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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





Haiti
2010-01-15 by David von Schlichten

How do we help preachers respond to the crisis in Haiti in a way that leads, not only to assistance for the Haitians, but also to a change in thinking that propels us Christians away from a mentality that enables the ongoing subjugation of peoples?

Of course we should help Haiti with all our might, but what can we do so that we are not just coming to the rescue of Haitians but are also learning about their culture and seeing Haitians, not only as victims, but primarily as people?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Effect and Substance
2010-01-12 by Stephen Schuette

The marriage imagery of Isaiah and John seems to connect with the Epistle in terms of relationship/diversity.  A colleague commented:  the most challenging aspect of marriage is that one tries to change the other.  In weakly differentiated individuals, which includes all of us to one degree or another, the anxious thought is, “I can’t be me if you’re not like me.”  So the focus on identity formation from last week on the first Sunday in Epiphany seems strong.  The question, “How are we who we are?” quickly leads to the second question, “How can I be who I am in community with others?”

One way of trying to maintain the self in relationship to others is to engage in the game of winning and losing in the effort to play it well enough to always be a winner.  That requires skill and management and the ability to maneuver.  It’s a bit like a magic trick where the magician focuses your attention one direction while the real maneuver happens.  Hours of practice and attention to the move can make what is actually misleading seem real.  You can judge whether this is simply about slight of hand or extends to serious questions of politics, even the politics of the church.

So it may be important to say that the signs of Jesus in the Gospel of John are not tricks but insights into and extensions of who Jesus really is.  Even to begin to see that may stretch us beyond the frameworks of how we usually think and function.  It calls us away from a world of gamesmanship to what we really believe, something beyond mere effect/result.

For isn’t it true that most of the presenting “issues” around which we often spend so much time and energy are not the real issues?  Frequently they cover and mask something much deeper that is trying to emerge in a genuine (true) way.  (I think of John’s emphasis on “truth.”)  Perhaps the real question is what kind of culture we want to be a part of?  How do we move from a culture of winning and losing to one that affirms calling?

I recently returned to a book that I haven’t picked up in years, Buber’s I and Thou.  He writes, “Egos appear by setting themselves apart from other persons.  Persons appear by entering into relationship with other persons.” (p. 112)  That seems very near what Paul is trying to say, especially leading forward into 1 Cor. 13.  And, in fact, it seems very near to what God is trying to say to us in Jesus.

Kierkegaard said, “Christ turned water into wine, but the church has succeeded in doing something even more difficult: it has turned wine into water.”  May you do the reverse for your community this week!





Thank you
2010-01-11 by Safiyah Fosua

Thank you for your encouraging words about the poem.  I often find it easier to put the "kernal" of a sermon in free verse than to write a full-blown sermon. Yet, I am not always sure that these "kernals" make sense to anyone but me.  Your comments have blessed me.

Safiyah Fosua





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