Clarifying Oppression and Joy
2010-01-19 by Stephen Schuette

The Luke text begins with words that affirm continuity:  “Brought up,” I understand, might also mean “nourished” or “fed.”  There were “customs” in the synagogue.  Isn’t that what many go to worship for?  We want God to be a God of continuity for us.  We want a liturgy that doesn’t stray from the familiar.  We want something “nice” and comforting – warm milk.  Maybe the synagogue itself has become comfortable in its waiting, their prayer something like, “Come Messiah, but not now.  We’ve grown accustomed to things as they are.  So allow us to linger with what is since it took such effort for us to accommodate to it all.  Let it be.…”

The words Jesus reads stand in marked contrast to this continuity, this status quo, this settledness.  The immediacy of his proclamation is lost to his hearers.  They had so domesticated their faith that they didn’t even realize what he is saying.  Jesus invites an awareness of what is now, what is present, what is already taking place among them.

It means everyday is resurrection day.  Everyday we are invited to open our eyes to the new reality of God’s presence.  Everyday is filled with moments to see God’s fulfillment breaking in.  The old order is fading away.  New possibility is all around us.  For me it means every day a conversion to this different way of thinking since I unconsciously slip back and need to be reawakened.

What does it mean spiritually?  There are many dimensions to this since oppression has many dimensions – both the oppression we might participate in and the oppression that affects us.  One aspect of it is that we can hold ourselves less anxiously.  It might mean we are free from being defined by accomplishment in career terms.  It might mean we are free from holding our possessions possessively (apparently a characteristic prominent in the early church in Acts).  It might mean that by carrying ourselves both more gently and more openly we are able to be more responsive and present to others in the moment.  It might mean trusting the presence and promise of God in ways that before I might have seen as foolhardy or even irresponsible but is rooted in the call and mission of God.

The end of the Nehemiah passage and the Luke passage (at least the shortened version that ends with vs. 21) contain the words “joy” and “fulfillment.”  Could it be that the things with which we are most comfortable and to which we are adjusted are precisely those areas of unrelieved oppression and the change which we fear or carry anxiety about is our true source of joy and fulfillment?





First look at texts
2010-01-19 by Scott D. Hill

Looking at this week’s texts, what riches we have! In 1 Corinthians 12, one of the great statements of the nature of the church, and with ample humor, too! Jesus’ mission statement in Luke 4 is a text I keep coming back to for clarity and direction. Both of them speak to the tragedy in Haiti that is so much on our minds. Nehemiah, of course, deals much with rebuilding, but not so much in this text (chapter 8) and maybe it’s a little soon to apply that to Haiti. Psalm 19 connects with the “goodness of the law” theme in Nehemiah in such stirring, lovely words. If you never or rarely preach on Psalms, this might be a good time. What strikes me today is verse 12 and 13. In public and close to home, I am reminded of good people who have such a hard time seeing where they have gone wrong. And others, I’m sure, see it in me.             Should be a fun week!



Introducing guest blogger
2010-01-19 by Scott D. Hill

Introducing Guest Blogger

 

Hi, I’m Scott Hill, guest blogger for the week! I’m a Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor in Corydon, Indiana, near Louisville, Kentucky. A Milwaukee native, I’ve also served churches in Ithaca, NY and Kankakee, IL, as well as serving the church in Egypt and Morocco. I am a great fan of the Festival of Homiletics.

            In preaching and worship design, I am often drawn to the powerful visual aspects that are in the text, ready for us to use. And of course I love a good story.

           

            





Twitter
2010-01-17 by David Howell

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Post-Sermon Reflection
2010-01-17 by David von Schlichten

Today's sermon, based on John 2, declared that Christ gives many of us abundance and calls us to share that abundance with others. I noted, though, that sometimes we lack abundance, and we are to help each other deal with the lack. 

Regarding Haiti, I challenged people not just to help the Haitians but to learn more about them. The sermon concluded with a celebration of the abundance God has given the Church through baptism, holy communion, Scripture, prayer, forgiveness, and one another. Best of all, we have the abundance called eternal life. See the cafe for the sermon.

One parishioner said that the sermon was one of my top ten, but I don't know what he liked about it.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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