Sermons 2007
"We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 24C 2007 Luke 18:1-8a

What is this parable about, this time? Piety? Prayer? Persistence? Prayer and Persistence? Persistence and Prayer? Persistent Prayer? All of the above, some of the above, none of the above? Or might it just be a simple little story about a stubborn old woman, a real pest, who annoyed a busy judge until he just gave up and did what she wanted? Call to God, be persistent in the calling, God will hear. Sometimes I wish Jesus hadn’t wandered all over ancient Palestine telling these difficult little stories, stories that make us struggle with their many deep levels of meaning, so deep that feel I’m drowning in their depth at times.

And, of course some things are timeless. Kenneth Bailey is an American New Testament scholar who, for thirty years, has lived and taught in the Middle East. He is convinced that life in society in the Middle East has changed very little, and by living and understanding the culture of the Middle East, we can understand the full impact of the stories and deeds of Jesus better. In fact, he tells of this western traveler to a small village in Iraq in the mid 20th Century. It was the ancient city of Nisibis.

"Immediately on entering the gate of the city on one side stood the prison, with its barred windows, through which the prisoners thrust their arms and begged for alms. Opposite was a large open hall, the court of justice of the place. On a slightly raised dais at the further end sat the Kadi, the judge, half buried in cushions. Round him, squatted various secretaries and other notables. The populace crowded into the rest of the hall, a dozen voices clamoring at once, each claiming that his cause should be the first heard. The more prudent litigants joined, not in the fray, but held whispered communications with the secretaries, passing bribes, euphemistically called fees, into the hands of one or another. When the greed of the underling was satisfied, one of them would whisper to the Kadi, who would promptly call such and such a case. It seemed to be ordinarily taken for granted that judgment would go for the litigant who had bribed highest.

But meantime a poor woman on the skirts of the crowd perpetually interrupted the proceedings with loud cries for justice. She was sternly bidden to be silent, and reproachfully told that she came there every day. ‘And so I will,’ she cried back, ‘until the Kadi hears me.’ At length, at the end of a suit, the judge impatiently demanded, ‘What does that woman want?’

Her story was soon told. Her only son had been taken for a soldier, and she was alone, and could not till her piece of ground; yet the tax collector had forced her to pay the tax, from which she, as a lone widow, was supposed to be exempted. The judge asked a few questions, and said, ‘Let her be exempt.’ Her perseverance was rewarded. Had she had money to fee the clerks, she might have been excused much earlier." (1)

The story of the widow and the unjust judge is unique to Luke. Matthew, Mark, and John do not tell this story. But Luke is more concerned with prayer than any of the other gospels. The whole Bible is concerned primarily with two things: God and our relationship with God. The Bible reflects no need to prove that God exists. The Bible writers struggle to give us some kind of picture of the nature and personality of God as God’s personality, will, and purpose is made clear by God's interaction with people. With his people. With his disciples. The people with whom God has entered into a covenant relationship. For Saint Luke a big part of that relationship consists in how we talk with God. The way that we talk to God is with prayer.

So this story begins: "And Jesus told his disciples a parable their need to pray always and not to lose heart." This is a story for us, his disciples of this century, to hear about how we should pray and about the One who hears our prayers. This story wants to tell us something about the nature and quality of God and it wants to tell us something about how we should pray. It tells us to be like the widow – to be as the Prayer Book has put it beginning with the book of 1549, “as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say….” (2)


1. Kenneth E. Bailey, Through Peasant Eyes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 134, as quoted in Rick Brand, “Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, for 21 October 2007.
2. as adapted from Rick Brand, “Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, for 21 October 2007