Posts Tagged ‘contempt’

parableof pharisee and tax collector

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I am tired of the incivility and contempt that permeate public discourse.  I was also pretty tired of it during the 2004 election season.  Looking back at that year’s sermon on Luke 18:9-14, the gospel lesson for October 24, I see that the ugly political climate was much on my mind.  I found a key to preaching the text in the pericope that follows.  Here’s the sermon in case it might help you get ready to preach about the pharisee and the tax collector this lectionary go-round.

Two Children

Luke 18:9-17

I’m ready for this election to be over.  Maybe the candidates always treat one another with contempt, but it seems to me that this year they have been especially scornful of one another: lobbing contemptuous barbs at each other, flashing scornful looks, smearing each other’s character.  And I’m not just talking about the presidential campaign.  The campaigns in our state have sounded pretty ugly.  I heard pieces of some of the gubernatorial debates, but there was little real constructive debate.  It was mostly finding every way possible to slam the other candidate.  David Crabtree of WRAL was moderating one of those events, and he asked the candidates to name three positive points about the other candidate.  And they couldn’t do it.

The tension is showing up in the electorate, and some religious leaders are feeding it.  They’re coming right out and saying so-and-so is THE Christian candidate, and if you’re a real Christian, that’s who you’ll vote for.  People for one candidate are saying, “Our candidate’s got the right position on moral issues like abortion.”  People for another candidate are saying, “Wait a minute!  That’s not the only moral issue.  War is a moral issue, too.  Our candidate’s got the right position there.”  On and on it goes.  And good Christian people are calling each other’s faith into question.  “Thank goodness we’re not like those other people!” they say to those who agree with them.  “Our side is the one that’s really serving God’s purposes.” 

I think Abraham Lincoln was right as he reflected on the war between the Union and the Confederacy in his second inaugural address.  Each side prayed to the same God.  People on each side believed that God was on their side.  Lincoln said, “The prayers of both could not be answered.  That of neither has been answered fully.  The Almighty has His own purposes.”

We’re seeing extreme contempt in the political campaigns.  But contempt also comes in everyday forms.  Maybe it’s because it just feels good, temporarily at least, to feel that we are better than somebody else.

To people who had a habit of regarding others with contempt, Jesus told a parable.  (more…)

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