Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stuff from Sunday's Sermon

This past Sunday, I preached on Jesus' parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (or the Ten Virgins if you're reading from a translation besides the NRSV--virgin is the better translation) which can be found in Matthew 25:1-13. My interpretation of the parable came from a sermon by Anna Carter Florence, who teaches preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. I've heard Flrence preach several times at preaching conferences and always gained much from her ability to take a familiar passage of scripture and offer a new angle on it that breathed new life into it and me. In her sermon, "Filling Stations" she does the same for Matthew 25:1-13. As I shared in my sermon, I found her interpretation of the oil cared by the bridesmaids/virgins as something that could not be shared but rather something one could only posses for oneself to be enlightening. Also, her comparison of this parable with the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount to be insightful, because I had the same questions myself--for instance, why are the bridesmaids considered wise when they do not share? Aren't we Christians supposed to share with others? Forence's sermon is well worth reading.

Also, Florence's sermon is on the excellent website of Day 1 which offers some of the best sermons by mainline folks out there.

Although in my sermon Sunday, I was trying to move away from an interpretation of this parable that is interested solely in future events--heaven, the second coming, the end of the world, etc.--I did end it by saying that such a concern still matters to me. Certainly, every time I stand at the graveside of a church member--as I will do once again this week--I have to choose all over again to believe in heaven. It's a difficult thing to do when you are faced with the reality of death.

To illustrate my concern with the future release from our flawed world, I mentioned the conversations my 5 year-old and I have been having about U2 songs. I have succeeded in brainwashing him to like my favorite band! Now I need to work on kid number 2. One recent discussion was about the U2 song "Where the Streets have No Name." I'll let Bono's explanation of it from the band's web site give you a glimpse of why this song strikes a hopeful chord in me and so many other fans of the band:

‘Where the Streets Have No Name is more like the U2 of old than any of the other songs on the LP, because it’s a sketch - I was just trying to sketch a location, maybe a spiritual location, maybe a romantic location. I was trying to sketch a feeling. I often feel very claustrophobic in a city, a feeling of wanting to break out of that city and a feeling of wanting to go somewhere where the values of the city and the values of our society don’t hold you down.

‘An interesting story that someone told me once is that in Belfast, by what street someone lives on you can tell not only their religion but tell how much money they’re making - literally by which side of the road they live on, because the further up the hill the more expensive the houses become. You can almost tell what the people are earning by the name of the street they live on and what side of that street they live on. That said something to me, and so I started writing about a place where the streets have no name....’

Grace and Peace,


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