Sermon Outline (Aug. 19) and the King
2007-08-16 by David von Schlichten

I think I saw Elvis this morning at Wal-Mart. He was buying peanut butter and bananas. Just kidding, of course. He was actually buying socks.

Unfulfillment: Rick Brand has an insightful blog below on unfulfillment. His thoughts, in addition to my time with my Wednesday Bible study yesterday, have led me to the following sermon outline, thanks be to the Holy Spirit.


main point: Although the Church encounters much frustrating unfulfillment, God is still in charge; therefore, we keep running the race, trusting that fulfillment will come because of God.

texts: Hebrews mainly, but also Gospel

A. Elvis: Loved Gospel music; won three Grammys, all for Gospel music; loved God;

     1. Tragically, his own fame led him into sin and confusion 

     2. Died a legend, but there is also a sense of unfulfillment in that his fame led him away from living properly for God

B. Our lessons speak of unfulfillment, as well

     1. Jesus in the Gospel: the Good News divides families, and people can predict the weather but they can't see God working right in front of them

     2. Hebrews: the great cloud of witnesses remains unfulfilled if we do not persist; they need us to run the race

C. Unfulfillment can be discouraging: the Church falls short, the world falls short, so much division, even within families, false prophets mislead us

D. But God is still supreme: God has made us, saved us, sanctified us, baptized us into the larger family called the cloud, feeds us, teaches us

E. Therefore we can run the race, with Jesus as our past, pioneer, and perfecter

F. Through God will come fulfillment, so we keep running, powered by God, living in the Land of Grace

 David von Schlichten, poedifier

Unfulfillment and Dog Days
2007-08-15 by David von Schlichten

I will post my additional exegetical reflections and my sermon outline tomorrow (Thursday).  

But first, I find valuable Rick Brand pointing out that the theme of unfulfillment recurs in the lessons. His observation reminds me of a poem I wrote two or three years ago. Maybe someone will find it germane and helpful for proclamation.


The few of us who persist

Are sweltering, not just outside,

But inside, too, a fire in our bones,

All throughout these long, drawn days of summer.


Many Sundays the worship house is almost empty,

Dull echoes against stone and wood,

Animals nearby silent in the humidity.


Just weeks ago, on Pentecost,

The words, the language, floated out of me,

Shaped my mouth in foreign ways,

A language I had never studied but now could speak.

Dozens of us, in different languages, spoke the Gospel as one,

The Spirit's howl fresh in our ears,

Her fire scarlet over our heads.

Then 3,000 jumped into the river,

Thirsty for baptism, the miracle of tongues and

Peter's sermon still burning within them.


That night, we slapped each others' backs, drank wine,

Sang to God, dreamed of the world entire

Knowing the name of Jesus.


I still can speak that strange language,

Feel my tongue moving and trilling in odd ways,

Still feel the holy fire burning inside me,

Even as, on any given Sunday, 3,000 is sometimes

As low as thirty.

We who have as our center

The burial cave God shook open

And the power to tell this to anyone in any language

Refuse to let a little summer apathy conquer us.


David von Schlichten, poedifier

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.


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.


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

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