This Week!
2008-01-13 by David Howell

Jill Crainshaw is our guest blogger. She is an Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at the Wake Forest University Divinity School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Dr. Crainshaw has served congregations as pastor and interim pastor. Crainshaw is the author of Wise and Discerning Hearts: An Introduction to a Wisdom Liturgical Theology (Liturgical Press, 2000). Her most recent book, Keep the Call: Leading the Congregation without Losing Your Soul is available from Abingdon Press.

Thanks to David von Schlichten for posting his sermon for Baptism of Our Lord in the Sermon Feedback Cafe. And thanks to those giving Pastor George feedback about his Lent dilemma in the Parish Solution Forum (the historical Jesus in the Forum?). Go to Homepage and Share It!

I fixed some great salmon this weekend. Go to Divine Cuisine in Share It! I would like to see your salmon recipes. Click Submit Your Own.

the water's fine
2008-01-09 by Tom Steagald

I am thinking about the movie Romero, about the Central American bishop who was martyred. According to Dorothy Bass and Craig Dykstra  (Practicing our Faith, pp. 14ff), Romero came to realize that the gospel had economic consequences, that Jesus was forming a new community quite at odds with El Salvador's centuries-old habit of special favor for the wealthy over against the poor. This awareness is given painful expression in the film when, in the movie, Romero's own god-daughter wants to arrange a private baptism for her daughter and is appalled at the notion that she should either stand with the peasants before the font or that her baby should be washed by the same water as the peasants' children.

This leads me back to the Jordan--

It is an amazing thing when Jesus comes to the Jordan to stand with repentant Israel. He takes his place there, gets in the same water with them, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with sinners whom God would form into a new community.

Jesus gets in the water with us; which begs the question: will we get into the same water as Jesus.

Humility and Baptisim
2008-01-08 by Paul Wilson

Question submitted to Paul Wilson:


While I liked your comments, I keep coming back to the physical state when one is baptized and that is one of humility and vulnerability.  Matthew's Jesus humbles himself and makes himself vulnerable to show how to embody the 

righteousness of God? Verdad? 


Response from Paul Wilson: 


You are right, of course. In spite of the difference in the two baptisms, humility and vulnerability are needed for both. In fact, it is Christ's vulnerability on the cross that makes our vulnerability in baptism possible: for us in faith we know that death and its powers are overcome. 


I love the Isaiah text this week that speaks of the gentle nature of Christ's coming to us, never insisting on his own way: "a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice." (42:3)


(Submit your own questions or blog posts by clicking on the links above.)

"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlights
2008-01-08 by David von Schlichten

I am luxuriating in the hot tub this week because it fits so well with our Matthew text. Barack Obama and John McCain stopped by, but they started splashing at each other, so they were asked to leave.


Far better behaved is Paul Wilson, our guest blogger in the tub this week. It is exciting to have him here. Scroll down to read his helpful entry in which he enables us to make sense of the strangeness of Jesus' Baptism. He also provides guidance and caveats for us so that we draw the appropriate connection between Jesus' Baptism and our own.

Also, if you go to Free Samples from Lectionary Homiletics under Share It!, you can read Timothy B. Cargal's solid exegesis of Matthew 3:13-17.

Here are highlights from this week's articles in Lectionary Homiletics.

Theological Themes”

Charles Allen provides a faithful and respectful explanation of the infant Baptism vs. believer's Baptism controversy, teaching us that there is room for both traditions and reminding us to work to learn from each other. A-double-men to that.

Pastoral Implications”

In writing about the trend of public confessions by politicians, shock-jocks, etc., Jeffrey L. Tribble, Sr. emphasizes the need we all have for forgiveness and reconciliation from the Sinless Son. Tribble writes, “All of creation needs the reconciling ministry of Christ” (p.53).

Preaching the Lesson”

Wow. With the help of her then sixth-grade son, Anna Carter Florence teaches us that, when doves fly, they do not flutter, but swoop. She suggests that the swooping Holy Spirit is like a predator, with Jesus as the prey. “Baptism as an act of spiritual target practice?!” (p. 56) she writes. What a stunning concept. That's a concept a preacher could build a sermon on, and I may do just that. The tub is a-bubblin'.

A Sermon”

Ted Mosebach preaches, not about Baptism primarily, but patience. Jesus says to John, “Let it be so, for now.” In other words, John and the rest of us often have to wait, have to be patient, as God unfolds his plan.

On another note, an adult parishioner asked, “How come Jesus was just born, and then, a couple months later, he's grown-up and dying already?” The question seems to arise from the notion many of us have (myself included, to some extent) that, when we hear the stories of Jesus, they are happening anew right in front of us (anamnesis). Could we address this concept from the pulpit?

We certainly think that way at Christmas, Good Friday and Resurrection Day. We don't just hear about the baby. We see the baby, because he is being born anew. Were we there when they crucified our Lord? We sure were. We're there every year. Yes? What can we do with this idea in a sermon?

Prayed upon by the swooping Spirit, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

This Week!
2008-01-07 by David Howell

We are honored to have Paul Wilson, Professor of Homiletics at Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto, as our guest lectionary blogger. See his first post below.

Last week, it was fascinating to follow the sermon development of Dean Snyder, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC. See his delivered sermon in the Sermon Feedback Cafe (go to Homepage and Share It!). Thanks to Dean and all the others who contributed to the blog last week.

I just put one of my favorite recipes on the Divine Cuisine. It is a recipe that I learned while at the Festival of Homiletics in D.C. a few years ago. We would love to return the festival to D.C. but cannot find a church that will seat 1500 plus (that is also near hotels). If you know of one, please let us know. We have almost 500 registered for this year in Minneapolis, and if that trend continues we will surpass last year's attendance of 1700.

Also, pastor George is looking for some suggestions for Lent. Go to Parish Solution Forum at Share It! and click Submit Your Own to give suggestions.

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