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Spirituality

Jesus loves me

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Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) is often regarded as the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century. Some have called his body of work "a theology of the Word."

He exercised profound influence on other 20th-century figures, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jürgen Moltmann and John Updike. Barth actively opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, and vigorously attempted to prevent the Nazis from establishing a state church.

Church institutions have to continue to change through our experience of Jesus

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As I was reflecting on these Scripture lessons during this past week, I was reminded of a book that I had read quite a long time ago that had left a great impact on me. It's called Jesus Before Christianity. In other words, before there was a structured, organized, institutional church, in the very beginning -- Jesus before all that organization took place. It's written by a Dominican theologian priest, Fr. Albert Nolan.

One in Christ

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In the small cliff-side village of Frías in northern Spain, visitors are welcomed by the aroma of steaks, chops and sausages being grilled on a bed of dead but still intertwined grapevines. The vines that once yielded rich, juicy grapes on terraced hillsides are now, even in death, attesting to their unity and usefulness. They impart a unique flavor to whatever is cooked on them and burn much more cleanly than charcoal or wood.

Do we have the mind, the heart, the attitude of Jesus?

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In our first lesson today, we have an incident that shows how the first disciples of Jesus were beginning to carry out the work of Jesus. If you think about it, you can really imagine how distressed those officials in that courtroom must have been, how upset. They thought they had killed Jesus. What's this? Now people are going out now and in his name -- that is, with his power -- acting as he did. They're continuing to do the same thing he did.

In his name

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It happens to everybody at some point. You do someone a good turn, and you get in big trouble for it. Today, we hear Peter defending himself before the guardians of orthodoxy. Poor Peter is accused of healing a crippled beggar in the name of Jesus. (See the whole account in Acts 3-4.) As the story goes, Peter's responses culminate with the question of choosing whether to obey God or men, even -- or especially -- when the men claim the sanction of religious authority.

We need unconditional love, forgiveness at every level in our lives

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Obviously, once more as we listen to these Scripture lessons this morning, we become aware and perhaps begin to feel again somewhat of the excitement and the joy that those first disciples felt when Jesus went through death to new life. They found it very difficult to believe this, and I think sometimes we fail to experience the fullness of joy of this Easter feast because we almost take it too much for granted. "Yes, Jesus rose from the dead; let's move on." No. It's so much more important to stop and really try to experience what those first disciples experienced.

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