Ronnie's continuing exploration of the cross of Jesus arrives at what scholars call, "Christus Victor;" summarized best by Irenaeus, who was born not long after the first Apostles died, said: “[in Jesus] God came to Earth that he might kill sin, deprive death of its power, restore life and freedom to all humanity, and raise a monument of victory.” But this is not a stuffy, theological lecture. Ronnie uses contemporary examples to help us think about how the victory of Christ works itself out in the world today.
In his third installment of "Crosswords: How the Cross of Jesus Reveals the Love of God," Ronnie reaches for the oldest image Christian faith used to understand the death of Jesus. From the oldest Gospel, the words of Jesus himself: "The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom .” Ronnie explores how the cross "works" as a ransom, liberating us to live in freedom.
This is Ronnie's second installment of a series on the Cross of Jesus. It could be sub-titled, "Love and Scandal." Using provocative, contemporary examples, Ronnie talks about the "foolishness of the cross." From the talk: "Could you for a minute get your mind around the fact that a military and political prisoner, taken in the land of our enemies, and executed by the world’s superpower, is the hope for the world? Or would you find such a story to be so far out of bounds, that the only conclusion you come to is absurdity, stupidity, scandal?"
In what promises to be a thought-provoking, belief-behind series of talks, Ronnie has launched a series on the meaning behind the Cross of Jesus. In this introductory talk, Ronnie points to Divine Love as the energizing force behind the "sacrifice of Jesus." Ronnie says, "Jesus did not come to save us from God - but to show us who God is. So, whatever happened on that hill outside Jerusalem all those years ago, it wasn’t God torturing his Son. Love cannot do that. It wasn’t God committing an act of colossal child-abuse. Love cannot do that. It wasn’t God acting as a cruel and sadistic executioner; it wasn’t God’s attempt at redemptive violence. If God is indeed love, and love was the motivation that brought Jesus to the place of self-sacrifice on a cross, then love demands better answers."
In this conclusion of a two-part talk from Luke 4, Ronnie says: "We live in such an entitled, selfish, self-centered society, that when we begin to broach the subjects of concern and care for others, patient assistance, breaking the cycles of poverty and violence, intervening to help the 'least of these,' of intentionally taking sides with the weak - the very crux of what Christianity looks like when practiced publicly - it is dismissed as Pollyanna at best or Marxism at worst. I get it; I know how this game works. But we must also re-learn how the Gospel works."
In this first of two talks from Luke 4, Ronnie says: "When Jesus comes preaching about 'releasing the captives' and 'setting the oppressed free' and 'God’s good favor' coming to us, it is good news...so long as it us. But when come come to understand that Jesus' intent is to spread his grace to 'them," - not just 'us' - all those people we have spent our lifetimes being suspicious of, if not outright hating, then the good news may not sound so good after all."
After an interruption from a Covid outbreak at home, Ronnie is backwash his fifth year of podcasts! This talk, taking its title from Jackson Browne, is an appeal to look and see, to stop and listen, as God speaks to us in the Creation around us. Ronnie asks, "Have we grown so world-weary and tired that we have lost our vision? Have we grown so cynical and soured by the awfulness of what we humans do to each other, and how we act, that we can’t hear the beauty of Creation - thus we can’t hear God, if we are persons of faith? Maybe we need our eyes doctored and our ears opened to see and hear the goodness of God."
With what a listener called one of the "most provocative, thoughtful messages I've heard from him over the years," Ronnie talks about moving on - into the new year to come. Based on Isaiah 65, he encourages listeners to believe that "the ones who have been harmed, hurt, and battered in the past, are the very ones who will rebuild a future." Things may never go back to the way they were, but things will go on - and so will we.
PS - Ronnie credits the "provocative, thoughtful" nature of this talk to new doses of albuterol. :-)
WWHD? What Would Hilda Do?
Synthesizing the final Sunday of Advent with a remembrance of his dear friend Hilda McDonald, Ronnie plots a path to personal peace in spite of these chaotic times.
"Let's get this over with." That's what Elvis Presley said just before recording the now classic Christmas song, "Blue Christmas." In this talk Ronnie talks about how the holidays can have that exact effect on us, but how we can still find lasting joy for this season and beyond.