On August 17, I preached on what I consider to be one of the most difficult passages of scripture in the Bible: Matthew 15:21-28, where a Canaanite woman comes to Jesus seeking healing for her daughter but Jesus first ignores her then calls her a dog. I remain conflicted about Jesus' response--it certainly does not seem like the Jesus I have experienced. I do believe however there is a message in the passage about faith coming from people whom we do not expect it to be present in and about the ability of strangers to confront us with new understandings of God's work in the world. So, I used the following quotation:
Our role in life is not to convert others. It’s not even to influence them. It certainly is not to impress them. Our goal in life is to convert ourselves from the pernicious agenda that is the self to an awareness of God’s goodness present in the other. It is no idle prayer. The beauty of the open soul is not easy to come by in a world where the other—the alien, the foreigner, the stranger—threatens my sense of security and the pyramids of social control.
Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light
On Sunday, August 24, I preached on Matthew 16:13-20. In this passage where Peter confesses Jesus to be the Messiah and Son of God, I chose to talk about the connection between the identity of Jesus and our own identities as his disciples. It comes from the great William Sloane Coffin. I found the quotation on-line, so I don't know where it was written or said. It is, however, classic Coffin.
“God's love doesn't seek value; it creates it. It's not because we have value that we are loved, but because we're loved that we have value. So you don't have to prove yourself -- ever. That's taken care of.”
--William Sloane Coffin
Also for this past Sunday's sermon, I had a quotation ready to use in the sermon, but it slipped my mind as I was giving the sermon. Look for it in the print copy. Here it is:
"There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming."
I don't know the source of this one. I took it off a blog that the Christian Century runs on each week's lectionary texts.