Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 29, 2008

June 29, 2008Ordinary Time/Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 22:1-14 The attempted sacrifice of Isaac. The notion that God tests humans -- The New Interpreter's Bible suggests that this was not a time of testing as much as it was a time of confirmation. Look at Genesis 22:12: "For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me." So Abraham called that place "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." Verse 14. You could focus on Abraham saying “Here I am.” Twice to God and once to his son. How will you deal with those that have lost their babies in the womb, in birth, SIDS or some other way? How will you deal with the fact that there are people who suffer from post partum depression and have heard voices or what they thought was God’s voices to kill their infant? And some have killed their infant? You could deal with what is it we need to sacrifice in our lives, lay on the altar to God? You could focus on Abraham’s trust that God would provide and that God did provide, and then God did provide? But what about the times God does not provide? Does God test us? Why would God ask someone to do this?

Psalm 13 (UMH 746) A Psalm of lament.

Romans 6:12-23 When we are baptized, buried, and raised with Christ by water and the Holy Spirit, we are given not just a new life, but a new master, no longer sin (which leads to death), but God and righteousness (which leads to life). Paul recognizes that the power of sin is still active in the world of the believers, so that Christians are confronted with the real peril of falling back into the submission to sin that will result in the Christians' following the baser instincts of human existence rather than God's will and leadership. In one sense Paul is telling the Romans that God has already rescued the Christians out of the mud and cleaned them off through the bath of baptism, so that Paul admonishes these same believers to stay out of the mud, to resist any subsequent urge to return to the mud-bath from which they have already been rescued. the positive dimension of Paul's teaching—that having been "brought from death to life," the Christians have the opportunity to give themselves to God and to live according to God's righteousness, i.e., God's will, God's power, God's action in the world for salvation, God's purposes. Verses 17-18 contrast the conditions of being either "slaves of sin" or "slaves of righteousness." In this same vein, the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan summarized the matter in a song entitled, "Gotta Serve Somebody"—part of which goes, "You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed,"You're gonna have to serve somebody."Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord"But you're gonna have to serve somebody."
Either we are baptized, and live that out or we are not. Either we live in the power of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection or we don’t.
The slave language is a little out of date, but the serve language is not although not all people want to hear the word serve. How is your congregation keeping their baptismal vows? What kind of accountability is there to be able to do that? May you can introduce the new part of the vow that was voted on at General Conference.

Matthew 10:40-42 expect, look for, and bless those who will offer welcome. is the end of a larger instructional passage. Finally after a lengthy exhortation on the opposition they could expect to receive, they received the words about hospitality found in Matthew 10:40: Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. In other words, those who welcomed them were also welcoming God. 10:42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." As with the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31-46), it does not matter who receives care. What matters is the care that is offered. I read where this had to do with all the visiting preachers that were in the early church. Maybe it has to do with then all of us who are itinerant in our ministry. But then who have we offered the cup of cold water to? How are we offering the cold water? What is the cup of cold water? How are we welcoming? How are we not? How do we go beyond the handshake or passing the peace to helping people feel welcome in our church? Where are we welcoming? Maybe Lovett Weems’ question of “when we gather on Sunday Morning to worship, whose missing” fits here.
Image from Mustard Seeds blog:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A prayer for Saturday

Luther's Sacristy prayer
Lord God,
You have appointed me as a pastor in Your Church,
but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task.
If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago.
Therefore, I call upon You:
I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you;
I shall teach the people.
I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon You Word.
Use me as Your instrument -- but
do not forsake me,
for if ever I should be on my own,
I would easily wreck it all.

sacristy picture


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

a cartoon for Sunday

a cartoon from Non Sequitur for Sunday's sermon on the Gospel lesson from Matthew :

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lectionary discussion for June 22

Here are the lectionary readings below: And I don't mind saying they are troublesome passages esp Gen and Mt. How are we to preach these to our parishioners in the pews?

Genesis 21:8-21 Sarah wants Hagar and son sent away. All after she has Hagar give Abraham a son. And so she and her son is sent away. But God does not abandon them or let them die in the desert even though God sides with Sarah. Why did Sarah want this to happen? Where was her heart? Where was the hospitality? You might could use this scripture to talk about the cut offs that happen families or how children are the ones often caught in family feuds and divorces. Or how God is the God of dispossessed even though he had Isaac in mind for the inheritance. God hears Ishmael's cry (Ishmael means God harkens). The story of the woeful drama of Abraham's two sons still echoes in the violent Middle East conflict today between Arabs and Jews
Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 or Psalm 17 (UMH 749)
Romans 6:1b-11 Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? Paul says no, our church members probably think yes for them and no for everybody else. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. So why can't I stop sinning? And if I sin is grace still available? So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Perhaps the truth is not many of us believe in the resurrection power. Baptism makes the difference for Christians. In baptism, we die to sin. We are baptised into Christ's death, as well as into his resurrection. This is pretty Methodist though after all sanctifying grace is at work in our lives.
Matthew 10:24-39 "A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master." This is the starting place Jesus has for this set of instructions to his disciples. We are heir to the same kind of opposition the teacher receives, that just makes me want to be a disciple right now. Have no fear, you are worth more to God than a sparrow. Acknowledge me, I will acknowledge you. And the whole thing of not bringing peace but the sword. But I thought Jesus was the Prince of peace and we are to be peacemakers? And what about dividing up familes and setting each other against each other? "Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. and Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." There is no cutting corners following Jesus, no luke warm, no maybe today or tomorrow, its yes or no. Vss. 21-22 reflect persecutions which the apostolic church endured in the decades immediately before the Roman-Jewish war of 68-70 CE, but not at the time of Jesus' ministry ca. 30 CE. These sayings on persecution and discipleship were drawn from Mark 9:41 and 13:9-13. A parallel saying to that of vss. 34-36 occurs in Luke 12:51-53.So

What and how will you preach these texts this Sunday? Where willl you be going? Theme? Worship ideas? Let us hear from you

Monday, June 02, 2008


To all the readers of this blog; I am moving and will be out of commission for awhile, especially this week. If you want to know more about the move go to the st john rev abi blog for details. In the meantime you might want to check out the Text this Week, which features lots of links to commentaries, articles, sermons, children's sermons, worship ideas, etc. I find it very helpful in my developing my sermon. But the best thing you can do is read the scripture, pray over it, let God speak to you through the scriptures.

Here are the scriptures for this week: June 8, 2008Ordinary Time/Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Green)
Genesis 12:1-9
Psalm 33:1-12 (UMH 767)
Romans 4:13-25
Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

Which one will you be preaching? I'll be preaching from the Matthew passage.
The Genesis passage tells us of Abraham's call, his responding to that call, taking his wife and his nephew lot to move to the land God would show him. Right now I can say I feel like Abraham with this move. Abraham didn't know where this land was, yet he moved. He was not young and neither was his wife, but they went. He went in stages it says. Why did God choose Abraham? How was Abraham able to do what God asked him to do? What does this say about God? His people he chooses? Us? We certainly aren't as willing to get up and move as Abraham appears to be. How does God appear to us today? and how do we respond? How will you preach this passage?

The Romans passage tells us more about Abraham. It is Paul's take on why Abraham was able to do this to move to this unknown land. It is also one of Paul's arguments for salvation by faith and not the law. It is Paul's way of saying that this faith can be ours too, this salvation, eternal life. It was also his way of saying the Gentiles are included too in God's salvation story.
What does this passage say to us today? How would you preach this passage to your church members?

The Matthew passage is a collection of several healing events along with the call of Matthew to be a disciple. In verse 9 It says that Jesus said to Matthew come follow me and he got up and followed. But when the pharisees see the dinner party, they want to know why Jesus is eating with sinners and tax collectors. And Jesus answers "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners." This leads into the healing of daughter of the synagogue leader, and the healing on the way of the woman who touched his garment. When was the last time somebody said about us; she/he eats with sinners and tax collectors(you put the description in there)? Probably not in awhile or long time. What does this mean, are we then to go out and find a bunch of sinners and have a meal with them? Who are the sick today? Who are the sinners? the tax collector? Thos who have need of a physician? Have we learned what it means "I desire mercy, not sacrifice?" How do we live that out in our churches our own selves? How will you preach this to your members? Clearly, Jesus has come to bring gospel medicine (to use Barbara Brown Taylor’s phrase) to a sick world.

You are welcome to make your comments.
This is the only post for this week I'll make.