These are the collections of my thoughts on sermons over the years. I may have left more questions than answers along the way. That's my intention. Sermons, like most theological reflections, are conversations between person(s) to God, and between persons to persons. It's an on going process. The gospel according to Jesus has been written in his LIFE and still goes on today…
Monday, September 5, 2016
Preaching the Stories, the Justice and the Good News
The bible is full of the stories which were told thousands
years ago and thousand and thousand of miles away from either our home
land Taiwan or our current
residence in the United
States. They remain as stories until we view
them as our stories. Those stories are our stories. Then the light shines through our hearts and minds
and the impact is within us, right here and now.
When the prophet Nathan went to see King David and told him
a story of a very rich man who took a poor man’s one and only loving lamb,
roasted and served to his guest, David was furious over the rich guy (2 Samuel
12: 1-5). It was, to David, just a
story, one of their stories. Until David was
aware that it was exactly his own story, it did not do a thing to him.
And then Jesus told a parable (story) that there were two
men went to the Temple
to pray. One was a proud Pharisee and
the other was a corrupt tax collector (Luke 18: 10-14). When both left, one was
more blessed than the other.
he was. and then guess who we are.
Then that famous story begins with “A man had two sons…”
(Luke 15; 11-32) One could easily identify himself as either good old home bound
brother; the lost/dead and came back to life bad boy…or even as the waiting
The identities and the possibilities of the stories are
Just like the grace of the Lord, unlimited!
Confession 1 -- I ask more questions than providing answers.
Confession 2 -- Since I completed my formal theological
training in the late 70’s I do not recall that I ever preach a sermon about the
justice of God.
The justice is there yet I could not comprehend enough to
put it into my sermons. It is still
hurting when I preach the love of God to His people (us) who more often turn
our back to Him. Yet it is more than I
could handle when I try to touch upon the subject of the justice of the Lord.
Take the following scriptures for example –
down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who
sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and
all the firstborn of the livestock.Pharaoh
arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there
was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
(Exodus 12: 29-30 NRSV)
said to Saul, “TheLordsent
me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the
words of theLord.Thus
hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the
Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.Now
go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare
them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and
donkey.’ ” (1 Samuel 15: 1-3 NRSV)
Why would the first
born, the women, child and infant
(Egyptians, Amalekites or whoever) be included during the “war of revenge”?
Was it a divine justice or the human justice?
3.The Good News
Last winter I got a bad cold from a red-eye flight over the US continent
and lost just about all my voice a few days before my scheduled sermon at a
church. While visiting my doctor, she
advised me that I should not preach that coming Sunday, “Once you open your
mouth, there will be no good news but germs…”
She said seriously. I opened my mouth and closed immediately
without making a single comment.
As a preacher of the Presbyterian Church I used to utilize
the role of the “teaching elder” more than proclaim the good news in my
sermons. Then I remembered the TV
commercial called “where is the beef?” and I remembered that the congregations
tend to looking for the good news over the theological/biblical interpretation knowledge.
In the parable of weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30) Jesus used the power of the mercy over the punishment and allow weeds like us to be in His grace and survived surprisingly.
Take a look of the entire biblical characters, do we see any pure good wheat at all? From Adam/Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David…all is as weed-looking as we are. Yet God used them just like He would use us if we let Him.
The good news is in the weeds as well as in the wheat.
We cannot exclude those who are not like us. And vice versa.
“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.” (Isaiah