July 03, 2006

Looking Forward to July 9, 2006 -- the 5th Sunday after Pentecost

The Scripture readings this week are:
  • From the Hebrew Scriptures: 2 Samuel 5:1-10
  • Psalm 48 (VU p.772)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
  • From the Gospel: Mark 6:1-13

The Hymns this week are:

  • 410 This Day God Gives Me
  • 356 Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
  • 266 Amazing Grace
  • 884 You Shall Go Out with Joy

For the Children's story we will hear "Saul Learns about Jesus" from The Family Story Bible by Ralph Milton ( this story is based on passages from Acts)

The Sermon will be based on the Corinthians reading and is titled A Question of Authority.

Early Thoughts: Paul had a problem. There were people in Corinth who were challenging his authority. Signs of this challenge run through both 1st and 2nd Corinthians. And so it is that every once in a while Paul takes time in this correspndence to establish his credentials. This is one of those passages.

The first part of the passage works well this way. For a charismatic leader like Paul it makes sense that part of his authority would be grounded on his experiences of the divine. But then he starts talking about his weakness and how he wishes he were stronger. This is a sales pitch?

In a way it does. This is the same Paul who said: But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. For Paul the measures of the world are not what is important. In fact Paul claims to think he is not important except in how he can lead people to Christ. Paul challenges the Corinthians to rethink what gives people authority.

And so we who read this passage in 2006 are also challenged to ask what gives people authority. Does being a great war leader like David give authority? Does being a healer? Does speaking truth to those who don't want to hear it (I have a strong suspicion that the people who were challenging Paul's authority may have been doing so because he has chastised them and/or told them things they didn't want to hear)? What is it that gives one a voice of authority? What makes a good leader?

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