Initial Thoughts for August 21, 2011
2011-08-15 by David von Schlichten

Exodus: We have the beginning of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. God is our liberator. How does God liberate us? How do we function as Moses, the Israelites, Pharaoh? How does God use us to liberate others?

Isaiah 51: God as rock. God leading us home, restoring us. What kind of rock is God? What kind of rock are we because of God? 

Romans: We are to make our bodies a living sacrifice. We are not to conform to this world. God gives us gifts that we are to use for the good of others. How are we to be a living sacrifice?

 Note that we are not to sacrifice ourselves in order to earn a place in heaven; we have a place in heaven because of Christ, not because of us.

Also, sacrificing the self does not mean that we deny all our needs. We must care for ourselves and allow others to care fo us. Self-sacrifice does not require self-abnegation.

Matthew: The confession at Cesarea Philippi. When are we at that place? When are we Peter? What does it mean to have the keys? When should we bind? Loose?

The gates of Hades shall not prevail. Think about that. We are attacking the gates of Hades, and they are collapsing. Satan is running for cover!

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Sermon Ideas for August 14, 2011; Theoptimism
2011-08-12 by David von Schlichten

Evangelism and Ecumenism: Scroll down to read a compelling question that a reader asked and a response from Dee Dee Haines (Great to see you on here, Dee Dee!).

My response to the question is to say that we are to be open to opportunities to bring people to Christ but are also to keep in mind the broader sense of evangelism, which includes sharing the love of Christ without trying to convert people. The word "evangelism" comes from the Greek for "Good News." The Spirit calls us to share the Good News in whatever way is appropriate, and we are always to keep uppermost in our hearts and actions the call to love one another as Christ has loved us.

So then, can giving food to an atheist as an act of Christian compassion be an act of evangelism, even if we don't try to convert the atheist? Sure it can.

Those are my two coins. Let's move on to other sermon ideas.

Isaiah 56: The castrated and foreigner are welcome to receive God's blessing. Whom among the foreign or physically/mentally disabled do we tend to exclude?

Romans 11: Israel's disobedience is part of the plan! One point that comes to my mind is that, when we are getting discouraged about people's rejection of Christ, we should be patient and not despair. Who knows what all is part of God's plan? We do know that God is often more in charge than we think God is.

I'm not trying to encourage complacency. I am just saying that we have good reason to be theoptimistic.

By the way, you should hear how pessimistic my Bible study attendees can sound. I wish I were better at helping them to see that, because of God, life is, not perfect (there are many problems), but ever hopeful.

Matthew 15: What comes out of the mouth defiles. That teaching does NOT mean that it doesn't matter what we put into our mouths. What the teaching does mean is that getting hung up on ritual to the exclusion of the larger points is, well, silly at best, deadly at worst.

JESUS AND THE CANAANITE WOMAN: Some have suggested that Jesus actually learns  from the woman. This story is reminiscent of Old Testament stories of a human changing God's mind. Part of Jesus' wisdom is that he is open to changing his mind.

What ideas do you have? Feel free to send me an email or to submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Reaching
2011-08-11 by Dee Dee Haines

If we begin by considering the core evangelical practices of Jesus (welcome & hospitality, table fellowship, mercy & compassion, forgiveness & reconciliation, acts of justice) and use these practices as the context for dialogue with the texts and our own stories, the voice of ecumenism not only shines through, but begs to be heard.  I am wondering what treasures we might find if are we are able to ground our own stories in those same evangelical practices.  Perhaps we would be better able to see the rootedness of faith that speaks to all that connects us, rather than those things that divide.  For me, the spirit of the text invites us to consider what we mean when we speak of evangelism---and to broaden our understanding of what it means to bear witness to Jesus in the world.  Maybe we can only do that by “reaching.” 

Dee Dee Haines

Isle of Man

 

 





READER QUESTION: Preaching the Good News without Trying to Convert
2011-08-10 by David von Schlichten

Here is a question I received (Thanks, reader!): 

Is it eisegesis to read into all these texts a much larger  ecumenical spirit than is reflected in most Christian discussions of evangelism?  There seems to be a much more willingness to share and to include others without making them pass some theological test. Is that a \"reach\"?
 

What do you think? I'll tell you what I think in a day or two, but I'd first LOVE to hear from readers. You can send me an email or submit a post for publication here.

Eager for discussion, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Initial Thoughts for August 14, 2011; Jesus Learns a Lesson?
2011-08-08 by David von Schlichten

August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption, so this would be an apt time to reflect on Mary.

August 14 is the commemoration day for World War II/Holocaust martyrs Maximilian Kolbe and Kaj Munk. Kolbe volunteered to starve to death in the death camps so that another person wouldn't have to. Munk wrote anti-Nazi pieces that got him killed.

Genesis 45: Joseph is reunited with his brothers. If I were to preach on this, I'd want to summarize the story, of course. This story shows us God present, working for good, even when God seems absent.

Isaiah 56: Foreigners, not just the people of Israel, are invited to serve God and receive God's blessings. Outsiders are welcome.

Psalm 67: This is a call for all people to praise God. How do we work toward an international policy of universal praise of the divine?

Romans 11: God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that God may be merciful to all. That sounds cruel and self-serving of God. What do you make of that passage?

Matthew 15: What's up with Jesus being so rude to this Canaanite woman? Is he testing her? Is he putting on an act? Or is Jesus actually learning to be more open-minded here? Is a woman teaching Jesus?

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication here.

Wrapped in humidity, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





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