Memo for Sunday, Feb 7, 2010
The Luke passage has Jesus showing the fishermen where to catch the fish. As I read my Bible it would seem that the fishers never caught any fish without Jesus? help. Maybe there is a sermon in there somewhere. I have preached lots of sermons on Jesus calling those fisher folk and telling them that they shall become fisher of men. When the Church, especially the Methodist Men, picked up on this text they formed fishermen?s clubs as a form of evangelism. I think this was a good use of the text but there is more here .
Rudolf Bultmann has written that the fishers of men text referred to Jesus knowledge of a greek god who would capture men and imprison them in water. Thus to become a fisher of men was to set the prisoner free. I like it, but for the life me I cannot find the Bultmann reference. (I probably gave my Bultmann books to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale when He went out of vogue.) His thought does make sense because water, the deeps, was a place of great fear and foreboding in the first century, and to live in fear is indeed to be in prison. As I recall, Wesley wrote a hymn about setting the prisoner free.
I Corinthians 15
Paul and the Resurrection
If you are not into fishing this week then take a look at I Corinthians 15. This writing is one of the earliest sermons in the New Testament. It predates the Gospels. Paul writing to the Church at Corinth wishes for them to know of his mystical experience on the Road to Damascus. He is trying to help a skeptical world understand the Resurrection and in doing so provides us with that first list of eye witnesses to the risen Christ. (Please note that the key witnesses to the Resurrection, namely the women, are left off the list. ) Why did Paul leave them out? Was it because he had not yet read, or heard Mark preach his Gospel? Or could it be that in the very first stages of formation, the church already was practicing exclusion? This passage is important for me for three reasons. 1) We can correct the sin of the church by setting the record straight regarding women in the church. 2) Paul tells us that he experienced the Risen Christ as one untimely born, meaning he did not get to walk and talk with Jesus as Peter did. I too, and all of us, are untimely born. I take it to mean that we too can experience the risen Christ. I must admit that the Damascus experience was a tough one, but that may be the first step for many of us. 3) Paul puts the emphasis of the resurrection where it belongs, not on some empty tomb, but in the work of the risen Christ who creates hope for each of us. And we discover that Paul?s idea of Resurrection is about finding new and true life right now.
“Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is replaced with creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splender of the past, when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority, rather than with the voice of compassion--its message is meaningless. Abraham Heschel. From God in Search of Man The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1955, p.3