The Complexity of Forgiveness
2011-09-07 by David von Schlichten

A key theme of this Sunday's readings is forgiveness, and forgiveness is a huge, salient theme of 9-11. However, forgiveness is often painful and difficult. How do we help each other move to the point where we can forgive? Here are some thoughts I have about what helps us toward forgiveness.

1. Heaing-Time: Time does NOT heal all wounds. Healing-time heals wounds. By itself, time heals nothing. A person can be just as bitter and hurt at year ten as she was on day one.  

2. What makes time into Healing-Time? That depends on the person and situation. Some of us need counseling, while others need medication, and still others just need time to rest and internalize the changes resulting from the crisis. If a person is not healing over time, then there needs to be a change of approach.

3. The Benefit of Forgiveness for the Self: We should forgive others because God wants us to, period. God has forgiven us; we are to forgive each other. In addition, forgiveness is beneficial to the person doing the forgiving. When I can forgive someone, I end up feeling better, relieved, liberated, period.

4. Forgiveness requires patience. We cannot speed up the process by shaming or bullying someone into forgiveness.

What else do you think is needed for forgiveness? Feel free to send me a message or to submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichen, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Welcome Back!
2011-09-05 by David von Schlichten

Thanks to Hurricane Irene, was inaccessible last week. We are still have difficulties, but basically we're back. Thank you to David Howell and all who worked hard to get us running again. God bless with renewal and strength everyone still recovering from that hurricane.


Exodus 14: The parting of the Sea of Reeds and the deliverance of the Hebrews from the Egyptians. The story exemplifies God's rescue of God's people. Sadly, the story also shows other humans being killed in the name of saving the Hebrews. The story could easily lead hearers to root for the deaths of their enemies.

It would be more loving to give thanks for the victory in a way that does not beget delight in the deaths of others but that does beget a renewed commitment to trying to change enemies into friends.

Genesis 50: Some of us have this as a our first reading this Sunday. This passage shows Joseph forgiving his brothers. Forgiveness. There's a word of which we still need to learn the meaning.

What is forgiveness? Are forgiving and forgetting the same? How do we forgive while continuing to protect ourselves against those who may harm us?

Romans 14: We are to modify our behavior sometimes for the sake of helping the weak in faith.

We live and die to the Lord. What does that mean?

We are to be slow to judgment.

Matthew 18:21-35: This passage exhorts us to forgive. Again, how do we do that? God has forgiven us a debt far greater than that which anyone owes us.

Forgiveness is frequently difficult because have much pain. How does God help us to overcome that pain? How do we heal and help each other heal? How does forgiveness help us to heal?

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

Pondering 9-11, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Broken Memories
2011-08-25 by Rev. Dr. Dee Dee Haines

Don’t you wonder about what is really going on with Moses when God asks him to speak to the Israelites? Isn’t there more to this story than a simple lack of confidence? Is there more for Moses to consider than an inability to be a good speaker (as we hear later in the story)?  Could it be that Moses questions whether or not the people are fit for redemption? Does he question whether or not he is fit for redemption?


It seems to me that Moses is less concerned about speaking to Pharaoh then he is about speaking to his own people.  It is the Hebrew ear that concerns him.  He is telling them (as instructed) to draw upon a memory---the memory of their ancestors.


When God hears the groaning of the people, the text tells us that God heard their cry, and God took notice of them (Exodus 2:23-25), even though the text does not say that they specifically cried out to God. 


Have the Hebrew people ceased to tell the story of the God of their ancestors?  Have they, too, been so drawn into the culture of slavery under the oppression of the Egyptians that they no longer remember who their God is? Does Moses suspect that they have given up on the God of their ancestors?  Have they been worked so hard that they had no time to contemplate God? Remember, later on, after they are wandering in the wilderness, their memories take them back to Egypt and some of them conclude that it wasn’t so bad, after all.  (Exodus 16:2-3)


What do we do, when we have forgotten the God of our ancestors?  What parts of the story do we choose to remember, and what parts are forgotten?  What thoughts do we put into the cracks and crevices of our broken memories? What do we do with the knowledge that God will be who God will be?  How do we participate in ‘remembering’ afresh? Do we ever contemplate whether or not we are fit for redemption---ready for redemption?


Dee Dee Haines


Isle of Man


Sermon Idea for August 28 on Romans 12:9-21 from "Lectionary Homiletics"
2011-08-24 by David von Schlichten

Brett Younger has a helpful sermon in this month's issue called, "How to Act Like a Church." He starts by talking about guides to manners and the importance of having rules of proper conduct.

He goes on to talk about how Romans 12:9-21 provides rules for how to act like a Church. He notes that some people reject the Church because they get disgusted with the members not living up to the ideals of love that the Church teaches. Younger recalls David Roche, who teaches that most people are sincere 80% of the time (and that that's pretty good).

Among other points, Younger stresses that, "If we are to act like the church we have to have Christ's view of strangers" and concludes with a hypothetical scenario in which the hearer encounters a stranger. Younger invites the hearer to consider offering such a person a welcome.

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

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Initial Thoughts for August 28, 2011
2011-08-22 by David von Schlichten

Exodus 3: The burning bush! I AM! What a text. Have you ever seen a burning bush? I'll bet you have. The world is full of them. When you see a burning bush, do you remove your shoes? Do I? 

What does it mean that God is who God is, will be who God will be. That's tautalogical. Or is it?

Jeremiah 15:15-21: God is so hard on Jeremiah. Jeremiah feels the hand of God upon him and also feels like God is unfaithful. God says that, if Jeremiah repents, God will take him back so that Jeremiah can continue to proclaim God's difficult message. Thanks, God. At least God promises to give Jeremiah strength against persecution.

Romans 12:9-21: This text is full of liberating challenges. Where to begin? The exhortation against vengeance is a smart place to start given how much we humans love Schadenfreude and revenge. As we draw nearer to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it behooves us to relearn, "Overcome evil with good." Such an orientation is not only better for our "enemies" but is better for ourselves.

Matthew 16:21-28: When are we Satan interfering with Jesus? Who is Satan to us? How does God empower us to shove Satan behind us?

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

Looking forward to back-to-school, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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