Sex in Public

2 Samuel 11:1-15 (Eighth Sunday After Pentecost)

So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.

For the next two Sundays, churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary will hear the familiar story of David and Bathsheba—a cautionary tale often invoked to warn against the dangers of sexual temptation in our own time and/or to demonstrate the humanness of the oft-idealized King David in his.

It’s interesting to note the military context of David’s sexual conquest. It is the time of year, we are told, when “kings go out to battle.” But David, after dispatching his general, Joab, and all his officers and regiments to the front lines, “remained at Jerusalem.” While his troops are ravaging the Ammonites and besieging the city of Rabbah, King David—bored and gazing about the neighborhood—sets out to ravage and besiege the married Bathsheba, a woman of the Bible like so many others: silent and helplessly complicit in her own victimization. Read more

A Great Gathering

Thanks to everyone for a great gathering. One sign of how important our topics were is we began conversations much larger than we could carry on during the time allotted. We’re hoping we can continue our work together through an ongoing sharing on bLogos and FB.

Wealth, especially money, divides the church. It can and does also become part of our sharing, our communion (koinonia). We’d be mistaken to try to create the fool-proof perfect system that will overcome sin and remove our need for mercy, patience, and hope in God’s grace. But we can still share wisdom about how congregations can plant the kudzu of the kingdom. How, in this culture so saturated with the symbolic power of money, can we be people among whom wealth serves its proper ends? How do you talk about that in your congregation?

In short, in what ways has your community made wealth and poverty into occasions for reconciliation, supporting and building friendships, witnessing to the finitude of being creatures and the plenitude found in bearing the cross?

Law, Economy, Freedom and Community

stained glass style picture of the communion cup and breadExodus 20:1-20

There’s a running gag on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report in which the fake-bluster, windbag host, Stephen Colbert, interviews members of Congress in a segment called “Better Know a District.” In a recent installment, Georgia representative Lynn Westmoreland was on the hot seat, and Colbert asked the congressman about his very vocal support for displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings—courthouses and such. “Can you think of any other places where the commandments should have prominence?” asked Colbert, trying, mischievously, to press the point that there might be other sites (churches, anyone? a synagogue, perhaps?) where the Decalogue is more at home.

Westmoreland didn’t get it—he kept talking about courthouses—and so Colbert (a devout Catholic, interestingly) went for the kill: “What are the Ten Commandments, congressman?”

Not surprisingly, Westmoreland was stumped. Read more

Why Share?

You may remember the Garrison Keillor story of why shopping at Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery in Lake Wobegon is preferable to shopping in St. Cloud at the new Higgledy-Piggledy. Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery has just gotten in a case of fresh cod. “Frozen, but it’s fresher than what’s been in his freezer for months. In the grocery business, you have to throw out stuff sometimes, but Ralph is Norwegian and it goes against his principles.” On the other hand, more and more people have been “sneaking off to the Higgledy-Piggledy in St. Cloud, where you find two acres of food, a meat counter a block long with huge walloping roasts and steaks big enough to choke a cow, and exotic fish lying on crushed ice.”

Keillor goes on to explain that Lake Wobegon does not run on free enterprise, which is based upon self-interest. It is run on loyalty. He goes on to say you can shop at the St. Cloud Mall instead of Lake Wobegon but the St. Cloud Mall isn’t going to come with the Rescue Squad and they aren’t going to teach your children redemption by grace. Read more

Forgiveness and Evangelism

a person reaches out towards the viewerA few years ago, I was a passenger in a car that was in a minor accident in a local shopping center parking lot. Both cars, the one I was in as well as the one that sideswiped us, were traveling at an appropriate parking lot speed of about 2 mph. The collision, which put a fairly large dent in the front fender of my friend’s car and a crack in the front headlight on the other car, resulted in no injuries, no irreparable damage, and certainly no more pain and suffering than that of having to sit in the Wal-Mart parking lot for an hour in the middle of December while the police report was filed. As an adult passenger in one of the vehicles, I was, of course, asked for my license and a brief statement to corroborate the story of the two drivers. Being that it was my first real traffic accident to speak of, I had no idea what to expect after that point.

Imagine my surprise when, on each of the following three days, I arrived home from school to find my mailbox absolutely overwhelmed with offers from local law offices pandering for my business.  Read more