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1st Sunday after Trinity May 19, 2008

Posted by Andy in lectionary, theology, Uncategorized.
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Here come this week’s readings. Hope to say something a bit earlier this week. Sorry for jumping over Corpus Christi: I’m not that ambitious!

OK, some comments in lieu of a sermon.

I’m told that my local flower shop makes a lot of money in summer, and it’s difficult to see why. If I was attempting to charm my wife or win a heart this week, I would feel completely upstaged by the apple and cherry. It’s the blossom season in Fredrikstad, and there’s no reason to hoard flowers. No reason to take them or  argue over them. They’re extravagantly lavished by every street I walk in.

That’s basically what the week’s readings are all about: the abundance of life, and the corresponding evils of pettiness. And if there is one verse worth meditating on among these, I would say it’s probably from the Psalm: Turn my eyes from looking at vanities, give me life in your ways.

It’s a natural step from last week’s apophatic readings that taught us not to know. This week we are told what it is we don’t know: what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him. We do not know the abundance of life, we can’t see where God’s generosity stops.

This is what Paul is trying to drill into his churches: everything is yours! Why are you in a panic to fill requirements? Why are you frenetically seeking after knowledge? There is space for madness and foolishness and ignorance in God’s holiness: you are already full of God! Hence the Christian tradition’s negative theology as regards entry requirements – not by works, not by ritual, not by spiritual experience, not by knowledge.

And this is what Christ is using to drive his sermon on not resisting evil. We do not resist evil because that evil is essentially based on a stingy economy of desire and lack. People require us to carry their goods because they don’t manage to. But we do. We have all the time and all the strength in the world, because we have its Creator. There are plenty of cheeks to go around! So don’t grasp after belongings, don’t harvest right up to the edge of the field, as if you were worried whether God will provide this year. Don’t be petty.

Be perfect, you are God’s temple already. Christ is risen, death is defeated. Everything is yours, because you are already complete, as God is complete. So share it around, and don’t bother grasping for it. It’s already yours, and you can’t possess it in any deeper sense than that.

Now I thought of some other illustrations earlier, but they’ve gone from my mind at the mo. A kind of political version of this has been written by John Milbank, based on a rather shaky reading of Agamben, called “Paul and Biopolitics”. But it’s famous for being inscrutable, so take some time over it if you read it.


1. Andrew Brower Latz - September 9, 2009

This is really good. Do you preach somewhere?

2. Andy - September 9, 2009

Ta. No, I don’t preach: strictly layman. But my wife does, and so I read a lot of sermons. But your comment has reminded me that I had intended on doing this a little more often, so thanks: I shall try to be better!
This was actually intended to be a week rhythm that I could teach students (should I ever have any!): read the texts in Greek (and Hebrew if you have it – I don’t) at the beginning of the week, write a really obvious sermon mid week, check out a limited number of commentaries before writing a sermon that surprises you on Friday.
Actually come to think of it no wonder I didn’t keep this up.

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