Initial Thoughts for October 23, 2011
2011-10-16 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Dr. Dee Dee Haines for her reflection that she posted below. She has helpful words regarding Moses. Scroll down and dive in. I especially value her thought that we tend to think of God in ways that are too small. We undersize God, don't we?

Exodus 34: The death of Moses. It seems unfair that Moses does not get to enter the Promised Land. I know he made a mistake, but come on. He's MOSES. For him not to enter the Promised Land strikes me as too severe.

Then again, maybe it's better for the people if they have to enter the Promised Land alone. What do you think?

Leviticus 19: We are to be holy because God is holy. Profound. God is holy, so we need to step up. Fortunately, God enables us to do that and forgives us when we fail.

What does this holiness look like? What does it mean to live in a holy way? What does holiness look like when, say, you're sitting at a traffic light?

Psalm 1: We are to delight in the law of the LORD. Delight in laws. We generally don't think of following rules as a delightful activity. And yet . . .  

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8: Pure, gentle motives. What are our motives for comig to church, helping people in need? Most of us have mixed motives. How do we purify our motives, and are mixed motives necessarily bad?

Matthew 22: The two greatest commandments. We are to understand all other biblical ethical teachings in light of these two commandments.

I think of the whole homosexuality debate. One person would say that it is more loving to exhort homosexuals to abandon their "sinful" ways, but I say that it is more loving to accept homosexuals as they are. How do we determine what is the most loving thing to do?

Feel free to email me your thoughts or to submit them for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





All that Glitters is not Gold
2011-10-13 by Dee Dee Haines

While Moses is absent, the people panic.  They have already declared that he must speak to God for them because they are unable to negotiate this relationship on their own. “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19) 

We might conclude that the Golden Calf idolatry is preceded by the idolatry of self, and of Moses.  Always eager to firstly meet their own needs, the people seem to have a disproportionate dependence upon their leader.  Perhaps in their minds he is more than a mouthpiece.  Perhaps their saving faith is not in God, but in God’s servant. When he is no longer in sight, they are quick to fashion a replacement.

 

In the Golden Calf drama, the people go through the remembered motions of worship, but their worship is empty.  They embody ritualistic movement, but there is no heart, no relationship, or connection to this monument that they have built to themselves. The focus of their worship is an object---not the Spirit of God that brings life to a ritual whose purpose is ultimately to point to God.  The feasting and wild party (translated as an orgy in some interpretations) illustrates their bent state of mind.  Insecure as they are, perhaps they are trying desperately to fill what they experience as a great void?  The Golden Calf is the product of some their most valuable possessions and creative capabilities, but the whole re-enactment rings empty, and false.  All that glitters is not gold. 

 

The people seem to be almost infant-like in their understanding of God, and God’s servant.  They sound like young children who cry when a mother moves out of sight.  They need constant guidance and reassurance of God’s love.  Even Moses desires more of God than God is willing to show. 

One of the most fundamental differences between a human and God is the ability of God to see the Whole of Creation.  As humans, we are only able to see a part. 

 

Maybe there is something about God that cannot be experienced or comprehended by humanity.  Perhaps the words, “...you will not see my face---no one can see me and live” is an indication of the inability of humanity to comprehend the fullness of God’s identity.  What happens to us when we are consumed by ‘capturing’ something that is beyond us? Does God place a boundary so that Moses will cease his efforts to capture what cannot be fully captured by the human mind? In the end, Moses is gifted with just a glimpse.

 

Could it be that in our contemporary mode of thinking that we have imagined God as too small?  Has our own culture and church tradition domesticated God to fit into our systems of comfortable thinking? Maybe this is a text that helps us to understand that a life of faith will always have moments where we long to know and see more, where we have more questions than answers.  Our hope comes in knowing that despite our longings or inabilities, God promises an elegant sufficiency of Spirit that reassures us that we will never be left on our own.

 

 

Rev. Dr. Dee Dee Haines

Isle of Man

      



Sermon Ideas for October 16, 2011
2011-10-12 by David von Schlichten

Here are some sermon ideas that my Wednesday morning Bible study and I came up with.

Isaiah 45: Cyrus is chosen by God despite not knowing God. You and I can be chosen. Anyone can be chosen. Even "evil" people and--gasp!-- atheists can be chosen. Cyrus is a biblical hero, and anyone else can be, too.

1 Thessalonians 1: Be a model of Christian living for others to imitate.

1 Thessalonians 1 also warns of the wrath that is coming. My Bible study ladies loved that. Why do so many people get all revved up about wrath? I imagine it's because they want all the "bad" people to get what's coming to them.

Some folks also seem to gravitate toward the idea that God is forever their scolding parent. One of my Bible study participants, especially, repeatedly talks about how God is reprimanding her or teaching her a lesson. What's that about, and how do we respond to that homiletically?

Matthew 2:15-22: Get your priorities straight. Pay your taxes, but put God first. This last point is easier said than done, of course. We have many things competing for our attention, and we often can't just simply ignore them. We have to attend to numerous issues. How, in the process, do we put God first?

Here's something else: Martin Luther talks about two-kingdoms theory. There is the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God. Christians need to be in both, but, of course, the kingdom of God takes priority.

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or to submit your post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Initial Thoughts for October 16,2011
2011-10-09 by David von Schlichten

Exodus 33: God will reveal God's glory to Moses. Where and how do we encounter God's glory? Do we ever see God's face?

Isaiah 45:1-7: God is able to use Cyrus to be his Anointed, his Messiah, even though Cyrus is not a believer. Amazing! What nonbelievers does God use today for good? Who are messiahs (not THE Messiah) today?

Are you and I messiahs? We are, after all (many of us), anointed with oil at baptism. Is ordination also an anointing?

Psalm 96: All creation rejoices. Remember that the next time you want to squash a spider.

1 Thessalonians 1: We are to be models, examples to others of the Christian life.

Matthew 22:15-22: Give to the emperor what is the emperor's and to God what is God's. Is this passage telling us to pay our taxes but always to put God first? Do we have a passage about Christians being in two kingdoms and needing to honor both? However, when we have to choose, we always choose God over an earthly kingdom. Sometimes we may need to embrace a strategy such as civil disobedience.

What do you think? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Sermon Ideas for October 9, 2011
2011-10-05 by David von Schlichten

NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY: It was announced today that Dan Schechtman will receive this prize for his discovery of quasicrystals, which he made back in 1982. The scientific community mocked him, but it turned out that he was right.

Likewise, we Christians often are mocked or alienated, but we need to persevere. As it says in Isaiah 25, eventually God will wipe every tear from our eyes. In the meantime, (to draw from Philippians 4) we are to keep rejoicing and doing the work of God the Shepherd (to borrow from Psalm 23). 

Philippians 4: Euodia and Syntyche are fighting, and Paul calls for the Church to work for a resolution. These two disagree, and Paul wants them to work out their differences.

Likewise, we are to work together despite our differences. We disagree on many issues. How can we get along despite our disagreement?

The passage also lifts up women in crucial positions in the early Church.

REJOICE: What does it mean to rejoice in all things? How do we have a rejoice-orientation?

MATTTHEW 22: So, if you're the person at the wedding banquet caught without a wedding garment, and the king confronts you, how will you respond? I'm thinking about a sermon in which I invite people to consider how they would respond. What if we responded by saying, "You're right. I'm not wearing a wedding garment. Please forgive me and clothe me."?

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication. I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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