Psalm 32 and Sin-Pain
2010-06-11 by David von Schlichten

This psalm speaks of the suffering of the person who will not confess tron ("tron" means "his or her") sins. The psalm suggests that the suffering is the result of God's punishment or pressure, but, in light of the rest of the Bible, especially the gospels, this understanding no longer endures scrutiny.

Nevertheless, it is true that resisting confession can be painful. This Sunday, I may preach on the psalm and consider how rejecting the confession/absolution process can be deleterious for the believer and how embracing the process is liberating and rejuvenating, thanks be to God.





One Option among Many (Luke 7)
2010-06-11 by Safiyah Fosua

“Shall we go to brunch, or to the early service, or to the golf course, or shall we just sleep in?  When I read this week’s gospel passage, I am reminded of the indifference of the Western Church and how worship services are quickly becoming just one option among many.  Though I try to resist the urge to make comparisons, some days I cannot help but compare current attitudes about the importance of worship and personal devotion to the urgency and fervor of the African Christians we served alongside for a number of years as missionaries.  In Luke 7 Jesus suggests that an awareness of our need for God is a major factor that determines whether we nurture a blazing fire or resign ourselves to dying embers.

What language do we use to communicate this teaching to the Church?  Do we contrast blatant sinners with lifelong always-been-in-the-church don’t know that they need Jesus church members (more simple stated prodigals vs. elder brothers)? Do we discuss the difference between Christianity as a life’s vocation and Christianity as a hobby?  Or, do we simply create an environment for profound worship and talk about weightier things sometime after the cloud has settled?    





Safiyah Fosua; David, Adultery, and Forgiveness
2010-06-09 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to our guest blogger, who provides palatable insights about the dangers of self-idolizing leaders and the us-them pseudo-community. Scroll down and savor.

My first reading is the story of David and Bathsheba. I might talk about adultery, both how wrong it is and how it, too, calls for forgiveness. We Americans tend to see adultery as unforgiveable, but God offers forgiveness and healing to everyone.

What are you chewing on as you study the lessons?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Ahab Is among Us Today
2010-06-09 by Safiyah Fosua

 The word later that begins 1 Kings 21:1 led to curiosity about King Ahab’s Bible record.  After an entire lifetime of hearing about wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, I was surprised to find a man who might not be shocking enough for the front page of the daily news. When Ahab felt that his life was on the line, he listened intently for God (1 Kings 20) and followed God’s instructions – well, almost to the letter.  Later, when the times were more relaxed, he lusted after “things” enough to murder Naboth.  I am disturbed when I note the similarities between Ahab and people in leadership today, because we think of Ahab and Jezebel as bad people – don’t we? (And, we, after all are basically good people – aren’t we?)

 

Ahab may be seen as an extreme example of what happens when we strike out on our own.  He reminds us of what human beings are capable of doing when we are not vigilant.  When we are paying attention, we have the ability to do great things for God.  But, when we follow our own inclinations and bow to the gods of materialism and possession, we humans often fall into great sin.   I am frightened at the prospect that Ahab is among us, and could even be any one of us having a bad day.





Sin, Community, and Me
2010-06-08 by Stephen Schuette

(PS - I focus here on the alternate 2 Samuel text)

There seem to me to be two arching themes running through the readings.  One has to do with community and the other has to do with one’s own self-understanding and the ability (or inability) to see in one’s self what one sees in others.  And clearly they’re both related.

First, community.  Since we survive (live or die) in community, in relationship, in fellowship, disruptions in relationship create a crisis that threatens both the community and the individual.  Just as the Great Commandment deals with God and neighbor, sin is disruption of our ability to live in loving relationship with both.  This may be one of the ways, or even the principle way, that sin leads to death.

False community is gained at the expense of others, is exclusive rather than inclusive, and ironically seeks to create “life” out of “death.”  It’s “us-them” community, an oxymoron.  In each of the passages this false community is offered as a solution which stands over against another solution – a solution that refuses to deal in death, that refuses to limit community, that sees the possibility of forgiveness, reconciliation, and life for all.

(Suggestion:  read “Gentile sinners” in v. 15 sarcastically.  I believe Paul is ridiculing the ridiculers, emphasizing the smallness of their vision.)

In order to overcome the “us-them-ness” of false community, in order to break down this fixed view of “them” as different from “me,” story/parable is utilized.  It is generally beyond the human capacity to learn about oneself directly.  It’s too close for us to get past our blind spots and what our defenses would have us avoid.  Story allows us to see tangentially what is impossible to take in directly.  (I believe Paul is using the meta-story of Jesus, the stories in the other two passages being obvious.)

Last week in the story of Jim Joyce and Galarraga, the invitation extended to Galarraga to come to the umpire’s dressing room – in itself a journey across a well-defined boundary – to receive an apology was powerful.  Made me think of the odd line from the medieval poem included in Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols:  “Blessed be the day that appil taken was…” (because without it Christ would not have come.)  Could it be that the power of reconciliation and peace is stronger than us-them-ness so that we look back on the sin that, now from a new vantage point, was nothing more than the prelude to newness and wholeness?  Maybe that’s why the cross is the symbol of the Christian faith.

A quote from the inimitable Yogi Berra, remembered by someone last week:  “If it were a perfect world, it wouldn’t be.”  Maybe God’s aim is for something better than perfect.





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