Bread of Life Again? John 6
2012-08-17 by David von Schlichten

I have not been preaching on John 6. Instead, I've been focusing on books that do not show up for Sundays in the Revised Common Lectionary. This Sunday (August 19), I'm preaching on Obadiah.

The central lesson of Obadiah is that we are not to take delight in our enemy's misfortune. Schadenfreude ist verboten. Edom laughs at Judah's fall and prospers by it. As a result, God punishes Edom.

Part of eating Jesus, that is, consuming and internalizing the Bread of Life, is learning to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Christ nourishes us, strengthens the ligaments of our souls, so that we can respond to the evil of others, not with hatred, but with love.

What power rises from that love, thanks be to God! When we can love our enemies, we defeat evil and triumph with holy goodness. Just as the Bread, who is also the sacrificial lamb, transforms hatred into love, so do we, by God's power, transform hatred into love when we respond to our enemies, not with cruelty, but with compassion.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten. Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Olympics and Preaching
2012-08-03 by David von Schlichten

The Olympics are international, and so is God's love. People of all colors, races, nations, religions, and sexual orientations can compete. God's love, likewise, is for all, and you don't even have to qualify.

Bigger, wealthier nations have an edge in the Olympics. By contrast, with God, the poor and oppressed are often favored, although the God News is for all.

The Olympics celebrate the incredible abilities of human beings. As we watch with our jaws dropped, let us remember that God makes it all possible.

Thrilled for Gabby Douglas, I am  

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Colorado Shooting and John 6:1-21
2012-07-23 by David von Schlichten

In the Feeding of the Five Thousand-Plus is a boy with five loaves and two fish. That boy's small amount is used to feed thousands. Jesus does not dismiss or trivialize the boy's contribution.

It is no coincidence that shooters are almost always young men. We in America do not do a good job of teaching boys and young men how to express their pain except through violence. I wonder if we also tend to teach boys and young men that they have to be big and strong and loud to matter. Perhaps we need to work harder at teaching them that tiny contributions can be great blessings.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Mark 6:14-29; 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B; Sandusky
2012-07-14 by David von Schlichten

Of course, the central victim of this story is poor John the Baptist, but the girl is clearly a victim of dysfunctional triangulation. She has to do this dance for Herod's party, during which (I'm guessing) the men are drunk. Further, she's probably not tap-dancing, if you know what I mean. In any case, even if both party and dance are pure, her mother having the girl receive on a silver platter the head of a prophet is pretty messed-up. That girl is going to need serious therapy.

The story reminds me of how we adults claim to care about children but then we abuse them or use them to do our dirty work (such exploitation is actually another form of abuse). Of course, the Sandusky disaster comes to mind. How can we all work to make sure that the world is truly safer for kids, who, after all, are adults-in-training?

One way is to refuse to put kids in the middle of adult problems. Divorced parents, for instance, should not triangulate the kids. We often try to manipulate children to be on "our side," and the children end up losing the battle, regardless of which "side" wins.

Elizabeth Achtemeier (in a sermon) says that part of making the world safe for our children is making our children safe for the world. One way to do that is to teach children that beheading our critics is not a healthful response. Listening to and learning from our critics is. Granted, our critics may be wrong. If they are, then we pray for them, not kill them.

Ecofeminist homiletics: Patriarchy has a long history of exploiting and abusing women and nature (among others, including, ultimately, men). There would be far less abuse if we could be more receptive to the John the Baptists of the world. Indeed, upon receiving any criticism (both helpful and unhelpful), many of us are quick to cut off heads, and women, children, and nature often end up as collateral damage. What if we responded to criticism with love, not hatred, even if the criticism were given with hatred? 

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Mark 5:21-43, Ecofeminist Homiletics
2012-06-29 by David von Schlichten

Independence Day: Just as Jesus liberates the hemorrhaging woman and the dead girl, so also does Christ call us Americans to be people who strive for liberation/independence for all entities, not just, say, whites, heterosexuals, men, Christians, Americans, or humans.

I am not condoning civil religion. Rather, I am using the idea of Independence Day as a springboard for talking about a greater independence that transcends nation. (At least, that's what I am trying to do.)   

Ecofeminist Homiletics: 

Our gospel shows Jesus liberating two female humans, a woman suffering from twelve years of hemorrhaging and a twelve-year-old girl who has died. Having hemorrhaging would have made the woman unclean and thus an outcast. Jesus brings freedom and life to both figures. The passage illustrates yet again Jesus' compassion for outsiders, including women/girls.

As an aspiring ecofeminist preacher, I find myself thinking about how the non-human world, like women, is often excluded and oppressed and how Jesus liberates it, including through our Spirit-guided efforts.

For instance, during these summer months, we tend to overuse air- conditioning. Granted, we need air-conditioning or some way to keep ourselves cool, but many homes and, especially, business tend to use the air too much. How often have I gone into a restaurant or store and needed a parka? Of course, the store or restaurant employees might reply that they have no control over the temperature or that cold temperatures have to be maintained for some reason. But is that really true, or are we humans too complacent sometimes when it comes to conservation?

We conserve when it's convenient.

All of this concern about air-conditioning may seem trivial and far removed from the Gospel, but it is not. Overusing the air-conditioning wastes natural resources. Such overuse is a kind of hemorrhage that we humans create to extract from nature for our benefit. Such hemorrhaging violates God's creation and also hurts future generations of our fellow humans, especially the poor and underprivileged. And who tend to be among the poor and underprivileged in rather large numbers? Why women and children, of course.

So when we preach on Jesus liberating this woman and girl in Mark 5, we may want to keep in mind other oppressed groups, including the non-human world.

Of course, there are plenty of other oppressed groups, and, indeed, ecofeminist homiletics calls for the liberation of ALL. After all, Christ has come for everyone.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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