Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sermon: Pentecost 10 - Year C

“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!” shouts the teacher. A little cynical, don’t you think? He might as well say, “life’ tough…then you die.” Not exactly a hopeful message, is it?

This teacher is quite the whiner, isn’t he? He says that he worked hard his whole life to help his people grow deeper in wisdom, only to see them through it all away. Why even bother? He seems to be saying.

Maybe you teachers, on your bad days, in the congregation can relate. You work your fingers raw trying to get into the hearts and minds of our young people only to see them waste their time and talents on PlayStation and third rate underground punk bands. Or their parents’ ambitions for their children were decidedly smaller than the talent you saw blossoming inside them. Despite your best efforts, some folks just didn’t get it.

I wonder if Paul worried about the same thing in the second reading. He had his knickers in a knot about something in this passage. But then again, when WASN’T Paul angry about one thing or another? Is that what Paul does best?
When I was in seminary, it was hip to hate Paul. They said he hated women, he was too full of himself, he was homophobic. Some folks thought they had better theology than the first apostle to the gentiles.

I never really understood the animosity toward the guy who articulated the whole “grace through faith” thing, but if you can’t be sanctimonious in seminary, when can you be sanctimonious?

It was passages like this one in today’s second that got peoples’ shorts in a bunch. Here is Paul at his rhetorical best, or some might say worst. He trots out the biggies, the sins that that some thought were the worst of the worst. He seemed to hate everything that gave life flavour, anything that made for a good movie. If it was fun, Paul was against it. It’s like he wanted us to be pure disembodied souls instead of real, live, flesh and blood human beings.

Fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed? Put to death whatever is earthly? Wrath for the disobedient? For those trying to condemn Paul, there’s a lot to work with here.

And they wouldn’t be alone. You don’t need to know the bible to be uncomfortable with this passage...(the whole thing here)

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