Another thought on Mark
2009-09-28 by KAREN HUNDRIESER

Our sexuality needs liberating in order for us to be in healthier, God-called relationships - as couples and as community.

I believe we are also challenged to continue to create new rites of passage ceremonies/liturgies.





Our guest preaching blogger this week is
2009-09-28 by David Howell

The Rev. Karen Hundrieser. "I am a Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.  My parents were missionaries for 15 years - I lived all my teenage years in Nigeria, West Africa.  My first career was as a social worker - working with the homeless in various programs in Wisconsin.  I have an MTS from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  My call to ministry and my gifts are centered around 'hospitality'."



Hard Heartedness
2009-09-27 by KAREN HUNDRIESER

To quote Dan Dick's words in the Journal writings for this week (goodpreacher.com): "Sins come and sins go."  I grew up sure that divorce is sin.  I am divorced.  I never claimed to be perfect (only striving as a good United Methodist does), so I'm okay with that.  My wise mother told me to take the time to figure out what had gone wrong before jumping in again.  27 years later I'm still checking 'divorced' on all those silly forms.  What brings us to the place of divorce?  Hard heartedness. Not because a law was broken or because one party has "the" reason, the one that fits into a legally acceptable category, in order to ask for a divorce, but because of hard heartedness. 

Divorce does not separate two who have been joined.  They may feel ripped apart for a time, but they are not two separate beings as they were before the marriage/commitment, even if they never managed to become "one".  You never forget, that "other" is always there, good or bad, they are always a part of your life, part of your life's story.  Maybe separated legally, but not in many other ways.  Families are dishonored in the process, in Jesus' time and even now.  Things that you thought you could rely on are no longer.  There is a lot of pain in the acting out of hard heartedness.  (But still sometimes we have to go through with it, we have no choice.)  Like many others who have written on this, I agree that divorce is not sin, but hard heartedness most assuredly is.

Let's go back a minute - once again Jesus is being tested by folks who still haven't figured out that they're thinking/living on a different plane than Jesus.  They are concerned with the law.  Jesus is not.  Jesus is concerned with peoples' hearts and minds and attitudes.  Jesus is concerned with community.  Jesus is concerned with foundational things, going all the way back to creation.  Jesus' response says something about being made to be in partnership, in community, in friendship, in covenant with one another. 

And he also says that honor belongs to women as much as it does to men.  So does dishonor.

And he says, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."  This is one of those lines that most people have memorized from the marriage ceremony.  It intrigues me after mulling over James and community for some weeks.

What God has joined together.  My cynical self says that most marriages have nothing to do with God, but rather with hormones or money or something.  My other-extreme side says that God has brought everything together.  If that's true, then we are to separate nothing.  Not community.  Not marriage.  Not covenant.  There must be a middle ground and perhaps it is found in the answer to what is God's purpose for our being together, is there a purpose, and are we living that purpose? And the ultimate question, have we really been joined together by God?  Or does something else hold priority in our being together?

Let no one separate.  How have we prepared ourselves for this?  I wonder today how we have prepared people for marriage/commitment (from childhood on).  Does our partner/marriage counseling address our culture's false independence/individualism?  Do we help our children to be self-assured, confident and ready to disagree peacefully?  Can we love another or others who are different than we are? Can our relationships, our community deal with changes in economics in healthy ways?  How have we addressed our competitive ways which are bound to spill over into our relationships? What does friendship mean?  What are we doing about domestic violence on all levels? (October is domestic violence month)  Are we willing to listen to another's struggle in relationship and find ways to teach and nurture understanding and peace?  Can we do that also for our faith community - God certainly had a hand in bringing that together too...





Post-Sermon Reflection
2009-09-27 by David von Schlichten

Today I preached on the gopsel, focusing on the teaching that we are to cut out of our lives whatever causes us to stumble. I went on to proclaim that one attitude that causes us to stumble is that which excludes others from God and the Church. I encouraged people to be more inclusive, including with respect to themselves.

A fifteen year-old parishioner, Alex, told me that she thought the sermon was great. Hallelujah!

How did Sunday go for you?

Yours in Christ,

 David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlight; Rochelle, Stephen; Loving Politicians
2009-09-24 by David von Schlichten

"Preaching the Lesson": In Lectionary Homiletics Alyce McKenzie does an incisive job of helping us to appreciate the context of John's concern about outsiders using Jesus' name. She highlights the absurdity of John's exclusion and the stunning pulchritude of Jesus' inclusive response.

As I think on this passage and its stretching inclusivity, I turn to the homosexuality issue. While many are quick to declare that open gays can never be pastors, Jesus suggests otherwise. Even openly gay people can cast out demons in Jesus' name.

Thank you to Rochelle Stackhouse for her guest blogging and to Stephen Schuette for his usual helpfulness. Their work leads us away from competition among religious groups and toward drawing together to get done the work of the Church. Please scroll down to read their posts, and then add one of your own.

Politicians, Too? I live an hour from Pittsburgh, and our area vibrates with the excitement of the G-20 Summit. I find myself thinking about politicians, and how legions of us are quick to mock them, belittle them, stereotype them.

Is it not true, however, that even they can cast out demons in Jesus' name? Are we not too quick to dehumanize and exclude politicians as corrupt beyond hope? Does not Christ's shocking inclusivity demand that we be more inclusive toward this group that we Americans love to loathe?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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