Unfulfilled
2007-08-15 by Rick Brand

There seems to be a common theme in the texts this week. Nobody is happy. Nothing is going the way it should, and they did not get all that they wanted.

God is not happy with the results. Jesus is restless because he is not yet creating the kind of response he came for and the saints all finished. They did not receive what they had been promised.

Not a Sunday for the "blue bonnet" theology. (Every thing is better with Jesus on it.)  But perhaps a good week for the congregation trying to get through the dog days of summer and nothing seems to be going right.





Hebrews, Craddock, and Apathy
2007-08-14 by David von Schlichten

Fred Craddock has a marvelous sermon based on these verses for Sunday. In the sermon he explains that the congregation for whom Hebrews was written has "lost its Amen." Craddock notes that many congregations lose their Amen, their zeal and passion, but this congregation is not "down on its all-fours looking for it. It doesn't care." The congregation has become apathetic.

The writer of Hebrews, Craddock proclaims, is a pastor trying to revive this congregation that has lost its Amen, has ceased to care.

Part of Craddock's focus in the sermon, then, is on apathy and on showing that sometimes Christians are afflicted with apathy but that, at the same time, there are many Christians who care.

Along these lines, Craddock tells the story of a woman who wants to leave the Church because she thinks no one cares about her. Craddock tries to convince her that people do care. Finally, she says, "Name some people who care about me." Craddock then says to the congregation, "May I give her your name?" and ends the sermon.

Craddock tells another story, which I will put on the "Share It!" site. It's fantastic.

More later.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, poedifier





Initial Thoughts Regarding the Lessons for August 19, 2007
2007-08-14 by David von Schlichten

I went to my weekly pericope group this morning, but we ended up not talking about the lessons. Oh well. We still had worthwhile discussion.

Anyway, here are initial thoughts about this Sunday's readings, especially the Hebrews text and the Gospel.

Hebrews:

Richard Steele's article in Lectionary Homiletics, "Theological Themes," contains numerous valuable insights.

Steele warns against the "de-formative" effects of "spiritual amnesia" and "spiritual nostalgia," the former being forgetting one's heritage and the latter being living in the past (p.22). The passage warns against such deformative practices.

Steele also says, continuing his explication of the Hebrew text, that we look back to Christ as an historical figure, but he is also our "pioneer" ahead of us, showing us how to proceed. Steele says, "We are like oarsmen in a rowboat: facing one way, moving the other" (p.22).

Further, Steele writes of the importance of tradition and community working together. Tradition helps to guide community. Steele then quotes Jaroslav Pelikan, who writes, "Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living" (p.22).

By the way, one may view this entire article for free at the "Samples" section here at this website.

Luke:

This passage is shocking with its anti-family tone. Parishioners will wonder what to make of this passage. The key is that following Christ will inevitably lead to division. The point is not that Christ wants families turning against each other but that families inevitably do so as a result of him.

Indeed, one does not have to look hard in a congregation to find several examples of families in which there is tension and even division over religious practices. For example, there is a wife whose husband makes fun of her for going to church each week while he sleeps in.

As David Tiede says in his Augsburg Commentary on Luke (Augsburg, 1988), "Even God's will to save and to fulfill the promises confronts and exposes resistance and rejection and provokes deep divisions" (p.244).

I'll let you know tomorrow what meditation, prayer, further study and time with my pericope group yield.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, poedifier





Homiletical Questions
2007-08-10 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Rick Brand (and Rina Terry) for the challenge of questions. I will keep such guidance in mind as I write and revise my sermons to be more challenging.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, poet and pastor





A Good Question
2007-08-10 by Rick Brand

I was asked what are we to do and how are we to preach if we are angry as Rev. Terry and I are.  That is a good question. I have taken a long time to ponder the answer.

I do not make social causes or issues the subject of a sermon. But the implications of so much of the good news of God's grace impacts our our human community and thus on our social agenda.

I think that what Rev. Terry did was the best way? That is we need to ask the questions?  It seems to me that we as preachers need to be the ones who ask the hard questions. Like God in the Garden of Eden?  Where are you?   Why do we make a big deal about bridge safety and then two thirds of us say we will not pay more taxes on gas to fix them?  Why do we want better schools but will not go to PTA meetings?   How can we as God's servants continue to drive cars that get pitiful gas mileage when European cars can get twice our mileage?

It is not necessary for us to have a program or an issue to answer our question. Just ask the question?  Why do we say we want to involve more young people in our churches and then will not sing any of the songs they like?  It would not be appropriate to load a sermon with too many questions but certainly every sermon could have a hard question in it somewhere?  

I suspect that there are those who read this site who have better suggestions than this.





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