What to Preach?...Patience
2010-03-10 by Stephen Schuette

There are so many images that catch the attention.

In Joshua I’m told by better Hebrew scholars than I that the “rolled away” is legitimately associated with a rock.  In a way it’s the culmination of a long story.  In a way it’s the beginning of a whole new chapter.  In rural communities getting stones out of furrows is an annual task (as I recall from Michigan days) in order for the produce of the land to be abundant.  The people have journeyed, been patient all these years.  Now growing crops requires new patience….like last week’s waiting for a fig tree.

And what about the patience of this Father?  He’s the very definition of it.

Some other observations…

--The parable can be divided in half, but in both halves the triangle of relationships is present.

--When do you get an inheritance, if you’re going to get an inheritance?  The younger son is saying that his Father is dead to him...  No relationship!  The theme of Life and Death returns at the end.  Father doesn’t pursue him or argue with him or scold.  You can’t will someone to life for you anymore than you can will the crops out of the ground.  I wonder on the inside how he felt.  But on the outside he’s steady, patient.  It’s one of the toughest rules of love, isn’t it?  It can’t be forced.  Not even God.

--“When he came to himself...”  He realized the value in the relationship...  Confession: he’s not worthy.  He’s sinned two ways...before heaven and father.  There’s a triangle in every relationship!

--Vs. 21 the father runs to meet him.  Father doesn’t let him finish his rehearsed speech.  He cuts him off with an order to the servants.  Would it have been healthy for the son to finish?  We’ll never know.  This is the one time the Father allows his patience to break, for joy.

--Robe, ring, sandals, food...signs of his relationship to his Father.  “This son of mine...”

--Elder son is sweating from work.  There’s a party and no one even let him know?  There’s a celebration and he’s out working?  He didn’t get the memo.  In fact the slaves know what’s going on before he does.  He has to ask the slaves for the information.  He’s angry and refuses to go in.  Now he’s cutting himself off from his father and his brother.

--Father comes out to him...(this father is always coming out).  Now this son has a speech and he didn’t even have to rehearse it.  He can deliver it off the cuff.  Maybe he’s been saving it up.  First word he says is “Listen...”  After all his brother got everything, and he got the hard work.  Why did he stay with the Father?  “I have never disobeyed your command.”  He’s been the “good son.”  And he has been a good son.  But he’s been dutiful not out of pure love but he’s also looking for a reward.  He hasn’t even gotten a goat, much less a calf.  So it’s “got his goat.”

--This Father has some mercenary relatives, doesn’t he?  It’s like he’s won the lottery and everyone affirms their relationship for all the wrong reasons.

--Have you noticed how the relational words “Father” and “Son” are used so frequently?  Wording: vs. 30  “When this son of yours...”  i.e. – you’re not my Father and he’s not my brother.  This son is pulling away from both his Father and his Brother.  But the Father keeps affirming the relationship with “Son...” “Brother of yours...”

--Was dead but is alive.

May a word of patience come from me this week, because it is in me as a gift.

Vote on Seminarian Sermon
2010-03-08 by David Howell

Read the seminarian sermons on GoodPreacher.com and then vote for your favorite. A voting system is in place on GoodPreacher.com from now until March 17 (midnight) for GoodPreacher Seminarian Sermon Award. Each person should vote only one time. If more than one voting person is using the same IP address, the second person will have to wait 20 minutes to vote, etc.. The top three sermon vote receivers will then be asked to prepare a YouTube version of a sermon to be available for viewing by April 5. A voting system will be in place on GoodPreacher.com from April 6 until April 18 (midnight) for the three YouTube sermons. If the voting system results in a tie, a panel will review the YouTube sermons and announce the GoodPreacher Seminarian Award winner on May 1.

That person will be awarded a complimentary registration to the Festival of Homiletics in Nashville, May 17-21, 2010, a standard room at the Scarritt Bennett Center (4 nights), and $200.00 in expense money for the Festival! And be introduced on Monday evening at the Festival of Homiletics!

If the winner has already paid 2010 conference fee, that person will have that fee reimbursed.

Use this link for voting:
GoodPreacher.com, or http://www.goodpreacher.com/shareit/voting.php (or go to www.GoodPreacher.com and then click on GoodPreacher Seminarian Award and then go to Last Page and to Vote For Your Favorite at the bottom).

Email office@goodpreacher.com for the code that you will need to enter before voting.

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 

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