Mercy While Running the Pittsburgh Marathon
2010-05-01 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Stephen Schuette for his thoughts about how we humans are to be open to God's inclusivity.

Tomorrow I won't be leading worship because I will be running the Pittsburgh Marathon, starting at 7:30 AM. All throughout the route will be people who don't know me cheering me (and the other racers) on, and every mile or so strangers will hand us drinks. In other words, this body of people, most of whom are strangers, will support us. A common goal will unite us. 

Sounds like the Church.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Hindrance
2010-04-30 by Stephen Schuette

“Who was I that I could hinder God?” asks Peter. Who indeed!  But we do it, don’t we?  We put walls around God, thinking we’re protecting God.  We begin to think that God needs our help and maybe even our guidance when it is we who need God.

This word “hinder” or at least the idea connects with several other stories.  The most familiar may be when the disciples seek to send the children away from the busy Jesus engaged in adult conversation.  “Let them come to me.  Do not stop them…” (Mat 19:14)  It was “hinder” rather than “stop” in the RSV even though the Greek word behind them is the same verb as here in Acts 11:17:  Koluo.  The disciples could be a hindrance.

Peter, especially, could be hindering, for Jesus seems to direct his most confrontive words to Peter:  “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me…” (Mat 16:23)  

So maybe this story in Acts suggests Peter is making some progress in getting out of the way!

In Acts itself it’s reminiscent of the story of the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch when  after Philip interprets the scriptures the Eunuch says, “"Look, here is water! What is to prevent (koluo) me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36)  No hindrance.

But the point is that most often we are a hindrance when we are seeking to protect God, like the disciples seek to protect Jesus from the children or as Peter would have sought to protect Jesus from the future.  We are fearful and lack confidence.  We want God to stay within familiar and traditional boundaries.  So we constrain God, thinking small while God is thinking big.  And the Book of Acts seems to push this idea open, that God is at work and God’s Spirit can break through anywhere and anytime with anyone.  Just stay out of the way!

To get us out of our rut there is a radical statement of confidence that Jesus offers:  “Whoever is not against us is for us.”  (Mark 9:40)  Maybe it’s enough to just not be in the way.  God can do the rest.





TweetChat for Festival of Homiletics
2010-04-28 by David Howell

TweetChat

http://tweetchat.com/room/homiletics10

You will need to register for Twitter first.





Revelation and Mussorgsky
2010-04-28 by David von Schlichten

Revelation reminds me of the composition Pictures at an Exhibition, which musically depicts the experience of looking at paintings in an art gallery. Some of the paintings are spooky, moody, or mysterious, but, repeatedly throughout the piece, we hear that joyful "Promenade" musical motif.

Similarly, the book of Revelation contains many strange and mysterious images, but repeatedly in the book is a refrain of Resurrection. In chapters four, five, seven, and nineteen, as well as the last two chapters, we have the image of many beings praising God/the image of God's life-giving grace.

Most people focus on the scary and strange pictures in the exhibition that is Revelation and overlook the joyful refrain of grace that appears throughout the book.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Popular Theology : "Everything Happens for a Reason"
2010-04-26 by David von Schlichten

Really? What does that statement mean? For many, it means that God is behind everything that happens, that God is guiding our lives for the good. I agree that God is involved in our lives for the good, but I do not agree that everything happens for a reason. As best as I can tell, there is no solid biblical basis for that claim. In fact, this teaching seems to challenge the idea that we humans have a certain amount of free will. If God is making everything happen for a reason, then do we not have free will?

People seem to find this belief comforting, because it helps them to make sense of a world in which things often seem to happen for no reason. How can we address this classic theodicial issue in a sermon?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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