Our guest blogger this week is
2008-06-08 by CJ Teets

Daniel Hale, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Petersburg, VA. He received his D. Min. and Th. M degrees from UTS/PSCE in which he majored in Pastoral Counseling. His two main areas of interest are Personality Disorders and using Family Systems theory in congregations. He is certified as Diplomate in the A. A. P. C. After nearly 20 years in full time counseling ministry Daniel returned to the pastorate. He is married to Marcia, and they have a 14 year old daughter.




Kate Crawford; "Lectionary Homiletics" Highlights
2008-06-06 by David von Schlichten

Guest blogger Kate Crawford and I have been enjoying an effervescent exchange here in the hot tub. Scroll down to read our entries, and then add one of your own.

Click on Share It! and then Free Samples from Lectionary Homiletics to soak up David F. Watson's “Exegesis” article.

Below are highlights from some of the other articles for this week in Lectionary Homiletics.

Theological Themes”

Douglas M. Koskela writes a bit on differences between Eastern and Western Christianity. He explains that, in the West, salvation has been understood primarily as being about the forgiveness of sin, whereas, in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, salvation has been thought of primarily in terms of healing. For the East, sin is a disease afflicting humanity. Jesus cures us by becoming us.

Koskela underlines that these differences are emphases only and that a comprehensive understanding of salvation will include both aspects.

Pastoral Implications”

Among other points, Elizabeth Johnson Walker writes that, in this text, there are three “distinct witnesses to what happens when one dares to have faith in Jesus' teachings” (p.18): 1. Matthew the tax collector, who leaves behind mammon to become a disciple; 2. the ruler who, to save his daughter, humbles himself before the Ruler; and 3. the woman who believes that Jesus can heal her.

Walker also makes the important point that we are not to use our faith to dominate others but, among other things, for stability.

Preaching the Lesson”

Anna Carter Florence writes, “The tension between what we do and who we are is at the heart of human existence” (p.22). She lifts up that the religious leaders in the text tend not to look at people as people but tend to define them in terms of what they do. For instance, the Pharisees don't even call Jesus by name at one point but simply refer to him as “your teacher.” However, Jesus sees people as people first.

Florence concludes by recalling a congregation in which members were not allowed to ask new members what they did for a living until the new members had been at the congregation for six months.

Frances Taylor Gench: In Back to the Well: Women's Encounters with Jesus in the Gospels (Westminster John Knox, 2004), Frances provides stimulating insights about the Markan version of this text. Especially notable is that, at least in Mark's account, the hemorrhaging woman prefigures the Passion. Terms used here to describe the woman, such as “suffering” and “affliction,” are also used to describe Jesus' suffering. Even more striking is that, in Mark's account, the only references to blood are found here and at the Last Supper. Wow.

I will post my sermon shortly. It deals with healing by meditating upon that full, heavy statement, “Your faith has made you well.”

Hands getting pruny as I grow wiser in the tub, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





One More Question
2008-06-05 by Kate Crawford

Great question to ponder, David.

And here’s another vexing question from the Matthew text: Jesus says, "Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (9:13). What does this open up for you, in your congregational setting?

Where I am this Sunday is a huge "whiz bang" service: our 85 year old organ, which has just been restored, is playing for the first time in 8 months; it is confirmation, communion and anniversary Sunday. Think of the balls we have to try to keep in the air! Many of them can tend to the self-congratulatory: Look at us!

Yet Jesus says, "mercy not sacrifice" and "sinners not the righteous." There is an uncomfortable quality to this part of the text as well. Reminds me of Paul’s little lecture on boasting (I Cor 1:31). Actually, one could make a handy connection to the Romans passage for today, and its celebration of the righteousness of faith.

Do your people need to be prodded? Or nurtured? Or both?





Caring for the Marginalized; Healing
2008-06-04 by David von Schlichten

Kate,

Identifying today's marginalized could indeed be a potent part of proclaiming this passage (pardon the alliteration). (By the way, if you came to our congregation and announced that you would have wanted to be a prostitute in Jesus' day, my teenaged daughter would think you were the coolest pastor ever.)

What I keep wondering about is the statement, "Your faith has made you well." I imagine this statement snagging many parishioners. It certainly s/nags me. Such a declaration vexes and perplexes legions of us.

Of course, we pastors know that the Greek here could be translated as, "Your faith has saved you," but to ignore that a person is also physically healed is to avoid a jumping-up-and-down feature of the text.

What does it mean when Christ declares that our faith  has made us well?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Caring for the marginalized
2008-06-04 by Kate Crawford

Hello David,

Yes, caring for the marginalized is an obvious connection - thank you for pointing it out.

I often think that we have lost touch with just how offensive it was for Jesus' contemporaries that he cared for those on the fringes. He didn't just reach out to moderately difficult people.. he reached out to downright disgusting people that everyone agreed were beyond the social pale. Tax collector! Prostitutes!!!! These people were ritually unclean, excluded from temple worship, and consorters with the enemy - Rome.

I once preached to a middle-class congregation in Toronto that I had often felt that I would have rather been a tax collector or prostitute in Jesus', since those people would have been closer to him. The s**t hit the fan, let me tell you! There was their young, female preacher wishing publicly that she were a prostitute! Many in the congregation were very offended - which I guess is really the point. How have we lost touch with this side of Jesus' ministry? He really upset people.

So the homiletical challenge this week - if you select the gospel - would be to ask: who would he be reaching out to now? Who is so offensive to us that we cannot even stomach the thought of Jesus loving them? Put them in your sermon, brothers and sisters!





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