The importance of the material.
2010-01-02 by Adam Grosch
Some final thoughts on John 1
The incarnation shows how important the material is. As we enter into this lectionary year, we will be following the gospel of Luke. It seems like Luke is harsh toward material things and wealth. I am sure my preaching from Luke over the next year will ruffle the feathers of those who have money in my congregation. They will hear many times over the “evils” of wealth and money. They will hear the evils of materialism. But if I start becoming too critical of the material, I hope someone in my congregation will pull me aside and ask me about the sermon I preached at the beginning of the year. This sermon for tomorrow where I will say that the incarnation means that the material is important.
I was hit by a description found in Barbara J. Campbell’s sermon found on here where she states that the incarnation is the “light which revealed the precious coin that had been lost.” What a wonderful material image! In her sermon she also talks about how the early Greeks thought the body was evil. The incarnation must have been a hard concept for the Greek Christians. Platonic thought no doubt made Gnosticism so popular. But the idea that our bodies and the other things of this world are evil and that the spiritual is good goes directly against the point of the incarnation. Our souls are not trapped by our bodies. Through the incarnation and ultimately the resurrection, Jesus redeems all that is good about the material and all that is good about being human - born of flesh.
Sermon for One Person
2010-01-01 by David von Schlichten
I posted at the cafe my sermon for this Sunday, which I wrote with one parishioner in mind. Tron (my pronoun for he/she) is going through a crisis and needs to make an important change but does not believe enough in tronself to do it. This sermon is to encourage tron, but I believe the sermon will help to encourage others, as well. Take a look, and let me know what you think.
Avoiding resolutions and embracing goals instead, I am
Yours in Christ in 2010,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
Adam Grosch; "Lectionary Homiletics" Highlight
2009-12-30 by David von Schlichten
Adam is our guest-blogger and offers helpful posts below, including one on John 1. Take a look.
Lectionary Homiletics Highlight:
A Sermon: "Star Light, Star Bright": Patricia de Jong reflects on the dark and cold of winter and ties in the movie Amistad in her proclamation of the light of Christ's coming. In answering her own question of how to come to the Light this year, she offers the following: by investing "in the rigorous discipline of community" (48); and by continuing to find ways to "let the light of the Gospel shine for all to behold and embrace" (Ibid.).
I have a parishioner who needs to make a major change but is afraid to do so. My sermon this Sunday will consider how God makes a huge change by becoming human; this change produces a saving-change in our relationship with God. This grace from God assures us that we face changes in our lives with Incarnation Strength.
Speaking of changes, I wish you a happy new year, ever
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
In the beginning was the Word....
2009-12-30 by Adam Grosch
Jesus is human and experienced a human birth. People get this. Kids are able to comprehend this pretty well. Perhaps too well.
Several years ago during vacation bible school, I was teaching the lesson to a variety of different age groups. The most theological group discussion ended up taking place in one of the youngest classes - the first graders. I asked the students in the class to name some of the things that God had created. This question came out of a lesson where I taught that God gives life to all living things and that God created everything in the universe. It was an easy enough lesson and an easy enough question that really could have no wrong answer. At least I thought. Then one of the students offered: God created his only Son Jesus when he brought him into the world.
As I was reading the prologue to John today this first grade class came rushing back to me. The kid's answer was a beautiful answer admidst many of the others that talked about their favorite material posessions. But actually, I had to stop their answering in order to tell them that actually, God's Son has existed as a person of the trinity since the beginning of time. When that person of the trinity took on flesh and was born in the person of Jesus - God entered into the world and while this was a new thing - the Son of God wasn't a new creation.
The conversation that ensued ended up pushing our class a few minutes late. I am not sure they got it. But I think they maybe got it better than I do.
John's point is that God who is fully revealed in Jesus has always been the same God. Father, Son, and Spirit have all been present since the beginning of time - we just didn't know this until the Word was made flesh and came to dwell among us.
The "other" Christmas Story (John 1)
2009-12-29 by Adam Grosch
Whenever we talk about Christmas we say that only two of the gospels offer to us the Christmas story. But I as I have been thinking about the meaning of Christmas and reading the gospel lection for this Sunday, I am wondering if John does not get to the heart of Christmas even more so than Matthew and Luke.
Christmas has always seemed to pale in comparison to Easter. The resurrection, after all, is the central point of the entire gospel. Without the resurrection, would we even celebrate the birth of Jesus? Christianity seems to hinge on Easter; and Christmas, a significantly less important holiday had been blown up by a capitalist society taking advantage of the reference to the men from the east coming and giving gifts to the baby Jesus.
This understanding seems accurate to me as people repeat the sentimental stories of the manger scene with shepherds, angels, and the magi. Christmas seems not much more than a nostalgic and sentimental holiday. As we sing “Happy Birthday Jesus” during the Christmas Eve Children’s service, the holiday seems to lose more and more credibility. Here we were celebrating the birth of Jesus – and only two of the gospel writers even bothered to mention anything about Jesus’ birth. Seemed to me the feeding of the 5000, included in all the gospels, is more significant to the gospel writer’s than Jesus’ birthday.
But as I was reading the other birth narrative, the one we find in John, God “hit” me with a “new” appreciation for Christmas. And when God “hit” me, it was a “duh” moment. And I felt really dumb for going all Christmas without thinking about it. It has been right there in front of me and is so obvious. I am sure everyone else sees it, but somehow I had missed it this year. I feel dumb – missing what seems to me now to be the central point of Christmas.
My “new” realization coming out of the first chapter of John is that Christmas is not really just about Jesus’ birthday. Sure it is this, but more importantly, Christmas is the time when we celebrate the incarnation. The incarnation meaning “the Word became flesh and lived among us, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth (v.14).” Christmas is when we give thanks to God and rejoice in the fact that God came into this world to live with us and as one of us. The incarnation celebrates the fact that the material and the bodily matter. Christianity is not just about the spiritual, but it is about the physical. God becomes someone we can touch, someone we can feel, someone who is physically real. The incarnation means that life on earth matters and that the earth matters. The incarnation means that God knows what it means to be human. And it is through the incarnation that we can know God. The incarnation is big. Like the resurrection, it is not easily understood and not easily grasped. It is giving me plenty to think about – much more than the simple manger scene and re-telling of Jesus’ birth.
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