READER QUESTION: Preaching the Good News without Trying to Convert
2011-08-10 by David von Schlichten

Here is a question I received (Thanks, reader!): 

Is it eisegesis to read into all these texts a much larger  ecumenical spirit than is reflected in most Christian discussions of evangelism?  There seems to be a much more willingness to share and to include others without making them pass some theological test. Is that a \"reach\"?

What do you think? I'll tell you what I think in a day or two, but I'd first LOVE to hear from readers. You can send me an email or submit a post for publication here.

Eager for discussion, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Initial Thoughts for August 14, 2011; Jesus Learns a Lesson?
2011-08-08 by David von Schlichten

August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption, so this would be an apt time to reflect on Mary.

August 14 is the commemoration day for World War II/Holocaust martyrs Maximilian Kolbe and Kaj Munk. Kolbe volunteered to starve to death in the death camps so that another person wouldn't have to. Munk wrote anti-Nazi pieces that got him killed.

Genesis 45: Joseph is reunited with his brothers. If I were to preach on this, I'd want to summarize the story, of course. This story shows us God present, working for good, even when God seems absent.

Isaiah 56: Foreigners, not just the people of Israel, are invited to serve God and receive God's blessings. Outsiders are welcome.

Psalm 67: This is a call for all people to praise God. How do we work toward an international policy of universal praise of the divine?

Romans 11: God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that God may be merciful to all. That sounds cruel and self-serving of God. What do you make of that passage?

Matthew 15: What's up with Jesus being so rude to this Canaanite woman? Is he testing her? Is he putting on an act? Or is Jesus actually learning to be more open-minded here? Is a woman teaching Jesus?

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

Wrapped in humidity, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 

Sermon Ideas for August 7, 2011
2011-08-04 by David von Schlichten

August 6 is the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. August 9 is the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. August 7 would be a fitting date on which to reflect on violence and the Christian call to end it.

Genesis 37: The beginning of the Joseph saga. How does God use family dysfunction and evil in general for good?

1 Kings 19: Is God in the still, small voice (the passage doesn't say)? Regardless, it is clear that God is not necessarily present in the storm, earthquake, etc. (although people are quick to think that such events are Acts of God). More importantly, Elijah, who thinks all is lost, is reassured that all is not.

Romans 10 reminds us of the importance of sharing the Good News. In what ways can all of us function as preachers? How do we share the Good News with someone without trying to convert them? When should we try to convert someone?

Matthew 14: How does Jesus come to us in the midst of storms? Do we sometimes mistake him for a ghost? How does Jesus enable us to walk on water, i.e., to do what we thought was impossible? What/who causes us to sink? How does Jesus reach out and rescue us?

What are your ideas? Feel free to send me an email or to submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Initial Thoughts for August 7, 2011
2011-07-31 by David von Schlichten

Genesis 37: Who doesn't love the story of Joseph? In this passage we have a dysfunctional family and the beginning of the unfolding of God's plan. Soap opera a la Bible.  

1 Kings 19: This is the alternate first reading and tells of Elijah on Horeb feeling despair over his perilous state. People are quick to make fun of Elijah for feeling sorry for himself, but I don't blame him one bit. I've pitied myself over far less. He has Jezebel after him! 

People are also quick to say that God is present in the "still, small voice" (or however we should translate that), but I'm not so sure. The passage IS saying that God is NOT present in the usual theophanies, but I don't know that it is saying that God IS present in the still, small voice. Maybe that's why Elijah seems unaffected by the still, small voice. That is, maybe the dynamic is not that he is dense. Maybe the dynamic is that the still, small voice is nothing special. It's just the calm after the theophanies. After all, the phrase could also be translated as "the sound of sheer silence" (reminds me of Simon and Garfunkel).

In any case, one thing is clear: when we feel like all is lost, it is not. God assures Elijah that he is not the only believer left and that God will empower him to continue. When we're thinking that no one cares anymore about the Church, we are to think again.

Romans 10: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. What exactly does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?

The passage also exhorts people to share the Good News. How do we evangelize in a postmodern, pluralistic context? In other words, how do we evangelize without being jerks?

Matthew 14:22-33: In what ways does Jesus empower us to walk on water? If the water represents chaos or danger, then in what ways does Jesus enable us to walk on that, enable us not to sink but to do the miraculous in the face of the terrifying?

Ramadan starts August 1, so this would be a good time to speak a positive word about our Muslim sibs.

Also, the ever dysfunctional Washington has managed to reach a debt agreement. Thanks be to God! How does the dysfunction of Washington reflect our own? How do we citizens enable that dysfunction among our politicians? How do our readings address this set of dynamics?

What are your thoughts? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication here in the Tub.

Doing VBS this week, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Semon Ideas for July 31, 2011
2011-07-28 by David von Schlichten

1. What did they do with the baskets left over from the feeding of the over-five thousand?

2. If Christ feeds us so much, why are billions starving?

3. Genesis 32: How do we wrestle with God? How does God bless us in the wrestling? (We need to have a care here, lest we fall into blaming God for our suffering.)

4. Compassion: Psalm 145 (one of Sunday's options) speaks of God's compassion. Jesus shows compassion on the people in Matthew. Paul has compassion for his fellow Jews. How does God show compassion in our lives, and how are we to share compassion with each other?

5. In what ways does God feed us physically and spiritually? Is there overlap between the two? (Remember that physical and spiritual are not really opposites. People just THINK they are.)

6. Does Paul's argument in Romans 9-11 about Israel's rejection of Christ being part of the plan open the door to the possibility that the rejection of Christ on the part of other religious groups might also be part of the plan? If these rejections are part of the plan, then maybe these other groups, like Israel, will eventually be saved (see Romans 11).

7. How are we in exile? How does God bring us home?

8. In Matthew, we hear that Jesus ordered the people to sit on the grass. I am reminded of the Shepherd making us to lie in green pastures.

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

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 

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