The Passion and Death as April Fool's Joke
2010-03-31 by David von Schlichten

God outwits Satan with what looks like defeat and death but which is really victory and life.

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





You Know...
2010-03-30 by Stephen Schuette

H. Richard Niebuhr said that revelation is history read backwards.  That’s how you can see the transformation and begin to get a glimpse into the intention God had all along.

It’s fair to say that the Gospels were written backwards.  The transfiguration in the middle of the synoptics suggests that it’s often difficult to distinguish Jesus from the Risen Christ.  And especially when you read with the end in mind, oddly, the “confusion” is even more “clear” throughout.

So looking back you see…  Augustus thought he was calling for a census to collect taxes, but in God’s plan it provided for the Bethlehem event.  His parents thought he was lost when he said simply, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  The temptations are an attempt to win Jesus away, but they only prove his strength and purpose.  Peter wondered what he could learn about fishing from Jesus; it turned out, everything.  Why was a man born blind?  To prove the power of God, of course.  Why did the seed go into the ground? So it could yield ten to a hundred-fold.  Why were the hungry crowds not sent away?  So the disciples could see what was possible.  Why was a wayward son lost?  So there could be rejoicing when he returns and reconciliation could take place with a brother and a father in a relationship they never knew they had before.  Why was Zacchaeus troubled enough to climb a tree?  So Jesus could bring salvation to his house.  Why was Jesus crucified?  You know the answer.

“You know…” says Peter in Acts 10:36.  You can see it.  Ala Paul, they thought they were killing Jesus.  They were killing death.  The cross is the symbol of this transformation, a testimony to what God intended all along:  death to life.

And what the history reveals or illuminates for today is God at work.  It provides the interpretative tool that opens the eyes.  See it?  See it in your life?  God will never force you to see it.  Nor can we in genuine fellowship with one another try to press someone in the middle of their journey.  We cannot reveal to one another what is God’s to reveal.  There’s a lot of just “hanging around” after the death of Jesus...grieving, wondering, doubting.  But hang around words long enough and you might begin to read.  Something of the true story emerges.  Amazement can take hold.

A blessed Easter…





Maundy Thursday
2010-03-29 by David von Schlichten

What are you thinking of preaching on for Maundy Thursday?

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Color This Picture...
2010-03-27 by Rina Terry

In a desperate attempt to have a quality Jr. Church experience for the children, my new appointment (as of July 1, 09) requires that the pastor come up with the ideas.

I just pulled out "A 'Praise Our King' Coloring Page, along with an Activity Page that includes a word scramble, crossword and word search.  Wouldn't it be great some Sundays to look out at the crowd in the pews, sit down on the step of the chancel area, tell a simple Bible story and pass out coloring and activity pages.

In some respects, that's a bit what age-old Palm Sunday observances ask of us.  I've read so many things this week that say, "Don't preach; just tell the story.  It speaks for itself."  Now I don't want to go up against the experts but the Passion cries out (pun intended) for preaching, witness, proclamation.  Let the children process and wave whatever but, for "heaven's sake," preach a little something if the parade, hymns, announcements, welcoming of visitors, children's sermon, and multiple choir selections leave you any time to do so.

Am I sounding frustrated?  I'll do penance when I finish typing this entry. 

My Palm Sunday sermon will be about "getting things done."  How we go about it and how God goes about it.  How we portray what God "did" and what the scripture says God does.  Ready or not, here comes Jesus; there goes Jesus, it's all over.  God gets it done.  

I intend to use Annette Drost-Hulshoff's poem about Gethsemane as a point of departure for what Jesus must have been "imagining" as he knelt in the Garden.  I ready that somewhere a long time ago and it has stuck with me over the years.  I would imagine I am hardly the first to do so.

Honestly, I'm not there yet.  Usually, by Thursday afternoon, I've wrapped up my sermon in a nice little four-page text and have it paper-clipped and in my "Sermon" folder.  This is a tough year for me and I'm not always as ready as I once was but--by God's grace--when I step into the pulpit tomorrow morning at 11 AM.  It will get done.  It always does--neither because I've colored inside the lines nor solved the puzzle.  It gets done because I am faithful, though sometimes grudgingly, to The One Who Always Gets The Job Done.  I like that new name for God.  That'll preach!





Thanks to Rina and Stephen; How to Introduce the Passion
2010-03-26 by David von Schlichten

Guest blogger Rina Terry and indefatigable contributor Stephen Schuette have provided verdant posts below. Thank you to you both. Rina, tell the dolphins and birds at Cape May I said hi.

I will preach a brief sermon on Sunday that will introduce the Passion, which will follow the sermon. What is an effective way of introducing the Passion?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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