Saturday, January 29, 2011

Still trying to wring a sermon out of the Sermon on the Mount?

I mean, really, how are any of us going to out-preach Jesus himself?

Tomorrow sports "the Beatitudes," the incredible prologue to Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount." In the Gospel of Matthew, this opens a three chapter manifesto on the values of the kingdom, values which are out of step with (if not hostile to) the values of the world in which we expend most of our resources, including thought and effort.

In "Follow Me to Freedom," co-author Shane Claiborne gives some thoughts that might make for good preaching on the Beatitudes:

"But we are not just troublemakers for the sake of making trouble - we are people who plot goodness and whose commitment to the upside-down kingdom of God collides with the patterns of the world we live in...

After all, the same Paul who wrote in Romans 13 that we are to submit to the authorities uses the same word in Ephesians to say we wrestle against the spiritual demonic 'authorities.' The same Paul who said that the authorities are established by God ends up in jail for subverting them...

Simply put, just because the authorities are established by God doesn't mean God approves of them...the same way a librarian can order books on a shelf."

There are other good thoughts in this vein provided by Anglican blogger Sanctus, who applies them unsparingly to the church when it "falls in love with the things of this world,"

"They did not expect him to take on the enemy within. But that is exactly what Jesus came to do. He came to cleanse the temple and drive out those who had turned it into a den of robbers. The ones he came to judge first were those who should have known better. But they were 'in love with this present world' and did not realize their love affair was little more than a form of spiritual adultery."


The Archer of the Forest said...

You can always do the Lutheran Law v. Grace thing and say the Beattitudes are not possible for humans to follow.

TLF+ said...

Well, that is what the Catechism says about the X Commandments/OT moral code.

But there's just Lutheranism all over town here for people to hear and besides, that argument doesn't work as well with the Sermon on the Mount, which says forgiveness is measured out based on the forgiveness we actually manifest, we are rewarded for actually praying, giving and fasting in the manner God desires, and that we find life by staying on the hard path.

Oh, and that we are to do good that others can see and which leads them to glorify God.

All of which you know - just thought I'd spill it here rather than post another piece :)

The Archer of the Forest said...

Yes, I attend a Lectionary study group here in Brookings that is mostly Lutherans, and they seemed to be all into the Law/Grace interpretation of the Beattitudes. I always have to scratch my head at that because if it is truly impossible for humans to do, then God is asking us the impossible. And if it is impossible, then why even bother?

I have likewise never bought the Lutheran Law=Old Testament=bad, Grace=New Testament=good dichotomy. That descends into Marcionism very quickly if you are not careful.

Yes, one can take the Law too far, (see: Pharisees, Scribes, Some Mainline Christians.) The Law still has things to teach us, and it isn't necessary bad in itself. If it did come from God, you really can't make that assertion is God is Good.