the late Desmund Tutu beautifully describes our one human family, God’s family: God Has a Dream by Desmond Tutu
3) A thoughtful piece on how we are all seekers, and how a key facet of Christian mission to make room for those who seek and aren’t sure: To Spiritual Seekers, Doubters And Abandoners: We’ll Hold A Place For You
4) A book excerpt in which the late Henri Nouwen talks about being God’s beloved child as our core, deepest, and truest identity: A Child of God by Henri Nouwen
5) Two songs about being one human family together, the first an old Methodist hymn, the second a gospel tune performed by a children’s choir…Enjoy!: One human family God has made StF 687 and One Human Family
Week 4:
The Man
Monday Memo notes

Explore More This Week
– Want to rethink your understanding of God’s “judgment” and return to a more biblical way of understanding the subject? These two devotionals from the United Church of Christ will be a big help: Redeeming Holy Judgment and Here Comes the Judge
– One of the key functions of our creeds is to ground us in what matters most, and to point us in the right direction as we start to ask new and/or hard questions. Check out the PCUSA’s Confession of 1967 addresses so much of what Paul did in this climax of his sermon – from the resurrection of Jesus, to God’s righteous judgment of the world, to the good end toward which God is steering history (check out 9.10-11, 9.21, and 9.53-56 specifically): confess67.pdf
 – Want to revisit what Trevor Hudson wrote about repentance as a way of life for all? Check out the video lesson that accompanies the chapter on repentance in “Seeking God”: Trevor Hudson – Changing Direction
  – Here’s a summary of the most recent findings of that study from The Barna Group, mentioned at the start of the sermon: Openness to Jesus Isn’t the Problem—the Church Is
  – If you’re interested in hearing more about the resurrection being God’s validation of Jesus, check out part of the Easter sermon from 2023 (from 35:47 – 40:48) on this very subject: Don’t Start with Resurrection – Easter Sunday Service. – KirkWood Worship 2023-04-09
 – A presentation by New Testament scholar N. T. Wright on the intersection of Jesus, God’s redemption, resurrection, and the future of the world (very much in line with that Paul is saying in Acts 17.30-31): N. T. Wright on the Future of the World
Week 5:
We Are All Pilgrims
Monday Memo notes

A Pilgrim’s Prayer
From a book we’ll recommend below, here’s a prayer to carry with you through the week – you can pray it with the plural nouns/pronouns for all of us, or in the singular for yourself: 
The Pilgrim’s Prayer (Rev. Paul Lang; The Pilgrim’s Compass, 2019):
Lead us, Lord, by the restlessness of spiritual longing, by the hope of finding our true homes, by the yearning of a hungry heart.
Lead us, Lord, so that we neither dally nor delay nor turn aside nor stand still nor stumble nor turn back in loyalty to our deficient old gods.
Lead us, Lord, by the discomfort in our souls, by the hope of finding what’s really real, and by the yearning for something more.
Lead us, Lord, as a felt Presence, as a constant companion, as a counselor in our perplexity, and as our most loyal friend. 
And lead us, Lord, so we don’t forget You or wander away, but remains faithful to You, joyful and true on our journey with You and toward You, amen. 

Resources For You
– A great, easy to read book about pilgrim spirituality: The Pilgrim’s Compass: Finding and Following the God We Seek: Lang, Paul H.
– Several great books for the seekers in your life, who may not be Christians but are spiritually curious and who are asking a lot of great questions: 
Finding Faith: A Self-Discovery Guide for Your Spiritual Quest: McLaren, Brian D.
Born to Wonder: Exploring Our Deepest Questions-Why Are We Here and Why Does It Matter?: McGrath, Alister
Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World: Wright, N. T.
– For those who have previous poor experiences with Christianity: The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian: Mclaren, Brian D. 
– For those who struggle with doubt: Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It: McLaren, Brian D.

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