CAPC Oakland

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Blogging Towards Sunday, July 4, 2021

"If Jesus is the answer, what's the Question?" - the First of the

Mark 1:14-20; 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:10

For generations, Presbyterians have summed up our reason for existence in what we call the Six Great Ends of the Church. As stated in our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Order (F-1.0304), [download the whole thing here for FREE] they being with:

  1. The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind

In our culture and time we need to unpack some of the language and words used in this statement as well as in the gospel stories. They’ve either become tired and worn-out, no longer meaning anything; or they mean something that is quite possibly different than their original meaning in the ancient texts.

The word proclaim in Greek means the sharing of news or a tiding in the public square by a known herald or crier. It’s become synonymous with “to preach.” What we forget is that is has a strong connotation of something that is publicly shared with all citizens of a polis (town) in the public square.

The word gospel means good news, tidings or message. It was used to describe the word that a messenger would deliver to the other troops and citizens after a victory in battle. It has come to mean the Gospel, that is the the good news of God’s victory in Jesus of Nazareth. But what is the victory that it’s about? Over whom? and what?

The words salvation comes from the Greek word for saving which means to be save from something, to be delivered, to be healed, redeemed or made whole. It’s much bigger than just the forgiveness of sins, it’s about the liberating transformation of the whole world.

Jesus starts off his ministry exploding into the work of proclaiming the victory of God’s saving power in the world. In 1 Corinthians Paul offers pastoral advice to the ancient church in Corinth, reminding them about the importance of wisdom – which was paramount in their culture rooted in philosophy and the teaching of Socrates that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Paul talks about how the wisdom of the world sees the wisdom of God as foolish and vice-versa. God’s wisdom is both clear and beyond our understanding, it both makes sense and is completely opposed to what we know and do in our daily life.

So what is it that we are to do and be as the Church, the community of those called to (in part) proclaim the gospel for the salvation of humankind?

Questions for Reflection & Examen:

  • What engaged you, enraged you, or surprised you in the text?
  • In Mark 1 we hear that the proclamation of the good news leads to repentance, a chance in mindset and living which then leads to a calling to follow, to live like Jesus lived.
  • In 1 Corinthians 1 the apostle Paul presents the gospel as different Sophia-Wisdom than the Sophia-Wisdom of the world.  Knowing that Sophia-Wisdom was the most prized possession in the Ancient World what is he saying?  How can something that is wise be foolish, and something that is foolish be wise?  Have you ever experienced that sort of truth?  When?  How?
  • The First Great End of the Church as per the Presbyterian Book of Order is that the church is to be about:  The Proclamation of the Gospel for the Salvation of Humankind.
  • To get at what that essentially means we might need to first do some unpacking as many of the key words used in today’s scriptures – and the 1st Great End of the Church – might no longer mean in our culture what they meant when the gospel was written, or when the Presbyterian Church organized over the past 250 years:
  • What does it mean to be “Christian”?
  • Why are you a “Christian”?
  • Are there other groups doing what Christians used to do and are Christians even relevant to today’s world? (so what makes us different?)
  • How would you describe or explain the “Good News” message (in 7 words or less)?
  • Does the Church along have “good news” for our world?  How is the Church to proclaim it?
  • How is the Spirit of God inviting you – or us as a church – to act, speak, be or change through this word?

Download a Study Sheet on today’s scriptures HERE.

About capcoakland

We are a community of faith seeking to live God's will together: that space where the passions of our hearts and the needs of the world meet in our context of Berkeley, Oakland and Piedmont. Our perspective is based from a Christian center, open to the mystery of God's presence in our world. Our core values are celebration, community & prayer. This blog is our avenue for program updates and information.

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2021 by in Blogging Towards Sunday.
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