Slow to Believe
2008-04-11 by CJ Teets

I am slow to believe it, but Rick Brand has a sermon in Sermon Feedback Cafe on all four lectionary texts. Will his congregation suffer from textual overload? Go to Homepage and Share It!...and give him some feedback on his sermon. David von Schlichten will probably be sharing his sermon with us soon (as he often does). Thanks to both of you!



Jesus and Buddha
2008-04-09 by Tom Steagald

I wish I could remember exactly a very poignant text in Buechner's Now and Then. He writes of his own affinity for Buddhism and of  his teaching a course in same at Exeter, and the day the class came to a moment where they compared Gautama with Jesus... regarding the former he says something like this: Buddha sits under the Bo tree, his eyes closed, his lips slightly parted in the slightest of grins. His expression is of one who has passed beyond the world's ability to hurt him. 'He who has fifty loves has fifty woes,' he has said, 'he who has ten loves has ten woes, he who has no loves has no woes.'

And then Buechner describes Jesus, in the Garden and on the cross, his eyes wide open with the suffering and anguish of loving the entire world even to death. 

For Christians love means suffering, in one form or other, to one degree or another (and that is only one of the reasons why prosperity theology is so wrong-headed and idolatrous). It could well be that suffering for love of another, or for love many others, marks not only our furthest distance from some belief tradtions but also our our deepest point of contact with the suffering love of Christ.





Spiritually Salubrious Suffering
2008-04-09 by David von Schlichten

Fred,

I don't think you're off base at all. We can definitely think and preach about healthy suffering. In fact, I may go that direction for this Sunday. I'm going to bring the idea up to my Bible study this morning and see what happens.

Listening for the Spirit, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





A Healthy Kind of Suffering!?
2008-04-08 by Fred Rose

1 Peter 2: 19f

I am moved by the energy that appears in this 1 Peter message to "slaves." The healing power of Jesus not only gets some ink; these words in 1 Peter have some power we should not ignor so quickly. It is in the restatement of the idea: v. 22, he commited no sin, no deceit was found in his mouth (Isaiah 53:9); v. 23, he did not return abuse; he did not threaten; he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly; v. 24, he...bore our sins in his body on the cross. Certainly, there is some kind of theology of suffering here for the messiah. The messiah suffers in a way we do not. However, verse 21 says we (slaves?) have been called to this. Christ leaves us (slaves?) an example "so that you should follow in his steps."

Before we dismiss these ideas about suffering for slaves, I have a question or two. Isn't there a message here for people who are "bound" by jobs or family to suffer out of love for someone(s)? I suppose many think suffering is passe. Therapeutically, we take care of ourselves, right? But anyone who suffers needs a network of friends akin to Acts 2 to survive. Don't we all need real friends who help us bring to speech our struggles and difficulties? What about the wife who stays with her alcoholic husband? What about the woman working two jobs for the teenagers she raises by herself? What about the parents who stay together for the children? What about the children caring for parents who are in nursing care facilities? We all know people who "suffer" like this.

Can this call to take Jesus as an example offer some kind of encouragement? Maybe this stuff is not particularly "preachable." It feels heavy. Problems abound with this material. We can take suffering so to heart, we become martyrs and we wear our martyrdom as a badge of courage. Is it possible to think of a healthy kind of suffering? Is it possible to see this passage as a way to encourage our church to be like the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep? I don't know. Am I off-base here?





Fred Rose and Calvin at PTS
2008-04-08 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Fred Rose, our guest blogger this week, for dropping into the hot tub to share his thoughts about the shepherd and the call for us to allow the shepherd to take care of us.

Fred's ruminations remind me of a lecture I heard yesterday at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary on John Calvin. The professor taught us that Calvin preached up to five times a week and sometimes spat blood as he preached due to poor health. I lean back and forth between being in awe of Calvin's commitment and wondering if he took adequate time to allow the shepherd to care for him.

How do we strike the balance between enduring suffering (1 Peter) for the sake of the Good News and taking time to rest in the care of the shepherd?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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