Saturday, April 4, 2015
Locked In/ Sent Out
So now onto the work at hand regarding the gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Easter:
When you look in the back of my book, you will see an appendix which has a number of questions which I ask of the text. Like any exegetical method it is a series of questions which attempt to open up the text in a new way. There are many sets of questions you can ask a text and they all will open up the text differently. My questions, of course, center on Law/Gospel concerns.
1. How does the Word function in the text? In this text the Word is Jesus and he does lots of things: shows up when the doors are locked, extends the peace, shows the disciples his wounds - even inviting Thomas to touch them, sends the disciples out, grants the Holy Spirit to them, and calls 'blessed' those who do not believe. (It's a good thing that the Word is so active in this text since this 2nd Sunday after Easter ALWAYS assigns this text! Why, I ask? Why?)
2. How is the Word not functioning? This text is unusual in that there is no way in which it does not function. We have law, gospel, and a call to obedience: Law - it exposes our need for Christ but revealing the locked doors of the disciples. We are often like the disciples, sitting fearfully behind locked doors. (Our church doors?) Gospel - it offers many gifts of the Gospel through the actions and words of Jesus. A call to obedience - the call comes in this text when Jesus says, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
3. With whom are you identifying in the text? I identify with the disciples who are apt to live behind closed doors, afraid to believe that Christ is alive and calling us into the world. You could also identify with Thomas, specifically.
4. Where is the call to obedience? (see above)
5. What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by the text? A number come to mind: Fear/Peace, Faithlessness/Faithfulness. My favorite: Locked in/Sent Out
The last 3 questions in my method have to do with extended exegesis, the Crossings Community model (which I commend to you - go to www.crossings.org and look under lectionary study to see archived examples of this text under 2nd Sunday of Easter), and the insights of the pioneers of the new Homiletic. Fred Craddock's book, Preaching, is a touchstone for me. He urges us all to remember that our job is to help listeners experience the text. This is crucial.
Please remember that I do not pretend to be the last word on answers to any of the above questions. I invite you to ponder them as well and share your thoughts. I look forward to the conversation. Blessings on your proclamation this week.