Monday, August 16, 2010

Looking Forward to August 22, 2010 -- 13th Sunday After Pentecost, Year C

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Jeremiah 1:4-10
  • Psalm 71 (VU p.789)
  • Luke 13:10-17

The Sermon title this week is Stand Up Straight

Early Thoughts: What holds you down? What bends you over? And what is more important: release from bondage or the rules regarding the day of the week you are freed?

 These are the questions that leap out at me from the Luke reading.  One could easily take the passage and preach about hypocrisy or the needs of people over the needs of institutions (or vice versa?).  But I am drawn to the healing.  I am drawn the woman who has been bent over for 18 years!!!!! (in a culture where the underclass would often die before 40) being told/allowed to stand up straight.

Without a doubt one of the great themes of our Scripture story is that of being set free.  And that is the imagery Jesus uses in this story And ought not this daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for 18 long years be set free from bondage (v. 16).  What is it that holds us back?  What is it that holds us in bondage?  Why do we need to be freed?

If one of the great themes of Scripture is that of being set free (and undoubtedly it is) then I make the assumption that at some time in our lives most of us need to be set free from something.  And sometimes we don't even realize it except in hindsight.  Sometimes others can see what is bending us over or limiting us far more clearly than we can.  We may even think it is "normal" to be bent over like that.  I know that to be true (on Sunday I may even tell the story of it).  But then once we have been freed we find that we can do far more than we ever would have imagined.

Jeremiah gets freed from the understanding that his words are of little worth because of his age.  A woman gets freed of an oppressive spirit (the text leaves it wide open what this means).  One reason for setting aside the Sabbath as a day of rest is that when people are enslaved they can not make that choice but once we are freed they can choose to rest (Deuteronomy 5:12-15 -- in the "second" version of the 10 commandments).  So how appropriate is it to be set free on the Sabbath?

We are free.  Sometimes it takes a while to sink in.  Sometimes we have trouble living into that freedom.  But we are free.  We are called to stand up straight.  For we too are sons and daughters of Abraham.

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