Tag Archives: sermon prep

Redemptive Violence and 24

A few weeks ago I listened to a Robcast about the “lie of redemptive violence.”  In this podcast, Rob Bell explains how this idea of redemptive violence–that violence in retaliation for wrong-doing can be justified–is deep in our society…and even in our theology.  But it’s really a myth, and he goes on to talk about how the “Jesus narrative” provides a powerful alternative to this myth of redemptive violence.

So I had this podcast in my mind and was pondering this concept of redemptive violence, when I had a brief window in my regular schedule of television shows and was looking for something to watch.  So (don’t judge me) I settled on the final season of the show 24.  In this final season, counter-terrorism expert Jack Bauer is called on once again to save the U.S. from the threat of a terrorist attack.  Jack Bauer spends the next 24 hours trying to neutralize the threat in order to preserve peace.  And, of course, in quality mediocre television drama fashion, lots of people are tortured and killed in the race against time.  And at the last minute, the president of the United States has to decide what lines can or cannot be crossed for the sake of a signed document called a ‘peace treaty’.  To the show’s credit, it does not tie all the pieces together nicely at the end, and the whole thing ends with a bit of a question about who exactly ‘won’ after all that fighting and revenge.

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The message in the text

Sermon illustrations come from the funniest places.  Recently, my little brother was texting me pictures of these amazing meals he was preparing:


So I sent him a picture of my fridge with the text, “Clearly I need a paycheck and to go shopping.”


 I had recently  returned back from a Youth Mission trip, and hadn’t gone shopping yet.  He responded quickly: “You need Jesus.”

Later, as I was preparing to preach on the “Bread of Life” discourse in John 6, I couldn’t get that text conversation out of my mind.  So I went with it.  Here’s the sermon that resulted.


Birds of the Nations

Pastor’s going on vacation…this means I get to preach for two weeks in a row.  And of course I get the last installment of the random “the Kingdom of Heaven is like…” parables told in Matthew.  Both an over-used and a misunderstood concept, I think.  Meanwhile, we haven’t talked much about the situation on the border with unaccompanied children coming in to the U.S.   I’ve sort of followed the reflections and reactions of others via random facebook posts and conversation threads, but haven’t heard it come up in my congregation…at all.

So in the back of my mind are questions like, “what are the images that Jesus would use to explain the Kingdom of Heaven today?” and “What is the role of the church in the situation with unaccompanied children?”

To get me started in my thinking, I visited www.workingpreacher.org.  There’s usually a nugget in the commentaries about the weekly readings that gets me thinking.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The commentary writer for this week’s text was someone I didn’t recognize, but I was intrigued by this comment:  “The nesting birds point to the same vision. The “birds of the heaven” symbolize the people of the nations who have lived under oppression (Ezekiel 17:23; 31:6; Daniel 4:12). In this mustard seed they find welcome and hospitality that supports life rather than destroys it. The parable is a prophetic word both reinscribing and resisting Roman imperial visions.” Interesting to think about the ‘birds’ that are flocking across our borders at the moment, and whether they are finding “Kingdom trees” to nest in and find shelter.

Hmmm…dare I say something about that on Sunday?