Au Revoir to Anna
2008-11-20 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Anthony Bailey for being our guest blogger this week. We look forward to seeing him again at the Festival of Homiletics. Please scroll down to read Anthony's posts, as well as a contribution from Stephen Schuette.

This week we have the last "Preaching the Lesson" article from Anna Carter Florence, at least for now. Thank you to Dr. Carter Florence for your incisive and humorous contributions. You have been illuminating and luminous with your astute creativity. We look forward to seeing you again at the Festival of Homiletics.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Not for Reward; For Joy
2008-11-18 by Stephen Schuette

Notice how the sentence is run on.  It depicts a hunger-quenching, drink-giving, stranger-welcoming (Deuteronomic hospitality), naked-clothing, sick-nursing, prisoner-visiting person who is completely unconscious and un-self-righteous about their actions.  By contrast the opposite is equally powerful in its ugliness.  One side protests that they are unaware of doing anything right while the other protests that they did nothing wrong.  The judgment of both grace and punishment, strong as they are, are virtually overwhelmed by the unassuming naturalness and the defensiveness.

A visitor to a cholera ward taking in the stench turns to the nurse and says, “I wouldn’t do this for a million dollars.”  The nurse replies, “Neither would I.”





It's About the Nations, Stupid
2008-11-17 by Anthony Bailey

Psalm 100, Matthew 25: 31-46

It’s always been about the nations with God; the people of all the earth. God’s covenant in Genesis is made with all Creation. Authentication code: Rainbow. God’s call to Abraham and Sarah is about being a blessing to all the “families of the earth”. God’s choice of Israel as a “chosen people (nation)” is all about being a light and a blessing to all the nations and peoples. And when Israel got too uppity and forgot their covenantal mandate and purpose for being, this God is not beyond being heard to proclaim, (regarding the seminal redemptive act in Israel’s salvation history – exodus)

“Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel?” says the Lord. Did I not bring up Israel from Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir? Amos 9:7

In other words, God is committed to “Exodi” (to borrow a term from Walter Brueggemann) for other nations as well, not just Israel.

 

In Psalm 100 all the earth is enjoined to praise God. One hundred and fifty times in the Jewish psalter, the nations are summoned to “Praise the Lord”. As we have learned in the covenantal, prophetic and legal dimensions of Israel’s salvation history, there is no separation to be made between praising God and executing justice for the people in the land, particularly the widows, orphans, aliens and poor.

 

With God, it’s always been about the nations. It is no wonder then that in the Matthean reading the nations are hauled up before the Son of Man. Judgment is coming for the nations, because in many ways the security, vitality and justice God desires for human life rises and falls with the actions, attitudes, laws and practices of the nations in which people find themselves, ergo, the precipitating factors and consequent fallout of our present economic meltdown.

 

That the “sheep” nations and the “goat” nations did not know that they were respectively serving  and ignoring Christ in the hungry, thirsty, estranged, naked, ill and imprisoned ones, is not an excuse for the governments, churches, neighborhoods, and  individuals within those nations not to be vigilant and activistic.

 

For me, both sets of nations are judged oblivious to the presence of Christ because of their particular preoccupations. The “sheep” nations are preoccupied with faithfully but “un-self-consciously” fulfilling their purpose for being; namely securing the well-being of all, especially those marginalized on the edge of life, and correcting injustices as they emerge. For these nations it is who they are and what they do.  It is a matter of course. For the “goat” nations, they too are preoccupied, but it is with pursuits that ignore the plight of those who are hurting, and no doubt pursuits that in and of themselves cause a lot of the pain and suffering.

 

The judgement in this extended metaphor – for this text is not really a parable – is meant to disclose and to propel us in the direction of God’s saving purposes in the world. You see, now we know, we have no excuse. Christ is in the so-called discarded of society and we need to seek the power of Christ’s Spirit to challenge ourselves and our nations to get with God’s program. That is the way it is suppose to be, that is our mandate, it is the way of Jesus and God is dead serious about this. No more excuses about not having seen or not having known.

 

Anthony Bailey

                               

 



Our guest lectionary preaching blogger this week is
2008-11-16 by CJ Teets

The Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey. Originally from Barbados, he resides in Ottawa, Canada, where he is the coordinating Minister of Parkdale United Church. He has served as mission personnel in Kenya and in Kingston, Jamaica. He has taught at McGill University and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. In Ottawa he teaches at the Lay School of Theology and is an occasional sessional lecturer at Queen's Theological College in Kingston, Ontario Canada.
Along with Grace Imathiu, he will emcee the Festival of Homiletics in Atlanta in May. Grace and Anthony will also preach that week.




Joyful Anticipation
2008-11-14 by David von Schlichten

Thank you, Marcia, for underlining the joy-over-fear in passages such as 1 Thessalonians. People tend to focus on the fear; we need to boldface the joy. Thanks.

Readers, scroll down to read our guest blogger's other contributions for this week, as well as contributions from other bloggers. There is much here to help with sermon preparation.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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