Sad Day
2011-03-24 by David Howell

We join with the congregation of the Bethel United Church of Christ, Elmhurst, IL, in mourning the loss of their pastor, Rev. Steve Schuette, who died March 17, 2011.

He was a regular blogger at www.GoodPreacher.com and a writer for Lectionary Homiletics.

He will be greatly missed by all.





Where do you get this water?
2011-03-21 by David Howell

...You may ask where you get water like this, as the woman at the well asked of Jesus. The answer, of course, is that you don’t get it at all. It gets you. It comes unexpectedly, as you sit by a well doing the familiar and someone speaks in a way that catches you off guard. It comes as a gift. Like the best gifts of all, it comes without earning, the abundant expression of affection that flows from the heart of the giver. It comes in seeing your worth reflected in the eyes of another. It comes in the word of forgiveness sought and forgiveness given. It comes in facing the sufferings that we have endured and the ones we have inflicted; and, God help us, it is discovering that for all the wells we have visited and all the springs from which we have drunk, this is the one we have sought all along, because he is there, in Spirit and in Truth—because He is there.

Jon M. Walton, pastor of The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, will speak at the Festival of Homiletics in May.

The above is from his preaching article in Lectionary Homiletics/GoodPreacher this week.

 





John 3:16 and the Environment
2011-03-19 by David von Schlichten

My sermon at the cafe is an ecological one based on John 3:16. Let me know what you think.

You can also scroll down to read Rick Brand's sermon from last week on the dangers of the boredom of everyday life. So true.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Psalm 121 and a Question I Have
2011-03-17 by David von Schlichten

Scroll down to read a smart reflection on God's amazing grace and Romans 4. Stephen Schuette has provided us with that reflection.

I'm thinking of preaching on Psalm 121--one of my favorites--which assures us that God is with us to protect us. The psalm focuses on travel (probably originally a pilrgimage to Jerusalem).

Of course, the reality is that God does not protect us from every danger. The sun can strike us. We can get hurt during our going out or coming in.

So then, is the psalm wrong, or does it mean something else when it talks about protection, or is the psalm employing some sort of declaration of confidence in God that is supposed to compel God to act? What do you think?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Life's Not Fair, Thank Goodness
2011-03-16 by Stephen Schuette

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

I want things to be understandable.  I want there to be a natural flow and pattern that is predictable so that I can manage outcomes.  For if life unfolds on the basis of expected consequences I can control it.

Maybe you know the John Shea story called Shame on Al from Stories, p. 215).   It begins, “Al died jogging, and his friends knew why…”  They continue to explain that he  shouldn’t have been jogging at his age, without a doctor’s evaluation, and that his whole life-style set him up for this.  So they “…buried Al with blame.”

If it worked that way I could live to be 100 and not have to deal with my own mortality until then.

I know that Paul’s use of the word “was reckoned” (elogisthe) is technically different from the way we used it when I was growing up in Missouri.  To “reckon” something there was to imagine or suppose or believe there’s a chance, as in, I reckon it’s going to rain.  When you reckon something you make a prediction that’s not 100% sure, and there’s a chance it might not happen because you know the future is open and all things are possible.  So from a human point of view you can only “reckon,” acknowledging our inability to be totally sure.

While exercising some poetic license, I don’t want to say that God simply reckons it’s going to work out with Abraham.  God’s promise is sure.  But I do want to say that God is a variable that can turn things in new and different directions outside the course of predictable outcomes.

It’s impossible (and unfair to Paul) to take this passage literally.  The passage itself is convoluted.  I’m glad I don’t have to diagram these sentences.  And I wonder if this isn’t an impression that Paul wants to leave, that these things are beyond our full understanding and don’t follow strict rules of human logic, if…therefore.  And what unsettles the predictable outcomes is a virtual tsunami of grace that sweeps everything with it, whether you’re under the law, or not under the law, or beyond the law.

And as I read this passage this time around there was something I may have overlooked previously…that “it’s guaranteed….to the adherents of the law.”  How could it be otherwise if grace abounds and frees those under the law?  In other words, it’s also for those who would blame Al.





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