Caring for the marginalized
2008-06-04 by Kate Crawford
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!
Connection Between Parts One and Two of Matthew 9
2008-06-03 by David von Schlichten
Thank you to Kate Crawford, our guest blogger, for her thought-bubbling blog entries. I look forward to people's responses. We have lots of room here in the tub.
I wonder, Kate, if a connection between the call of Matthew and the two healings is that, in all three cases, Jesus cares for marginalized people: tax collectors, unclean women, and children.
I look forward to more chatting here among the massaging jets.
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
First Post - let's get started!
2008-06-02 by Kate Crawford
Welcome bloggers! I am delighted to be joining this on-line community, from the "far East" - namely, St John’s, Newfoundland, which is a stone’s throw from the most easterly point in North America, Cape Spear! Since I know that our conversation will evolve over this week, I’ll just throw out some teasers on the texts as a start, and we’ll see where the winds of the Spirit lead us. May God add blessing to our deliberations, and may they be fruitful as we prepare to proclaim Good News once again!
Tough text! I read this text, promising Abram a land, a nation and a great inheritance, and my mind is pulled immediately to the contemporary situation in Israel/Palestine, where another Semitic group was promised land and a nation within the last 60 years. And look where that has landed us. Israel struggles to survive as a nation while the Palestinian people, who’s land was expropriated to create that state, languish in refugee camps. I wonder if it was any different when Abram showed up and claimed his land so many centuries ago. What about the people who were already there?
This is particularly poignant for us in Canada this week, as the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission gets under way, hearing from our native communities about the abuses against their children in residential schools run jointly by the government and the churches. Surely the legacy of colonialism, supported by a theology of colonialism, is a disgrace.
In v. 2 God promises "I will make you into a great nation... I will make your name great." It seems to me that when religion gets mixed with nationalism there is great potential for harm. When a nation believes that it has God on its side it can create a dangerous fundamentalism which equates the nation’s desires with God’s desires. The most egregious example of this would be Nazi Germany, of course, but lesser examples are abundant even today.
Perhaps the way to redeem the text from Genesis is to partner it with this passage from Romans, in which Abraham’s righteousness is celebrated as the consequence of his faith. By focusing on faith, and how it strengthens us for seemingly impossible tasks - like it did for Abraham and Sarah - we can turn the texts towards comfort, and away from colonialism. Please, please, please don’t forget Sarah (even though Paul pretty much did), and include her amazing faith along with Abraham’s as you speak to God’s people.
This Psalm continues the connection between God’s might and the might of the nation already noted above. However, there is such a tone of celebration, of adoration, even of amazement at the power of God that the preacher can choose to lift out these sections in order to remind us of these things. Not that we ever forget - but in today’s climate of rising fuel prices, international food crisis, terrorism and fear, we need to be reminded over and over again of the goodness of God as a sort of antidote to the heaviness of the world.
Matthew 9:9-13; 18-26
I cannot see how you can connect the two separate sections of this gospel without tying yourself up in knots. My advice is to select either the Calling of Matthew OR the two miracles without trying to tease out some hidden connection between the two (although perhaps some reader will find one! Please let us know).
If you choose Matthew’s call I would suggest you dwell on Jesus’ annoying habit of eating with the wrong crowd, the tax collectors and sinners of v.10. Who would he chooses to eat with in our day, and which unlikely disciple would he select from that group to keep us on our toes, and to prod our complacency?
If you choose the two hearing stories I suspect it is because you feel your community is in need of healing or even of resurrection. Note the touching faith of both petitioners: the ruler accepts that Jesus can raise his daughter. The woman simply wants to touch his cloak. There are times in our own lives of faith when reason deserts us, when scientific evidence fails us, when external authority betrays us... when all we have left is faith (note the connection to Abram here). And we reach out to touch the hem of his garment, because in the darkness it is all we know how to do.
This week's guest preaching blogger is
2008-06-01 by CJ Teets
The Reverend Dr. Kate Crawford who ministers with the people of Gower Street United Church in St John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Having grown up in Toronto, she relishes her new home on an island in the North Atlantic ocean, truly living on the edge of North America. Kate publishes worship material regularly in Gathering, a United Church journal and examples of her sermons can be found at www.gowerunited.ca. This is her first time as a guest blogger in the Homiletical Hot Tub and she's ready to dive in!
Sermon on Mt. 7: Joel O and the Rock
2008-05-31 by David von Schlichten
Go to the Sermon Feedback Cafe to read and respond to Rick Brand's solid sermon on Matthew 7 for June 1.
Below is my sermon.
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
Sermon on Matthew 7:21-29
Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A,
for Sunday, June 1, 2008
Joel O and the Rock
(word count: 696)
Once upon a time, a man named Joel O set out to build his house. He found a sparkling, warm surface for his foundation, right by the ocean. Joel said, “This foundation must be Christ,” and Joel poured, measured, sawed, hammered, and hung drywall. Finally, he had his house, a mansion with crystal walls, a fire place as big as a jumbotron, and a seventeen-car garage. Joel named his house “Prosperity.”
Joel said to anyone who would listen, “God wants you to be wealthy and successful. Put your trust in him, have a positive attitude, and the Lord will grant you all kinds of favors.” Joel wrote books about his beliefs, and they became bestsellers. He told people, “The Bible is the ultimate self-help book. With a positive attitude, do what the Bible says, and you will be healthy, wealthy, and happy.”
Joel practiced what he preached. He had a positive attitude all the time. He told himself, “Because I am God's child, I am entitled to have a big house and a parking space close to the mall.” No matter how he was feeling on the inside, he always smiled. Joel believed that if he just had a positive attitude and trusted in God, he would be prosperous.
Indeed, by worldly standards he was prosperous. He had rooms full of money. He had millions of followers. The problem was, the foundation that he had built his house of prosperity on was not the rock, Jesus Christ. Joel's foundation was Positive Attitude, which is not a rock at all. Positive Attitude sparkles and is warm and soft because it is sand. A positive attitude is valuable, but it is not the rock. Joel's house of prosperity was not built upon Christ. The house was not built upon the Sermon on the Mount: on blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. The house was not built upon enduring persecution and taking up the cross, loving one another as Christ has loved us. The house was not built upon denying yourself for the sake of others.
Most important of all, Joel's house of prosperity was not built upon the unassailable Good News that, because of Christ alone, we have salvation. Having a positive attitude is powerful, but it does not earn us salvation. Through his suffering, Christ has won salvation for us. On Christ, the solid rock, we stand, not on the sand called Positive Attitude.
One day, God knocked on Joel's front door. Joel answered. “Lord, Lord,” he said, smiling, “take a look at all the prosperity I have built in your name.” God said, “Joel, we need to talk. I want you to have a positive attitude, but Positive Attitude is not to be the foundation. Christ is.” Then God let out a huge, sad sigh. The House of Prosperity shuddered and collapsed.
After the dust had settled, God said, “Joel, it is necessary that I show you something.” God and Joel went for a walk. As they did so, God said, “You have good intentions, but you are misguided. I want you to go back to the Bible so the Holy Spirit can set you straight.” God handed him a tattered Bible. God said, “Start with the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 through 7. That sermon does not stress material prosperity based on a positive attitude. It stresses meekness, humility, self-sacrifice, gentleness. That sermon challenges us to be prosperous, but not by this world's standards. Read the Sermon on the Mount.”
After two miles of walking, God and Joel arrived at a shocking sight. Looming in front of them was Jesus hanging on the cross, poor, stripped, beaten, forgiving us, his executioners. God said to Joel, “Read the Bible, while kneeling here, at the cross. Here is where to build. This foundation is not about getting rich and famous. A positive attitude has its place, but this foundation is not primarily about a positive attitude. This foundation is about love, sacrifice, service. This is the cross. This will be your foundation and your scaffolding. This will keep you standing.”
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