Doubt is Good
2008-03-27 by Efrain Agosto

I am struck by the number of sermons I have read and listened to over the years that actually give Thomas some kudos. Maybe wanting to see some evidence is not so bad. After all, Thomas is not the only "bad guy" here. The disciples are hidden away, afraid to come out the door and "live out the new resurrection life," as one of the preachers I read points out. Thomas misses the first meeting with Jesus, and there the disciples get all excited. He wants his own experience of the risen Lord before he will buy into any renewed excitement. Not a bad thing to ask. One's own experience of God.

I remember one of the first chapel sermons I heard when I started seminary way back in 1979, in fact it was for the opening convocation and it was offered by the dean of the seminary, was about doubt as a resource for faith. The dean encouraged us to have doubts, to ask questions, to challenge our professors, to have our own experience of the truth before we grasped it for ourselves and for our walk with God. Perhaps this is what Thomas is after - his own experience of the truth so it could be imbedded in his soul forever!

Not a bad fellow, after all, this Thomas, and perhaps as we come down from the mountain of Easter, all weary and tired from the excitement, and wondering what's next, questions and doubts can fuel us into adopting the resurrection life for the long haul, another theme in one of the sermons I read for this week's Lectionary Homilectics.





"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlights
2008-03-25 by David von Schlichten

It will be delightful having Efrain Agosto, our guest blogger, soaking and chatting in the tub with us this week. He also has provided for us the “Sermon Reviews” in Lectionary Homiletics for this week.

You can read Erik M. Heen's exegesis for free by going to Share It! and then to Free Samples from Lectionary Homiletics.

Pastoral Implications”

Kristin Saldine sums up her essay with this succinct, cogent statement: “[I]t is not the degree of doubt that endangers faith; it is the loss of connection with a community of faith” (p. 73). Saldine points out all through the essay that Jesus comes to the community of disciples and breathes the Holy Spirit on all of them. The post-resurrection appearances are communal.

Saldine also teaches that Thomas shows us that “faith can emerge through doubt and not despite of it” (p. 73). There is comfort in reading about such a person in Scripture, and Thomas, through his demand for proof, comes to see the risen Christ and make the great proclamation, “My Lord and my God!”

Scripture and Screen”

Fritz Bogar tells about the classic Danish film Ordet (The Word), the story of a religious man named Morten and his three sons. There are various attitudes toward religion in the film, which asks whether miracles still happen and about the relationship between the power of death and God's power, as well as our faith in that power. The climax of the movie is that the wife of one of the sons dies only to be raised back to life by one of the other sons. In a convincing and compelling manner the movie proclaims that miracles do still happen and that true Christian belief brings life even amid death. Astonishing.

Preaching the Lesson”

Anna Carter Florence waxes poedifyingly pastoral as she describes ways that we tend to lock doors to shut out people and other realities to insulate ourselves. She reflects on how terrifying the resurrection is, because it usurps the norm. We can't even count on the dead to stay dead. She concludes that Jesus is the one who unlocks the doors. He comforts us and empowers us, thereby unlocking our doors. Alleluia.

I like the unlocking of doors idea and may focus on that for the sermon.

By the way, this Sunday is the 21st anniversary of my father's death. Also, I will be officiating the baptism of a baby whose mother has a brain tumor. Resurrection. Unlocked doors. Hallelujah.

Ever yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Our guest blogger is Efrain Agosto.
2008-03-23 by David Howell

Efrain Agosto has been Professor of New Testament at Hartford Seminary and Director of its Hispanic Ministries Program since 1995.  He was a licensed minister with the Hispanic Assemblies of God and is currently affiliated with the United Church of Christ. He preaches often in a variety of church and ecumenical settings.  This year he also serves as interim dean at the Seminary.



Jeffery Tribble
2008-03-19 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Jeffery L. Tribble, Sr. for agreeing to serve as our guest blogger during this full week. We look forward to talking with him here amid the jets in the tub.

As you prepare for Resurrection Day, read Eric Heen's exegetical article free of charge by going to Share It! and then to Free Samples from Lectionary Homiletics.

Speaking of Lectionary Homiletics, below are highlights from this week's articles.

Theological Themes”

Arum W. Jones puts into boldface the disruptive uniqueness of Easter/Resurrection Day. We Christians tend to see Easter as just part of the Church's and nature's seasonal cycle. Along with the return of the robin and the blooming of the lilies is Easter, or so many of us think.

Jones reteaches us that the Resurrection is indeed disruptive. This event of new life is revolutionary, in opposition to the regular cycle, thanks be to God.

Sermon Reviews”

Efrain Agosto summarizes a sermon by Mary Scifres that, like the “Theological Themes” article, proclaims the Resurrection's radicality. The Resurrection teaches us that God has conquered death and that Christ has saved us from the power of sin, yet many of us live in fear of aging and with beating ourselves up for our shortcomings. Let's challenge each other to embrace that greatness of the Good News. For every moment, the Resurrection matters.

Preaching the Lesson”

Anna Carter Florence is her usual brilliantly outside-the-tomb self as she reflects on the idea of thinking that someone has stolen Christ's body. When we believers hear criticisms or deconstructions of our beliefs, it may seem to us that someone has stolen Christ's body. When we hurt from violence, hypocrisy and heresy, we may lament that someone has invaded and snatched the body of Christ. Jesus, however, is not alien; rather, he comes to us and calls us by name. In addition, we may want to respond by clinging to Jesus, trying to keep him all to ourselves, but the Spirit calls us to go and tell that Christ is alive.

I am indeed thinking about my Resurrection Day sermon, but first I need to write my Good Friday sermon. Good Friday first. Always.

Pondering all this in my heart, I am

Ever yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Our Guest Blogger This Week
2008-03-18 by CJ Teets

Jeffery L. Tribble, Sr. joined the faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary in the fall of 2007 in the role of Assistant Professor of Ministry. He previously served as Assistant Professor of Congregational Leadership and Director of the Church and the Black Experience at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He is the author of two books, “Transformative Pastoral Leadership in the Black Church” and “Joining Jesus: A Class Manual for Initiation into Christian Discipleship and Welcome into the AME Zion Church.” An ordained elder in the A.M.E. Zion Church, he has served as a pastor in Gary, IN and Chicago, IL. Currently, he serves with his wife, Rev. Cherlyn Tribble, as a bi-vocational co-pastor of a new church development, the New Vision A.M.E. Zion  Church, in  Suwanee, GA.





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