Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sermon on the "Good" Samaritan

Sermon on the "Good" Samaritan
By Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber

From what I hear, if you are taking a trip to the Holy Land you can visit the actual road from Jerusalem to Modern day Jericho and local tour guides are happy, for the right price, to show you the exact spot where the Good Samaritan helped the Man found beaten by thieves. Many an earnest Christian has paid for such an “authentic” holy land experience before remembering that the Good Samaritan was just a parable.

But it’s one of the biggies…along with the prodigal son, this parable of a beaten and robbed man being shown mercy by a Samaritan is ingrained into the cultural memory of even those who have never stepped foot into a church. There are laws named after it. Long term care facilities named after it. Even a Boy Scout Merit badge named after it. We KNOW this story. And as happy as I am that at least some of the Bible is part of our cultural mythology, it actually makes it that much more difficult to hear these stories with new ears. It can be hard to hear the real power of this story precisely because we’re so sure what it means…when we already know the moral of this story, which is “it’s good to be helpful”. But I guess I started to wonder this week if maybe the teachings of Jesus have a little more to them than say, the flimsy moralisms we learned from “a very special episode of Saved By The Bell”. Maybe the story of mercy being shown to a beaten and robbed man has much more to it than “it’s good to be helpful”

Friday, July 23, 2010

Taking a Look at John 10:10

     There was a time in my life that, if someone were to draw an editorial cartoon of my brain it would show a little man sitting in a chair next to a fire place looking through a window in my head and wondering "what would it be like to live out there instead of in here?"

     Living life in my head caused me so many problems. We are given the gift of life and the gift of God's creation with the ability to fully experience both. At the same time, however, our brains also have the ability to question that reality and keep us locked up and living in our heads. We can opt out of life but still be alive. We can simply exist.
     It's like we have a choice between living like a plant, rooted in 1 place and only experiencing the world as it comes to us; or living like an animal, living in the world, moving through it and taking part in the all of life.
     Christ's solution for "life in my head" is offered to us in John 10:10. Christ tells us "I (He) have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly." (NAS)
     I use to be a spectator. I thought I was "living" my life, but in reality I was standing still. Trapped at a party I didn't want to leave. Like the Eagles’ song, Hotel California, "You can check out anytime you like but, you can never leave."
     I have a new view, a new perspective now that I’m living my life in Christ, “I can check out anytime I like but, I don't want to leave!!”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fish and Eggs, Snakes and Scorpions

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Luke 11:1-13  Proper 12 (17) - Year C
July 25, 2010
"As he finished praying, one of his disciples said, 'Lord teach us to pray as John taught his disciples to pray.'" The disciple approaches Jesus as a matter of observation and comparison.

This one disciple articulates what we all know privately within ourselves; we are an ambiguous construction of earth and spirit. We are as grounded as the adamah (the red clay) out of which we are drawn and we are as free as the nephesh (the wind) that fills our lungs. We are grounded spirits, the middle point of creation as Plato describes us. One testimony to this inner ambiguity is our felt anxiety over how we should then live. There seems to be no inner gyroscope to provide balance and orientation in our human life.

Animals have long astounded us with their ability to find their way. For humanity there is a strange void as though we are observers who look out on the world with a question mark as to our place in it. We lack the assuredness of a place; as Walker Percy notes, we are "lost in the cosmos." Inevitably, our eyes turn outward in the hope that the one we observe has something we do not. Hasn't the whole advertising industry been built on this inner ambiguity, this moment when we are poised in "reconsideration?" This unnamed disciple asks Jesus, "Is there a model we can follow?"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Martha the Missionary & Mary the Mystic

      The relationship between Christ and Martha & Mary, the sisters of Lazarus (John 11:1) is one of the most interesting in the Gospels. Many papers have been published and sermons preached in an effort to understand just who Martha and Mary are and what they have to say to Christians regarding relationships. Their story helps us understand individual relationships with Christ, Christian community relationships, and cultural / societal relationships. Much can be learned from Martha and Mary. I believe understanding Martha & Mary provides us a clear example the diaconal relationship all believers have with Christ (Craddock); the satisfaction of service displayed by Martha and the joy of spiritual union found in Mary’s close relationship with Christ. This dichotomy is often a source of tension, both within individuals and within the church.

     For the 14th century mystic and theologian Miester Eckhart, Martha is the perfect example of a life of Christian service and hospitality. A woman dedicated to tending to the needs of Christ and His followers and to proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; truly a missionary. Eckhart sees her sister Mary as representative of the contemplative life, dedicated to prayer and worship. Mary seeks, as all true mystics do, to always be in the presence of God. Preacher and scholar
Fred Craddock sums this up best in his commentary on Luke:
 There is a time to go and do; there is a time to listen and reflect. Knowing which and when is a matter of spiritual discernment. If we were to ask Jesus which example applies to us…His answer would probably be yes .

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Captian Quaker asks us "What is Church?"

On his blog, Captian Quaker asked "What is Church?"

     Go to Captian Quaker's Blog to read some beautiful expressions of Church and Christ.
Here is my response:
"What is Church?" First of all I believe Church is organic. A Church cannot be manufactured or built. A Church can be planted. Planted in the Garden that is Christ Jesus; watered with the sweat of service, fertilized with the prayers of the people; and pruned by Christ centered accountability.

     God willing, through the power of Christ’s love made manifest in the Holy Spirit, that Church will bear fruit. Fruit being true disciples of Christ. Fruit being more Church communities. Fruit being justice and mercy in society. Fruit being the courage to hold political, military, legal, economic, educational, and social institutions accountable for what they do to the people. Fruit being love and partnership with Churches walking along The Way as they are able, regardless of differences in opinion.
     Church is Christ doing the very same Kingdom Work that He did in the first Century. Now through His Body, the Church. People of The Way of Christ.

Now, how will you answer this question?