Author Archive for Steven Baird


Christ’s Resurrection and Us

Tomorrow we’ll be starting a new series about Christ’s Resurrection and what it means for us today. We’ll be approaching the topic in way that will engage everyone and we’ll be trying some new things to help get everyone involved in the discussion. So come prepared to engage. A central passage to this study is 1 Corinthians 15 so I’ve posted it below to give you a head start.

The Resurrection of Christ

Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

30 And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? 31I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,
‘Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.’
33Do not be deceived:
‘Bad company ruins good morals.’
34Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is* from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
55‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.


You Are Accepted

This past Sunday Jen read a sermon by a dead German-American guy, one of Paul Tillich’s most famous sermons, “You Are Accepted”. I have to confess, when I heard she was going to read a sermon from someone most people have never heard of, I was a little wary. But, I was pleasantly surprised.

[from JenTB now, because Steven’s uber-sick. Take a sec and remind God to take care of Steven and to take care of Jennie while she takes care of Steven.]

This upcoming Sunday we’ll spend some time discussing Tillich’s sermon, and his thoughts on the meaning and experience of “sin” and “grace.” Here are some questions to think about as we reflect on the sermon and our own experiences of sin and grace. I hope that our discussion will cover everything from the intellectual to the personal…so come prepared for, well, pretty much anything. 🙂

1. What do you think Tillich means when he says that the words “sin” and “grace” are “strange, because they are so well-known” (93)? Do you agree?
2. Tillich’s method for “rediscovering” the meaning of the “strange words” sin and grace is a process of introspection—in his words, to contemplate “the depth of our human existence” (93). How often do we do this? Is this a necessary part of the Christian life? How might we incorporate this kind of reflection into our lives more regularly? What are the different ways or strategies we might employ to lead ourselves into “that depth?”
3. Tillich also says that these words are irreplaceable, and substitutions—including his own!—fail (93). Do you think so? What “substitutions” or synonyms for “sin” and “grace” might you suggest? How do these other words change our understanding of the concepts of sin and grace? How does Tillich’s interpretation of sin as separation (94) shift or change our understanding of the concept of sin? How does the corresponding interpretation of grace as “reunion” (95) shift or change our understanding of grace?
4. What do you make of Tillich’s complaint that we should never use the word sin in the plural (94)? What do you think he means?
5. Does Tillich’s existential understanding of sin and grace seem overly individualistic to you? Why or why not?
6. Tillich’s uses Paul’s description of the experience of sin as an “alien power” to claim that sin results in separation, or estrangement, not just from others but from one’s own self (97). Have we too experienced what the apostle describes, and what Tillich talks about as estrangement from the self?
7. Tillich writes, “It would be better to refuse God and the Christ and the Bible than to accept them without grace” (99). What do you think that means, and do you think you might agree with that? Why or why not?

P.S. 8. Is Tillich depressing or encouraging to you? Just curious…


“On Vocation” Part 2

You may remember that just over a month ago Ehi spoke to us about his job, his faith, and the place where they intersect.  Jen blogged about that experience both here and at her personal blog.  What you may not know is that was the first part in what we hope will be a monthly series for some time to come.  This Sunday Gilda will lead us in part two of that series.  So come prepared to learn about what makes Gilda tick and the reasons she’s chosen to teach English as a second language in the NY City public school system.  I’m sure we’ll hear some of her frustrations, as well as her triumphs.  Be prepared to be touched and be ready to learn more about one of our members in a way that isn’t often presented in a normal church environment.


Learning to Feel God’s Presence

I don’t particularly trust my emotions, especially when it comes to things related to faith. I have a tendency to think faith is too important to be influenced by flip flopping feelings and ever changing emotions.  A lot of that has to do with my personality type. I’m an INTP on the Myers Briggs scale, and I’m heavy on the T and the I. Basically this means it’s easy for me to live inside my head. It’s easy for me to spend all my time thinking about minutiae and analyzing the world and my own thoughts. But I have a hard time just allowing myself to feel something without dissecting it and analyzing it until I can’t feel it anymore. About 6 months ago I was introduced to the African Bible Study at our Thursday night gathering on Hoyt Street. As we went around the room reading the passage and sharing our gut reactions my stomach was in a knot. I didn’t want to give my reaction because all I kept thinking was, “’What’s the context of this passage? Why are we only reading a few verses out of one book? This is stupid and I wish I could leave.” Then we got to the final section, the section of the study where you say. “From what I’ve seen and heard, I feel God wants me to….” I almost got off the couch and walked out of the room. That’s when I knew I needed to seriously work on myself when it comes to the discipline of meditation and listening to God.  I needed to spend some quiet time, not dissecting, but just being in God’s presence. That was six months ago, and I’m sad to say that I haven’t been completely successful, but I’ve slowly been becoming more comfortable making time to listen for God’s voice.

One resource that’s been particularly helpful to me for the past few weeks has been the Jesuit Media Initiatives “Pray as you Go” podcast. I haven’t been using it every day, but every time I’ve used it I’ve come away refreshed. It follows a simple formula that’s carefully designed to help you reflect and pray and listen. There is the opening call to prayer, followed by some music (usually chant), then the scripture for the day. After which there is some quiet time, and then questions for personal reflection. Then more quiet time, a repeat of the scripture, and time for some final reflection. The first time I listened to one of these podcasts I had the same reaction as the first time I participated in an African bible study. I thought it was hokey, but as soon as I let that go, it became a very valuable tool.

This Sunday, our service will be designed to help us mediate, feel, and listen.. We will be spending most of our time in the Book of Psalms. Our songs will be based on Psalms, our readings will be from Psalms, and even one of our prayers will be from Psalms. Then before Jeremy leads us in communion he’ll have us listen to one of the above mentioned podcasts. And as a group we’ll meditate, each to ourselves, but in the presence of community, and some of us will be comfortable, and some of us will be stretched, and we’ll all be lifted up.

Welcome to the Christ's Church for Brooklyn blog. We are a loving community of believers who seek to be the hands and feet of Christ, in service to our neighbors in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn and beyond.
July 2018
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