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.

Upon Further Review
2007-11-07 by Tom Steagald

The easy observation is, of course, that the Sadduccees have come to bait and trap Jesus... certainly the earlier attempts by others to ask questions of authority and taxes were attempts to tangle Jesus with his own words. But in this text there is no mention of duplicity or a hidden agenda. The Sadduccees just ask a question.

The question feels "stock," but let us not be too hasty to conclude they are merely rendering the issue absurd. This is precisely the kind of case study that some minds are so fond of exploring. Besides, is it mere rhetoric when Pilate asks,  "What is truth?" Perhaps he is trying to trap Jesus, or dismiss what Pilate might have seen as idealism...Or does he, as Buechner so famously reflected, really want to know? Is there truth? Given the cynicism that surely infects life-long government officials, Pilate may in fact want to know.

Is there resurrection? Could that be a real question even for those who are on record as not believing in such? Were the Sadduccees familiar enough with the reports of Jesus' ministry, impressed enough with Jesus' person, to ask that in legitimate terms? Jesus, you say there is a resurrection but our own tradition of levirate marriage would seem to say otherwise. How can you reconcile the two? How do you answer?

Is it a trap or a real question? If the former, well, no big surprise--the text is easily reduced to they say he says and we of course agree with him and disagree with them and what does that mean for us today? But perhaps the question is simply posed in such terms as to discount simplistic answers.

Maybe what I have read as cheek and condescension is, somewhere under the obvious, a real seriousness... as in, don't tell me God is good all the time and everywhere until you take serious account of the counter-argument.

And still, one is reminded of Anthony Flew's "death by a thousand qualifications." Perhaps they are rendering belief in the resurrection as absurd as they can. The tenor of the question feels like...what? Bemusement? Sarcasm? Ridicule? Jesus' answer seems to suggest how one can read Moses differently from Zadok's heirs...

The temptaions earlier in Luke culminate in the Temple (not on the mountain as in Matthew), and here near the end we are back at the Temple for more questions: authority, taxes, life after death...pretty basic stuff, the kind everyone talks about, even a Sadduccee. But here on the Sadduccees' home turf (Craddock) they take on even sharper significance--and all the more so if the Sadduccees, like other inquiring minds, may really want to know.

If the tenor of the Sadduccees questions is, well, whatever it is--however you read or hear it--what is interesting is that Jesus answers with respect and on his questioner's own terms. He treats the question as legitimate inquiry and an opportunity for doctrinal discussion--whether the question is real or not. He cites "their" scripture in his attempt to teach and correct, but he does not dismiss them (as I am so inclined, for instance, to dismiss and disregard the clean-cut young men on my front porch with the nametags and short sleeves and alternate scriptures; for sure I never engage in debate!). And in vs. 39 "some of the scribes" commend him. They no longer dare to ask him anything... but the reasons for that decision could well be complex.

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