Post-Sermon Reflection
2010-03-07 by David von Schlichten

In my sermon I challenged the notion that God never gives us more than we can handle. I said that I am not sure about that teaching but that I am sure that God is with us to help and forgive us when we fall short.

A couple people said that the sermon was great; one person said that he needed to think about it. Another said that he disagreed with me, that he still believed that God never gives us more than we can handle.

You can read the sermon at the cafe.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





God Never Gives Us More Than We Can Handle
2010-03-06 by David von Schlichten

Is that really true? 1 Corinthians 10:13 seems to be at least one key text for that popular teaching, but this verse is promising that God will not test us beyond our ability when it comes to temptation and idolatry.

Further, while maybe God does not give us more than we can handle, what about Satan, bad luck, and sinful humanity? Can't those forces gives us more than we can handle when it comes to temptation or anything else? Or does 1 Corinthians 10:13 mean that God will supervise all of those forces to make sure that we are not overwhelmed?

Why does God need to test us anyway? Doesn't God already know our ability? Perhaps the testing is to help us grow, not to see if we will pass.

I don't know what God is up to when it comes to testing, but I do know that God is with us to help us through whatever crisis emerges. Indeed, the rest of 1 Corinthians 10:13 assures us that God is faithful and will be with us to provide the way out.

My sermon will be somewhere along those lines.

Eager for Oscar night, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlight
2010-03-03 by David von Schlichten

"Preaching the Lesson" 

Shannon Johnson Kershner suggests that the preacher memorize the passage from Isaiah 55 and perform it so that parishioners can really savor the great grace that the passage proclaims.

I often memorize the gospel and perform it. I recommend the practice. It helps people to internalize the message.

I'm especially interested in the verse from the second lesson, 1 Corinthians 10, which says that God never tests us beyond our ability. This verse sounds a lot like "God never gives us more than we can handle," a statement I find problematic. What do you think?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





False Choices
2010-03-02 by Stephen Schuette

Brueggemann’s book Cadences of Home suggests that exile is an appropriate metaphor for our times and that, similar to the exilic period for Israel, there is a need for identity, to be shaped by the text rather than culture, and that it is, in fact, a rich and imaginative occasion.  Brueggemann closes the book with comments on II Isaiah, including this particular passage.

Since the original traditions of Israel were reshaped during exilic times the story of wilderness is metaphor for II Isaiah even as exile is metaphor for us.  So “food” connections are made, contrasting the bread of affliction with the manna of Exodus 16.  But the same poem also looks forward to Daniel’s refusal to eat the food of Babylon.  And then Brueggemann moves forward dramatically, referencing the odd close of the story of the storm on the Lake, which follows the feeding, when Mark comments, “They did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”  (Mark 6:52)  “Hardness of heart consists, perhaps” suggests Brueggemann, “in the notion that we already know and control all possible forms of bread.” (p. 131)

We might also make connections with the prayer Jesus taught his disciples.

Moving to the Luke passage it seems to me that these recent Lenten texts flow from the first reading of the season – the temptations. 
The questioners would tempt
Jesus to join the fray.  The questions contain an inherent offer for Jesus to abdicate the Kingdom to which he seems so committed and come down on a side:  either you’re for us or against us, Jesus.  Which will it be?  It’s always what the Empire attempts to do with exilic people as well, to get at their loyalties, breaking them down, triangling with all the leverage it can muster.  And it’s the mistake of those opposed to Empire to fall for the trap of indentifying themselves vis-à-vis the Empire.  After all, don’t you know what side your bread is buttered on?  And to this Jesus affirms that his identity and commitment will not be negotiated.

Well, one hardly needs to mention institutions that are gridlocked in artificial ideological frameworks.  One is certainly tempted to despair.  But the imaginative stories pull us away from such cynicism.  Hoped for fruit may yet be produced.  Patience and clear identity are important.

See also the recent film The Hurt Locker in which this suggestive quote is shown at the beginning:  “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”





Lenten Sermon Series
2010-02-28 by David von Schlichten

On Sundays I am doing a series based on the word B-I-B-L-E:

First Sunday: Beelzebub is Beaten

Second Sunday: Our Citizenship is IN heaven

For March 7 I will need an L word. Suggestions?

On Wednesdays, I am doing meditations on Christ's last twelve hours that include reflections on the Lord's Prayer.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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