Alive to God

Preaching series and worship theme on Paul’s letter to the Romans, June 18 to July 9

For four weeks, Pastor Bernt will preach on the lectionary texts from Paul’s letter to the Romans: chapters 5-7.  In these chapters, Paul makes some startling claims: that the Messiah died not just for his own, for good or deserving people, but for ungodly enemies; that the Spirit of his love has been poured into our hearts; and that in baptism we ourselves are “dead to sin and alive to God.”

What does any of this mean for how we live each day today?  How do we find our place when overwhelmed by a fallen world?  Recognize our limits and possibilities?  We’ll grapple with misunderstood Christian words like sin, flesh, Spirit, sanctification.

Paul will be brought into conversation with non-Christian wisdom on the good life, from the Stoics and Confucians (see Pastor Bernt’s article on the topic).

And, of course, Martin Luther … this being the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation, and Paul so important to Reformation teaching.  We’ll spend all four these weeks singing through one of Luther’s challenging and beautiful hymns invoking the Holy Spirit and picking up on themes from the scripture.

Week 1 (June 18) – The Situation: the Confucian Mencius believed the world didn’t make moral sense but was wild and unpredictable.  For Paul, the world is never not new in the love of God.

Week 2 (June 25) – Focus: the Stoics encourage us to look squarely and intentionally at death and other negative aspects of life, in order to find joy.  How is this related to Paul’s words on baptism as dying and rising with Christ?

Week 3 (July 2) – Action: embracing what we can do and our limitations: ritual for Confucians, worship for Paul.

Week 4 (July 9) – Destination: where were we headed in life?  Stoic tranquility and Christian sanctification …

Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord (listen here – first minute and a half or so)
Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,
with all your graces now outpoured
on each believer’s mind and heart;
your fervent love to them impart.
Lord, by the brightness of your light
in holy faith your church unite;
from ev’ry land and ev’ry tongue,
this to your praise, O Lord, our God, be sung:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

2 Come, holy Light, guide divine,
now cause the word of life to shine.
Teach us to know our God aright
as loving Father, our delight.
From ev’ry error keep us free;
let none but Christ our teacher be,
that we in living faith abide,
in him, our Lord, with all our might confide.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

3 Come, holy Fire, comfort true,
grant us the will your work to do
and in your service to abide;
let trials turn us not aside.
Lord, by your pow’r prepare each heart
and to our weakness strength impart,
that bravely here we may contend,
through life and death to you, our Lord, ascend.
Alleluia! Alleluia!