Preaching Notes for February 17, 2019

This Sunday we get Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” (Part One) in the Revised Common Lectionary. I think about the clash of blessing and privilege in Jesus’ sermon here. So, some initial thoughts…

Privilege is a prison. Blessing is a benediction.

Privilege shackles us to the past. Blessing promises us God’s future.

Here is an invitation to see salvation as healing rather than merely as pardon. Pardon is important, but it is tied to the past. Pardon is freedom from the consequences of a past offense. Healing opens up the future and frees us for life and love and serving.

Privilege is always defensive and therefore anxious to protect what I have already gotten. But privilege is therefore limited, done, closed off. We privileged have already received our reward and are therefore consigned to grief (woe) for having missed out on what is yet to come.

In fact, we have no privileges. We have only gifts. To live otherwise is to deceive ourselves–to say that we have no sin!

Privilege is always at the expense of another. Thus it must always be defended from the Other. Blessing is always for the benefit of another. For example, Abram is blessed in order to be a blessing. Thus (heading into next week), privilege always produces enemies. Blessing always prays for enemies.

If acedia is a retreat from love for God and neighbor (as Nicole Roccas summarizes), then privilege is a structural and cultural expression of acedia. It is the withdrawal into a fortress of antipathy, a surrender to life as a war of all against all.

Interesting so far…

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