The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

Indebted Faith

Faith is a gift of God and also a gift from our forebears in the faith. How can people from the past give us present people faith?

by Will Willimon

Epistle Reading:  2 Timothy 1:1-14

For Sunday, October 6, 2013: Year C—Lectionary 27

“Increase our faith!” say the disciples to Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel:  From whence does faith come?

Faith—A Right or a Gift?

We live in a society governed by the Constitution that gives us “rights,” innate human qualities. We are born with rights—life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.—and deserve to exercise our rights as we please. There’s a freedom in society of rights, but not much gratitude. Who says “Thanks,” unless they have been given a gift and “rights” are not gifts, they are our right. Right? [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

Doing Faith Until You Have It

Faith (being in loving relationship with God) is a gift of God: How does God increase our faith in God?

by Will Willimon

Gospel Reading:  Luke 17:5-10

For Sunday, October 6, 2013: Year C—Lectionary 27

What is faith? Faith is trust, belief, conviction, relationship. If I say, “I have faith that this jet will get me to Omaha,” I’m saying all that.

If someone is able to say, “I have faith that Jesus Christ is the whole truth about God,” Christians believe that is not a personal, intellectual achievement, or the result of being an especially good or spiritually adept person. It’s a gift of God. God gives us faith so that we may be in relationship with God. [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

Seeing Things that are Not Visible

On Cities and Promises

by Clint Schnekloth

New Testament Reading:  Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

For Sunday, August 11, 2013: Year C—Lectionary 19

The Book of Hebrews is a sophisticated work.

Hebrews has a big personality.It’s clearly intent on working over the Old Testament terrain. It’s doing deep Christology in the context of covenantal Judaism. It’s like a homily on Psalm 95. It may also have been written by a woman (see Ruth Hoppins’ rather convincing argument in Priscilla’s Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Lost Coast Press, 2009). [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

Put Your Sword in its Sheath

From frantic to patient, from fighter to fisher.

By Debbie Blue

Gospel Reading: John 21: 1-19

For Sunday, April 4, 2013: Year C—Easter 3

Personally, I’m relieved that the disciples decide to go fishing here in the epilogue of John’s dense and sometimes difficult to read text.

Going Fishing

The Gospel for Easter 3C is a good story (whoever may have written it)—almost breezy and funny in comparison to some of the more arduous discourses the author takes us through.

Many good readers take this fishing trip to be an indication that the disciples have failed in their call to be disciples—they are going back to what they know (fishing), instead of moving forward as disciples. But the disciples aren’t actually fisherman in the gospel of John, or at any rate the author doesn’t mention this as their vocation. Maybe they aren’t regressing—maybe they are relaxing. [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

Less Faith

What would it mean to confess a Thomasian Creed?

by Mark Stenberg

Gospel Reading: John 20:19–31

For Sunday, April 7, 2013: Year C—Easter 2

Imagine, with me, that particular moment. What was happening during that moment in human history when Thomas confessed his un-faith: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe?”

Was he in danger? Was his faith revoked, nullified? Was he abandoned by God? Was his name stricken from the Book of Life?

Thomas the Scapegoat

“Doubting Thomas.”  His name lives in infamy, the subject of scorn and shame. [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

The End of the World

Is this that?

by Michael Danner

Gospel Reading: Luke 21:25 – 36

For Sunday, December 2, 2012; Year C—Advent 1

This passage begins with apocalyptic thunder, as Jesus overwhelms his hearers with the unspeakable doom they are about to experience. The heavenly bodies will be shaken. People will freak out and faint with terror. They will be filled with anxiety about the future. The End is here!

Sandwich-Board Guy

I’ve never pictured Jesus as a sandwich-board wearing street preacher with a message of doom before, but it seems like “that guy” and Jesus have similar messages. And, let’s be honest, while we (or at least I) dismiss “sandwich-board guy who warns of impending doom,” that is the message that fuels the 24/7 cable news cycle—albeit in a more nuanced and sophisticated way. [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

A Breath of Fresh Air

Resisting the temptation to make Paul one-sided.

by Michael Danner

Epistle Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

For Sunday, December 2, 2012; Year C—Advent 1

The Apostle Paul was a passionate defender of the faith. He dismantled error with a razor-like intellect. His reasoning abilities, top-notch. His style was in-your-face, no-holds-bared, truth-telling. He never backed down from a good debate (argument?). It was often his way or the highway (just ask Peter, Barnabas, and John Mark to name just a few).

And yet, this is not all there is to Paul. As a matter of observation, it appears to me as if Paul mellowed the further he got away from his Pharisaical roots and the closer he walked with the crucified Jesus. In Paul’s letters, we encounter Paul as an exceptional and thoughtful mentor who cared deeply about people, their profession and their practice of the faith. [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

Searching for a Miracle

Why doesn’t faith always heal?

by Carol Howard Merritt

Gospel Reading: Mark 10:46-52

For Sunday, October 28, 2012: Year B—Ordinary 30

My father and I entered a huge concrete block building, crowded with people. My dad didn’t use a cane but he needed to, so he held the back of my neck. I was about nine-years-old and just the right size to be a human crutch. I walked slowly, with the weight of him leaning on me.

My father had a neurological condition that grew worse over time. He had no control over his lower body and moved his feet by swinging his arms and chest. Eventually he acquiesced to a cane, a walker, and a wheelchair. He fought each digression with a hearty denial. But his body never cooperated with his strong will. [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

Is The Book of James Proto-Marxist?

Luther Was Wrong, Behavior Is Believable.

by Carl Gregg

Epistle Reading:  James 2:1-14

For Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012: Year B — Ordinary 23

Martin Luther dismissively called The Book of James a “right strawy epistle.” Luther wanted to base the Reformation on phrases such as sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”), sola fide (“by faith alone”), and sola gratia (“by grace alone”). But the Bible is an anthology that does not speak in one voice, and prophets such as James are a vital counterweight to the idea that one can be saved by “grace alone.” [Read more...]

The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.

 

You’re Going the Wrong Way!

How do they know where we are going??

Epistle  Reading:  Ephesians 4:1-16

For Sunday, August 5, 2012; Year B—Ordinary 18

I love the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles staring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. In one scene, John Candy’s character inadvertently drives his car onto the interstate going against the flow of traffic. Motorists on the other side of the highway (the side he is suppose to be on) try to warn them by yelling, “You’re going the wrong way!!!”

John Candy’s character turns to Martin, laughs them off and says, “They’re drunk, how do they know where we are going?”

[Read more...]