Monday, June 17, 2013

Random thoughts from sermon prep

I had a dickens of a time prepping the sermon last week because it was one of those weeks when I had too much I could say. I had to keep telling myself "pick one thing and focus!" So I picked sin. Isn't that fun? Well, sin and grace. Because I've been on a grace kick these past few weeks, probably because of Galatians. But I'm not sure I actually need an excuse.

One thing about last Sunday's readings is that they interpreted each other in a revealing way. In the Gospel, we are introduced to "a woman in the city, who was a sinner," and I confess my mind went there immediately. So it was incredibly helpful that in the reading from 2 Samuel, in which David's affair with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah is brought to light, David's confession is not "I am a sinner," but "I have sinned against the Lord." Even better, in Galatians, Paul writes, "We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners," thus making it clear that something else is going on here.

The Interpreter's Bible 1952 (praised be its exegeses forever) had this fantastic insight on the Gospel reading: "Who or What Sort?--Jesus knew who the woman was; the Pharisee knew--or thought he did--of what sort she was." Isn't that great?
In general it may be observed that Jesus was interested in concrete things, not in abstractions; and categories and classes are abstractions. Jesus said to Simon, Do you see this woman? That is no casual question, but an exceedingly searching one. And the answer would need to have been "No." The woman was exactly what Simon did not see and was not able to see. He could not see the woman herself because of his preoccupation with her sort...How do we see people and act toward them: as persons or as sorts of persons?

All of this fit into an overarching theme that I have found both in my preaching and in this blog: You can't tell by looking. In this case, that you can't tell who has sinned by looking at them.

Sermon notes in a little bit (as a reward for getting more work done).

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