Browsing articles tagged with " 1 Peter"
Jan 18, 2016

2016 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25 January. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Paul Wattson to cover the days between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul, and therefore have a symbolic significance. In the southern hemisphere where January is a vacation time churches often find other days to celebrate the week of prayer, for example around Pentecost (suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the Church.

In Houston our 3rd Annual Ecumenical Prayer Service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be held on Friday, January 22, 2016, starting at 7pm. The 2016 host is Pleasant Hill Baptist Church at 1510 Pannell St., Houston, TX 77020. All are welcome!

The oldest baptismal font in Latvia dates from the time of the great evangeliser of Latvia, St Meinhard. It was originally located in his Cathedral in Ikšķile. Today it stands at the very centre of the Lutheran Cathedral in the country’s capital, Rīga. The placement of the font so near to the Cathedral’s ornate pulpit speaks eloquently of the relationship between baptism and proclamation, and the calling shared by all the baptised to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord. This calling forms the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity for 2016. Inspired by two verses from the First Letter of St Peter, members of different churches in Latvia prepared the resources for the week:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Archaeological evidence suggests that Christianity was first brought to Eastern Latvia in the 10th century by Byzantine missionaries. However, most accounts date Latvia’s Christian origins to the 12th and 13th centuries, and the evangelising mission of St Meinhard, and later of other German missionaries. The capital, Rīga, was one of the first cities to adopt Luther’s ideas in the 16th century, and in the 18th century, Moravian missionaries (Herrnhut Brethren) revived and deepened Christian faith throughout the country. Their descendants were to play a central role in laying the foundations for national independence in 1918.

However, the totalitarian darkness of the 20th century estranged many people from the truth about God the Father, his self-revelation in Jesus Christ and the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, the post-Soviet period has been one of renewal for the churches. Many Christians come together for prayer in small groups and at ecumenical services. Conscious that the light and grace of Christ have not penetrated and transformed all the people of Latvia, they want to work and pray together so that the historical, ethnic and ideological wounds which still disfigure Latvian society may be healed.

I hope you will come and attend this most marvelous service on Friday, January 22, 2016, when the Rev. Joshua Lawrence will represent the Houston Association of the United Church of Christ.

Feb 24, 2015

Blessed Connections – Sermon Podcast

Looking for a pot’o’gold at the end of the rainbow:

A Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent 2015 based on Genesis 9:8-17 and 1 Peter 3:18-22.

May 12, 2011

Extended Church Family

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church…”, starts the third paragraph of the Apostles’ Creed. Catholic in this sense has nothing to do with today’s Roman Catholic Church. In today’s Reading 1 Peter 5:1-14 Rome is referred to as “Babylon” and the parish there cannot claim authority over others but individuals send encouraging letters to “sister churches”. “Catholic” is just another word for “Ecumenical”. So the catholic church we are looking at here is the body of Christ in its entirety, not limited to a specific branch of Christianity.
Here is the good news: Christians are never alone: “Be firm in your faith and resist him, because you know that other believers in all the world are going through the same kind of sufferings.”
Your extended church family has your back – not matter what.

May 11, 2011

Peter’s Nirvana

Seriously, sometimes there are texts, that I just do not enjoy reading due to the flow of their language. The Epistles of Peter are prime examples of that. The same holds true for tweeting celebrities. Mashable lists Celebrities on Twitter: 30 Famous First Tweets. I follow many of them, because I enjoy their style. One I would never consider following is the @dalailama. Everyday he tweets a quote of himself that sounds like today’s: “When our intentions are good, we are stronger and have greater self-confidence.”
Maybe I am just not the kinda guy to enjoy words of wisdom. Now today’s reading 1 Peter 4:1-19 is full of stuff like that: “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.”
Guess who thoroughly enjoyed the reading of Peter’s Nirvana. Yeah, right:

May 10, 2011

Interfaith Marriages

Being married to someone with a different religion can be both enriching and challenging.

Yesterday’s reading suggested for Christian slaves to accept their heathen masters’ authority.
Today’s reading 1 Peter 3:1-22 starts: “In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands”
– You best win them for Christ if you don’t try to proselytize them but show them God’s unconditional love for all!

The same applies to Christian husbands with non-Christian wives: “In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you.”
– Treat them with respect, because you are no better than they are.

May 9, 2011

Persecution of Christians

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government agency’s annual report on violations of religious rights added Egypt on Thursday to the list of the world’s 14 worst violators. The situation there for religious minorities, especially Coptic Christians, has deteriorated markedly, even since former President Hosni Mubarak resigned in February, the report said. China also is on the list of worst violators, compiled by the Commission on International Religious Freedom, and in his opening remarks as he released the report, commission Chairman Leonard Leo accused China of trying to hack into the commission’s emails.

Today’s passage 1 Peter 2:1-25 shows signs of the persecutions under Domitian‘s reign (89-96) or Trajan‘s (98-117). The author tries hard to make his congregation remain calm even though he knows it is wrong:
“Your conduct among the heathen should be so good that when they accuse you of being evildoers, they will have to recognize your good deeds and so praise God on the Day of his coming. For the sake of the Lord submit yourselves to every human authority: to the Emperor, who is the supreme authority, and to the governors, who have been appointed by him to punish the evildoers and to praise those who do good. For God wants you to silence the ignorant talk of foolish people by the good things you do. Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God’s slaves. Respect everyone, love other believers, honor God, and respect the Emperor. 18 You servants must submit yourselves to your masters and show them complete respect, not only to those who are kind and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. God will bless you for this, if you endure the pain of undeserved suffering because you are conscious of his will.”

Verse 17 even became the motto for the fifth thesis of the Barmen Declaration, opposing Hitler’s rise to power from an evangelical perspective. Can you sense the difference between “fear” and “honor” when it comes to God and Führer:

5. “Fear God. Honor the Emperor.” 1 Peter 2:17
Scripture tells us that by divine appointment the State, in this still unredeemed world in which also the Church is situated, has the task of maintaining justice and peace, so far as human discernment and human ability make this possible, by means of the threat and use of force. The Church acknowledges with gratitude and reverence toward God the benefit of this, his appointment. It draws attention to God’s Dominion [Reich], God’s commandment and justice, and with these the responsibility of those who rule and those who are ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word, by which God upholds all things.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the State should and could become the sole and total order of human life and so fulfill the vocation of the Church as well.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the Church should and could take on the nature, tasks and dignity which belong to the State and thus become itself an organ of the State.

May 8, 2011

Be holy because I am holy

First of there is no way Peter really wrote this letter. Almost all references to the Hebrew Bible are taken from the Greek Septuagiant translation instead of the Hebrew text which is hard to imagine such a Judaeo-Christian preacher as Peter would have done. Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13 is the traditional code name for persecuted Christians in Rome which points to a way later date. The beginning of the letter is directed to congregations in Asia Minor which were certainly not established prior to the 80s.

So here we are – again – 4 generations and 1 continent away from Peter and Paul with Christians struggling in an anti-Christian environment invoking their heroes of faith. Elegantly they picture Peter to refer to Hebrew Scripture a lot – twice in today’s reading 1 Peter 1:1-25:
Verse 16 The scripture says, “Be holy because I am holy.” refers to the Holiness Code which I’ve already blogged about.
Verses 24-25 quote Psalm 103: As the scripture says, “All human beings are like grass, and all their glory is like wild flowers. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

Solace to those who are looking for peace!