living the way
Jesus’ message is nothing if not practical. He never leaves his teaching circling a theological airport or lost in abstraction. His message is always targeted on how we live and choose in this very moment. These audio messages intend to help us live our spirituality where rubber and road meet.
Dave Brisbin | 5.14.17
Mothers’ Day: I was recently asked that though we know God loves us, how can we know he likes us? Great question, one that goes to the heart of our human experience. On Mothers’ Day, and by way of answering, it’s always good to be reminded of the ancient Hebraic understanding of the roles of mother and father that is coded right into their language. To understand father/Ab, as “strong house,” the support and structure of the family, and mother/Em as “strong water,” the glue that holds the family together, is fundamental to their life in family, tribe, and nation. But it also reveals their view of God as well.
Dave Brisbin | 5.7.17
The cross of Jesus is such a big and central message in Christianity that we need to spend more time on it. So continuing the discussion from the previous week’s message, “Lamb of God,” and in answer to the perennial questions—why is the bible so violent, and why would God sacrifice his son?—we’re looking at deeper ways of understanding Calvary that neither compromise the sacrifice of Jesus nor the love of the Father. In typical midrash fashion (see the message “Deeper Reading” for more on midrash), the New Testament writers portray Jesus on the cross using three deeply embedded images from the Old Testament: the Passover Lamb, the Lifted Up One, and the Scapegoat. To fully understand how Jesus’ first followers understood his sacrifice on the cross, we need to know how these three images functioned in the spiritual lives of the people and how they applied to the spiritual truth of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Dave Brisbin | 4.30.17
No matter what questions we ask of religion or church, scripture or theology, the subtext, the question we’re always really asking is the same: with all life’s pain, uncertainty, absurdity…do I matter? Am I safe? Whether we’re asking about heaven, hell, salvation, law, or any esoteric point of theology, what we’re really looking for is assurance, confidence in our own acceptability. That’s the human condition. And so it also is as we ask about the cross, about what it really means, and how Jesus as Lamb of God, an innocent blood sacrifice, impacts the nature of a God who Jesus tells us is absolutely all loving. Is there a way to understand the Lamb and the sacrifice in such a way that God’s loving nature is not compromised?
Dave Brisbin | 4.9.17
Palm Sunday, What is the real message behind Palm Sunday. Sunday school graduates can all remember that Palm Sunday gets its name from the palm branches that the people waved in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem beginning the week of his passion and death. Some of us will remember that the palm fronds symbolized the people welcoming him as a victorious king and how that unnerved the watching Jewish and Roman authorities. But how does that translate to us, two thousand years and a world away from those events. Why is it preserved in our sacred text and what can it teach us?
Dave Brisbin | 4.2.17
On the fifth Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, the image at John’s last supper of Jesus stripping his garments, tying a towel around his hips and moving from friend to friend at table, washing feet gives us another Lenten principle in preparation for new life. It is extremely difficult for us as modern Westerner to appreciate just how mind blowingly outrageous and offensive Jesus’ actions would have been to his friends. There is no relevant analogy for us to bring home the shock of a revered teacher, rabbi, a spiritual master and healer doing what even Jewish slaves were not obligated to do–what was relegated to Gentile slaves. It was dirty, impure, and humiliating work, underscored by Peter’s initial refusal to allow Jesus to wash him.
Frank Billman | 3.26.17
On the fourth Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, Pastor Frank examines what it means to find our place in community. Using Paul’s beautiful simile for the body of Christ of a human body with all its parts forming a unified whole, identifying, becoming aware of our place, function, meaning, and purpose in our community in the various bodies in which we work and play and love is essential to being able to find acceptance of the present moment, to realize that we are exactly where we should be, doing exactly what we should be doing.
Dave Brisbin | 3.19.17
On the third Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, we use Jesus’ cleansing of the temple to give us our next Lenten principle. When Jesus rampages through the Temple court overturning tables, he is, in effect, calling into question a given in the daily life of first century Jews: that the Temple, the Temple priests, the Temple system were as good as God, were their means to connection with God and community. Jesus underscores the obvious—says right out loud what any thinking person could see but was afraid to say: that the system had become corrupt and instead of being a means to God’s presence, had become a hindrance, a limitation, a wall between the people and their God.
Dave Brisbin | 3.12.17
On the second Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, we naturally turn to prayer. What is prayer really? And specifically, what is the continuous prayer to which Paul calls us? Using the Hebrew bride as the bible’s metaphor for the balance of living a balanced life of awareness and presence, we can start to look at prayer in the same way. Not a constant stream of words pronounced verbally or mentally, but a continuous awareness of our place and position and relationship to everyone and everything in any given moment—all infused and sourced in unseen Presence.
Dave Brisbin | 3.5.17
On the first Sunday of Lent, we have begun to look at Lent, not as a negative—as a voluntary deprivation of pleasure in penance for sin—but as a positive stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence. Looking at the Hebrew meaning of the parable of the ten virgins/bridesmaids—the five who are alert and present and keeping their lamps filled with oil and the five who are not—becomes not a statement of final judgment, heaven or hell, but another image of balanced life and awareness herenow. How do we balance our desires and plans for the future: how we think things ought to be, wish them to be, were taught they should be, need them to be…with a simple awareness of the flow of things as they are right now?
Dave Brisbin | 2.26.17
As we approach the Lenten season, many of us have not experienced the annual cycle of a liturgical church, and among those who have, many have never been taught what the liturgical traditions really mean to the spiritual life. This year, we want to try to make Lent, as preparation for the new life of Easter, come alive in a new way—really prepare us for that new life. What does Lent mean? What is Shove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and how has the church celebrated these liturgical days for centuries or millennia? If Lent is meant to mirror Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, how are we to understand his emptying, his moving into silence and suffering in a positive and affirming way for ourselves?