June 19, 2006

Looking Ahead to June 25 -- 3rd Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17: 32-49
  • Psalm 9 (VU p.732)
  • From the Letters of the Church: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
  • From the Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

The Hymns this week are:

  • 374 Come and Find the Quiet Centre
  • 288 Great is Thy Faithfulness
  • 686 God of Grace and God of Glory
  • 424 May the God of Hope Go with Us

The Sermon Title is A Suffering Faith.

Actually there are two parts to this week's sermon. First is some introduction. This summer (and much of next fall) it is my intention to preach from the Epistle reading each week. During the summer these readings are from the letters of Paul. So this week we will have a brief introduction to Paul, arguably the most influential Christian writer of the Scriptural period.

Then we will turn to look at this passage. One of the markers of Paul's ministry is that it isn't easy. And from what we have it seems that the church in Corinth was a big headache for Paul. They just seem to be balking at every turn, trying to interpret what he has taught them in ways that are not what he intended.

AS we hear again Paul recounting some of the struggles he has had in ministry I am reminded that this being a follower of Christ thing isn't meant to be a walk in the park, at least not all the time. It takes work, it means putting yourself out there, standing against the "normal", it means subjecting yourself to the slings and arrows of those who would rather keep the same old, same old. Christianity is, or maybe could/should be, a suffering faith.

In the Western world we have forgotten these things. As we have developed a culture where Christianity enjoyed a privileged position we may have lost sight of the fact that the faith is separate from the world (in the world but not of the world as it is commonly stated) and is called to be a counter-cultural voice much of the time. But now the world has changed, irresistibly and irrevocably changed. Now we need to relearn how to be in the world but not of the world, partly because the world seems to have left us behind.

We may not face imprisonment and beatings and torture for the faith. But we are no longer at the center of society either. How do we be church in the world today? How are we called to suffer for our faith?

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