Sermon Thoughts for May 13, 2012 (Mother's Day; Ecofeminism; Gay Marriage)
2012-05-10 by David von Schlichten

Mother's Day: We tend to sentimentalize maternal love on that day, and maybe a little sentimentality isn't bad. At the same time, it is wise for us preachers to acknowledge that motherhood is far from ideal. However, God's love is ideal and always supports us, even when mothers (or any other human) fail us. God also supports the mothers themselves. Moreover, God offers loving care for women who want to be mothers but cannot.

We could even preach about God as Mother. God gives birth to us, teaches us, protects us, breastfeeds us.

Acts 10: Peter is surprised to see that the Gentiles have received the Holy Spirit. The Gentiles, like the Ethiopian eunuch of last week, are outsiders, yet the Holy Spirit comes anyway. What other outsiders does the Holy Spirit come to? How about members of the LGBT community, including those who are married? You bet the Holy Spirit comes to them.  

Psalm 98: Even nature is to praise God. Why? Because salvation is for ALL creation, not just humanity. Everyone is included. So then, if God cares for non-human nature, then we should, as well. 

John 15: We humans tend to love hierarchies, loving ranking people, yet Jesus softens a hierarchy by calling us, the disciples, not "servants," but "friends." Indeed, the vine image also softens hierarchy. Of course, the Father and Jesus are "higher" (vine grower and vine), but all Christians are branches (equally). And again, Jesus softens the hierarchy between God and humanity by calling us friends.

ECOFEMINISM: We revere mothers but still often treat women as inferior to men. We revere Mother Nature but still often exploit and desecrate her through drilling, fracking, mountaintop removal mining, and more. Jesus calls us to love one another, and loving one another demands, not this inconsistent reverence, but consistently treating mothers and nature--indeed, all--with true, durable, consequential love.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Sermon Thoughts for May 6, 2012; 5B Easter
2012-05-02 by David von Schlichten

Acts 8 and John 15

Ethiopian eunuchs. Deuteronomy 23:1 says that eunuchs are to be excluded from the community of believers, but the Holy Spirit decides to use Philip to include the Ethiopian eunuch.

Whom do we exclude? Sometimes we exclude disabled people because including them is logistically more challenging. We also exclude people whose appearance we find disturbing or whose behavior is odd.

Then there is the likelihood that the eunuch is black, and he most certainly is a foreigner. Yet he is included, and so he should be.

John 15: We are all branches. We members of the Church are equals, and it is not our job to decide who gets lopped off. Once again, we're focusing on inclusivity.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Sermon Thoughts for April 29, 2012; Good Shepherd Sunday
2012-04-25 by David von Schlichten

Acts 4: Peter is before the council because he taught about Jesus. Unlike Gospels-Peter, Acts-Peter is poised, confident, wise -- a strong leader. He does not back down before his opposition but proclaims the truth.

We, also, are not to back down before opposition, before wolves or hired hands or robbers. How do we serve as shepherds who are also sheep to THE Shepherd? How do we stand strong in the face of opposition?

What is our opposition? People who say that religion is just a crutch for the masses can be opposition. The appeal of secularism can be, as well. So can hedonism, the obsession with buying stuff, making sports into a religion. What is the opposition?

How does the Shepherd empower us against the opposition? Christ sends us baptism, Bible, prayer, holy communion, forgiveness, each other.

Imaculee Ilibagiza was a young Rwandan Tutsi when the genocide broke out in April of 1994. She hid in a pastor's three-by-four foot bathroom for about 90 days with seven other women. Ilibagiza eventually wrote a book about that horror and travels the world telling people about it. She says that prayer and focusing on God's grace got her through that long night.

Christ the Shepherd led her through the opposition. The Shepherd does likewise for you and me.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator  





Sermon Thoughts for April 22, 2012; Earth Day and Easter
2012-04-18 by David von Schlichten

Jesus Christ redeems, not just humans, but all of creation. Moreover. in our reading from Luke 24, the writer emphasizes that Christ is not just a spirit but a physical being. Thus, the passage reminds us that the physical, including the natural, is not evil. The dichotomy between the spiritual and physical is false.

The natural realm, including our own bodies, is good, even though it is fallen, and it is lifted up from its fallen state through Christ. Therefore, it makes sense to honor Easter by doing, among other things, that which helps to care for the planet.

Christ brings new life to all of creation through the resurrection, and we are to pattern our environmental efforts after the resurrection. Reduce, reuse, recycle a la resurrection.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Thomas and More
2012-04-11 by David von Schlichten

Yes, yes, there's doubting Thomas, although, if we examine Thomas as he appears throughout the gospel of John, he's not really much of a doubter. In John 11, he is all set to die with Jesus. In John 14, he asks Jesus how they can know the way to the place where Jesus is going. Not much doubting in either case. He may be a little confused, but his faith seems in tact.

There's much more for the Sunday after Easter besides Thomas.

Acts 4: Biblical socialism anyone? Now there's an intriguing message to preach.

1 John 1 speaks of how, if we say we have no sin, we are just kidding ourselves. Denial. If we confess our sins, though, God will forgive us. It would be nourishing to preach on denial, acknowledgement, and the healing that comes with confession.

John 20 has way more in it than Thomas. We have Jesus giving us Peace. What is this peace? What does it look like? How do we live it? What does it do for us? Hmmm.

The disciples also receive the Holy Spirit in this passage. Who says we can only preach Pentecost on Pentecost? With the Holy Spirit comes the ability to forgive sins or to withhold forgiveness. There's forgiveness again.

What are you thinking of preaching on this Sunday?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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