Peter J. Gomes is widely acclaimed as one of America's greatest preachers. In Strength for the Journey, Gomes offers a new collection of his most important sermons, which draw on the wisdom of the Bible to guide us through the year and enrich our daily lives.
Sermons have always played a central role in American culture, serving as beacons of hope in trying times and illuminating the path ahead when the prevailing wisdom grows dim. Gomes is one of the few remaining great practitioners of this lost art. Strength for the Journey features twenty-two of his stirring addresses dealing with themes of daily life such as commitment, death, happiness, innocence, patriotism, and struggle; and eighteen enduring sermons focusing on the seasons of the liturgical year. Never one to shy away from controversy, Gomes preaches sermons such as "In Praise of Harlots," "Plenty Good Room,"and "Patriotism Is Not Enough."
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)|
About the Author
Peter J. Gomes has been minister of Harvard University's Memorial Church since 1974, when he was appointed Pusey Minister of the church, and serves as Plummer Professor of Christian Morals. An American Baptist minister, he was named one of America's top preachers by Time magazine. He is the recipient of thirty-three honorary degrees and an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, the University of Cambridge, England, where the Gomes Lectureship is established in his name.
Read an Excerpt
Strength for the Journey
Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living
Surplus and Substance
Text:For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God; but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
My text is the fourth verse of the twenty-first chapter of the gospel according to St. Luke, where our Lord makes a comparative statement and an absolute judgment.
Those of you who were here last Sunday know that I spoke of that nameless, infamous woman in the gospel who anointed Jesus' feet and washed them with her tears, and if you wanted to, you could say that that sermon was about sex. Next Sunday, on All Saints' and All Souls' day, we will speak of the faithful departed, and you might think that that sermon will be about death. Today, in the account of the widow's mite from which our text is taken, it is obvious that we are speaking about money, or so it would seem. If we had Madison Avenue values here, or even the sensibilities of talk radio, we could advertise this as a series entitled "All You Need to Know About Sex, Money, and Death"; but then, there is more to each of these sermons than any of those.
We have heard many times this story of our Lord in the Gospel of Luke:
He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins, and he said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had." (Luke 21:14)
Or, as the King James version puts it:
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, "Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God; but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had." (Luke 21:14)
Most of us have grown up with the story of the widow's mite, and we know that it means a small denomination of ancient money, but as children we hear before we read or spell, and so as a child I thought that the story was about the widow's might -- a modest but useful preaching point. Our Lord said, "This poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had." Now, the context for this, in the preceding chapter of Luke, is Jesus' criticism of the rich and visible believers, the Pharisees -- the rich, the powerful, who liked to wear long robes and stand in public places, and made much of their piety and of their philanthropy and good works. In one sense this is just more of the same: criticizing the establishment -- those people for whom doing good works and giving good gifts doesn't cut anywhere into the substance of their being. People give who can afford to give. Here, the story contrasts them with one who in Jesus' eyes cannot afford to give, and therefore gives everything that she has.
There are times, I think, and this may be one of them, when we wish that the text were less clear and more ambiguous. It would be helpful in this text, for example, to discover that there are several nuanced hidden levels of meaning whereby it does not say what we think it says. It was Mark Twain, more cynical than devout, who said, "It is not what I don't understand in the Bible that troubles me, it is what I do understand."This is one of those texts: we get it. We can and we do understand the text about the widow's mite, and that is the trouble. It troubles us, I suggest, on two counts, with the first in the context of a much larger anxiety that we Christians have, which is that we are troubled when we talk about money.
There! I caught you. I can see you already frowning and freezing up, already grabbing for that part of you that is most important to you, holding on, thinking, "Here we go again. "We don't like to discuss money in relationship to our church or to our faith or to our religion, although we will talk about it as far as the national debt is concerned, we will talk about it as far as taxes are concerned, we will talk about it as far public expenditure is concerned. We don't want to talk about it in terms of our religion or our church or our faith, however, because somehow, somewhere, somebody has told us one of the few religious principles that we remember, which is that religion is "spiritual" and money is "material," and that never the twain should meet -- especially in church. Hence ministers, particularly those of the more respectable "mainline" churches, those churches from whom most of you have fled for the time being in order to come here on Sunday morning, are usually embarrassed to speak of money; and at best devote a few minutes on one Sunday a year, supported by a phalanx of sympathetic laypeople, to little homilies on "stewardship." Very subtle, artfully produced letters and cards are given that, if you are lucky, will not mention money or need or giving at all, and most congregations are equally embarrassed and annoyed by even these little subtleties ...Strength for the Journey
Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living. Copyright © by Peter Gomes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
What People are Saying About This
“With great learning and wit, Reverend Peter J. Gomes stirs our souls and stimulates our minds ...”
“One of the most dedicated, knowledgeable, articulate, and persuasive spokesmen for the Christian religion in the present secular age.”