Sunday, June 21, 2009

Across to the Other Side

Copyright © 2009 Robert J. Elder
June 21, 2009

Mark 4:35-41

During my first year in graduate school at Princeton Theological Seminary, having just moved to New Jersey from undergraduate life in Texas, I found myself going through several difficult life adjustments. I was encountering one trial common to all professional programs: learning a new language. I don’t mean biblical Hebrew or Greek, although we had to learn those too. I mean the specialized language that is required of any professional to enable peers to talk with each other at more depth than in common English usage. Medical people, engineers, legal professionals, people in accounting practice, and many others have their own special languages. Learning that jargon can be a thankless task. Also during that time, I was attending regular classes each day, the first of which was devoted to the study of Biblical Greek and occupied two hours per day, five days per week. I was working in a church on weekends in which I was more or less thrown into the role of seminary authority and junior high fellowship leader with no particular training or experience. My supervising pastor in that church was an inner-directed sort of fellow who had great difficulty empathizing with the common trials and tribulations of seminarians.

That Fall I learned of a sudden death in the family, 1500 miles away. It seemed as though I was at least a million miles away from anything familiar, experiencing less and less direction for the arduous tasks I was pursuing at the seminary. I felt lonesome and cut off. What on earth did God have in mind for me? Should I even be there? I needed a break.

So I visited my New Jersey aunt and uncle for a weekend. On my second day there, I was coming down with a bug and went upstairs to rest on a bed that afternoon at my aunt and uncle’s home, sporting a slight fever. The weight of all my anxious misgivings was very much on my mind as I dozed off to sleep. When I awoke, I was exceptionally aware of the silence of the room, the silence of the outside world at that moment. Everything in the house seemed hushed and quiet. It was still daylight. Then an awareness washed over me. It was a sensation that I will never forget. I was granted a sense of deep assurance — from somewhere quite outside myself — that everything was going to be alright.

In spite of my worries and wondering, I now knew in a way that I had not known before, that no matter what happened, things were going to be OK. I was able to let go of some of the anxiety, to settle into the truly blessed assurance that God had plans for me far beyond my imaginings. Today I believe I was in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Or, rather, that my guard was sufficiently down, my neediness so exposed, that the Holy Spirit — always present and ready to bring life — was able break through my customary human defenses and minister to me.

My story, while unique to me, is not unique in type. Every person here has faced trials, has carried anxieties, has lived through times when life, lacking purpose or direction, seemed set adrift on an ocean of empty loneliness. Odd as it may seem, those are so often the very times when we are most vulnerable, most open to the work of the spirit.

Mark tells us that following several healings and the teaching by the lakeside, the disciples and Jesus were moving “across to the other side” of the Sea of Galilee. This was a movement in both a physical and a spiritual sense. Before the journey on the water, they were a loose-knit collection of people who had benefitted from the teaching of a rabbi. Following the crossing, they might still have been a loose knit collection of people, they might still have recognized the benefit of this man’s teaching, but something new had changed everything. They had begun asking each other, “Who is this man?” because they no longer were sure they knew. ‘Rabbi’ was certainly not a big enough title for a person who could calm the wind and the waves on the open sea.

Throughout the history of the Jews, stories of water crossings signified more than logistical accomplishments. The major water crossings of the Bible involve the movement of God’s Spirit with the people. Genesis tells us that the Spirit of God moved across the face of the waters at Creation; runaway slaves crossed the water when they escaped the fury of Pharoah’s chariots; 40 years later, the people of Israel moved across the Jordan into the Promised Land. Now, Jesus moved with his disciples across water toward a new understanding of who he was.

In the middle of the storm, with the waves crashing into the boat, the disciples looked at Jesus, slumbering in the stern, and cried out, as I cried out to God in my prayers during that first year of seminary, “Do you not care?!” These are the sort of words any of us might address to God when we are in distress. It is natural, when we are in the midst of danger or suffering to wonder two things. [1] Is there a God somewhere beyond the fearsome realities that I see? And [2] if so, is this God even aware of my particular problem? Is God there, and does God care?

It is revealing that it was Jesus who first brought up the matter of fear in Mark’s story. Just think of the terror of towering waves on the open sea. I recall a member of a Bible study I once taught describing an experience of a terrible ocean crossing during which trips onto the deck provided views of waves as big as mountains rolling on either side as the ship ambled up and down — now in the valley between them, now towering on top of one, gazing across at another. Jesus asked the disciples, “Why are you afraid?” Like the disciples we almost want to shout back, “Who wouldn’t be afraid?” Yet this is the centerpiece of the story, not only for those storm-tossed disciples, but for the tiny persecution-tossed church of Mark’s day, for the anxious fever-tossed seminary student of my day, and for the trouble-tossed among us this very day. Jesus recognizes fear for what it is and asks us to put a name on it. What are you afraid of? Until we name our fear, faith cannot overcome it.

Even more revealing, it is only after having been asked the question that the Bible actually describes the disciples as fearful. The NRSV says, “And they were filled with great awe.” That hardly puts it strongly enough. The Greek could be more literally translated, “They feared a tremendous fear,” a superlative fear, a fear that, awful as it was, addressed their accustomed world of anxiety and suffering by the Spirit of God and they knew life would never be the same again.

The “It will be alright” spoken to disciples, to the early church, to me as seminary student, changes the world. It is no longer as much a fearsome place as it is a God-filled place. That is truly a crossing to the other side.

The human side, the worldly side is filled with the fearsome realities of daily living. Most of us spend the vast majority of our lives living in that world. Fearsome as it may be, we are used to it in a way. For some reason we are all too anxious to embrace our fear-filled world — at least it’s familiar. Worried about the economic situation in our nation and world? Who wouldn’t be? Our investments used to seem safe enough, but what might this world-wide recession do to all we have worked and saved for? Do you feel quite safe in your home? Only fools would say that they never entertain any anxiety about their own physical safety or that of their family. It’s a fearsome thought. Sure, some world leaders may negotiate to reduce nuclear weapons a bit, but isn’t it true that more than enough are still stockpiled to blow us up twenty or thirty times over? I might have made decent grades this term, but what about next year, when the courses may be harder? Fear is easily introduced into any conversation, it doesn’t take any special knack at all to do it. We are at home with it, even though we may not like having to set an extra place at the table for it. Only rarely may we be given a glimpse of another reality, that this is a God-filled world as well, a world filled not only with the realities of the physical laws of creation, but with the benevolent intentions of the Creator.

In the face of our listing of 1001 things to fear about the world, Jesus turns to us as he did to his disciples, and says, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And we are just as likely to shout back, “Who wouldn’t be afraid, just look at what we have to live with every day!” But then we wonder... Who is he? What is he saying with his questions?

A few years ago, the brilliant English physicist, Stephen Hawking, was the subject of a cover story in Newsweek magazine. Though crippled by Lou Gehrig’s disease, through the assistance of a voice-synthesizing computer he continues to amaze the scientific world with his brilliant mathematical postulates on the beginnings of the universe. He has peered into the stuff of creation, has understood much about the origin of our universe, and has returned declaring many things about it, even that there may be some greater intelligence at the root of it all. But one declaration he cannot bring himself to make: that such a universe, filled with such mega-forces as black holes, could possibly be governed by a deity that actually cares about the creatures that populate this small corner of the cosmos. He has not made the crossing to the other side. It is a fearsome world we inhabit. He knows it is, and so do we. We have all been there. Yet, so many have testified to another reality, another realm, not so easily accessed by mathematical equation.

This is one reason Mark wrote down this story for us. It was addressed to his church, but they saved it so that we might benefit from it too. It is just as surely addressed to Stephen Hawking as it is to us. It is a story to help make disciples brave when we feel least like it. It is a story that takes seriously all the stress, anxiety, persecution, suffering and disability that humanity could possibly face — doesn’t discount it, takes it seriously. But having done that, says there is more to life than fear, declares something supernatural still rules and cares for the world, as the psalmist testified,

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded, and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men,
and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;
he made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to the sons of men!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
(Psalm 107:23-32, NRSV)

The story of Jesus on the stormy lake is also the story of God’s lordship over the storms of our lives, even the most desperate ones. When we find ourselves at the very brink of fear, we may look beside us and discover that his presence is there to bring calm in the face of a chaotic world. Praise be to God!

Copyright © 2009 Robert J. Elder, all rights reserved

Beside Ourselves for God

Copyright © 2009 Robert J. Elder
Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time: June 14, 2009

II Corinthians 5:6-21

The sermon has two parts, matching two themes in this reading from II Corinthians. The first part has to do with craziness, the second, with reconciliation. Our job is to find out how these two go together.


Part 1: Craziness.

Paul said, “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God.” Now what do you suppose is going on there in that sentence? I know that phrase, to be beside oneself, and I think you do too. We use it in common, everyday story-telling with each other. “My daughter didn’t come in ‘till 2:30 in the morning. I was beside myself with worry!” The dictionary says that to be “beside oneself” is to be “in a state of extreme excitement.” I think I would add more than that. It can mean exceptionally worried, or exceptionally happy, or exceptionally frantic. In any case, the sense of it is to be at the top of our emotional spectrum. One notch higher and we would be in orbit. It is to be in a superlative state of our emotional lives, whether high or low.

Another way of looking at it is to say that it means to be a little crazy, a little unlike our normal selves, to be “beside” the self we usually are. One other place where this same Greek word is used in the New Testament is in Mark 3, where the family of Jesus, worried about his newly launched ministry, “went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’”[1] Clearly, this is serious business.

Do Christians appear to the world to be a little crazy? Paul was enthusiastic for his faith. I can imagine that sometimes when he preached he got carried away, that he pounded the pulpit a bit, if he had a pulpit. And in Greek society, this would have appeared a bit out-of-control, like almost any professional basketball player when the referee calls a foul on him when he was twenty feet from the ball, minding his own business. They get a little beside themselves, don’t they? They act a little out of the normal, may storm around for a while, may have a technical foul called on them, may even be thrown out of the game. But if they were that way every day, all the time, we would say they were just plain crazy, not a little “beside themselves.”

So Paul said, “if we are beside ourselves, it is for God.” “I am so enthusiastic for the work of the Lord, so worked up over the need to get the message about Jesus out to the world, sometimes to the outside world, it appears I am beside myself. But it is all for God.” Paul knew that it sometimes might appear just a step beyond sanity. He went on to say. “if we are in our right mind, it is for you.”

Why did Paul get so worked up over his message? He said, “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all.” That’s it, in a nutshell. Paul saw a whole world filled with people for whom Christ had died, yet who did not know him or the good news that this represented. Sure he was a little beside himself, he had a large job getting that saving word out to an entire world!


Which brings us to…

Part 2: Reconciliation.

What was Jesus up to that got Paul so excited? Paul said, “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself ... and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”

God had a plan, it was brought into existence through the ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and then God entrusted “the message of reconciliation to us.” Wow! The great big God who created the world and all that is in it has entrusted the most important message the world will ever hear to us, weak, fallible, ambiguous creatures.

The late John Baille, theologian and leader of the World Council of Churches, once quoted this portion of our passage, “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself,” and then went on to ask, “Would the people who see you daily and with whom you have the most to do, be able to guess, even if you had not told them, that you believed this?”

The dictionary definition of “reconciliation” is “the bringing together of two opposing parties or points of view.” The truth of the matter, as Paul addresses it, is that since creation, God has remained the same. It is human beings who have taken up the opposing point of view. So it is we who must be brought back.[2] This effort has been entrusted to Christian believers. Do we live so that those who see us know that we believe “in Christ, God is reconciling the world to himself”?

The additional truth about God’s desire for reconciliation with us is inescapably true. We cannot be reconciled to God unless we are reconciled and at peace with those around us. We cannot paint the face of Jesus for an evil world, in either metaphor or in concrete deeds, unless we first have this spirit within us. That, more than any other reason, is why the Christian church, since its very foundation, has sent folks into mission beyond the comfort of the world they know. By our actions, we become living symbols of God’s reconciliation.


I think I misled you about the number of parts to this sermon. I must have been a little beside myself. It turns out there is a third part. It has to do with the mission in which Christine and I will be taking part in a couple of weeks, specifically, but not only with that. It also has to do with the whole Christian missionary enterprise, in which we all participate, whether financially or through prayer, or by actual travel to places to carry out mission.

Years ago, a woman came to see the pastor of a large and influential congregation in New York City, about a rally which her group was sponsoring in regard to a particular social justice issue. I don’t recall every detail of the story, but I remember that the conversation went something like this:

The woman wanted the pastor to be at the rally to lend his influence to her cause by his presence. He looked over his calendar and realized that he had a conflict, and so, as politely as possible, he declined. Not to be deterred, the woman accosted him with the sort of guilt-inducing conversation that people think should work especially well on ministers, of all people. She said, “How can you say you are a faithful minister when you will not set some time aside to come and march with our group for a cause which you yourself have agreed is just?”

The pastor thought this over and, perhaps appearing beside himself for a moment, said to her, “Ma’am, have you made any efforts toward starting a hospital in Nigeria?”

Somewhat put-off by the unexpected, subject-changing question, she stammered, “Well, no, but...”

He went on, “And have you taken part or helped organize volunteers for the ready-to-read program in our near-by low-income elementary school?”

“Again, no, but...”

“And how about our denomination’s extensive efforts to eliminate hunger in parts of Asia, have you been taking part in that effort?”

“No, no I haven’t, but that is beside the point!...”

“Ma’am, that is precisely the point. You did not invent good causes. We both know no one can be present to support every good cause on earth. For my part, I can only do what I can do. I must choose. The rest I leave to God. No one of us, nor any single church, will ever solve all the problems of humanity. That is a job for God’s own timing according to God’s own plan. The way this will be done is quite beyond our imagining. But long before you were born, people of the Church of Jesus Christ were hard at work eliminating poverty, fighting disease, battling illiteracy, crusading against injustice. And the Church of Jesus Christ will continue in this way long after both of us are gone. So, no, I cannot come to your rally, but I wish you well, and I will pray for you, and I trust that God will bless it if it is meant to prosper by God’s hand.”

As Christine and I prepare to depart with our small team for Kenya on the 25th, as others have participated and are participating financially and through prayer, we all know that our efforts will not eliminate all the problems of Kenya, or even all the problems of the small mission station to which we go. So the effort could appear, to cynical eyes, to be doomed from the start. What is the point? There will still be plenty of poverty, malnutrition, poor health and bad housing.

But of course, the purpose of any mission is not just housing, or healthcare, or providing food, and never was. Otherwise, people would be correct in thinking we are a bit “beside ourselves” for going there to do our little bit. The point moves beyond utilitarian do-goodism to the good word from God through Christ: As Paul declared, God reconciled himself to us through Christ, and has entrusted to us that message of reconciliation. We carry the word where we go and where we build that God loves people, and will stop at nothing to get that word communicated, even to the point of sending Jesus to die for us.

So we go, as Paul said, as ambassadors, allowing God to work God’s message through us. I recall a mission in which I was involved several years ago in Mexico, when a couple of men stopped their truck outside our worksight and spoke to me in 3/4 Spanish, 1/4 English to ask what we were doing. I told them, in the best Spanglish I could muster, that we were building a house. One of them looked at me, looked at our crew of unskilled youth and adults, our complete lack of power tools. It didn’t add up in his mind, you could tell. He probably thought, borrowing Paul’s term, that we must be “beside ourselves” to think we could accomplish anything useful with our pitiful crew. “¿Por quĂ©? (Why?)” he asked. I said, simply, “Para el amor de Dios (for the love of God).” He nodded his head up and down. The reconciling word was something he understood. They drove away.

Copyright © 2009 Robert J. Elder, all rights reserved

[1] Mark 3:21

[2] Thanks to Dr. Art Sundstrom’s sermon, “Speaking the Unutterable Word,” for ideas on reconciliation.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Abba: It Wasn’t Just the Name of a Band

copyright © 2009, Robert J. Elder
Trinity Sunday, 
June 7, 2009

Romans 8:12-17  
When we cry, “Abba! Father!”

I think I might have been showing my age when I came up with a title like the one for today’s sermon; that is, until I opened the New York Times not long ago and read an article titled, “While in Surgery, Do You Prefer ABBA or Verdi?”[1] Not that it’s all that pertinent to today’s message, but the article discussed the differing musical tastes of physicians populating operating theaters. For those among us who don’t connect the name ABBA with music, they were a Scandinavian band whose disco-style music was on the pop charts for an impressive 10 years from 1972-1982. They have been called the most popular musical group ever to come from Scandinavia, though I have to say, I don’t think there’s a crowded roster of contenders.

Now, if you still can’t recall who ABBA was or what their music sounded like, that could well be an advantage in understanding today’s scripture without getting distracted. I recall struggling through Bible studies and cofirmation classes with young people in the churches I served during the years of ABBA’s popularity. In those days, when we came to this word abba that both Paul and Jesus used for our Heavenly Father, the discussion inevitably would take a wrong-turn and there was no rescuing it from animated conversation about this or that song from what was then a popular band.

 So, I want you to know, if the word abba in Paul’s letter to the Romans distracts you with thoughts of a glittering disco dance floor, please remember that the name of the band was simply made up of the first letters of the first names of each of the four people in the band. Paul’s use of abba refers to an Aramaic word that Jesus employed when speaking of God. It was also a word that Jewish children would have used to address their fathers in a familial way, it could as well be translated “Daddy” as “Father.”

 When someone says to us, “We plan to treat you just like family,” would we be likely to respond, “Fine, do you mind if we drop by your attorney’s office in the morning to make sure that your estate planning has provision for me along with the rest of the family members”? Not likely! When someone wants us to make ourselves at home, it’s just a figure of speech, a manner of telling us they want us to be comfortable, to relax. There is little chance that they literally hope to adopt us into their family, to make us heirs along with their own children.

 At the beginning of today’s passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans 8, Paul called us brothers and sisters, which, after all these centuries, seems a natural enough way for church members to refer to each other. I remember a funeral director in Port Arthur, Texas who always referred to me as “Brother Elder,” as in, “Let’s have Brother Elder stand over here by the flowers.” And he wasn’t even a standard issue Southern Baptist, but a Lutheran, albeit a Texas Lutheran. “Brothers and sisters in Christ,” seems a gentle enough way to refer to those who are related to each other through their church affiliation.

 Even so, Paul was just getting warmed up with the family metaphor when he began by addressing us a siblings. He goes on to say that all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. I recall many Sundays throughout the course of my ministry when I held a child up before the congregation, saying, “See how the father loves us, that we should be called ‘children of God.’” It is a powerful claim to make, that we are the very children of our creator. I remember one little tike I baptized over 20 years ago who now stands at 6’6”, and plays basketball. I would definitely need help holding him up in front of a congregation today, but he is no less a child of God for that!

 Logically enough, this idea that we are God’s children leads Paul to the affirmation that if we are brothers and sisters, and children of God in the Spirit, then God is our abba, the old Aramaic word for “Daddy.” He tosses in the word, “adoption,” and then reasons that those who have been claimed as adopted sons or daughters can lay claim to the status of heirs. This means that somehow we have been entitled to an inheritance, since that is what being an heir is all about.

 Finally, comes the crowning declaration of this escalating use of familial language: “and if [we are] children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”

 This, then, caps the passage. Christ, whom we declare to be the only son of God, has effected our adoption so that we stand not under him, or near him, or slightly behind him on faith’s family tree, but right alongside, joint heirs, truly brothers and sisters not only with each other but with Jesus. Amazing! Christ has gone beyond our most fabulous experiences of human hospitality, treating us as family, as heirs on a par with those who are verifiable members of the family. Now there is someone who treats us like members of the family!

 Now, to back up a bit, what do you suppose Paul meant when he said we are children of God as we are led “by the Spirit of God”? How are we made into a family, exactly? This is Trinity Sunday on the church calendar, which is the traditional day for preachers to try to help their congregations make sense of the doctrine of the Trinity. That’s assuming preachers have made sense of it for themselves, which might be a pretty big assumption for some of us!

 Probably, most Christians are happy to talk about God having redeemed us through Jesus Christ and leave it at that. But Paul claims that the work of the Spirit brings us into the family of faith. God as Father, Son, Spirit, it gets confusing. Why can’t we just say God or Jesus and leave it at that?  I recall the memorable words of one theologian on this complicated matter of the Trinity: “We need to respond to God as [God has chosen to be revealed] — not invent simple ideas of God which, although much easier to believe, do not actually correspond to God."[2]

 It may be easier to believe in a God “up there,” and leave it at that. But if we do that for very long, while we may wind up with something religious-sounding, it certainly won’t be Christianity. The most basic of Christian affirmations is that God became human, became a person named Jesus, lived among us, and after he was crucified and raised from death, his followers continued to sense the presence and ministry of God among them. A God who is “up there,” beyond space and time cannot know us or become self-disclosing. We certainly cannot be said to be the children of such a God in any way. This would be a God who created but cannot redeem, bearing no resemblance to “the God who [is made] known to us through scripture, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and through Christian experience [in the continuing presence of the Spirit] — in short, [no resemblance] to the God of ordinary Christian piety and simple faith!”[3]

 When we talk about God, who are we actually talking about? The God about whom we share, week after week in this church, is the God who created the world we know, the God who claimed a people who came to know themselves as Israel, a God who helped to rescue them from enslavement in Egypt, who moved with them to a land of promise amid signs and wonders, a God who accompanied these people when they went into terrible and painful exile in Babylon, who inspired prophets to map the course of return to covenant faithfulness for them, a God whose messenger angel visited young Mary one night with the news that she was to give birth to a son, to name him Joshua – or Jesus, which meant “God saves,” because that is what Jesus would do. It is the God who then raised this Jesus from death when he was murdered. And announced the purpose in doing so, for “God so loved the world that God sent the only son...”[4] This same God has raised up in each generation new believers to carry the good news of the gospel, and in the process, lives have been changed, hospitals built, universities established, missions carried out, all in the name of the God about whom we speak.

 Now, when we talk about God, who are we talking about? When we say, “God,” hasn’t it become a shorthand way of saying all that we believe God has done for and among us? For Christians, isn’t the word “God” shorthand for “the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,”[5] and made preachers out of fishermen at Pentecost, but including all the rest, from “the one who brought Israel out of Egypt,” down to “the one who gives us strength to hope in life after death, even after we have watched death take away the ones we love”?

 When we say we believe in God the Abba, Son, and Holy Spirit, it is a shorthand way of summarizing the high points of salvation history, of God’s dealings with his people, of God’s mad lover’s quest for us.

  • If God were just a deity in heaven, we might be likely to think of God as a distant and far-removed creator of the world, like a general directing the front-line troops from the safety of a far-off bombproof bunker. But Christians know God isn’t like that. Christians believe in a God who is involved in our lives.
  • If God were just a “son,” a man namded Jesus, we would have to think of God as identical with a single human being. We would have to think of the eternal God as concentrated in a single person, like a billion gallons in a one quart jar. But Christians know that God just isn’t like that. Jesus wasn’t talking to himself when he prayed. The New Testament is most careful to insist upon a distinction between the Abba God and the Son.
  • If God were just “Spirit,” we would have to think of God as contained in our own experiences of the world. The Spirit inspires us, but beyond our own experience of the Spirit, and that of others we know or know of, we can’t say we know. To believe in a God beyond our own experience of him, we must believe in a creator, in God the Abba. And so, we cycle back to the beginning of the Trinity.

 Paul has affirmed that it is the Spirit of God that moves us to become fellow heirs with Christ. All three persons of the Trinity in one passage, at work in making us members of the family of faith, children of the God who created us. Understand the Trinity? We may never fully understand it, but then most families don’t fully understand each other. They just live together in love. As Augustine once wrote, “Wherever there is love there is a Trinity: a love, a beloved, and a spirit of love.”

Dear brothers and sisters, “it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” We’re all children of God. Welcome home.

Copyright © 2009 Robert J. Elder, all rights reserved

[1] “While in Surgery, Do You Prefer Abba or Verdi?”, by Daniel Wakin, The New York Times, June 10, 2006. 
[2]  “Making Sense of the Trinity,”  by Alister McGrath, Princeton Seminary Bulletin, 2/91, p. 2.
[3] Ibid. 
[4] John 3:16. 
[5] Romans 4:24.