08/18/13 Sermon (Blanco Canyon)

posted Sep 3, 2013, 11:42 AM by David Hawkins   [ updated Sep 3, 2013, 11:42 AM ]

(Note: These are the notes and outline for a sermon preached at Blanco Canyon)

08/18/13 Sermon (Blanco Canyon)

Scripture: Hebrews  11:29-12:2

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets -- who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two,1 they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented -- of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,1 and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of1 the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.


Sermon: “Paul Ricoeur and the Theology of Faith”

  1. Introduction: Crossing the wilderness

    1. What is Faith?
      1. Is Faith a noun?

      2. A State of being verb?

      3. Action verb?

      4. Is it the same for everyone?

      5. Is it the same all through your life?

    2. My experience at Seminary
      1. knowing

      2. not knowing

      3. trusting in my not knowing

    3. Paul Ricoeur and Spirituality
      1. Naivete

      2. Critical Distance

      3. Post-Critical Naivete

    4. Wlater Brueggerman

      1. Orientation

      2. Disorientation

      3. Re-orientation

    5. Old Testament

      1. Exodus

        1. Slavery

        2. Desert

        3. Canaan

      2. Isaiah

        1. Israel

        2. Forsaken

        3. Beulah Land

      3. Job

        1. Wealthy, Healthy thought he knew everything about God

        2. Lost everything

        3. Healthy, wealthy, knows that he doesn’t know everything about God

      4. Exile

        1. Kingdom

        2. Destruction of the Temple, Exile

        3. Return

    6. Gospels

      1. Jesus

        1. Baptism

        2. Wilderness

        3. Ministry

    7. New Testament

      1. Saul/Paul

        1. Saul as persecutor

        2. Road to Damascus

        3. Paul Apostle to the Gentiles

      2. Revelation

        1. The World as we know it

        2. The final Battle for the world

        3. The battle is won by Jesus

    8. Bible

      1. Living in the Garden

      2. Living in the world

      3. Living with God

  2. What is Faith?

    1. Faith is a journey
      1. from what we know

      2. through what we don’t

      3. to an expanded reality

    2. Another metaphor:
      1. home

      2. wilderness/desert

      3. Different home/Tent

  3. Discussion of the dative case

    1. to, by, for, with, in

    2. Pistei (in faith, by faith, with faith)

Scripture again: (The Message)

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
In faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.
In faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That’s what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice.
In faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.
In faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
In faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions.
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.
In faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him—and this after he had already been told, “Your descendants shall come from Isaac.” Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that’s what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar.
In faith, Isaac reached into the future as he blessed Jacob and Esau.
In faith, Jacob on his deathbed blessed each of Joseph’s sons in turn, blessing them with God’s blessing, not his own—as he bowed worshipfully upon his staff.
In faith, Joseph, while dying, prophesied the exodus of Israel, and made arrangements for his own burial.
In faith, Moses’ parents hid him away for three months after his birth. They saw the child’s beauty, and they braved the king’s decree.
In faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff. By an act of faith, he turned his heel on Egypt, indifferent to the king’s blind rage. He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going. By an act of faith, he kept the Passover Feast and sprinkled Passover blood on each house so that the destroyer of the firstborn wouldn’t touch them.
In faith, Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. The Egyptians tried it and drowned.
In faith, the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days, and the walls fell flat.
In faith, Rahab, the Jericho harlot, welcomed the spies and escaped the destruction that came on those who refused to trust God.
I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . . Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.
Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Put your track shoes on, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it.
Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

  1. Ending: What is faith?

    1. Faith is not certainty
    2. Faith is not a guarantee that everything will go the way we want it to.
    3. Faith is trusting in God’s imagination
    4. Faith is doing, without knowing what will happen next.
    5. Faith is living into the hope that whatever happens next, God is in it.
    6. Faith is knowing that others have faced the same fears that we have, and stepped into them, and because they did, we are able to come together and celebrate our love for each other and for God’s creation today. Let’s live in faith, and enjoy God’s presence among us, not just for ourselves, but for all those who came before us, and all those who will come after us. Thanks be to God. Amen