Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.


Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.


Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)


About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.



The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.




Monday, December 14, 2009

Thinking about Romans 5:1-10

Paul's words in these verses (see translation three posts ago) bring a revolution in understanding of who God is, what God is like. We might have thought that Jesus was simply an "atonement" for our sins that satisfied God, leaving God the same, us the same, just forgiven and saved from punishment. But, we aren't able to think that anymore after what Paul proclaims here. What Paul celebrates here about God is revolutionary. I don't think the radical nature of Paul's experience of God has taken hold, even almost 2,000 years after he wrote these words to the Romans.

Somehow the Church tends to forget that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to God's very self." In theology and preaching the Church has so often viewed God way up there in heaven as the judge, offended by our sin, ready and needing to punish us, but somehow the wrath subsides when Christ bears the punishment for us. But, Paul throws all this out the window as trash, as a backwards presentation of who God really is. For Paul, GOD IS IN CHRIST. Do you see?! God is not far off, waiting on legal satisfaction. GOD IS IN CHRIST, RECONCILING THE WORLD TO GOD'S VERY SELF THROUGH THE DEATH OF CHRIST. GOD REACHES OUT AND EMBRACES THE WORLD IN CHRIST'S DEATH, A WORLD THAT REJECTED HIS INCARNATION.

The legalistic atonement theory of Protestant theology is simply wrong. It doesn't believe in the incarnation, but leaves God way up there in heaven, unchanged, unaffected, uninvolved in humanity; and leaves us unchanged - only our legal status has been altered. What crap we hear presented as the Gospel. But, Paul . . . Paul puts the truth before us, glowing with grace, shaking with the joy of one who knows that God has really come among us in Christ. How God sustained the world as God's Son died, I don't know. But, I believe very deeply that God was in the middle of doing both.

Read this passage every day in Advent. Romans 5:1-10. What a wonderful and profound celebration of the INCARNATION.

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