June 24, 2008

Looking Ahead to June 29, 2008 -- 7th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Jeremiah 20:7-13
  • Psalm 69:7-18 (see insert)
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 10:24-39

The Hymns this week are:

  • 245 Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet
  • 585 Jesus Bids Us Shine
  • 288 Great is Thy Faithfulness
  • 506 Take My Life and Let It Be

The Sermon title is Be Not Afraid

Early Thoughts: Not peace but a sword, set parents against children, lose your life to gain. What is Jesus talking about?

There are times in the Gospel accounts when I imagine that the disciples have to be left scratching their heads in confusion, and the more blunt among them asking the first-century equivalent of "WTF?". This passage from Matthew is certainly one of those. And I would think that if we were being honest many of us would share that confusion today.

We often have this picture of the life of faith being one of bridge-building and peacemaking. And that is Scriptural. But here Jesus starts by telling his friends to not be afraid but rather to be bold in their proclamation of the Good News. Then he goes on to let them know that the Good News may not always seem good...

It has been said that the goal of faith is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. But in the light of this passage, and with a limited knowledge of some social change models, I wonder if part of the comforting involves some afflicting as well. Or maybe it is that we need to challenge people's understanding of whether they are afflicted or comfortable in the first place. Jesus calls us to not only care for each other but to challenge each other. And that challenging may seem like bringing a sword that cuts deeply. Jesus wants us to focus on the Godly path first and foremost, even if it leads to places of unpopularity. In this Jesus stands in the line of Jeremiah, of the writer of the Psalm, of many other prophetic voices within Scripture and within tradition.

In the face of that call, where do we go? How can we be prophetic voices in our world? If I figure it out, I'll let you know...

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