Introduction
2010-08-02 by Adam Grosch

Hi my name is Adam Grosch, your guest blogger for this week.  It is a sunny day here in Salem Oregon.  It is beautiful, breezy and in the low 80s.  We are certainly in the heart of summer as a majority of our staff here at Westminster Presbyterian Church is out on vacation.  Worship was even a little thin yesterday.  Our high school mission team just left for New Orleans and I imagine there are a lot of others in the congregation who are traveling as well.

 

For some reason, when I was outlining my sermons for the summer I chose the lectionary passage from Isaiah.  I think I probably chose it because at the time I had been working on Micah 6.  Now I feel like anything I offer on Isaiah would just be a stale regurgitation of Micah so with the informality of the summer, I think I may choose to focus on the gospel this week instead.

 

I know why I shied away from the gospel when I first looked at the lectionary choices for this week.  I was afraid of it, which is probably a good reason why I should preach on it.  That last verse is a tough one, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”  I don’t really understand what this means.  Is it a reference to the second coming of Christ?  I have a fairly orthodox understanding of Christian eschatology – that our true hope rests in resurrection on the day of our Lord and that a new age will be inaugurated when heaven and earth become one.  Is all this related to this verse?  Whenever I talk about the second coming with my congregation, they always get a glazed look in their eyes.  I am not sure why – it may be because I haven’t done a good job of explaining true Christian hope and they only have some quasi-Christian understanding of “going to heaven when I die.”  The one time that I can get away with talking about the second coming is when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper – “whenever we eat this bread or drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.”  Too bad we just celebrated communion yesterday.  The other problem I run into when talking about Jesus’ return is that it seems like an event that is so far away that it really doesn’t have any practical application for today.  I can understand the feeling.  But there must be some implication for us today – even if it is an event of the distant future.

        

The other thing I am wondering is the boundaries of the pericope for the gospel lection.  There really seems to be three distinct sections: 32 through 34; 35 through 38; and 39 through 40.  I wonder why they are all put together.  32 through 34 I always thought was more related to the verses that come before it, Luke’s version of “do not worry” found in Matthew 6, rather than the verses that come after it.  As I begin my study of this passage, I will have to look more closely at this.

                                   

Well, I certianly have more questions than answers for you.  Maybe you have questions to.  Feel free to send them to me.  The more questions the better - especially for a Monday.  Questions are a pretty good thing to have for a sermon that has all week to come together.

                                              

Adam Grosch

Westminster Presbyterian Church
Salem, Oregon





Existential Angst and the Metaphysical Band-Aid
2010-07-29 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Jacqueline King for her post, especially her quote from John Wesley. Please scroll down to read all that. You'll be glad you did.

The first reading for this Sunday in the ELCA is from the opening verses of Ecclesiastes and focuses on the dread and despair many of us feel about the injustice and inscrutability of life. This message is worth voicing from the pulpit, because many of us have thought these words. This Sunday, I will preach this angst.

Of course, I will go on to proclaim how the gospel redeems us from death, sin, and, of course, angst, but I don't want to be too quick to dismiss the angst. It is palpable for legions of us, and I don't want the Good News to come across as some metaphysical band-aid.

Any guidance?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





The Good Times
2010-07-26 by Jacqueline King

The Good Times

In Louisiana we have a saying, “Laissez le bon temps rouler!” It translates, “Let the good times roll!” In my town, that seems to be the daily mantra. Pageants, parades, parties, fun, festivities, and food dominate the social landscape of many events. We even have drive thru daiquiri shops (actually, they are scattered all throughout Louisiana). How is that legal, you ask? Well, the daiquiri seller puts tape at the top of the straw trusting the driver to take the drink home and consume to one’s satisfaction. (Well, the seller is supposed to apply the tape).

When Oprah Winfrey visited the town a few years back, she commented that it is “the best little city in the U.S.A.” She visited the town few months after September 11, 2001. She remarked that the town was continuing with life. That seems to be the spirit indigenous to these “Steel Magnolias”…they continue with life. As M’Lynn remarked after losing her daughter Shelby to complications of diabetes, “life goes on.”

The strength, the resolve, the reserve is certainly to be commended in this unique town. I see many living their life to the fullest even when tragedy strikes. Life is too short to be haunted by the past, though as I write this I’m praying for those in my town and around the world whose ghosts of life’s-past still haunts them.

I appreciate Brett Younger article “Get a Life Because It Is Shorter than You Think”. He writes it reflecting on Luke 12:32-40, but he inspired me to reflect on the lectionary passage just before that! (Luke (12:13-21) (http://www.goodpreacher.com/journalread.php?id=1651) How do we live life to the fullest and not squandering it away “hour by hour, day by day, in a thousand, small uncaring ways”. The man beheld his goods and said, “I think I’m going to need a bigger barn”.  Living the good life is exactly the kind of life Jesus offers to us. And yet, we squander it if we turn the gifts God provides us unto ourselves and being anxious about tomorrow or fully investing in our own securities.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all those ladies on the Titanic that said “NO” to dessert. Thinking they were being wise to their waistlines, they completely rejected the gift of chocolate. That is not to say “eat whatever you like, gorge, and hoard it all”. There is nothing gospel in that mentality. There is great wisdom in ‘everything in moderation’. There are blessings in the haves as well as the have-nots, but if we just focus on one or the other, we are missing the good life.

We hear the fool who sees his deliciously ample goods and says, ‘relax, eat, drink, be merry’ (vs. 19), he fails because he turns inward and creates his own private island of goods. He does not share. I grow disheartened when I hear Christians turn this text as a way to asceticism and believe Jesus is saying, “avoid all pleasure in life”. Have they read the gospels? Jesus was an exciting person to be around! His fame grew because of the life he chose to lead. Many times he ministered over a meal in the company of friends.  

Jesus offers us more than a good time; Jesus offers us life to the fullest even when the life has to meet the cross. Though his earthly life was cut short, his resurrection gives us all Christians hope beyond the earthly goods and anxiety of this time. John Wesley is a patron saint for those who have Wesleyan roots. One of his catchy sayings is an inspiration of how we may live the good life by not squandering it away or storing it up in our own private barns. He modeled living life to the fullest for the glory of God and the love of other:

Do all the good you can

By all the means you can

In all the ways you can

In all the places you can

At all the times you can

As long as you ever can

~John Wesley

As time rolls on in the seconds, minutes, and hours to pass may we live life to the fullest in the name of Christ and not cut ourselves short by storing them in bigger better barns! Blessings! Rev. JECK

Rev. Jacqueline E.C. King (or JECK) is an ordained elder in the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. She serves as an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches. Natchitoches is the oldest settlement of the Louisiana Purchase and is known for being the story and film location for the movie Steel Magnolias. She loves the work of ministry, preaching, teaching, and sharing her life with her husband who also serves as pastor.





Stephen; Prayer; Lord's Prayer
2010-07-24 by David von Schlichten

Stephen Schuette has provided thoughts about prayer as an act of courage. Scroll down to read his post.

My sermon for July 25 will be a reflection on the Lord's Prayer, which is so overused that it is under-focused on. I will be drawing from Martin Luther's Small Catechism, which offers re-orienting insight regarding the Lord's Prayer.

My sermon's key point will be that the Lord's Prayer does not only guide us on how to pray but also is a summary of how to live. We are to live so that God's name is hallowed,  to live to help bring about the kingdom, to live to feed one another, and to live to forgive and reject evil. Praying the Lord's Prayer is saying, "God, according to you, this is how I am to live. Help me do it."

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





God Too Human?
2010-07-21 by David von Schlichten

Why do we need to be persistent with God in prayer? How can Abraham actually get God to change God's mind?

Passages such as these show God as being rather human. Is God really this way, needing us to bug God repeatedly or to change God's mind?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





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