Marked as God’s Own Forever

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: Ephesians 1:11-14 In him you also . . . were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. (v. 13 NRSV) The words flew like a dart to the heart. “You are marked as God’s own forever.” So said my wife, an ordained RCA minister, as she read the liturgy when each of our daughters was baptized. In baptism we are marked as God’s own forever. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, our comfort in life and death …

God the Grace-filled Gatherer

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: Ephesians 1:1-10 He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (vv. 9-10 NRSV) The scope of Paul’s vision here in Ephesians is vast. Included in this mind-bending description of God’s loving will is nothing less than the gathering or uniting of all things …

Homecoming after Exile

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: Isaiah 54:1-10 But my steadfast love shall not depart from you. (v. 10 NRSV) One cultural observer describes life today as “coping with the flux.” Our age is characterized as a time of ever accelerating change, motion, flux. Everything seems up in the air. All the familiar landmarks seem gone or only vaguely perceivable. We are living in a kind of exile. One form of this contemporary exile is a sense of rootlessness. In the poignant words of one …

Rivers and Trees

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (vv. 1-2) The Bible begins and ends with rivers …

Tree of Life for All

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: Acts 10 They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day. (vv. 39-40) What a remarkable story. Cornelius was a captain in the Roman army. A devout non-Jew, he feared God, gave alms, and prayed continually. And he paid attention to the angel who visited him, and so sent three people to find someone named Simon Peter in Joppa. Meanwhile Peter has had a mind-boggling vision that revolutionizes his …

The Cross

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: John 19:1-25 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24) The story of the Passion is soaked in blood. Jesus is flogged, a crown of thorns is pressed into his head, he is repeatedly hit in the face, he is demeaned and humiliated, and then he is put to death by the cruelest means of capital punishment, at a place called The Skull. Sometimes lost in this horrific story is the image of …