Oh, Come On Now, Every Knee?
2008-09-26 by Michael Usey

How universalistic is this hymn in Phil 2?  After all, every knee will bow and every tongue confess.  You can chalk those words up to hymnic hyperbole, but it seems to me to be great theology.  At some point, somehow, someway, all humanity will acknowledge that God alone is God, and that God was in Christ.  It’s a wild vision of hope, but what is implied (at least to me) is that every knee and tongue will be redeemed.  Is this to push the text too much?  If so, what is meant by every knee?  Which of us would want to put an asterisk by that (“* This does not include those in hell, Nazis, or those who voted for GWB a second term.  This offer not good in Vermont.”)?  My mentor Sam once commented that some of these knees might have to be broken to bow, but I think he’s wrong.  Knee-breaking is inconsistent with Jesus’ life and teaching, and is certainly not in the spirit of this passage.  If every means everyone, then implicit in this hymn is the vision and promise of universal salvation.  Christians might not believe in universal salvation, but it is beneath our dignity not to hope and long for it.  We who follow Christ should hope, pray, work, and long for every knee and every tongue to confess God and worship God in Christ.





Michael, Steve, Rosemary and "Lectionary Homiletics" Highlights
2008-09-25 by David von Schlichten

We thank Michael Usey for being our useful guest blogger, and we also thank Steve Schuette and Rosemary Beales for their contributions. It's great to see so many people in the tub.

Below are highlights from this week's articles in Lectionary Homiletics.

Theological Themes”

Carmen Nanko-Fernandez notes that the first child, by saying no to the father, actually commits the worse offense by publicly shaming his father. Nanko-Fernandez adds that, really, neither son accomplishes the father's will. In both cases, there is a disconnection regarding word and action.

Pastoral Implications:

Jaco Hamman provides a group of questions that can help us Christians to ponder and respond to the pericope. Some of the questions are: “How do you carry elements of both sons [ . . . ] in your person?” “What thoughts and feelings do you think the father has in response to his son's behaviors?” “How can you deepen your participation in the kingdom Jesus proclaims?” (p.75)

Sermon Reviews”

Tambi Brown Swiney recalls a compelling illustration from a sermon on this text by C. H. Spurgeon. A boy escapes from a burning house by climbing out of a window. He hangs from the windowsill, afraid of the fire but also afraid of letting go and falling. A man calls for him to let go. The boy does and falls into the safe arms of the savior. Spurgeon exhorts us to do likewise with Christ. “Don't cling to your sins or your good works [ . . . ] just drop into your Savior's arms” (p.76), Swiney writes.

I will not be preaching this Sunday, but I will be preaching for a wedding on Saturday. I will post that sermon at the cafe shortly. Soon I'll climb out of the tub, pruney but always fruitfully

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Sing, children, sing
2008-09-24 by Rosemary Beales

Thank you, thank you, for reminding us how important the hymns of our childhood are -- and that children want and need to sing! And they need to sing real music, with real content. As a chaplain for 400 children planning weekly chapels and always searching for material for class AND chapel, I have listened to a lot of CDs lately -- I should say portions of a lot of CDs, because much of the music presented for "kids" in worship is enough to make me lose my religion!

In class, each grade level has its own song - from simple chants like the African-American "Thank You, Lord," to the traditional version of "Day By Day." Our kindergartners sing "God is so good." My hope is that, even if they forget everything else, those words will remain. In fact, when I worked at a camp for children whose parents are in prison, one of the most troubled and violence-prone children fell in love with that song. She wrote many verses, and it became her mantra. I hope she is singing it still.

 





Kenotic Politics and Economic Crisis
2008-09-25 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to our bloggers for their contributions so far this week. I hope there will be more postings.

I find evocative the juxtaposition of Jesus' obedience in Philippians and Jesus' authority in Matthew. The two are intimate with each other, of course.

Paul calls us in Philippians to be like Christ, obedient to the point of self-emptying and holy enslavement. What if we judged presidential candidates on their ability to be obedient in such a radical manner?

Is postponing the debate to help resolve an economic crisis an example of such obedience, or is honoring the originial debate schedule while working on the economic crisis a better example?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Holy Space?
2008-09-24 by Steve Schuette

Maybe there's something to explore here in the irony...Paul's powerful, clear, faithful hymn sung in prison while Jesus encounters diversionary obfuscation in the temple.



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