This Week
2007-10-15 by David Howell

Ron Allen is our guest blogger (his first post is below). Watch for more posts on Luke 18:1-8 (as well as the posts of our regular bloggers). We are fortunate to have so many sharing their insights on the texts and preaching.

We've been promised some Williamsburg keep an eye on Divine Cuisine.

Over at the Sermon Feedback Cafe, Susan Eastman (NT professor at Duke) and Susan Andrews (General Presbyter from New York) are still talking about Nora Gallagher's sermon from Sunday. It's so busy that Chef Jean Paul had to hire some extra help to keep the coffee and tea flowing.

Nora Gallagher will be a speaker at the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis in May. Nora and Barbara Brown Taylor will offer writing workshops in addition to preaching and lecturing.

Luke 18:1-8
2007-10-15 by Ron Allen

Three big Lukan themes are in back of this text. The first is that Luke believes that the ministry of Jesus (and the coming of the Spirit) partially manifest realm of God in the present and point to its final and full coming in the near future. The apocalypse (the second coming of Jesus) will be the means of the final and full manifestation of the realm. For Luke, the realm is the restoration of all things to the way they were in Eden. The end-times will be like he beginning times.

Second, Luke believes that a delay is occurring in the final manifestation of the realm. Many people had expected the apocalypse to take place soon after the resurrection. Luke writes a generation later and it still has not occurred.

Third, many in the community are drifting away. Tensions have developed between the church and some traditional synagogues, between the church and Rome, and within the church. The community perceives itself as suffering. In the language of today's text, many people are losing heart.

Fourth, Luke understands prayer in a very specific way. For this writer, prayer is the intentional opening of the self and community to the presence of the realm. When the community prays, it seeks to make itself available to the working of the realm.

Sermon on 2 Timothy and Luke 17 (Oct. 14)
2007-10-12 by David von Schlichten


Endure; God Heals

(Word count: 608 )

Text: 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19

The great preacher Fred Craddock said in a sermon that most people he knows of who “turn in the keys,” who give up on serving the church, do not do so because of a sharp pain. They turn in the keys because they have “a dull ache all over.” In other words, Craddock says, they are tired.

We the baptized get tired, tired of trying to love God and serve the neighbor, tired of trying to help the needy, tired of cultivating faith in this unweeded garden called the world. After all, so many people are hungry, dying, sick, poor, marginalized. So many people need help, and progress merely plods forward or even tumbles backward. Ferocious evil seems omnipresent. Life throbs with unfairness.

Christians grew tired back in Bible times, as well. For instance, when you read all of 2 Timothy, it becomes evident that the original readers of the letter were growing tired. Being a Christian was demanding and even lethal. Paul says to Timothy and the other recipients of the letter, “Endure. I endure, and I want you to do the same. If you die with Christ, you will live with Christ. If you endure, you will reign. If you turn your back on Christ, there will be consequences, but Christ will never give up on you.” Paul says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed [ . . . ]” (v.15). In other words, do not give up. Endure. God has saved you, approved of you, so now you are to respond by enduring, persevering.

2 Timothy 4:21 tells us that, at the time that the letter was written, winter was approaching. Winter is harsh, dark, and deep. It is surely coming, but persevere, endure, with power from the Spirit, living like the approved people we are, thanks be to Christ.

Do you feel like giving up as a Christian? Unanswered questions, prayers that seem to go unopened, evil crowding around us, war in Iraq, genocide in the Darfur, school shootings, sexism, legions of people ignoring the call to combat global warming.

Instead of giving up, we persevere, endure, the Holy Spirit empowering us to do so. The Bible, Baptism, and Holy Communion are gifts from God to restore, feed and heal us. Worship, prayer, sermons, hymns – all these blessings strengthen us to endure, perservere. God forgives and restores us.

God also gives us each other to help with enduring and persevering. We stand together as a group, Jew and Samaritan, White and Hispanic, Black and Asian, Catholic and Protestant, male and female, elderly and teenaged, Democrat and Republican – we stand together as a group and cry out together, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Together, one, with the Spirit filling us with breath, we cry out with enduring voice, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Then Jesus heals us. He may heal us of disease. He may send us a doctor or medicine. Jesus may heal us with comforting words from each other. Jesus may heal us with a hot meal, a gentle evening, a purring cat on the lap. Over and over God heals us through Scripture, Baptism, Holy Communion. God heals us by forgiving us our sins.

Jesus Christ, in various ways, makes us clean and new, all of us, regardless of our differences, and we respond by all of us, despite our differences, kneeling before God and saying, “Thank you” and then showing ourselves to the Church, announcing, “God enabled us to endure, and we did. Now God has healed us. Thanks be to God! We still have problems, but God still endures. We stick together, one, enduring, knowing God continues in ways large and tiny, to heal us.”

David von Schlichten, poedifier

Our First Book!
2007-10-12 by Dee Dee Haines

Our first Book Club selection is Preaching as Testimony, by Anna Carter Florence. 

In trying to compose an invitation to readers, I searched and searched, hoping to find a quote that would be so eye catching that no one could resist.  But the book is so well crafted, so artfully composed that taking just one quote would have been like stealing one note from a song.  It wouldn’t sound the same--- and it would not be what the composer intended. So, read just the introduction to see if you don’t agree that this book will alter our thinking about the practice of preaching.  If you’re anything like this preacher, you’ll be hooked. Post your thoughts and comments in the Book Club portion of Share It! 

To Nora and Rick
2007-10-12 by Tom Steagald

Nora--what a beautiful treatment of the story! Having worked for a while in an AIDs hospice while finishing my DMin at Candler, I saw so much of my own experience there: from the fear I felt before my first day (heightened by my son asking if I was going to die by working there) to the realization that I was far more dangerous to my patients than they were to me. Healing and hope can flicker, indeed as Venus, in that darkness. Here and there, says Buechner by way of Tillich, now and then...

To Rick I would suggest a different approach. By that I mean that, several cycles ago as I studied this text, I noted the significance of the phrase "Now he was a Samaritan." My sense is that Luke is telling us that the other nine were Jews, able in the first instance to show themselves to a priest whereas the Samaritan could not, but even more to the point is this: the community that was formed in their mutual plight was not strong enough to endure their healing. Sick, there were no distinctions between them, they called with one voice; healed, the fellowship unraveled. No, nothing wrong with their going to the priest. The Samaritan, in effect, went to his priest who was Jesus. What is sad is that they were not able to maintain a fellowship beyond their "healed" distinctions.

Does that make sense? Which is to ask, does that seem an apt or valid reading? I think in my own experience of "emergency room" fellowship where the bonds of suffering unite people quite strongly for as long as the emergency lasts, but then people go back to their prior and separate ways of relatiing. Certainly, that is not the main point, but it seems to ring true to me.

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