The Second Coming, Highlights from this Week's Articles in "Lectionary Homiletics"
2007-11-13 by David von Schlichten

I am looking forward to guest blogger Charles Grant's contribution this week, as well as to hearing from whoever wants to contribute. Dive in; the water's fine.

The gospel for November 18 has an apocalyptic focus. Sometimes I wonder if the Second Coming is going to happen. Perhaps we are to interpret eschatological passages metaphorically, not literally. I don't know.

I do know that we have much to be thankful for in our articles this week from Lectionary Homiletics. By the way, you can read for free Patrick Willson's “Preaching the Lesson” article if you go to Share It! and click on Free Samples from Lectionary Homiletics.

Here are highlights from this week's articles.

Theological Themes”

The last sentence of Kristin Johnston Largen's essay is a compass: “The time for discipleship is now; it is up to God to determine the rest” (p.55).

Pastoral Implications”

Steve Frazier makes clarifying use of Moltmann (who, by the way, released an engaging and thorough autobiography this year, published by Fortress Press), who, Frazier writes, sees the eschaton has happening, not in the future, but whenever “eternity breaks into time” (p.55). Frazier writes, “In Christ, the end has already come. In Christ, the end has been overcome” (p.55). When we experience God and share the God News with one another, we experience the end in the present.

Hmmm. As one of my excellent professors at Drew, Bill Stroker, used to say, “That's intriguing.”

Sermon Reviews”

Scott D. Seay provides eye-opening quotes from stunning preachers. Barbara Brown Taylor proclaims in the conclusion of her sermon on this text that “ [ . . . ] holding on to one another is how we hold onto our Lord” (p.57).

Seay also cites Tom Long's sermon, in which he contends that our temples are not only our buildings but are also “whatever structures we erect” that “hold our faith together” (p.58), such as marriage, family, or religious beliefs. When our structures collapse, we are tempted either to rebuild them exactly as they were or to be passive, assuming that the world is ending and that there is nothing we can do about that. A wiser response, according to Long, is to work at being the Church while also trusting that God “governs the cycle of destruction and renewal” (p.58).

These points from Long remind me of Thanksgiving, a time when we tend to look back with gratitude (and, often, grief) while also lamenting the present and future. What if we responded to Thanksgiving by resolving to continue to love God and neighbor while trusting that God is in charge of the raising and razing?

A Sermon”

In “Good Enough for God!” William R. Ellis, Jr. elevates an Afghani Muslim woman's loving, tough courage as an example of the embodiment of Christ. Accused of being an infidel because she promoted education for girls and human rights for women, she challenged the Taliban by citing the verses in the Quran that supported her position and then declaring that the Taliban could put her to death once they had checked the authenticity of her citations. The Taliban may kill her, but she has gained her soul. Wow.

The Holy Spirit seems to be calling me to preach on Thanksgiving this Sunday, but the Spirit also seems to be compelling me through these articles to preach on this passage from Luke. Perhaps the two fit together in a way that will work for a sermon.

Maybe something like this:

Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks for God's ongoing powerful presence throughout the centuries - in the 1600s among the Pilgrims and here with us today and tomorrow. God is in charge of the cycle of creation and destruction (like the seasons). We keep giving thanks, in part by persevering, as did the Afghani Muslim woman.

Praying and ruminating, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

This Week!
2007-11-12 by David Howell

Our guest preaching blogger is Charles Grant, pastor of Bon Air Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA. Prior to coming to Bon Air, Dr. Grant held pastorates in Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri. He wrote an adult education course, "How God's People Can Address Injustice," with Robert C. Linthicum.

In the Sermon Feedback Cafe this week, enjoy the special of the week, Pumpkin Spice Latte, and the art of The Westminster Gallery of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Westminster Presbyterian and Central Lutheran churches will host the Festival of Homiletics, May 19-23, 2008.

It's time to share your favorite Thanksgiving recipes at Divine Cuisine. Go to Share It, click on Divine Cuisine and then Submit Your Own. Check out the "Picture-Perfect Maple Glazed Turkey Recipe" and "Mary Lou's Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe." I understand that we have an "Oyster Dressing" (stuffing) recipe coming!

Tom, Rick, Sadducees, Teen Doubt
2007-11-09 by David von Schlichten

Please give me feedback on my sermon at the cafe. Go back to Homepage, then to Share It!, then to the Cafe. Chef Jean Paul has baked some fantastic pumpkin bread, so be sure to stop by the cafe. 

I am grateful for Rick and Tom's exchange below. They blog about veterans being among the neglected in our society, just as the widow in the Sadducees' hypothetical scenario is among the neglected. Yes, our society sometimes glorifies veterans, but there also lie forgotten and marginalized legions of veterans who gave much for the sake of others. 

Also, the idea of seeing the Sadducees' story from the widow's point of view is refreshing. I never thought of that and may use that perspective for the sermon.

I must confess, though, that my mind stares in another direction. This past Tuesday, my seventeen-year old son Michael expressed doubt about God's existence and indicated that he has little desire to attend worship. We had a calm discussion about all this. I indicated that doubt is part of the believer's journey and that I have been full of doubt myself at times. I also explained that, for several reasons, Sunday worship is still worth doing even if you don't want to be there. The conversation was productive and level.

In any event, at the intersection of Michael's sincere questioning and the Sadducees' dubious questioning stands my sermon, I think. I'm just not sure where that intersection is.

So I have pulled over to the side of the road and am now asking you for directions.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 

Veterans and the Lessons
2007-11-08 by Tom Steagald


I wonder if there might be some way to relate all of that to the texts for Sunday--the Haggai text seems especially apt at least as a word of comfort for those for whom the promise is a "past glory," and not just the returning veterans but all of those who remember a time (after WW II, say?) when it was different that this. There is challenge woven into that text, too, as the rebuilding begins.

And the Gospel text speaks to what, in the hypothetical case proposed by the Sadduccees, was the failed promise of levirate marriage. This "institution," which left the care for and hope of the woman to immediate family, did not produce what was intended. She was left, in a manner of speaking, homeless.

Clearly, the aim of the story and its telling is different, but I have never thought to think through the parable from the woman's point of view.  And just as clearly, Jesus' response is aimed past the "earthly," but the greater scope of his hospitality and regard could help us here.

What is the church but refuge for those for whom all other resource is lost? Whose only hope is in God and God's people? And what does that mean in terms of our daily work? Pretty powerful questions.

Outside World
2007-11-08 by Rick Brand

As we preachers discuss the traps put in front of Jesus and responses to it, the newspaper article made me wonder if I was trapped inside this story and Jesus would push me to look at the events outside.

This weekend is Veterans' Day. I have mainly tried to avoid the patriotism and glorification of military that comes with that holiday, but the newspaper article pointed in a different direction.

Maybe Veterans' Day needs to be back in our worship this Sunday. The story said that one out of every four homeless person was a veteran.  Maybe Jesus would be interested in these people.  Veterans have gone and volunteered to defend our principles, our values, our dreams, but when they have come home they have been betrayed and deceived.  The promised medical care has not been there for them.  These people who have gone to defend the promises of the government have been deceived by the promises that they would get to stay home for a rest only to be redeployed almost immediately. The National Guard has been used as our regular army.  Their stays have been extended.

Vietnam Veternams, First Gulf War Veterans and the veterans of these battles against terrorist went because they loved this country, but they have been among the must abused, mistreated, and deceived people in the country.  We have created a paramilitary organization like Blackwater who pays their employees much more than our soldiers receive.

The studies of domestic abuse, divorce and family problems in the military, the conditions of many of the military homes, the lack of good social services for the Veterans all point to the reality that we have not provided for our Veterans what the government, what we,  has promised to those who serve.

Maybe since the church is the place where the lost, lonely and broken come to be greeted by the Christ who knows our brokenness and offers us forgiveness and healing, maybe we need, now, to have Veterans recognized and prayed for in our worship.

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