Skip to main content

Good News ain't no "Stewart Smalley Daily Affirmation" stuff: it's solid Biblical Theology

You know how every once in a while, when you're having a challenging week or a tough day, someone will send you, or you'll stumble on just the right word or phrase or thought-- some encouraging word that hits you like one of these cool late September breezes?

Well not long ago, a colleague and friend of mine sent me a couple paragraphs from a book she's reading by the author Steve Backlund that did that for me:

"'Good tidings of great joy' is the first thing that is said in the angelic announcement.

"Let that sink in for a moment.  

"The angel did not say, 'I bring you news of a teaching that I hope you can follow,' or, 'I bring you news that Jesus is coming; and boy, is he mad!'

"No, the message was, 'It's time to celebrate! God is doing what you couldn't. He is making a way where there was no way. You are being saved from the curse, rejection, shame, punishment, poverty, sickness; and from performance-based living. The door is being opened to eternal life; intimacy with the Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and so much more. It is incredible, joyous news!'"

That quote not only provided a lift when I needed it, it got me to thinking:

First, this isn't some cheesy Stuart Smalley-esque Daily Affirmation that is being offered here: it's solid Biblical theology. (Even if most Christianity (or most Christian preachers) seem to have forgotten it.)

And second, it reminded me about something else, something that the author John Eldredge writes about, and that is that there is a "minor theme" in the Bible, and a "major theme" in the Bible, and Christianity is constantly getting it wrong.

A "minor theme" of the Bible is disease, brokenness, sin, and suffering.

The major theme of the Bible is healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and joy.

The minor theme is emphasized in season of Lent, and certainly Holy Week: Maundy Thursday and Good Friday when we remember Jesus being betrayed and crucified, when we reflect on humanity's dis-ease, brokenness, sin and suffering.

The minor theme is important.

After all, the first step in healing a disease is diagnosis: knowing what's wrong.

And if you're trying to try to put something back together (whether it's a vase or a human heart) you can't just wave your hand over it; you have to pick up, and deal with the broken pieces.

And if there's going to be forgiveness, well, that assumes that some wrong is not being treated lightly, but is being taken seriously.

And joy is often the result of not bouncing off of, but going into suffering.)

But unfortunately what Christianity has gotten wrong for much of its history and still gets wrong in so many ways today, is that in Scripture - in the Bible -
the major, and primary theme in Scripture is human healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and joy.

What Lent and all that suffering point to is NOT the cross, but the empty tomb: Easter Day, Easter season, and the season following Easter, when we remember stories of Jesus' healing touch, bringing people to wholeness, his forgiveness, his joy.

That is the major theme of the Bible.

So...not only for today, and for Sunday, and for Advent and Christmas, but throughout the year:  

"Good tidings of great joy" to you.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Irresponsible to be Silent

A sermon preached June 19, 2016 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia
(“Dear Lord: Carry your word into the most protected parts of our hearts.”)
Today I don’t have a traditional sermon. I certainly don’t have a sermon about Father’s Day, but now that I’ve mentioned it, happy Father’s Day. Today, instead of a traditional sermon, I feel led to share some things that have been on my heart this past week.
I’ve been your Rector here since August of 2012. Those of you who have been here a long time know that my preaching style is almost always “expository,” a fancy word that simply means you take a passage of scripture, and having studied it during the week, you show – or expose – its meaning and relevance as best you can, and then you sit down, trusting Holy Spirit will be hard at work simultaneously translating for each of you what you need to hear on any given Sunday.
One of the implications of this style of preaching is I tend not to preach “to…

Let's Unpack One Trump Tweet on Refugees

No one can  -- and I certainly don't want to try -- to unpack every tweet the person currently holding the office of President of the United States sends out.

No one has the time to respond to every one of his tweets on just one issue. Although I wish I had the time on the issue of the Executive Orders recently issued in regard to refugees.

But every so often I feel I MUST respond to at least SOME of those tweets, lest I grow accustomed to them as normal. And I refuse to normalize the abnormal. 

Take one of Saturday's tweets, for example: in response to Judge Robart's temporarily stopping an Executive Orders, there was this: 



“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?” 

Let's unpack: 

"What is our country coming to..." 
Does that lament sound familiar? Ask yourself: who often says it, where do you hear it from the most? Is it a positive, hopeful line of thinking? I wil…

The Beatitudes, Lady Liberty, and Refugees

A sermon preached January 29, 2017
The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector
The Falls Church Episcopal

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…