Troubling Story
2010-09-21 by David von Schlichten

I agree, Stephen, that the story is theologically troubling. You have articulated the problems better than I can. 

On a related note, it is easy with this story to fall into finger-pointing. "You're a rich man who needs to shape up or else." We indeed may be rich people who need to shape-up or else, but the emphasis on the finger-wagging tends to focus on guilt and not on grace.

Rather than pointing the finger, let's call people to extend a hand. Isn't the latter really the point?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Not for Past or Future: Now
2010-09-21 by Stephen Schuette

This story is troubling for me theologically.  The final judgment that goes on forever, the chasm that has been immovably and insurmountably fixed in place, the unwillingness of Moses to send a warning when, finally, the rich man seems to be feeling a sense of sympathy toward members of his family, at least, are all challenging.  And while the beatitudes suggest this reversal is coming to see the punishment graphically described makes me wonder about the God who fixes these chasms and allows warnings to go unspoken.

There’s the often-noticed aspects of the story.  The rich man is unnamed while Lazarus is remembered.  The rich man “looks up” from Hades and this is his usual attitude.  He looked up his whole life, never down, and continues to look up.  He is a climber, a competitor, someone who wishes to ascend and this attitude and desire doesn’t change for him even in Hades.  He remains isolated in his own self-interest, even though he does finally show some interest in his family.

But the irony of this story (perhaps continuing the irony of this section of Luke?) is that this is a story about eternal punishment in which the eternal punishment is not available as a warning.  To use this story as a warning may, in fact, undermine the real point of the story – that concern about oneself and one’s own well being whether temporally or eternally should not be the motivation for a change of heart and love for your neighbor.  So rather than supporting a modern, corner, bull-horn prophet-of-doom ministry this story is actually a critique of such an approach.  People can’t be warned to love their neighbor as themselves.

The irony continues.  Could someone returning from the dead be motivation?  No, insists Jesus (!) “…neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”  We know that Luke puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on community, especially in volume 2, Acts.  In fact, community is always the setting in which the risen Christ appears.  This story where there is lack of community and stratification has the consequence of more stratification.  Does Jesus not want the resurrection to be used as personal warning or co-opted for a new stratified society?   Is the doctrinal affirmation of resurrection that someone knows only conceptually a poor substitute for a real witness to resurrection as it is lived out in genuineness of community?

Perhaps this story contains the original theology of praxis, that we don’t believe our way into faith but that we live our way into faith.  Perhaps, even within the gospels, the resurrection is not so much event as it is ongoing, lived newness so that whether looking backward or forward in the story the real setting is this moment.





Amos, Sabbath-Abuse, Poor-Abuse
2010-09-18 by David von Schlichten

For Sunday, September 19, I will preach on Amos, providing people with an overview of the book. I will emphasize the book's critique of northern Israel engaging in exploitation of the poor as well as empty piety. Indeed, misuse of worship and exploitation of the poor are related. I will point out ways that we are guilty of such sins and then go on to proclaim how Christ has saved us, despite our sins.

I will post the sermon at the cafe soon.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Thank you, Stephen Schuette and David von Schlichten!
2010-09-16 by David Howell

Many thanks to Stephen Schuette and David von Schlichten for their consistent and thoughtful contributions to the Homiletical Hot Tub.



Un-Other One Another on October 11
2010-09-15 by David von Schlichten

I am sick of pastors and so-called Christians who encourage othering, the categorizing as inferior people who are different from oneself. Othering is fundamentally unChristian.

So I am proposing that we all observe October 11 as Un-Other Day, on which we will celebrate tolerance and accepting one another as equals. I encourage people to wear every color of the rainbow on that day as a way of embracing humanity's diversity.

Un-Othering. We could preach about the book of Jonah, in which Jonah is challenged by God to un-other the Ninevites, and then invite parishioners to un-other one another. The Good Samaritan would be another effective un-othering text.

We can preach that we are to un-other one another. Sure beats burning a Qur'an.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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