A folk-singing friend taught me that if I could link a sermon to a
song, listeners would remember the song, and thus be more likely to
remember the sermon. Music resides in a part of the brain that is
resistant to amnesia, he said.
The texts speak of thirst for life. The people thirst for water in
the wilderness. The Samaritan woman at the well meets the One who gives
the water of eternal life. Paul speaks of God’s love being “poured into
our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
In his recent book The Jesus Way, the unfailingly helpful Eugene Peterson observes: “Community is intricate and complex. Living in community as a people of God is inherently messy. A congregation consists of many people of various moods, ideas, needs, experiences. . . . It is not easy and it is not simple.”
Reading the assigned texts for this week overwhelms me. The call of
Abram is told like a Haiku—just a few words, yet the mystery of our
life as God’s people hinges on this ancient call and response. After
the spare text in Genesis, the passages in Romans and John read like
dense thickets of complicated sentences and layered metaphors.
Lent’s 40 days of preparation for baptism and discipleship are
modeled on Jesus’ postbaptismal test in the wilderness. Reading about
Jesus’ struggle with the devil opens up some potential directions for
the preacher’s journey to Sunday:
Max Villatoro, 41, came to this country in 1995 from his native Honduras. In 1999 he was arrested for drunk driving. He turned his life around, got married, had four children, and became a Mennonite pastor in Iowa City. Despite trying for years to get legal status, he was recently taken into custody and sent back to Honduras, separating him from his family and congregation. Villatoro’s lawyer, who has worked many similar cases, says he has never seen so many people petitioning for one of his clients. The advocacy didn’t stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement from going against President Obama’s commitment to deport “felons, not families” (KCRG.com, March 20).