Biblical Text: John 20:19-31
Full Sermon Draft
A traditional theological education is usually divided into four areas: Bible, Doctrine, History and Practice. They of course are meshed together, but the point really is to acknowledge that we have different primary lenses through which we can reflect. I tend to default to the Bible which I think leads me to a couple of quirks compared to the LCMS in general which is a Doctrine first body predominately. I’d just say the difference is between messy and clean. Doctrine is clean;the Bible can be messy. Doctrine is the math proof that leaves out a few steps as “obvious” that are not at all obvious to the layman or student. Practice tends to be the warm fuzzy pile where we are reminded it is not about the bible or the book of doctrine but the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The one that gets lost is History. Partly because it takes study. You have to read it. Partly because even if you read it you have to figure out how to preach it. And partly because if the bible is messy, try history.
This sermon is an attempt to look at how different ages of the church read and reacted to Doubting Thomas. Every age has their own fascinations and trials. This text is a sharp example of that which I think gave itself to a method of actually preaching Jesus. I’d invite you to have a listen or give it a read.
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What is needed in our churches is not more education but more embodied practices that can shape our affections and behavior along with our attitudes. The virtues I focus on in Unclean involve the practices of welcome and hospitality, what Miroslav Volf calls “the will to embrace.”
That is from this interview with Dr. Beck who also writes here. Unlcean is one of his books that is one of the best works I’ve read in a long time.
Thinking of the last post, this might be a more concrete example of listening to the Spirit. This is one of the discussions that a member and I get into quite often about how do you instruct in the faith. Do you start with the head and push toward the heart (standard Lutheran methodology) or do you start with the heart and push to the head (standard pentecostal). And that is probably the polarity – extreme head Lutheran to extreme heart pentecostal – with other tribes falling in along that spectrum. Presbyterians real close to Lutherans. Methodists closer to the pentecostals. Catholics blow this up because you have both – Franciscans and Dominicans. An embodied practice, a taking action on a virtue, is a combination of both. Listening to the Spirit today might mean less outright upfront doctrine and more lets do a VBS in the city (hope and charity), or the protestant equivalent of adoration of the host – a lenten prayer vigil (faith, fortitude and patience). Could one congregation maintain a prayer vigil for 40 days around the clock? What might be heard by the congregation in prayer?
Text: John 9:1-41
This text is too big. A man goes from being blind through various confessions to the worship of Christ at the end. From the point of his healing, until that end, the story is about Jesus but Jesus himself is absent. It’s a tight allegory on a Christian life with the counter-point of the pharisees deepening knowledge and surety of things that are false. Its also the type of text that really needs two way communication. Its the type of think you wrestle with with others.