Thinking Further...
2010-02-24 by Stephen Schuette

A more focused title might be "The Burden of Faith."  The point isn't really that life in general is hard/challenging.





Life is Hard, Avoidance is Harder
2010-02-23 by Stephen Schuette

My grandmother knew that life was hard.  Her husband died of pneumonia before penicillin.  As a child when I asked her she told me how she sat by his side while his breath left him at age 36.  She went to work to raise three kids on her own, moved to town, the widow who went to the back door of the bakery for bread.

There is such struggle in each of these passages this week.  For Abram it appears at the beginning of the passage when he hears the words of God but presses for the reality behind the promise.  Then it appears even more poignantly near the end when, exhausted from butchering (like “rending”?) all those animals without powered steel blades, ripping through bone and raw sinew, a “terrifying darkness” descends upon him.  The sun goes down and the darkness descends twice.  Talk about word-painting!   Living with the promise as still promise is not easy.  In a way the promise itself is Abram’s burden.  I wonder if he wished he had never been a person of faith?

Paul begins personally with “imitate me.”  Superficially it may seem egoistic.  But it’s possible to take the rest of the passage personally too.  Living as an enemy of the cross of Christ, with their god as their belly, their glory in their shame…  He might have added, “And this is my story.  I’ve been there. ‘They’ is me.”  And so he needs to believe that crosses of humiliation can be transformed since in his own dark night of the soul he’s struggled with his faith and lack of faith and all he has done.

Jesus will have his own dark night of the soul too.  And the lections in lent pick up the foreshadowing.  The Pharisees, like Peter, and like the devil last week seem to keep suggesting to Jesus that there’s a way to avoid all this.  One colleague observed that there is a clash of wills in this passage.  (wants, desire, not willing…)  But in the end your house is left to you and you must decide, and until it’s fulfilled you’ll have to bear the struggle.  Faith is not a guard against struggle.  In fact, it may be the source of the struggle.

I’m told that on the Tavis Smiley show this weekend it was related that MLK, Jr. was troubled with hiccups until he came to terms with his own death when they mysteriously disappeared.  It remains to be seen how the Tiger Woods story will unfold.  But in his struggles he may be closer to the possibility of redemption than ever before.  One colleague hopefully observed that at least he avoided the use of the word “mistake,” as in, “it was just a mistake.”

John Shea tells the story of lying in the sun on the beach when a shadow suddenly blocked the light.  When he opened his eyes instead of a cloud he saw two young people standing over him.  He wore a white shirt and tie, she a blouse and skirt.  They were carrying their shoes and Bibles.  They looked down and asked, “Do you know the Lord Jesus as your personal savior?”  He responded without hesitation, “Unfortunately, yes.”  (Stories, p. 79, Acta Publications)

God’s grace and peace be with you as you search for the “way” with your message for your people this week.





Post-Sermon Reflection
2010-02-21 by David von Schlichten

The sermon was an affirmation for Maddie and seemed to convey the power of temptation and the even greater power of Christ against it. Thanks be to God. 

Yours,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Satan and Jesus: A Homiletical Play
2010-02-20 by David von Schlichten

I posted my play at the cafe. I will portray Satan and thirteen-year-old Maddie will portray Jesus. She'll be great, thanks be to God.

Scroll down to read some outstanding posts. Thank you to those who have contributed.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





First Fruits Thanksgiving Rwanda Style
2010-02-20 by Rev Tony W. Bouwmeester

    While visiting the Anglican parish of Hanika Rwanda last week I observed a kind of first fruits thanksgiving Rwanda style.  It is customary following the sermon in Rwandan parishes to give thanks for things that happened that week.  The thanksgiving offering is usually a testimony followed by placing a small coin on the altar.
     A young lady came up to give thanks for passing her entrance exam to the highest class of secondary school.  Her girlfriend was kneeling beside her and gave thanks for her friends passing.  She had been praying for her during the entire exam.  Both placed a coin worth a few cents on the altar.  They were followed by a young boy who gave thanks for passing the entrance exam to the first class of secondary school.  He did not have a coin and gave a live chicken to the Lord.
     In the process coming, from the western world, I broke down and cried for the Church, knowing that seventy-five percent of our young people leave the Church when entering secondary school.
     We are so possessed by our possessions.  Will we ever learn however small to offer our first fruits again?




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