On Missing the Point

While listening to the hymnody and Gospel reading for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, which we observe today, it occurred to me that perhaps I should share with you all an incident that I witnessed at a worship service just over a decade ago, and which makes for a most appropriate cautionary tale for this day.

At that time, I had the opportunity to listen to a rather accomplished homiletician deliver a sermon on this parable. The sermon was well crafted and flawlessly delivered, it displayed keen sensitivity to exegetical issues and pastoral concerns alike, and quite frankly, it was truly a pleasure to hear such unusually good preaching. After the conclusion of the sermon, the entire congregation stood up for the homiletician to lead us in the prayer after the sermon, which she opened with the following words:

“We thank you this day, Lord, that we are not like the Pharisee…”

12 responses to “On Missing the Point

  1. haha. Awesome. Well not really, but as an anecdote it’s awesome.

    Makes me think of the joke about the Baptist pastor, who while preaching on abstinence from alcohol, said “If I had it my way, we’d dump all acoholic drinks into the river!”

    Following the sermon, music leader asked the congregation to turn their hymnals to the song “Shall we Gather at the River.”


  2. Bryan> Yes indeed–except that the joke is fictional, and I saw this happen with mine own eyes!

    Aaron> It's my word of choice in almost every instance. ;-)

    Kevin> Well, for what is worth, this was a couple of years before I became Orthodox, so it wasn't in our context. But the way you say that, you'd think that abbesses never preach! ;-)

    Jeff> I thank you, O Lord, that unlike Jeff, I get the point of the post.

    Elizabeth> Nope, it was 100% real.


  3. That is truly wonderful and horrible at the same time. It ranks up with the prohibitionists that put Colossians 2:21 on their signs and a Baptist pastor I heard use 1 Timothy 2:9 to teach that women should always wear long flowing dresses.


  4. No, the use of Colossians 2:21 was perfect. Place it back into its context, and it makes the point that God is not against alcohol.

    Even if Christ did prefer to dole out grape juice at Cana.

    – V.


  5. Bishop Maxim asked me to give the homily this past Sunday in San Diego. As I was delivering the sermon people were lighting candles which, besides being improper, is annoying and very distracting.

    Later, Popadija told me she caught herself thinking to herself ‘Thank God our people aren’t like these people.’


  6. Charles> I didn't know about the prohibitionist use of Col. 2:21. Color me VERY amused.

    V.> I own a book which is dedicated to making this argument (about the grape juice at Cana) at length. A true jewel!

    Fr Milovan> Yes, yes, yes! The Pharisee was simply praying what "good people" are likely to pray–which is precisely why this problem is so insidious.


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