Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Preaching and Mercy

As some of you know I am a pastor. One of the things I do is try and come up with something relatively intelligent to share with my church Sunday after Sunday.
I am constantly amazed at the fact that regardless of how I feel I have carried out this task, someone seems to be blessed by it. Now certainly some may simply trying to be encouraging but it would seem that others are encouraged. I am also certain that some find my sermons to be less than stellar, which is why at the moment you will not find audio links to anything I preach. The entire internet is too broad an audience for me right now.
The process of sermon writing is for me anyways a weekly ordeal that is both painful and joyful. I enjoy preaching immensely. I do not take it lightly either. It seems that it always comes together in the end but I am glad that others are not privy to the often ugly fashion things come from my heart and mind to being expressed in the form of sermon manuscript. (It's also interesting to see how much changes from manuscript to oral presentation)

Another thought;
I read some about the Good Samaritan this week, talking about mercy, let me give an outline of what Mark Buchanan gives us:
Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan in response to a question, Luke 10:29b (NIV) "And who is my neighbor?"
Then the familiar story.
Then comes Jesus asking and the expert in law responding: Luke 10:36-37 (NIV) "'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied,'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise'."
Let me quote:
"The neighbor is the one who has mercy.
Did you catch that? My neighbor isn't one I have mercy upon - it's someone who has mercy on me.
Which means I'm the one in need of mercy."

[Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God (Sisters, Oregon: Multimonah Publishers, Inc, 2003) p115 ISBN=1590522494]

If Mark is correct in his interpretation the primary focus of Jesus' answer to the expert in law is that the answer to the expert's previous question (Luke 10:25b) "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" is to realize that I must realize my need for mercy.
Hmmm....
Interesting. I don't like to think I need mercy. I'm a good person. I'm not on any "most wanted" lists. But I need mercy. Do I see myself as needing God's mercy? I like to think that I want God's grace, that is getting stuff I don't deserve, but mercy, not getting what I do deserve.
This was a reality check for me.
In His Grip,
DJR

1 comment:

Colin said...

I've always thought that the traditional interpretation of the Samaritan passage was strange. What I think is notable is that when you connect the parable to the question that elicits it you end up realizing that we are called "to love your neighbor as yourself," and that our neighbor in the story is the Samaritan. Here's what I think though...maybe what makes the parable powerful is not just what the neighbor did but who the neighbor was. Maybe this is, more than anything else, a political statement. Your neighbor is the "bad guy," the Other, the one you feel you are justified in hating. That's who you're called to love. Maybe we should stop calling this the Parable of the Good Samaritan and start calling it the Parable of the Good Native, or the Good Queer or the Good Liberal.