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The Jesus Map

Part VI of “Romans: The Road Less Traveled.”

Romans 9:1-11:36

silk mapAs someone who is trained as a historian, one of the things I love to look at is old maps. I talked about this a couple of sermon series ago when I said while GPS is great technology, there’s really no substitute for the context of a map. When you don’t have one, that’s when you realize that you really need it.

One of the coolest types of maps in history were the silk maps that were carried by pilots and airborne troops in World War II. Developed by the British and adopted by the Americans and other Allied forces, these maps were made primarily to aid in escape and evasion when a pilot or trooper found himself behind enemy lines. Unlike a paper map, which was subject to tearing or water damage, and made a lot of noise when unfolding it, the flexible, waterproof, silent nature of the map made it easy to use and easy to hide if one got captured. You could stick in the hollow sole of a boot, or stuff it in a cigarette case. Many pilots had the maps sewn into the lining of their flight jackets.

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The Road to Victory

Part V of the series “Romans: The Road Less Traveled.”

Romans 7:1-8:39

super bowlWell, after two weeks of hype, the Big Game is finally here. It’s especially interesting this year, of course, because the Broncos are in it and most us of will be tuned in this afternoon to watch the game, or at least to watch the commercials.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play in a game like that—millions and millions of people watching. Eternal glory and immortality are on the line for the winners, while the losers will forever wonder about what could have been. In a game like this, every play is magnified and analyzed incessantly; replayed endlessly on highlight reels on ESPN and the NFL Network. And when the video plays 20 years from now, you want to be the guy who made the game breaking play, not the guy who made the big mistake. One momentary lapse in focus can make all the difference.

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The Road from Egypt

Part IV of the series “Romans: The Road Less Traveled.”

Romans 5:1-6:23

Baptism Certificate-clipI was digging around in my office at home this week (always making room for more books) and I came across my baptismal certificate. I was baptized on September 13, 1964 at the tiny Presbyterian Church in Tunnelton, PA—my grandparents’ church. The elder who held me at my baptism was my great uncle Joe, and the other witnesses were Alice Long (who became my Sunday School teacher when I spent time there in the summers) and Nathaniel Nesbitt, who was old enough to have had a grandfather who served in the Civil War.

When I looked at the certificate, however, I noticed that they put down the wrong birthdate for me. I was actually born in December of 1963, but the certificate mistakenly says I was born in December of 1964 (though I wouldn’t mind being 49 again) which means, according to the certificate, that I was actually baptized before I was born.

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Abraham – The First Traveler

Part III in the series “Romans: The Road Less Traveled.”

Romans 3:21-4:25 

packingWe continue our road trip through Romans today, and whenever I think of a road trip, the first thing that always comes to mind for me is, “What needs to be packed and how will we pack it?” I’m pretty sure that I have some mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that gets aggravated whenever it’s time to pack for a trip. There are weather reports to be consulted, itineraries to be evaluated, space considerations for both the suitcase and the car. Everything needs to be laid out, and I tend to drive my family crazy with my packing and repacking of the bags in order to get the optimal configuration for travel. And it’s not like I can figure this out once and remember it, make a list, etc. No, I go through the same frantic conundrum every time, trying to figure out how to organize all these different pieces and parts into a cohesive whole. I’m guessing many of you think about this in the same way. It would be great to have an organizing principle to help put it all together.

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Exchanging the Glory

Part II of the series “Romans: The Road Less Traveled.”

Romans 1:18-3:22

anglican baptismI saw an article pop up on Twitter this week that said that the Church of England is trying out a new baptism service that drops all mention of the devil and sin. Among the phrases abandoned are those referring to “the deceit and corruption of evil”, “the sins that separate us from God and neighbor”, and a promise to “fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ against sin, the world, and the devil.” Instead of that specific language, baptizands or parents make a broad pledge to “reject evil.”

The idea, according to the Church of England, is to provide a baptism service that uses more “culturally appropriate and accessible language” without words that “don’t resonate with the knowledge and experience of parents and godparents who aren’t regular churchgoers.” It’s a trial liturgy that will be tested until April.

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