Sermons by Rev. Douglas Donigian

Messiah

Messiah actually means “anointed”. This means having made a commitment to accomplish a mission during a ceremony in which oil is poured on the committers head. According to the Old Testament the Messiah’s mission was to free the people. Because Jesus did this, the word, Messiah, (or Christ) has remained a part of the name we use for Jesus. Because He is our example, we are also “anointed” to carry on His mission.

Holy One

Holiness has been described as something very personal. Often it is a set of avoidances. In Old Testament times holiness was sought by avoiding certain foods or contact with unclean things. In early Christian times it was sometimes sought by avoiding physical comforts or thoughts of physical pleasure. But Jesus gave holiness a completely different frame. Teaching that what a person says or how a person treats others is what defiles him while what he touches of eats does not defile him, he explained that holiness comes from positive action rather than personal sacrifice.

Teacher

Jesus was a special kind of teacher. I try to show this by comparing him to a college professor. To have a professor teach a student, the student must first jump through hoops, grades and recommendations and the like. Jesus accepts us with no prior accomplishments. The only qualification Jesus requires is that we ask. So also we teach and minister to others without demanding that they jump through hoops before we act.

A Witless Witness?

The ninth of the original “Ten Commandments” says we are not to bear false witness against our neighbor. This commandment had a specific original meaning. But Jesus reinterpreted all the commandments in ways and made them central to our lives today. Just so, the original application was to ensure that witnesses told the truth in legal disputes. Jesus extended the application to how we witness to our own faith and identity.

Water Is Not Your Friend

The seventh of the original “Ten Commandments” says we are to shun adultery. This commandment had a specific original meaning. But Jesus reinterpreted all the commandments in ways and made them central to our lives today. Just so, the original application was to demand physical faithfulness of wives in marriage and spiritual exclusion of all gods except true God. Jesus extended the application to mental faithfulness of marriage partners and exclusion of acts and beliefs contrary to God.

Jesus and the Father

The fifth of the original “Ten Commandments” says we are to honor our mother and father. This commandment had a specific original meaning. But Jesus reinterpreted all the commandments in ways and made them central to our lives today. Just so, the original application was to support the role of father or mother in leading the family. Jesus extended the application to families in which fathers and mothers are no longer able to lead.

Calves and Clouds

The first two of the original “Ten Commandments” say there is one God only and to beware of idols. These commandments had a specific original meaning that is still with us. But Jesus reinterpreted all the commandments in ways and made them central to our lives. Just so, the original warning against idols was against false descriptions of God, often including images and statues as well as deplorable practices. Jesus extended the warning to substitutes for God that may not be called “gods” but lead to deplorable practices nevertheless.