I'm SOOO ready for Mark--reflections on preaching Matthew 25This time of year, I always find I'm ready for the lectionary to change over. I love all the Gospels, although Luke particularly speaks to me, but this time of year, it doesn't matter. I'm ready to look at the Good News from a different perspective.
The parable of the talents drove me nuts all week. I read a variety of commentaries, a variety of wise and wonderful people's writings on this piece of the Gospel of Matthew. Nothing particularly leaped out at me. As I said in my sermon yesterday, I was reminded of a cartoon I have, with a priest sitting at his desk, and an attendance graph on the wall, showing the usual up and down numbers, followed by a steep plunging drop-off. A lay leader in the office says to him, "Maybe it would help if you didn't end every sermon with, 'but then again, what do I know?'" I felt like it was a 'but then again, what do I know' kind of week.
In the end, it was N.T. Wright's commentary in Matthew for Everybody, Part Two that really helped me. In his opinion, he believed that Matthew is criticizing the powers-that-be in Israel at that time for losing track of its mission to be a light to the nations.
This made sense to me in a way nothing else had, so I ran with it. I even got to include Dr. Kinnamon's line that "a church that is only about caring for its own members has ceased to be the church." It seemed to resonate.
Finally, I assigned some homework, for all of us in the congregation to drive home with eyes open to possibilities of mission in our own neighborhoods, on the streets between the church and home. I asked them not to worry about how to implement something, or how to fund it, but simply to ask God to open our eyes to how we can participate in God's mission, to dream a little bit as God dreams.
We'll see what the Spirit may bring.