Submit Your Own!
Luke, Part 2
By Nora Gallagher
You were so kind about my sermon (posted in trepidation) and I have finally figured out, I hope, something about the "system" in the cafe. (Who is that cute waiter?) Anyway, a few thoughts on yours.
I think it's wonderful that you are preaching on the Bible and the sermon is clear and concise just where it needs to be. I wonder about the California fires section. To me, if feels a bit like a news story plugged in to give the sermon relevance. (And I may be sensitive on this topic because I live in California. I am not there at the moment, but I am all too aware of the news this week as it unfolds, and have lived through a really bad fire in Santa Barbara so the story is very specific to me. ) If the story is more personal to you than I am getting frm the sermon, I would make it more personal. If it's not, I would dump it and replace it with a story about your very own Pharisee. Or your very own tax collector.
I hope this is helpful. Great good luck preaching.
By David von Schlichten
The conversation image is illuminating. I may use that. Thanks.
Yours in Christ,
By rick brand
This is important stuff for Protestants. The people and the Bible was one of the major reasons for the reformation. Sola Scriptura. Ignorance of the Bible is rampant. So such a series should be helpful to a congregation.
I like the image that I have heard that the Bible is a big conversation about God and we are invited to join in that conversation. Obviously we need to have listened to the other speakers before we start talking.
Sermon series are interesting. They probably are more often sermons on a theme which use the text rather than sermons which grow out of the text. Here the text is an illustration of the theme, not the source of the theme.
Sermon on Luke 18 for Oct 28: "What's the Use? Part Two"
By David von Schlichten
What's the Use? Part 2:
Text: Luke 18:9-14
(Word count: 998)
Last Sunday, we began considering how to understand the Bible better. We said that the Bible is, not error-free, but inspired by God and useful for teaching us to be better Christians. We also said that that the death and resurrection are crucial to interpreting the Bible. Finally, we said that love is the main theme of the Bible, that we are to respond to God's love for us by loving one another.
There are still many puzzles and questions when it comes to reading the Bible, and we just cannot deal with all of them here. What I can do is underline an important point that I failed to underline last Sunday.
Here it is: When reading the Bible, an important point to remember is that the Bible is not a rigid rule book. I want to stress this point, because many people think of the Bible as a rigid rule book. Legions of us think, “If the Bible says something is wrong, then it must always be wrong all the time; we can never consider context or other issues, end of story. Whatever the Bible says against divorce, women, or any other issue must always be true all the time, no exceptions.”
However, the curious thing about this way of thinking is that the Bible itself warns against such rigidity. For instance, Jesus repeatedly criticizes the Pharisees for being too rigid when it comes to applying the Bible to life. Jesus wants to heal someone on the Sabbath when you are not supposed to do work, and there is a Pharisee, ready to pounce on Jesus for breaking the rules. Jesus stresses that helping someone in need is more important than adhering to a rule.
In today's gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee follows the rules. The tax collector, notorious in Bible times for dishonesty and greed, repeatedly breaks the rules. But what the Pharisee fails to understand is that there is something far more important and powerful than keeping the rules, and that is God's gracious love. The Pharisee has concluded that he, the ruler keeper, is on God's good side, while the tax collector, the inveterate rule-breaker, is not. But it is God's graceful love that can save both Pharisee and tax collector. It is God's graceful love that saves, not someone following the rules. Thus, Jesus tells us, it is the tax collector who is justified before God, not the one who has followed the rules.
One of the fortifying, dominant messages of the Bible, then, is “Love over rules.” Of course, rules have value. They help us to understand right and wrong and help us to see our sin, but, by themselves, they are insufficient. Greater than rules is God's love, which gives birth to grace, mercy, and compassion for us, even though we are unworthy.
When we obsess over the rules in the Bible to the point that we ignore the grace-begetting love of God, we misread the Bible. Rules matter. Love matters more. Instead of being noisy with rules, we are to be still and know that God is love.
Martin Luther taught and preached this point his whole life, that the grace-giving love of God is the most important lesson the Bible teaches us. Indeed, the Reformation had as its central teaching that the loving grace of God, not slavish adherence to the rules of the Church or the Bible, is what saves us sinners, Pharisee and tax collector alike. Not because of our works, but because of Christ, God is our refuge and strength who rescues us from sin, death and Satan.
As we recover from the horrible fires of California, many of us will start blaming. We will blame politicians for ineptitude. We will blame the residents of California for living too close to forests that can catch fire easily. We will blame illegal immigrants just for being there. “I'm glad I'm not like those illegal immigrants. If they lose their homes in the fires, it serves them right.”
We venture into Pharisee territory. Yes, there is value in assessing what went wrong, but not so that we can derive a twisted delight or a sense of superiority as we point out how others have broken the rules, be they rules of the Bible, the nation, or common sense. Assessing what went wrong is valuable when it helps others.
When reading the Bible and when dealing with crises and when moving back and forth from Bible to life, our focus is not to be on blaming and sizing up who has broken what rules. Our focus, Jesus teaches, is to be on gracious love. Just as, when Jesus hung on the cross, he was not worried about rules. He was more interested in forgiveness, mercy, compassion. He did not say from the cross, “Thank you, God, for making me so righteous and not making me like those Romans and Pharisees down there.” When hanging on the cross, Jesus did not say, “God, punish all those people who have broken rules.” No, while on the cross, Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father,” and “Truly, I tell you . . . ” Be still, and hear the mercy, the grace, the love.
Think of all those people and animals who have suffered because of the fires in California. What does the Bible teach us to do? The Bible says, “Love, just as I have loved you.” Christ showed graceful love by sacrificing himself for us. What sacrifices can we make to help those victims?
The Reformation began back in 1517, and it is still going on. By the Holy Spirit's power, we work on reforming the Church so that it is less about rigid rules and more about the Bible's main lesson, the grace-gushing love of God, who is our mighty fortress. Because of that grace, the kingdom is ours forever.
David von Schlichten, poedifier
The Latte Was Great - Thank You
By Dianne Andrews
To David Von Schlichten:
I am glad that there were some sparks of inspiration. I would be interested to learn where the Holy Spirit takes you in your journey on a follow-up sermon!
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