2015 Archives

With ten years of messages to archive, we’re still working on it. Only the last four messages of 2015 appear on this page, but if you want to look at the entire year or any year, click the construction banner below to go to our full archive, then scroll down to the year you’d like to browse.

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no room at the inn

dave brisbin | 12.27.15
As Christmas moves into the rearview, there is one more look we should give the birth narratives to see what they may have for us herenow. It’s always the tiny details of a story that give it its authenticity, show that the storyteller was fully present to the moments described. And in Jesus’ birth narratives we have some details that shouldn’t be missed: wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger, no room at the inn. These details have graced millions of nativity scenes for two millennia, but do we have them right? 

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What do the swaddling clothes and manger tell us about our God that we can use to experience him right herenow? And was there really an inn in the way we think of an inn? And if not, what would a more accurate translation tell us about Jesus’ family and our families and character and nature of those, like the Magi, who see through the details to the God they travel so far to worship.

the star of bethlehem

dave brisbin | 12.13.16
In the run up to Christmas, one of the more striking elements of the Nativity narrative in the Gospel of Matthew is the story of the Magi and the Star. What was this star and who were these Magi? Was this a miraculous event or the good timing of a supernova, comet, conjunction, or some other celestial event? But if it were there in the sky for all to see, why were the Magi the only ones to see it? Why did Herod and his court have to be informed? And as we examine the possible true nature of the star, what is its significance for us today? Is it just a miracle story foreshadowing the miraculous ministry of Jesus, or is there more? 

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When we look at the nature of the Magi, the lifelong dedication to their astronomical science, their passionate desire for a king who would usher in a new age, their courage in taking the long perilous journey to greet that king…we are still not prepared for their seeming naïve openness in accepting a poverty stricken infant as the figure for whom they worked so long to find. Whatever our expectations in life, truth rarely presents itself as we expect. If we, like the Magi have not prepared ourselves to see truth exactly where and when it appears in our night sky, we will miss the opportunity to greet our king.

the effect of endurance

dave brisbin | 12.6.16
James Series 2: James tells us in the opening verses of his book that we should count it all joy when we encounter various difficulties because the testing of our faith produces endurance and the endurance produces a perfect result in which we lack for nothing. James then moves on to talk about asking for wisdom, asking without doubt, persevering to reward, the nature of temptation and presence. If we look at these verses from a Western point of view, we will have a complete misunderstanding of what James is saying in his Eastern way to an Eastern audience. 

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We in the West rely on our eyes rather than our hands looking to form over function; we see life through an intellectual, passive lens rather than an active, experiential one; we see life broken into separate, dualistic compartments and time as a linear segment between endpoints rather an a holistic whole. Unless we can begin to understand that James and his fellows always saw function over form, active experience over passive mental concept, and everything existing in a now moment, we won’t see how “asking” only exists in endurance as a working definition of faith, and how doubt and temptation are not evil or weak but the very elements that make our choices and our faith real, and how reward is never delayed in time but is the experience of enduring through the trial to God’s presence in every moment. We need to see James and Jesus from an Easter point of view—it only changes everything when we do.

the beauty of brokenness

dave brisbin | 11.29.16
James Series 1: James, the brother of Jesus, the man who led the early Jerusalem church for the first thirty years after the crucifixion was the pillar of the Eastern Church and yet is relatively unknown in the West. Western tradition portrays Peter as the head of the early Jewish followers of Jesus, but the East has always maintained James in that position. The book that bears his name was quite possibly a catechism for early Jewish followers and converts and is beautiful in its clarity and brevity and focus on the big questions as well as the essential details of life. Moving nearly verse by verse, we’ll take a look at how James led his brother’s followers through those first difficult years, trying to follow Jesus’ Way through persecution from both Jewish and Roman authorities. 

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And because of that persecution and the religious and cultural upheaval of trying to follow Jesus and Judaism at the same time, it’s no coincidence that the first issue James addresses is that of suffering—of how we are to face the trials and difficulties of life. But to count it all as joy when we are confronted with our challenges speaks to a necessity of the descent into brokenness that precedes the ascent into wisdom and reward. James is telling us there is a beauty to brokenness that we must understand if we’re really to take any further steps along the Way.

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