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.
2008-04-04 by David von Schlichten
You raise a good point, Tom.
All this talk reminds me of Isaiah 6, where we are told that it is God's will for the people NOT to see. Hmmm.
Thanks for the illuminating comments.
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
Or Maybe Not
2008-04-04 by Tom Steagald
Forgive me for disagreeing, but I wonder if that passive is not divine at all, but to the contrary quite human. By that I mean it is clear that the disciples, at least those we know about, had very different expectations of who Jesus was and what his coming meant. This leads to disappointment and disaffections when Jesus does not fulfill those expectations. In the text, Cleopas and his friend refer to Jesus as a prophet, they talk about their hope that he was the one to redeem Israel...which sounds very political to me. I guess that is the traditional account, that these kinds of predispositions put blinders on the disciples.
Also, from the baptism of Jesus in Jordan to the Transfiguration, God is busy revealing who Jesus is by means of heavenly speech. "This is my Son..."
Which is not to say that the blindness, whatever its origin, is altogether a bad thing. In fact, it allows for sight (along the lines of John 9), when Jesus (whether with mud and spit or with the words of the prophets and Moses) makes the blind to see--which is a revelation of God's glory through him.
Many images cluster in these verses!
Allen Fisher and "Lectionary Homiletics" Highlights
2008-04-03 by David von Schlichten
A big, holy hot tub welcome goes out to Allen Fisher who is helping us to see the new life in the old stories that we have become blind to due to familiarity. Scroll down and, with humor and perspicacity, Fisher will help the scales to fall from your eyes.
Also, you can go to Share It! and then Free Samples from Lectionary Homiletics to read Frank M. Yamada's exegetical article for Luke 24:13-35.
Below are highlights from this week's articles in Lectionary Homiletics:
Priscilla Pope-Levison makes several eye-opening points. First, she notes that the post-resurrection appearances are unfortunately absent from the Creeds. She goes on to lift two points from the post-resurrection appearances.
The first is that Jesus' appearance bears some physical resemblance to his pre-resurrection self. Likewise, we will have new, transformed bodies, but we will still be recognizable.
The second point about the post-resurrection appearances is that, through them, Jesus leads the disciples to greater truth about himself. These appearances contain clarifying teaching about Christ.
Christie Cozad Neuger contends that the use of the passive voice in verse 16 to indicate that something kept the disciples from recognizing Jesus begs the question of what kept them – and what keeps us – from seeing Christ.
Thank you, Christie, for this question. We need it. Let me add by suggesting that this usage of the passive voice indicates a divine passive and so implies that it is God himself who keeps the disciples from recognizing Jesus.
In fact, I am leaning toward preaching about this very issue of why God would keep the disciples from recognizing Jesus and why God might do the same to us.
In “Sunday Dinner,” Alex Gondola begins by reminiscing with sumptuous vividness about the tradition of Sunday dinner that he (and many of us) grew up with. He goes on to stress how prominent meals are in Jesus' ministry and then provides a nourishing and palatable meditation on the Lord's Supper.
Gondola proclaims the toothsome multi-valence of the Lord's Supper, including that it somehow contains Christ's presence, is a memorial, a reconciliation event between God and humanity, a sending out (mass), and a uniting of people living and dead, present and absent. Even grandma can't match such a Sunday meal.
By the way, there is at least one food reference in every chapter of Luke.
I'm still chewing on that piquant divine passive and what to do with it. Perhaps I can bring together the divine passive of verse sixteen with reflections on Holy Communion.
Festival's coming next month. I can't wait! Splashing in the tub with excitement, I am
Ever yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
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