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





More Material on John 10:1-10
2008-04-08 by CJ Teets

If you checked Back Issues/Sermons earlier, you might want to take another look. We just added a few more articles. Enjoy!



Surviving When I Forget What Is Real
2008-04-07 by Fred Rose

Acts 2:42f; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19f; John 10:1f

For me the image of the early church devoting itself to teaching, fellowship, bread breaking and to the prayers show me abundant life. Here is the church being created by the Spirit. Here they are: spending time together in the Temple and in homes, eating their coverd-dish meals with glad and generous hearts. No wonder the church is growing day by day. I want to be part of this church!

In my years as a pastor, I have only occasionally experienced church like this. Sometimes I have had a hard time finding space to study myself. Sometimes fellowship is hard to find anywhere. I understand what communion is, but does anyone else? Sometimes I actually forget to pray! When I wonder where the Acts 2 church is, I will look at the Cokesbury catalogue that came in the mail today and somebody else has just written a book telling their story how the Holy Spirit has changed their ministry and it is the New Testament all over again. This sounds pretty cynical. I am genuinely grateful that God is doing great things everywhere. I really am.

Psalm 23 and the first Peter passage help us remember the call is "to be faithful not successful." This does not mean success will never happen; it will come in God's time perhaps. This is God's doing, not ours. The question some days is how to survive. The psalm has some honest helps. It reminds me of the importance of my soul being restored. When I face life's severest threats, God is with me. When I feel surrounded, God provides. Even when I think life is going south, God is looking out for me.

Several years ago, I sat in front of a psychologist friend who asked me, "What is most real to you in all of life?" It took me a moment to find my honest answers. What I told him I believe to this day. " I said, "I believe God is and that God loves me and the world so much he sent his son Jesus." My friend said very quickly to me, "You are not acting like it." I got it immediately. I realized as I sat there, I was not taking care of myself physically, spiritually, mentally or many other ways. I had poured myself out and had not taken time for prayer or for exercise or for planning my time or for the study that fed my soul. I had not acted like I believed that God truly loved me. We need to teach one another in the church the importance of the Acts 2 stuff. The Good Shepherd calls us often, but unless we are paying attention, we don't go into the pasture or by the stream where our souls can be fed and restored. If we don't do that, we are crazy...or maybe just human.





Guest Preaching Blogger This Week Is
2008-04-06 by CJ Teets

Fred Rose, the pastor at Tuckahoe Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA for the past ten years. He served two other churches in North Carolina until he came to Richmond in 1998. These days he is preoccupied with trying to balance his own stake in his congregation’s discovering a new version of itself, encouraging a staff, preparing sermons that say something useful, often being a pastor to members and finding time to be with his wife and his three grown children. More than ever he is grateful for trusted friends and people who care honestly about preaching.





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