Bible Sermon Dilemma
2007-11-02 by Tom Steagald

Hey, David von Schlichten ...

I am not sure that I agree that love is the overarching theme of the Bible--or if it is, it is a specific kind of love, defined not by prior associations of what love might be but specific connotations related to how God acts in the world and among believers. In sum, God's love takes on specific shape in creation, redemption, and especially--I think this is key--election. I am a Methodist, but the doctrine of election seems to me the (oft-forgotten but) overarching theme of Scripture.

God calls Abram and Sarai; God calls Samuel and David; Jesus calls disciples and all are put to specific work in builiding/rebuilding the Kingdom of God. It is grace that includes us in that plan (Ephesians 1 sings praise to God who lavishes grace upon us and makes us both precursors and meanwhile participants, incarnational harbingers and bold preachers of the coming kingdom). The death and resurrection of Jesus prove both that the responsibilities that come with God's election/call are matters of life and death, but also that as Jesus faithfulness to God was vindicated by resurrection (Kasemann), our faithfulness is vindicated by the presence of the Holy Spirit and hope.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I think many Christians have lost any sense of "placement" in the grand narrative of the texts: they do not see themselves in the Bible's story, do not know they are called, that they are a part of God's recreating and redemptive work, that they have been given both the ministry and the message of reconciliation (again, to my ear, a edgier and stronger word than love). That message makes our ministry in the world; that ministry incarnates our message--and all of it a result of God's call, of Jesus' summons, of the Spirit's empowering.

I do not know how any of that speaks to or helps with your final sermon...not that your final sermon needs any help I could offer it, even. I am just saying that those kinds of issues are what I am trying to deal with here, and All Saints (on the heels of Reformation Sunday) give me ready access to those notions.

Grace, Tom

Sermon Feedback Cafe
2007-11-02 by CJ Teets

Rick Brand has offered up a Communion Meditation on Psalm 119 at Sermon Feedback Cafe.

And David von Schlichten has asked for suggestions on his Bible Sermon Dilemma (see below).

You may give them both feedback by going to Homepage, Share It! and Sermon Feedback Cafe (and click on Submit Your Own). It's also Live Jazz Friday with 25 cent Columbian shade grown coffee.

Bible Sermon Dilemma
2007-11-01 by David von Schlichten

This Sunday I will be preaching part three of my sermon series on understanding the Bible. So far, I have said the following:

1. That the death and resurrection of Jesus is the key to interpreting the Bible

2. The Bible is, not infallible, but inspired by God and useful for teaching us to grow as Christians (2 Timothy 3:16)

3. Context is important when interpreting and applying the Bible

4. Love is the main theme of the Bible, especially as revealed through the death and resurrection of Christ

5. Loving others overrides rigid rule following

There will also be a hand-out in the bulletin that summarizes these points and lists passages that I have found especially valuable.

What should I proclaim in my final sermon of the series?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Blessed Oasis in the Preaching Life!
2007-11-01 by David Howell

See Divine Cuisine!

Go to Homepage and Share It!

And we have some saints with halloween hangovers offering Dave feedback on his halloween sermon in Sermon Feedback Cafe.

Becca Stevens; Warren Buffet; Highlights of this Week's Articles from "Lectionary Homiletics"
2007-10-30 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Becca Stevens for being our guest blogger this week. Be sure to scroll down to read her entry, which includes her tracing of themes and motifs across several chapters of Luke. She also writes about a profound encounter she had with two Sudanese women.

Here are my highlights of this week's articles in the current issue of Lectionary Homiletics:


Seung Ai Yang provides fresh thoughts. For starters, Zacchaeus' small stature is to suggest that he has a small spirit. Compare Zacchaeus' height to the verses that say that Jesus grew in both wisdom and stature (see Luke 2:40, 52).

Yang also notes that, according to the Greek, the crowd may be actually trying to keep Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus. Also, it is unclear whether Zacchaeus is saying that he will start giving half of what he has to the poor (as evidence of his conversion) or if he is describing his current practice of giving half to the poor. Yang concludes by saying that the story has much to teach us about the social obstacles that exist for outsiders.

Kristin Johnston Largen provides a solid essay for “Theological Themes,” which you can read for free in the “Samples” section. Just click on “Samples” and then “Coming Sunday Samples.” (By the way, Dr. Largen is a professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, one of the greatest seminaries on the planet, known for producing pastors who are also first-rate bloggers.)

Pastoral Implications”

Steve Frazier notes that, while it is difficult for many of us to have compassion for the wealthy, such people are indeed sometimes excluded and victimized. People often are interested in such people more for their money than for who they are as a person, and negative stereotypes about the rich abound.

Frazier also suggests that Zacchaeus may not be as generous as he seems at first. He is giving away half of his wealth, but he still gets to keep half. He says that he will pay back quadruple any money he has taken fraudulently from someone, but he never admits that he has defrauded anyone. He also does not speak negatively about the Romans, with whom he has an alliance, nor does he give up being a tax collector. Despite all this, - and here is the main point – Jesus declares that salvation has come to Zacchaeus' house. Zacchaeus' salvation comes from God's grace being shown to a son of Abraham, not from Zacchaeus earning grace through his dubious sacrifices. 

Sermon Reviews”

Scott D. Seay summarizes a sermon by Roberta Bondi in which, among other things, she plays with the idea that it may actually be Jesus who is short, not Zacchaeus. She notes that the Greek is ambiguous, so “short” could refer to Zacchaeus or Jesus. Bondi goes on to proclaim that many of us tend to picture Jesus as tall, handsome, and good-looking, but to insist that he must have looked that way is to take away from Jesus' humanity. In truth, Jesus could have been ugly, obese, and, of course, short.

A Sermon”

In “Zacchaeus, Again?” frequent blogger Rick Brand preaches that we are supposed to understand the story of Zacchaeus as humorous but that many of us are disinclined to see humor in the Bible, because we think that the Bible is all serious.

By the way, the third richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, has recently noted that he pays a smaller percentage in taxes than the secretaries and others who work for him. He has declared the need for a correction of this injustice.

I won't be preaching on Zacchaeus, because we are celebrating All Saints this Sunday and will be using the Lukan version of the Beatitudes for our gospel. By the way, the connections between the Zacchaeus story and the Beatitudes are lucrative.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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