Openly Gay Pastors
2009-08-29 by David von Schlichten

My denomination, the ELCA, recently voted to allow openly gay people to be ordained, thanks be to the Holy Spirit. At the Sermon Feedback Cafe I posted the sermon that I will preach to my largely conservative congregation on August 30. Let me know what you think.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Appreciation
2009-08-29 by David Young

I want to thank David and all the folks at GoodPreacher for allowing me the opportunity to share with you this week. It has been a lot of fun. 

I also want to say that I appreciate all of the preachers who are making every effort to proclaim the gospel with integrity, courage, creativity, and faithfulness.  It is always humbling, educational, and encouraging to be around my colleagues.  I respect you all so much for engaging the "burdensome joy of preaching" (not my words, but those of a preaching book whose author escapes me in the moment). 

Please know that you all will be in my prayers this weekend.  Thanks for listening and I pray God's life-giving blessing upon you, your life, and your preaching ministry.

Shalom,

Dave   





Dave Young
2009-08-29 by David von Schlichten

We thank guest blogger Dave Young for his comprehensive and sensitive postings. We also thank others who contributed. It is exciting to have so much splashing in the tub.

I am especially appreciative of the thoughts on both health care reform and homosexuality. We are indeed called to care for all in need, especially the poor, and we are to strive to get along as the one Church, even when we disagree over issues such as the ordination of openly gay people.

My denomination, the ELCA, has just voted to allow openly gay people to be pastors. This decision will cause division, but my prayer is that we ELCA Lutherans can disagree but still remain together and that we can disagree in a loving manner.

I conclude by giving thanks for the life of Ted Kennedy and praying that we pastors will be a persistent and loud voice for health care reform that will result in widows and orphans and all people receiving the health care they need.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Health Care
2009-08-28 by Stephen Schuette

With Ted Kennedy and health care both in the news here's a story that connects the two...

Sen. Ted Kennedy's son, Ted Jr., was diagnosed with cancer at age 12, and his leg was amputated.  Blessed with health care through the Senate, Sen. Kennedy encountered other families whose children were in treatment for cancer, families who sacrified everything, including their own homes and all their financial resources in order to provide treatment to their children.  He calls it a "searing" memory.  The 4:19 minute YouTube video Ted Kennedy on Health Care tells the story in his own words.





Spending time with James
2009-08-28 by David Young

This morning, for devotions, I spent some time with the lesson from James 1: 17-27.  I think that it offers some thought-provoking fodder for the preacher to consider.

Verse 17, "Every generous act of giving ... is from above."  I've already spoken to this earlier, but again I would share that it offers us a opportunity to consider our view of who God is ultimately for us.  This verse reminds me of words from "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" when they are talking about Aslan.  One of the children asks if Aslan is safe.  From what I remember the quote was along the lines of this ... "He is not safe, but he is good."  A sermon could really delve deep into the question of what it means for us if we understand God to be good in all things?  How does this address the theodicy question?  What does this say about our choices, our decisions in relatinoship to God's purposes and God's desires? 

Verse 19, "... let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness."  I could see the preacher focusing on these words as wisdom for moments of conflict, but perhaps especially in those congregations dealing with the aftermath of the ELCA policy decisions.  In keeping with John's article regarding Health Care and next week's lectionary offering from Mark, I could see this being preamble for addressing those issues.  There is great wisdom in listening first.  And the question we must always pose is this ... are we willing, ready to listen?  To God, to others, to Scripture, to those with whom we disagree?  To whom DO we listen and why?  All these questions could be helping in shaping a sermon on what it means to listen to the other.

Verses 22-24, "... be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are heares of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in the mirror; for they look at themselves, and on going waway, immediately forget what they look like."  As I stated in earlier posts, I am not one who wants to place undue emphasis on "doing" except within the context of response to what God has already done.  My preaching professor in seminary always taught us to "make God the subject of active verbs."  I don't know if this was unique to him or if he picked it somewhere, but it certainly stuck with me.  My emphasis is always first on what God does and then our response to it in faith and trust and grace. 

That being said, I do believe that the words from James here suggests that we will forget ourselves without tangible effort on behalf of the other.  I find this really thought-provoking.  We are called to be "doers of the word" not so much to achieve something as to remember something about ourselves.  As we serve those in need, as we offer forgiveness, hope, mercy, and grace in this world, we experience living relationship with God and are therefore reminded of our truest identity.  The latter part of this text - verse 27 - echoes this as well, defining true religion as that which serves.

I always, perhaps to a fault one could argue, express our relationship to God in Christ as "Because ... Therefore", because of what God has done, is doing, and continues to do for us in the work and grace of Christ and the gift of the Spirit, therefore we are called to response and live out of response to the love and grace shared freely and without condition.  This will certainly shape my theolgical spin on any text, particularly one like we have from James today. 

Many blessings friends!

Dave 





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