Thanks to Stephen Schuette; Satan Falling; SongWoman
2010-07-03 by David von Schlichten

Stephen provides some excellent thoughts on Paul, and I appreciate his affirmation of my interpretation of the Satan-falling statement from Jesus in Luke 10. I have based my sermon on this passage, and you can read that sermon at the cafe.

I have also been contemplating the woman in Song of Solomon, who offers a liberating alternative to the Whore/Madonna binary that has incarcerated women for centuries. The Song of Solomon Woman, whom I call "SongWoman," loves sex and is open about her enjoyment of sex. She is devoted to her lover/husband. She is an equal to him. She also rebels against the restrictions imposed on her by her society. All of this is evident to me in Song of Solomon. Let's hear it for SongWoman.

I wrote a poem about SongWoman which you can read at the poems section of this website.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Satan's Fall
2010-07-01 by Stephen Schuette

Interesting note:  I See Satan Fall Like Lightening is the title of one of social anthropologist Rene Girard’s books.  This isn’t the place to go into his theories completely, but such a title is linked, in his theory, to the radical new way that Jesus answered competitive (or mimetic) violence that is common in all human cultures.  That Jesus would choose to give himself over to it and trust God to conquer it out of a radical faith opens a new possibility.  Other authorities cannot hold if God rather than Satan is truly in the position of power.  This is all linked, of course, to some of the directions that seem to be suggested in Paul’s description of Spiritual community and relationships which I mention below.

At any rate, I think David is right that Luke us not interested in a fine philosophical point but in a dynamic power of God demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus and his followers.  Note the choice of the present tense in the title above.

A Spiritual Journey
2010-07-01 by Stephen Schuette

The following is based on smaller sections of the lectionary:  Gal 6:1-5; Luke 10:16-19

It’s a perfect opportunity to address faith and politics this Sunday.  I’d want to avoid creating a “civil religion” Sunday, however.  The text can lead the way toward faithfulness.

Paul’s writing invites the reader to think.  Seems to me these seemingly disparate sentences were carefully and intentionally crafted and juxtaposed.  Be gentle in your effort to restore someone.  That’s the nature of the Spirit you’ve received.  Ok.  Next sentence:  Take care of your own temptation.  Gentleness with others must be closely related to my own imperfections and the narrow distance between where I stand and where I might fall, and, indeed, have fallen.  Third sentence:  The law of Christ (a theme in Galatians, of course) encourages us to think not just of my neighbor or myself but of the whole community and the support that we give and receive.  Hymn:  Blest Be the Tie that Binds.  Fourth sentence:  Pride and arrogance is disruptive to genuine community and the nature of the gentle Spirit referred to in sentence one.  Christian community is not hierarchical.  Fifth sentence:  if we have any sense of or basis for pride it is through our service.  The key here is the standard which we use to “test” our own work.  Measured by Christ how are we doing?  And my interest in judgment is best kept on the “log in my own eye” rather than the “speck” in my neighbor’s eye.  That, too, keeps the gentleness of community consistent.  Sixth sentence:  “For all must carry their own loads.”  MMmmm.  How does that make sense given all this community talk of bearing one another’s burdens?  Isn’t it that, ultimately, the load that we bear is to serve one another, and our motive is the service itself rather than taking advantage of this and relying upon someone else to serve us?

And all of this, I think, connects with the Gospel text, especially that indication of success and authority in vs. 17-19.  This is God’s intention for us, and authority is clear when we live out that vision.  (Authority also being a theme in Galatians as Paul seeks to answer the questions of his own authority raised by the circumcizers.)

If we were to hold this authorized/authentic view of life against our national life how would we “test”/measure it?  Seems to me, if we have any national claim on greatness it has been in an ability to learn, change, transform, and live into newness.  It’s about a dynamic ability to take a look at ourselves and strive to be better, to live into a larger vision.  Many examples come to mind:  the Civil Rights movement, Reconstruction and the idea that after every war there is peace to be made in a way that lifts those who are defeated and restores them not only economically and physically but spiritually, that envisions our role among the community of nations as one who leads through service.  We know the other side.  The earth is practically crying out, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”  It’s not ours to exploit.  We know of officers who coerced confessions under torture.  There is suffering today in areas of blight and a murder rate that is an embarrassment for a so-called advanced nation in the 21st Century.  And wars justified only on “national interest” seem uninspired, to say the least.

But the vision beckons us forward.  To renew our calling will require authentic self-examination.  But in that is the potential for spiritual renewal that can contribute to our national renewal.  As Paul suggests, there’s work to be done.  But there is also a Spirit urging.

2010-06-29 by David von Schlichten

In our gospel for this Sunday, Jesus says, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning." Many think this statement refers to Satan's fall in prehistoric times, but there is nothing in the passage that indicates such a time. Rather, given the context of the passage, it seems that Jesus is saying that Satan fell as a result of the seventy's ministry.

We could ask metaphysical questions about the logistics of Satan's fall, but to do so would miss the point, which is that Christ has given us disciples tremendous power of evil.

How could we preach that? How could we help our hearers to understand that, when they do the work of Christ, Satan falls?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Biblical Binary
2010-06-26 by David von Schlichten

The passage from Galatians 5 for this Sunday speaks of the way of the Spirit in opposition to the way of the flesh.

This statement does not mean that the way of the BODY is in opposition to the way of the Spirit. "The way of the flesh" is Bible-speak for sinfulness. The way of the body, however, can be aligned to the way of the Spirit. The body is good. God is not only a God of the spiritual but also of the corporeal. Many Christians fail to understand that truth.

Thus, for example, adultery is of the flesh, but love-making with the right person under the right conditions is the body being of the Spirit. The body is not evil. Woo-hoo! Grateful for this truth, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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