Carmen; "Lectionary Homiletics" Highlights
2008-05-30 by David von Schlichten

Carmen Nanko-Fernandez primed us for a refreshing stream of blog entries on Genesis 6. I am grateful for the flow of ideas. Please scroll down to drink these entries.

If you go to Share It! you can click on the free samples heading to read David F. Watson's exegetical article for this week's gospel, Matthew 7:21-29. Among many other points, Watson teaches that the term “evildoers,” those whom Jesus rejects even though they say “Lord, Lord” and perform miracles, is a translation of the Greek word “anomia,” which literally means “lawlessness.”

At our Tuesday pericope group, my fellow pastors wondered why Jesus would reject these people who, not only say “Lord, “Lord,” but even do miracles in his name. One pastor said, “In another place, Jesus tells the disciples not to stop people who cast out demons in his name, because those who are not against us, are for us. So then, why does Jesus here reject people who cast out demons in his name?”

Watson's note that anomia means “lawlessness” gives us the answer: Jesus rejects these people because they do not keep the Law.

Watson says much more in his article, so don't miss it.

Theological Themes”

Douglas M. Koskela puts in boldface the intended audience of the text's warnings. They are not for those who have openly and blatantly rejected Jesus but for people claiming to be within the community. Invoking God's name, even if not in vain, and doing wondrous deeds are not enough for the citizens of heaven's kingdom.

Preaching the Lesson”

Among several hydrating points is Anna Carter Florence's proclamation that, even when the deluge sweeps away our house, we still have Christ as our rock to cling to. Even if I err in architecture, I still have the rock. Yes.

A Sermon”

Larry Lange gives us an edifyingly entertaining sermon, “Red Hot Realty Has a House for You,” in which Realtor Martin Lucifer tries to sell us a house stuffed with products of the worst that our society promotes, from video games that make entertainment out of killing our enemies to ubiquitous plasma TVs and rich, extravagant food. The sermon concludes with the better offering of the house on rock.

My sermon for this Sunday is vaguely similar to Lange's, but there are also jutting differences. I focus on the idea that the passage is a warning about people who appear to be or claim to be citizens of the kingdom but are not truly. I'll post the sermon soon, eager for a river of feedback, or even just a drop, ever

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

2008-05-29 by David von Schlichten

I am 98% sure that, in the Utnapishtim version of the Flood Story, the gods literally sob regarding the destruction. Many scholars think that that version was a basis for the Genesis account.

It is invigorating to have such fine blog entries. Thank you to our guest blogger Carmen Nanko- Fernandez and all contributors for watering the garden.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Orginal Sin
2008-05-28 by Daniel E. Hale

God indeed grieved! Yet the permeation of sin had affected God's good creation, creatures and all! There remains an element of Grace in that God spared creation, even the fish, from total destruction. And the flood experience is reflected in our baptismal liturgy when we pass through the waters. It is an expression of our belief in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption that is to come.

I experience a huge disconnect between what offends our senses and the reality in which we live. On the one hand we become uncomfortable with God who can both pass judgment and be loving.

On the other hand we live in a world in which evil manifests itself in all dimensions of our lives, from terrorism to family dysfunctions that are hard to grasp.

Lest I am misunderstood, I am not advocating that tragedy is due to specific misdeeds of people. I am noting that sin, Original Sin, has us living in a broken world until Christ's redemption is complete. Things can and do go wrong, sometimes very wrong.

The Grace here is that we believe, beyond all emperical evidence that the love and redemption of Christ will overcome all that is wrong. The challenge, as I see it is to live in the faith that this is true.

2008-05-27 by Rick Brand

I do not remember where and with whom I had the discussion, but I have been a part of a discussion which suggested that the whole flood was the results of the collapse and falling apart of God in great grief at the necessity of the judgment. That water above the firmament, the sinking of the land into the water, were the results of God being unable to do God's job, to keep creation together. The flood came because God was having an emotional break down, and the tears, the grief, the disappointment prevented God from maintaining the boundaries for creation. Chaos returns and the waters abound. So there have been others who think we skip over the passion and the pain that God endured in this decision.

What else is missing?
2008-05-26 by Rosemary Beales

I am touched by Alyssa's noticing what's missing -- the fish -- and also by Carmen's observation that we, preachers and people, rush to the comforting reassurances such as that offered by the psalm for this week.

 So I can't help but notice what else is missing in the lectionary passage.  Certainly I'm not suggesting that we read three full chapters of flood story in church (!) but in the telescoped version that the lectionary gives us -- how can I say this? -- God gets off too easy. The lectionary whisks us from the loading of the ark (6:9-22) to a one-sentence summary of the flood ("the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days" - 7:24) to the sweet return home ("the earth was dry . . . and everything . . . went out of the ark by families." We get the covenant of God with Noah and his family, and we get its fulfillment.

So what's missing? What's missing for me is the passion, the grief, the wrath, sorrow and pathos of a God who is "sorry that I have made them." (6:8, just before our passage). What's missing is the devastation, the tragedy, the suffering, the despair when "all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heaven were opened" (7:11) We miss all the experience of those on the ark when "the flood continued 40 days on the earth, and the waters increased, and ore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters." {We miss, in fact, the whole, resonant reference to "40 days" in the lectionary passage.} We miss the experience of those NOT on the ark, as "the waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered . . . AND ALL FLESH DIED that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings, everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life, DIED." (7:19-22). We miss the direct, deliberate action of God: "HE blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left . . " (7:23).  We miss FEELING this story.

 My reaction to this passage, and to what's missing, is largely shaped by my participation four years ago in "performing" most of the book of Genesis with four seminary classmates. Our gifted homiletics professor led us through a semester of learning key passages by heart, and bringing them to life with voice and body. Within minutes, our joyful, dance-like interpretation of Creation became the sorrowful, desperate agony of destruction. At one point in our presentation - as one of our numer climbed higher and higher in the pulpit as the waters rose - my part was to repeat over and over, "The breath of life DIED. the breath of life DIED." That experience engraved on my heart the real grief of the flood - the grief God felt as well as the anguish of those left behind.

What else is missing? Ah, the most beautiful, healing phrase, I think, in the story: "But God remembered . . . " (8:1).

We say something like this when we tell these story in Godly Play. Having raised a wooden ark over her/his head as the waters of the flood rise, the storyteller says, "but God did not forget the creatures in the ark." At that point, everyone in the circle (metaphorically) is below the surface of the water. "God sent a great wind, and the waters began to go down...." The ark returns to the earth and we all take a deep breath.

 What will I do with all this on Sunday? I don't know yet, but I can't leave it alone, because it won't leave me alone. I will spend some time with Brueggemann, von Rad, and Alter. I will remember what it felt like to bewail the loss of "the breath of life." I will walk on the beautiful green earth, our island home, giving thanks for the covenant, the mercy of God, the beautiful day, and the breath of life. And I will wonder . . . what else is missing?



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