Straight up confession to fellow Kiwis. I cannot get too excited about the possibility of speaking about Te Pouhere - the Constitution (of our church) this Sunday 26th June, which day to celebrate Te Pouhere it is on our local ecclesial calendar. But if I were to choose that, what a dog's breakfast for a prospective Pouhere preacher lies in our lectionary - multiple gospel readings. What's with that? Why not one this year, another next and work on a four year cycle? Our constitution is a good thing, but I suggest there are better ways to attend to it than in a sermon. (Were I a vicar I might write an insert for the parish newsheet).
So the standard, non-dog's breakfast readings it is. An interesting set (here the Related readings rather than the Continuous) so Jeremiah (False Prophecy) and Matthew (one theme is 'prophets') are related, though perhaps here more like cousins than siblings, let alone parent and child. Romans then sticks out a bit like a
I quite like the challenge of interesting sets of readings such as this. One of my principles in preaching is to have 'one message' - whatever is said coheres around a single theme so that hearers leave the service with one and only one message to recall. What is the single theme in this set? Is there one?
Incidentally, I think is an honourable strategy to opt to choose one reading and major the sermon on that, but I encourage some reference, even just a sentence, to the other readings. But back to our set. Is there a single theme?
Re-reading Matthew 10:40-42 we find:
"10:40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
10:41 Whoever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Whoever receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
10:42 And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” "
Hmm. Plenty of potential to get sidetracked into details. What is a "prophet's reward"? What does "in the name of a disciple" mean? (The NET here follows the Greek very closely. Interestingly the ESV interprets this phrase with "because he is a disciple"). But what, if anything, is a potential theme connecting the readings together? What in one sentence is a message we can read out of these readings (not read into them)?
Any thoughts from you are most welcome!
I am posting this c. 6.30 am NZ time ... my own thoughts are coming together, so will offer a postscript later today ... a couple of meetings and other stuff to get through first!
POSTSCRIPT: c. 6.45 pm "The message and messengers of the gospel matter" is what I am working on.
Jeremiah tells us that it matters whether the message we preach is true or false. Jesus tells us that the messengers matter. Paul tells us that the message of the gospel is a matter of life and death.
Just the question of relating all that to the earthquake ...