2018-19 RCL-C Third Sunday in Lent
Additional Resources for Proclamation & Preaching
Lent 03: March 24, 2019 • Gospel Text: Luke 13:1-9
Unusually Important To Get Right
Proclamation for Today
by Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth
Jesus’ teaching here and elsewhere is designed to correct problematic assumptions about guilt, punishment, and repentance. Let’s take these point by point. 1) There is not a direct correlation between specific sins and divine retribution. You can’t draw a line from guilt to suffering. 2) That being said, suffering (and perishing) is still related to sin and guilt. Just not with a straight line. Rather, more with a big, giant world sized brush. 3) With repentance, there’s always again and again, AND one more time. Repentance is always available, and apparently God makes time for even late, more than late, repentance. The call to repentance is in this sense not a threat, but a gracious opportunity.
These insights can and should be brought into relationship with the practice in the church of how we treat catechumens on some levels different from full “members” of the body. Traditionally, baptism has itself been considered the entrance rite into the life of the church, and there were moments (still practiced in some traditions) of distinguishing between the baptized and the unbaptized at the communion rail. Communion as the sacrament of the baptized. Though a mystagogical sermon will distinguish between those who are baptized and those who are not yet baptized, it will also not turn the distinction into a hierarchy, the kind of practice warned against in this text. The focus is repentance, so consideration of confession and absolution is in order.
Here it’s good to remember that the focus on repentance at least in the preaching of Jesus is frequently for the baptized themselves, the insiders, the “members,” rather than the inquirers or catechumens. Especially if the members of the body begin to assume that guilt and need for repentance resides primarily outside the church. Or when those who are members of the body begin to think they can readily ascribe direct correlation between guilt and suffering.
However, in a more open, ongoing and capacious view of repentance (that is, the one proclaimed by Jesus in this text) repentance is a call for everyone, regardless of their insider or outsider status. There is a leveling of the playing field in Jesus’ preaching here. All should repent. All may perish. This sermon is for everyone. It’s like the line every preacher has heard after a sermon, “I really wish so-and-so would have been here to hear that sermon.” To which the ready preacher should have a reply, “That sermon wasn’t for them. It was for you. And for me.”
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by RCL Worship Resources or Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. Click here for more free RCL worship resources & planning materials.
Historical Exegetical Resources
· The Five Gospels Parallels, John W. Marshall, University of Toronto.
· From the Geneva Notes.
· From Matthew Henry's Commentary (c. 1700).
· A Penitent Heart, the Best New Year's Gift (Luke 13:3): sermon by George Whitefield.
· The Center for Excellence in Preaching, Scott Hoezee, resources from Calvin Theological Seminary.
· "Bearing Fruit," David F. Sellery, 2016.
· If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home by Now, Stan Duncan, 2016.
· Pulpit Fiction, podcast. Reflections of lectionary text, pop culture, current events, etc. Robb Mc Coy and Eric Fistler, 2016.
· "How Much Does It Cost?" Janet H. Hunt, Dancing with the Word, 2016.
· "Where Are the Figs?" Sharron R. Blezard, Stewardship of Life, 2016.
· "Meditations on Repentence," Andrew Prior, One Man's Web, 2016.
· "The Pornography of Pessimism," Nancy Rockwell, The Bite in the Apple, 2016.
"One More Year," the Rev. Dr. Janet H. Hunt, Dancing with the Word, 2013.
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Dramatic Reading of the Text
Readers: Narrator, Jesus, Man, Gardener
Narrator: At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them,
Jesus: “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Narrator: Then he told this parable:
Jesus: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener,
Man: ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’
Jesus: He replied,
Gardener: ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”