Thursday, April 11, 2013

Responding with....?

Our texts for this Third Sunday in Easter are two big ones: John 21:1-19 and Acts 9:1-20, which can
be read here.

I know I talk with some frequency about how the layout of the Revised Common Lectionary, from which we draw our weekly scripture readings along with countless other churches around the globe, can baffle me from time to time.  This week, however, is a true head-scratcher:  how can one be expected to tackle two such lengthy, rich narratives about two of the most central figures in the early church, two post-resurrection powerhouses--Peter and Paul--in the same week?  How, I ask you?

There is too much here to know where to begin.  Our Eastertide theme is "Resurrection Responses," and I am titling most of my sermons in the format of "Responding With..."  For instance, on Easter Sunday we had Mary Magdalene "Responding With Tears."  Last week we had Thomas "Responding With Doubt." But in these two narratives there are so many "Responding with"s that arise from these two tales that I cannot decide which way to go.

My initial thought for this week was "Responding with Zeal," looking at how Saul/Paul and Peter were both passionate dudes before the resurrection and how their zeal got reappropriated after their encounters with the risen Jesus.

But then I thought about "Responding with Reconciliation"--an encounter with the risen Christ led to reconciliation between Jesus and Peter, as well as between Saul and those he was persecuting....and how community was created through Resurrection Reconciliation.

There is "Responding with Humility"--both Peter and Saul's encounters with the risen Christ knocked them down off their high horses in some life-changing ways.

There is "Responding with Participation"--meeting Jesus after the resurrection gave each of these guys a different, life-altering calling that required them not just to intellectually believe in the resurrection, but to participate in it with how they now lived their lives.

There is "Responding with Great Cost"--what did their encounters with the risen Christ require Saul and Peter to give up?  What did they leave behind to follow a resurrected Lord?

And then there is "Responding with Suffering"--acknowledging and encountering the risen Christ made Peter and Paul vulnerable in ways their stubborn selves likely could never have imagined.  They chose to embrace a way that led not to comfort and power, but to letting God have control over their lives.

So...before I write this sermon tomorrow, any thoughts on which of these you might be interested in hearing more about?  What captures you in these two stories?  Where do these two powerhouses call ordinary folks like us to responses that may not be as flashy, but that are equally important, as we encounter the risen Lord in our own lives?

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Huh. Good questions, I say. And all of them sound worthwhile. While I won't be able to be there, I plan on listening online next week, so maybe I can speak and say "Zeal," "Cost," and "Suffering" as you've described are really compelling to me.

I sometimes wonder, though, as you (and others) call Peter and Paul powerhouses (and they certainly were strong figures to say the least), what made them so? We get to read bits and pieces of how they grew as disciples, yes, but I feel like understanding their journey could help us as we too expand our vision and goals to those of God's Kingdom.