Sunday Worship Schedule
9:15 a.m. Children’s Sunday School
9:15 a.m. Adult Education and Fellowship
10:30 a.m. Worship and Holy Communion
Bethany Lutheran Church
3901-36th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Office hours: M-F 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The basic theological question to be examined today is the idea of Church, especially in the context of Lutheran understanding. Well, first off, I can tell you all the things that church is NOT:
as much as I love architecture and design, church is not a building. That’s the common understanding and usually the way we use it today- as in “Let’s go to church next Sunday”. This building- these pews, this spot on 36th Ave- is an envelope, but not the church itself.
The story of the Samaritan woman is a wonderful one, especially when it is contrasted with last week’s Gospel of Nicodemus. But I am going to pick up on a section of the second reading, from Romans, to talk about today- because I want to continue to get at some core ideas as we continue in Christianity 101. Today, I want to concentrate on the idea of suffering.
Romans 5, verse 3-5: And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
So how does one interpret this sentence? Does it mean that God manages our schedules, and difficult situations that occur are just part of the deal? Is hope the end result of a series of God’s training exercises for spiritual development?
Theology is the study of religious beliefs which have been systematically developed. That’s pretty dry, and so I am going to read from my old friend C.S. Lewis to explain what theology is all about.
Our lectionary reading from Romans starts to get into the subject of “justification”, but I would have to say this reading is a bit confusing. As Lewis pointed out, sometimes we need a map.
Last year, as an intern, I spent a week at Lord of Life church to experience church in a large setting. They gave me as a task the opportunity to do a presentation to the confirmation class, on Justification by Faith. Hmmm…. How to make that relevant? and understandable to such a group?