Finitude, contingency, transience. These three linked words signal basic elements of what it is to be a human—and especially to be a historian. David Tracy, noted theologian and next door study-neighbor, taught me this connection, and I’ve let it color my life and scholarly preoccupations.
When I read this passage from Luke I immediately remembered an exegesis paper I once wrote after reading an article by a doctor about what disease the woman might have. He concluded that she has a certain kind of arthritis—the same kind I had been recently diagnosed with. This gave me a sense of immediate connection with the woman in the story.
Such personal identification is homiletically useful.
I worked in Christian education for just a couple of years before I had a child of my own. It was remarkable to me how different my work began to look once I was a parent and could better understand the needs and perspective of parents and families within my congregation.
Richard Lischer suggests that one of the ways to organize a sermon is around a “master metaphor”—that key image on which the sermon’s progress and structure can hang. More often than not, the scripture passage itself gives us the master metaphor.
If it’s difficult for listeners today to connect with the Bible’s injunctions against idolatry because our own idolatry looks so different, the metaphor of God as “fountain of living water” being forsaken for self-dug, cracked cisterns is striking.