Argh, so much to do and so little time. I have of course another sermon this weekend to write, and this time - the third Sunday - in Japanese. This takes twice to three times as long as doing a sermon in English. But fear not, I still do do the same kind of preparation for those sermons; here's part of my preparation for this week's:
I'm trying to prepare a sermon for this weekend on Luke 5:27-, the call of Levi. As usual, none of the many commentaries I possess bother to think through the practical results of Jesus' call of Levi.
I'm trying to write a sermon on Luke 5:1-11 - Jesus calling Peter - for next Sunday. See, I was supposed to be having a weekend off in Tokyo next week, but, well, you know how it goes - Saturday afternoon will be spent at a conference in Yokohama, and then on Sunday I'll be preaching at Shonandai church. Shonandai is pastored by the Kawamuras, who were missionaries in Oxford and looked after me like parents while I was there in 2003-2005, before their mission retired them. When they asked me to preach, I could hardly say no. But then I'm preaching the week after at Nagahama anyway, so I'll use the same sermon…
We speak of the Gospel as "good news". Luke's Gospel is particularly known as "good news to the poor". But if the Gospel is good news to the poor, is it not also bad news to the rich? The other day I was reading the Magnificat, and that day I went for a walk into Chalfont St Peter, a nearby village which must be one of the most wealthy areas in the country. I couldn't help thinking how difficult it must be to be a Christian there. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Not difficult. Impossible.
Right at the start of this Gospel, we have a challenge. Why are we reading this? What do we expect to “get out'' of reading the Bible? Should we expect to get anything out of it?