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Blog Archives: January 2014 — December 2014

Praying for the Church

December 30, 2014
Chris Castaldo
As I consider the upcoming year with its various challenges and opportunities, there are many people, organizations, and issues in need of prayer. Reflecting on the full corpora of these needs, one identifies a common thread. Whether it pertains to individuals bereft of spiritual life, those who are ill, the needs of our nation, or suffering in the world, the solution to each of these maladies exists in the resurrected Christ, and the manifestation of Christ in the world—his Church. Therefore, in the interest of serving the needs of the ...

Grace and Truth this Christmas

December 23, 2014
Chris Castaldo
In this Christmas season, our attention is drawn to the reality of Jesus’ incarnation, even as John records it: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). With a balance that can only be described as perfect, our Lord embodied these virtues in full measure. In every conversation and situation our Lord responded with complete grace and truth, refusing to allow a humanly engineered wedge to be driven between them. As men and women whose ...

The Peace of Christmas

December 17, 2014
Chris Castaldo
How does Christmas contribute to peace? The Church univocally confesses that it comes through the babe in the manger whom we call Lord. This is the bedrock on which true peace is established. But in what way is Christian peace ‘spread to all the earth abroad’ in the midst of our conflicted world? Before reflecting on the question, let’s consider an example from history. Friar Antonio de Montesinos was a member of the Dominican order and served on the island of Hispaniola, which the Spanish had claimed as their first colony in the Americas ...

Your Kingdom Come

December 10, 2014
Chris Castaldo
In preparation for this Sunday’s Advent sermon, which will examine the significance of Jesus’ kingship, I am astounded by the massive number of truths that the New Testament associates with God’s kingdom. In particular, I am struck by Jesus’ statement in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). I find myself asking the question: for what kingdom am I living? To what extent are my affections invested in the kingdom of personal achievement over the kingdom of Christ? It is a valuable question to ponder. One way to gain insight ...

The Love of God

December 03, 2014
Chris Castaldo
During this Advent season, we find ourselves exposed to a host of biblical themes. Whether it is in the melody of a Christmas carol, a holiday commercial, or an unexpected popup-window championing the joy of gift giving, it is remarkable how much publicity is dedicated to promoting Christian virtues. Above all, perhaps, we hear the importance of extending love. Such conversation, however, raises a question concerning the proper meaning of “love.” For insight into the essence of Christian love, we benefit from the preaching of Charles H....

What is Advent

November 26, 2014
Chris Castaldo
Advent is a time for looking up… with joy at the night sky, imagining what it must have been like to see the Bethlehem star, marveling at the heavenly expanse and knowing that God came down. Advent is a time for looking down… to search our hearts and thank God for the Spirit who abides there, asking the Lord to kindle anew the flame of our faith. Advent is a time to look around… giving and receiving gifts of love with friends and family, to be the hands of God that reach out to the world. Advent is a time to look forward… the new year ...

Thanksgiving to God

November 25, 2014
Chris Castaldo
The 1965 film classic, Shenandoah, features a memorable and outlandish prayer. With his eight children seated for dinner, the father, played by James Stewart observes, “Now, your mother wanted all of you raised as good Christians. And I might not be able to do that thorny job as well as she could, but I can do a little something about your manners.” After a forgetful and now convicted son removes his cap, Stewart then leads them in a thoroughly ungrateful prayer: Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested. We cooked ...

Encountering God

November 19, 2014
Chris Castaldo
This weekend is my first exposition as lead pastor at New Covenant Church. How does one choose a text when the whole Bible is open before him? I have, however, made a choice. It’s a marvelous text that elucidates the central commitments of our evangelical Christian faith: God’s majesty, human weakness, the wonder of redemption, and the calling for men and women in Christ to take the good news to world. The text is Isaiah 6:1-8. Lest I steal my own thunder (to whatever extent I bring the thunder on Sunday) I would in this week’s Pondering ...