Monthly Archives: March 2012

Oatmeal Waffles

Golden Oatmeal Waffles
Yes, they taste as good as they look!

At last waffles that are full of fiber, fluffy, and springy.

Servings: 3

15 minutes to prepare batter
plus ~8 minutes to cook each batch.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup skim milk
3 egg whites
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbl baking powder
1 tbl sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup salad oil
spray oil

Directions:

  1. Heat milk then combine with oats in food processor. Let stand.
  2. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites and sugar until stiff.
  3. To oats and milk add flour, baking soda, salt, and oil. Puree until smooth.
  4. Fold oat batter into eggs.
  5. Spray oil onto hot griddle. Scoop batter onto griddle. Cook until golden (~8 minutes/batch). Serve and eat while hot.

April 1st: “Christ: God’s Forgiveness”

This Week’s Passage:

Highlights:

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: First Reading Isaiah 50:4-9a

C. Other texts for Palm/Passion Sunday, Year B

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

4a This is the preacher prayer: Give me the word that the people need to hear to sustain themselves.

4b Daily Scripture readings speak to life.

5 Could following God be our prayer? Or do we merely wish we would stay on God’s path?

6 See Abba Abram on check turning.

7 – 8 With God we can endure any adversary!

9 With God our adversary’s weaken.

10 The middle clause if false if the former or later are true.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Most commentaries consider 50:4-11 a complete song.
  • The lectionary lops of vv 10-11 as they are grammatically difficult to follow diverting modern listeners from the central message. They may be an emendation to the Servant Song, and verses 1-3 provide the context for this song.

II. Literary Study.

A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?

  • Written by a follower of Isaiah during the Babylonian exile.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

  • Third of four servant songs.

III. Question the text.

B. Are there any unusual details? Un-named characters? ‘Pointless’ description? Meanings of names of characters? What does a literal meaning of natural metaphors imply?

The identity of the servant is ambiguous. Israel? An individual? Cyrus? Jesus? The hearer?

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: Deep abiding faith strengthens those who trust God to withstand false charges and assault.
  • Emotional Center: God is near and vindicates!
  • Music: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • The source of the conflict, Israel’s transgressions, is provided in verse 1.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Wolfgang Roth (Knox Preaching Guides: Isaiah. John Knox Press, 1988.) considers 50:1-3 as closing to the theme started with 49:14-26. He counts no fewer than five instances of words or phrases being doubled, thus demonstrating the intensity of the prophet’s words. “A sermon will have to deal with the sobering insight that the Scriptures tell of fierce hostility between persons and groups of different religious persuasions, and that many a biblical text is born of religious zeal and polemic. It is doubly puzzling when – as is the case here – the latter are generated by by a servant’s obedient listening to the divine voice and the words of comfort which flow from it.”

Perry Biddle (Editor, Preaching the Lectionary: A Workbook for Year A. WJKP 1991.) summarizes that the servant testifies to three things: (1) personal pupil-teacher relationship with God, (2) loyalty to God while experiencing persecution, and (3) not distracted from God’s mission even by violent persecution. He suggests preachers anticipate the suffering and mocking Jesus receives during trial and extending the sufferings to what all Christians occasionally experience.

Walter Brueggemann et al (Texts for Preaching: Year B. WJKP, 1993.) rejects the rendering of verse 4 in the NRSV and prefers “the lord God, taught my tongue.”

Christopher Seitz (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Book of Isaiah 40-66.” Abingdon, 2001) interprets verses 10-11 as a response added by the prophet’s community to theologically interpret his death. The Servant Song, verses 4-9, answer the question raised in verse 2, where God asks the children of the exiles why they did not answer the LORD. He reflects: “It is crucial to remember that, as tragedies go, the crucifixion of Jesus was neither the worst nor was even remotely the a singular event in its time; many were such executions in his day. What set it apart was that God had opened Jesus’ ears as to its larger significance, allowing him the measure of confidence that did not remove the anguish but made it bearable. [Behind the crucifixion] was the voice of the one who sent him, who opened his ears and taught him and helped him, even against forces of death … That voice kept Good Friday good and not another tragedy. It enabled that particular servant to empower and inspire other servants, who would follow his lead and take up the cross God sets aside for them as well.”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Oatmeal Pancakes

Full of flavor yet still high in fiber with no fat!

Whipping the egg whites keeps this version light and fluffy.

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1½ cup skim milk
3 egg whites
¾ cup quick cooking oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
spray oil

Directions:

  1. Heat milk then combine with oats in food processor. Let stand.
  2. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites and sugar until stiff.
  3. To oats and milk add flour, baking soda, salt. Puree until smooth.
  4. Fold oat batter into eggs.
  5. Spray oil onto hot griddle. Scoop batter onto griddle forming ~6 inch circles. Turn when bubbles form and edges dry. Cook until second side is golden.

March 25th: “Forgiveness as Healing”

This Week’s Passage: Luke 5:17-26

Highlights: Although the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins, some unnamed neighbors became instruments of God’s grace and healing. So too can we.

I. Establish the text

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

17a The Pharisees and Teachers were sitting in the periphery of Jesus’ classroom.

17b Was the power of the LORD to heal not always with Jesus?

18 When Jesus is in the house it’s full.

19 Name four friends who might disassemble someone’s house so you might be healed.

20 Not the faith of the man on the pallet, but the faith of his friends, yields grace! Who might we cover with faith? Consider friends at a funeral, covering each other’s doubts to assuage grief.

21-22 NB: Jesus did not say: “I forgive your sins,” but notes that “His sins have been forgiven,” allowing that God alone forgives sins.

23-24 Thus if any should attempt to allow Jesus to weasel word out of blasphemy, he takes on the mantle of forgiving sins and healing.

25 The healed man glorifies God, not Jesus!

26 Everyone, presumably including the Pharisees and Teachers, praises God for the awe inspiring deed done before them.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Verses 17-26 include a complete story. Abrupt scene changes define its beginning and ending.
  • It is preceded by another healing story and followed by another teaching in front of the Pharisees.

II. Literary Study.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

  • Mark 2:1-12 – Omits phrase about the power to heal being with Jesus. Specifies four friends dig through the roof.
  • Matthew 9:1-8 – Omits lowering through a roof because of the crowd. Explains the awe as due to giving humans authority to forgive.

III. Question the text.

A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.

The paralyzed man is reduced to an object, until he has been healed. Healing unparalyzes his mouth.

The man’s friends actions speak more loudly than any words they might have spoken.

The Pharisees cling to orthodoxy, and deny their responsibility for healing and grace.

Jesus uses a miraculous healing to teach about his power to forgive.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: Jesus has the power to forgive sins.
  • Emotional Center: Friends carrying the man to the roof top and lowering him through an opening.
  • Music: “There Is a Balm In Gilead”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Who has power to forgive? Only God in heaven?
  • The neighbors’ faith is sufficient for grace, not the teacher and Pharisees, without a word of confession or affirmation from the man who received grace.

E. Is there anything you wish the author had included in the passage? Why do you think this was not a part of Scripture?

  • Why were the friends so motivated to lower the man through a roof?

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • The image of the man coming through the roof can easily distract from theological points in the story.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

R. Allan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke.” Abingdon, 1995.) notices that Luke surprises the reader with forgiveness after setting the stage for another healing miracle. When the Pharisees question the power to forgive, Jesus neither backs down nor sidesteps, but escalates the conflict, claiming divine authority, and the title of an apocalyptic figure (the Son of Man). Culpepper suggest that Luke used the title “Son of Man,” because of a lack of general knowledge in the first century as to what it meant. He reflects: “Faith is not found in the assembly of scribes and Pharisees from all the surrounding region, but in four unnamed neighbors.” “The real blasphemy … is found in those who resisted Jesus’ ministry to the afflicted, bound, and oppressed.”

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. John Knox Press, 1990.) notes that in this passage, the power to forgive sins is separate from the power to heal. In this passage, the power to heal confirms that Jesus also has the power to forgive.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Jesus’ power to forgive sins is affirmed by the power to heal.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Although the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins, some unnamed neighbors became instruments of God’s grace and healing. So too can we.

March 18th: “Forgive Yourself”

This Week’s Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Highlights: No longer look at people as merely human beings, but use Christ’s divine perspective to see what they are in Christ, so they might also be reconciled to Christ.

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for 4thSunday in Lent

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

16 Accepting Christ results in a transformation, a metamorphosis of believers from mere creatures, to divine beings who can truly know Christ.

17 The use of this verse as an assurance of pardon obscures other meanings.

18-20 Not only are we made new, but we are given the opportunity to bring reconciliation to others. Believers are promoted directly from outcast to ambassador!

21 We are not justified by what we nor, what we do but what God has done in Christ.

II. Literary Study.

E. What is the context of the passage, and the book?

  • Previous paragraph discusses Paul’s motivation for saving others.
  • In the following paragraph Paul argues for not waiting until later.

III. Question the text.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: No longer look at people as merely human beings, but use Christ’s divine perspective to see what they are in Christ, so they might also be reconciled to Christ.
  • Music: “Hear the Good News of Salvation”

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • Becoming a new creation in Christ is a transformational event. Everything prior to this event is insignificant. After this event, we can perceive and participate in God reconciling all of creation, including ourselves.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Ralph Martin (Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Corinthians. Word Incorporated, 1986.) translates verse 16 as “Therefore from now we judge no one from an outward point of view. Though we may have judged Christ from such a viewpoint, now we do so no longer.” Martin perceives Paul as offering reasons for his apostolic conduct: (1) inhabiting a new world in Christ, and (2) God’s reconciliation. He notes a structural parallel between verses 18 and 19, which verses 20 & 21 reverse, that Paul used to stress that God reconciled us/the world for administering God’s message of reconciliation. He cautions against reducing verse 17 to becoming a new creature.

J. Paul Sampley (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “Second Letter to the Corinthians”. Abingdon, 2000.) considers the lectionary passage within 5:11- 6:10, which he titles: “Paul’s Ministry of Reconciliation.” Commenting on 5:16 he writes: “Christ’s death is the transformative event for all of life. Nothing is the same after that.” People should “no longer live for themselves but for the one who died and was raised for them.” … “To consider anyone simply from the flesh (kata sarka) is to view that person as if the fundamentally transformative resurrection of Christ had not taken place – and as if the norms or standards of judgment had not therein been radically altered.” He note several instances when this passage picks up themes from Romans 8. He reflects: “Reconciliation is at the heart of life’s business.”

William Baird (Knox Preaching Guides:1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians. John Knox Press, 1980.) suggests as a sermon theme: “the new perspective of faith.” He notes that in 2 Maccabees people engaged in religious practices in order to reconcile themselves to God. “Paul turns this understanding inside out: Instead of people reconciling God to themselves, God reconciles people to himself.”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

No longer look at people as merely human beings, but use Christ’s divine perspective to see what they are in Christ, so they might also be reconciled to Christ. And include oneself among those whom God is reconciling to himself.

March 11th: “Forgiving Family”

This Week’s Passage: Luke 15:1-2 & 11-32

Highlights: Foolishness: What parent would allow a child to wander off to certain problems? Foolishness: Restoration rather than restitution. Wisdom: Restoration does not harm others. The dutiful son’s inheritance would not be diminished by the prodigal’s return.

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for 3rd Sunday in Lent

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

1-2 The audience for these parables, tax-collectors and sinners in the presence of Pharisees, parallels the characters in the third parable.

11-12 One son asks for his share the other presumes it is his. Tax collectors gathered close to Jesus, while the Pharisees and scribes grumbled about who Jesus was including.

12b Foolishness: What father would divide his estate before his death!

13 Foolishness: What father would allow his child to wander off to certain problems?
Why a distant land? Was he ashamed to do these things in the presence of his friends?

14 Poverty compounded! Instead of compounded interest, natural disaster compounds reckless spending.

15 Repentance begins with self responsibility.

16 Minimum wages jobs did not pay a living wage, nor do they today.

17 Repentance begins by giving thanks.

18-19 Repentance is resurrection! But is this repentance or merely a plan for better working conditions?

20 Foolishness: Compassion before confession!

21-24 Foolishness: Restoration rather than restitution.
Does the father interrupt the son’s planned confession or does the son omit his planned pledge of submission to not insult the compassion his father has already expressed?

25-27 The party started even before people could return from the fields. No invitations. Did the elder son feel he had been snubbed?

28-30 Self righteousness blocks restoration of self and others.

28 The dutiful son plays by the rules for success and receives no reward. While the wayward is rewarded.

31 Wisdom: Restoration does not harm others. The dutiful son’s inheritance would not be diminished by the prodigal’s return.

32 Wisdom: For what woman having searched to find a lost coin does not rejoices on finding it. What man having lost a lamb, does not invite his neighbors to celebrate on finding it. Thus, how much more would we celebrate on the repentance of a child.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Skips over parables of rejoicing over a found coin and over a found lamb.

F. Are there any significant variants in the manuscripts? Why?

  • 21 Several respectable translations add to the end: /poihson me ws ena twn misqiwn sou/ “make me as one of your hired servants” thus completing the pledge he had planned earlier. Several more expansive manuscripts (A L W) omit this phrase. Thus many modern translations relegate it to a marginal note. The addition eases the radical nature of grace.

II. Literary Study.

B. What is the context of the passage, and the book?

  • Preceded by two parables on rejoicing on finding relatively small items after sacrificing much.
  • Followed by parable of the dishonest manager and the rich man and Lazarus.
  • Collectively, these five parables tell of God rejoicing for inward renewal and repentance.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

  • 2 The grumbling of the Pharisees foreshadows the elder son’s grumbling (vv. 29 & 30).
  • 13 REB and TEV interpret “having gathered everything”as getting cash for his share of the property.
  • 13 /aswtws/ Occurs only here in the New Testament. Translations include: wild (NIV), reckless (TEV), dissolute (NRSV, REB), debauchery (NJB).
  • 18 /anastas/ second aorist active participle, nominative singular indicative, “having arisen”. Also used by Luke to describes Jesus’ resurrection.
  • 22 Robe would be a ritual garment not worn while working, the ring a symbol of authority, and sandals an item not worn by slaves/servants.
  • 23, 27, & 30 /quw/ used for ritual slaughtering rather than simply butchering.
  • 32 /ezhsen/ aorist active indicative 3rd person singular, “he lived”. A literal translation conveys recognition of a faithful remnant in the death of sin. Typical modern translations render this as “has come to life” or “is now alive,” capturing repentance as resurrection.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

  • This is the longest parable and most complicated parable, yet it remains compact through careful word choice and construction.
  • The unresolved reaction of the elder son invites the reader to celebrate with God.

III. Question the text.

A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.

Prodigal suffers a fall from wealth to poverty where he recognized the gifts of his former life. He is last seen standing dumbfounded by grace.

Father accedes to the Prodigal’s wishes. The reader is shielded to the father’s grief until the last verse, when it is combined with joy. But will the elder son also enter his joy?

Elder Son feels robbed. Years of toil to live within the rules have gained him nothing. The rewards of life have been given to the Prodigal who merited punishment. Would he recognize that he also was loved, so he too could celebrate his brother’s return?

Tax Collectors and Sinners listening to this story might hear improbable grace.

Pharisees and Scribes listening might hear the father’s compassion that they may have for their children, yet they would also expect retribution and restitution.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Emotional Center: The Father forgives before the son has an opportunity to fully express his remorse and offer of recompense.
  • Music: “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Younger Son rebels against the status quo and leaves home.
  • Father forgives without expectation of repentance and restitution.
  • Elder brother does not forgive and misses the party.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

John Noland (Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 35B: Luke 9:21-18:34. Word Books, 1993) notes the younger son’s hiring himself out marks the transition from the freedom he sought in demanding his inheritance, to servitude. The elder son not getting even a goat contrasts with the parable of the generous landowner (Matthew 20:1-16). Here the pious son is not even treated as an equal, but as an inferior to the repentant Prodigal. Noland suggests the father wants the elder son to recognize the enrichment of the family by the Prodigal’s return, which should not disturb those who have labored endlessly, for they are only regaining lost brothers.

Robert Karris (“The Gospel According to Luke,” The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Doubleday, 1985) notes that the story plays on other brother stories in which the younger triumphs over the older; Jacob and Esau and Joseph and his brothers.

Fred Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. John Knox Press, 1990.) notes how this parable, like the preceding two, is known by what was lost rather than by the joy of finding. He suggests renaming them as: “the found sheep,” “the found coin,” and “the loving father.” He recommends that preachers concentrate on the brilliance of the diamond of joy in finding rather than in the dark, velvet, blackness from which the diamond shines. He reminds us that grace completes justice.

John R. Donahue (The Gospel in Parable. Fortress Press, 1988) identifies the father as the main character, even though each of the sons draw emotional responses. He notes that the demand for inheritance was not exceptionally out of the ordinary, but when the Prodigal gathers his share and leaves he broke his family and his relationship to Abraham. He cites Deuteronomy 21:18-21 to rationalize the elder son’s expectation of death for the rebellious son. He contrasts the Prodigal’s offer of servitude to restore family relationships with the elder son’s practice of maintaining family by being a slave.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

  • Repentant sinners are welcomed home. Grace completes justice.
  • The Church should not complain when God welcomes sinners, but should join in the party.
  • Much of our estrangement is self inflicted by slavery to maintaining or restoring relationships and things.

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

  • God awaits our return with outstretched arms, but seeking penance or justice is easier.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

  • Recognize the falsehood of the success myth and experience the compassion of our loving God who welcomes us home.
  • Recognize that laboring for success has no pay off.