Preaching to the Choir

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

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for Aug. 3, 20o8

August 3, 2008Ordinary Time/Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 32:22-31 Jacob wrestles with the angel and has his hip put out of joint. He gets a name change and a blessing from the angel. No longer will he have the name "Grabber" (Jacob) but now he will be called "Wrestler-with-God" (Israel). 32:30 tells us; So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved." How poignant. Perhaps when we see God face to face we too have had life altering experiences. Perhaps that is why so few want to really see and experience God. And perhaps that is why so few churches want to really see and experience God. If preaching this it is helpful to set the context of the passage that Jacob is heading home to meet Esau. What does this say about our God and about us in relation to God and to others? When have you wrestled with God and what were you left with?

Psalm 17:1-7, 15 (UMH 749)

Romans 9:1-5 Paul writes with passion his deep anguish and sorrow for his people, the Israelites that have it all. Perhaps we need to ask when is it we have felt such passion and concern for someone(s) who did not know Jesus? And if we feel the compassion for them what are we doing to reach them?

Matthew 14:13-21 Jesus tries to withdraw after hearing of the death of John the Baptist but is unable. And when he meets the crowd he is moved to compassion on them, but the disciples want to send them away for lack of food and the time of day it is. Jesus will have none of that and tells them they are to give them something to eat. Thus comes the story of the five loaves and two fish feeding the five thousand. Matthew's Gospel includes two near-duplicate stories (see also Matthew 15:32-39) which are close parallels of two in Mark (6:32-44 and 8:1-10). Luke (9:10-17) and John (6:1-13) also include the "feeding of the five thousand" or a parallel. Jesus told the disciples to feed them, what is he telling us to do today? Who is it that is hungry in your community? How are you feeding them? Vs 19 reminds of our communion words, maybe you are celebrating communion Sunday. At the end there was plenty to go around. How is that we the churches till believe in scarcity and not a God of abundance? What will it take for us to believe differently? And yet we live in a country with abundance, we throw out tons of food daily, while there are areas of the world starving.

What are thinking, which way are you headed for Sunday?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday's Prayer

Loving God,
Be with us as we finish our preparations mentally, emotionally and spiritually; to begin our days, go through our days, and complete our days. Be in us as we walk into our places of worship and meet with so many different people to be able to be their spiritual leaders. Be in our heads to help us think clearly. Be in hearts to be able to know ourselves and to keep us calm in any anxious moments. Be in our souls to keep us centered and to guide our way with your Holy Spirit. May the words of our mouth, the meditation of our hearts, and the spirit of our souls be acceptable in your sight, O Lord. Amen

cross posted at revgalblogpals and my blog rev abi's long and winding road


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for July 27

Ordinary Time/Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Green)Genesis 29:15-28 More deception, only this time it is Jacob that gets deceived by Laban. This already dysfunctional family system -- one that has cast out a legitimate child and his mother (Ishmael and Hagar), allowed a younger son to trick his father and steal his brother's birthright and blessing (Rebekah, Jacob and Esau) -- here becomes even more dysfunctional -- two wives in a week, the wrong one first, and the set up in that alone for more trouble to come. And that's not to mention the agreement Laban requires for Jacob to receive the wife he wants -- yet another seven years of service beyond what he had already provided. A family in need of a good family therapist, when will they ever learn? Don’t forget that these two women, Leah and Rachel are the mothers of the 12 tribes of Israel whether by pregnancy or surrogacy. How could Jacob not realize he was having sex with wrong woman! Is there a way to work in the novel The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant? How will you preach this PG life story?
Psalm 105:1-11, 45b (UMH 828)

Romans 8:26-39 Some of the most favorite passages quoted or used of Paul’s from Romans. The Spirit intercedes for us. “All things work together for good for those who love God.” Nothing can separate us from the love of God. But what about the predestination? This is a message of hope, of God’s love, how do we the church make sure that message is getting out there to those not in the church? How will you preach the richness of this passage?

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Another parable about the Kingdom. This time it is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field. It is like is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened. It is like treasure hidden in a field. It is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.. the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind. "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." Well you get the picture in fact you could say Jesus was painting a picture of the Kingdom with these images. What images might Jesus use today? How will you preach these parables?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Prayer

Sower of the seed,
You know each one of us inside out. You know our coming and going. You know our thoughts and our feelings. And you love us deeply. Your love cries out to all who will hear it. Lord may we hear your love today. May we sow the seeds of love in a hungry world starved for true love—your love.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

prayer for Saturday

Oh, let me never speak

What bounds of truth exceedeth;

Grant that no idle word

From out my mouth proceedeth;

And then, when in my place

I must and ought to speak,

My words grant power and grace

Lest I offend the weak.

(Johann Heermann - 1630)


Monday, July 14, 2008

Lectionary for July 20th, 2008

July 20, 2008 Ordinary Time/Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 28:10-19a On the lam on the road to Haran, Jacob had this famous dream of a ladder stretching from earth to heaven with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. The LORD stood beside him and reminded Jacob of the covenant with his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham. 16 Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place--and I did not know it!" 17 And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." We can all sing the song, “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder…” When was the last time we met God in a dream? When have we been on the lam and God’s grace intervened? And when that happened did we stop to worship God?

Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 (UMH 854)

Romans 8:12-25 Paul reminds Christians at Rome of the Spirit's witness that we are the adopted children of God and heirs with Christ. Marion Soards says; The language of sonship that is lost in many contemporary translations is not in itself a totem to be revered; yet, its use here is important for particular theological reasons. When Paul tells the Romans—men and women alike—that they will become "sons of God," he is making a statement about status as it was constructed and understood in the ancient world. In the patriarchal culture of antiquity, normally a son or sons were the heirs to the goods of the father of the family. The oldest son received a double share of the goods, while other sons received lesser portions. Women were "married off" and not normally the focus of inheritance. Thus, when Paul declares that "all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (literal translation of v. 14 mine), he is talking about becoming related to God in such a manner that "we" have an inheritance from God, which is itself an inheritance with Christ. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. How will you preach this to your congregation? How does your members need to hear the message of adoption? And what about the eager longing of creation what does your church need to know about this?

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 This is another Kingdom Parable. "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. The question became then what are we to do about the weeds. And Jesus says to them, don’t do anything right now. I’ll have the workers take care of it at the time of harvest. What was Jesus saying in the original context? How are we to live with “evil around us”? What does it mean to us today, the eschatological interpretation that Jesus gives his parable?
If it were my choice I might choose to preach on Jacob and his dream. But we are preaching the Gospel and I’ll be preaching the Matthew passage. I might also choose the Romans passage because I know a little about adoption. This Parable of the wheat and weeds is going to be difficult for Sunday. Which passage are you preaching and how will you preach it.

photo from fresh expressions

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Prayer

Creator God, you are still creating today in our midst. You are still sowing your seed of the Kingdom of God in our midst. You are still lighting our path with your word. Lord today as we worship you; come refresh us once more with your Spirit. Come seed our hearts with your good news. Come pour your mercy over us. Lord may we go through out this day praising and worshiping you. Thanks be to you Creator God. Amen


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sunday prayer

God of Pilgrimage

God of Pilgrimage
be with me on my journey

through this life;

guard and defend me,

shelter and feed me,

challenge and inspire me,

teach me and lead me,

and when my days are ended

welcome me home at last

to rest in your love forever.
Source UnknownFound in Ely Cathedral England


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Discussion for July 13, 2008

The following are the passages for this Sunday's lectionary: Proper 10A/Ordinary 15A/Pentecost +9

Genesis 25:19-34 This is the continued story of the descendents of Abraham focusing now on Isaac, his wife Rebecca and their children Esau and Jacob. The two struggle from the beginning in their mother’s womb. Jacob becomes mom’s favorite while Esau is his dad’s. It also is the story of trickery on mom and Jacob’s part to get Esau’s birthright. Struggle and rivalry are present throughout this story. And isn’t it that way throughout life, yet God’s promise of a people who will be a blessing would be fulfilled. Where is the message your congregation needs to hear? Are there internal struggles or rivalries or personal struggles and rivalries? What is God teaching you in the midst of these struggles and rivalries?

Psalm 119:105-112 or Psalm 25 (UMH 756)
Romans 8:1-11 I have always like that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Paul then elaborates further on how this can be. Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death. We are now in the spirit not in the flesh, since the Spirit of God dwells in us. How then can we be condemned? What does life look like through the lenses of the Spirit? How is that we condemn others? How can this passage be lived out in our lives?

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 This is the parable of the sower and the seed in 1-9 and then explained in 18-23. You can preach this from the sower standpoint, the seed, or the soils. Or you can preach it from the stand point of having ears to hear, why Jesus told stories anyway. It is a familiar passage to most people. If you have a congregation that has their own little garden or farm, they may relate. If they are urban and don’t, how will you preach this passage to them? In the places you and the people of your congregation live, work, and spend their time, where are the people likely to be caught along the beaten down pathway? Where and how are folks not having much "root in themselves" to receive the word of God's kingdom? Where is the word of the kingdom getting choked out by other concerns? How are you or others trusting that God can bring a fruitful harvest even from such places? How are you or others joining God's word, declared in this parable, to convert that soil into good soil? ( I borrowed these questions from Planning Helps at the GBOD website.)

I am preaching on the Matthew passage as we continue our way through the Gospel at St. John. I am taking the tact of how are we prepared to hear and understand the word? I borrowed from Homiletics the idea of the (N)Nitrogen, (P)Phosphorous, and (K)Potassium that is in the fertilizer. I am working on what they represent in what we “fertilize” our hearts with so we can be prepared to hear and understand the word. I have a baptism Sunday and will mix that in too. Now to work out all the components of this idea.

Which passage are you preaching on? Where are you headed this Sunday? What thoughts and ideas has the spirit given you for Sunday? Are you preaching on a series, let us know. What will you do for worship? Look forward to hearing from you all.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sunday prayer

Lord, on this holiday weekend, when people are out of town, we pray travel mercies for them.
We pray for rest and renewal for all. We pray for ourselves as we come to worship you.

We remember today Lord, the sacrifices that have gone into the making of this nation.
We remember that we have freedom and at the same time pray for those who do not.
We remember that we have the right to a fair trial, and pray for those where there is no justice. We remember we can pursue happiness, while we pray for those who at best can only survive.

Lord today we bring the sacrifice of our love, our selves, and our souls,
may it be a sweet smelling fragrance to you.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sunday, July 6

Proper 9A/Ordinary 14A/Pentecost +8
July 6, 2008

Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49,58-67 What importance did prayer play in this scripture? What does that mean for us today? What happens when we don’t get what we prayed for? How different it is today in choosing our spouses. How do we choose our spouses? How do we continue to let God be involved in our marriages, and how we treat our spouse. Not sure I would like a ring in the nose as a symbol of a proposal. I don’t even want to be treated that way.
Also, you could use this a story about our faith journeys and how they often intersect with other faith journeys. Where are you on your faith journey? Where is your congregation? Where does it intersect with others?

Psalm 45:10-17 or Psalm 72 (UMH 795)

Romans 7:15-25a I love verse 15: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” How many times, I have prayed to change a bad habit, my overeating, my compulsive eating, whatever it is and instead do the direct opposite? What is it that we do that we keep trying to change? What sin continues in our life? Who has rescued us from our sin? Paul tells us that we cannot save ourselves only Jesus can. In our self help society, independent society, this is good news. Paul is speaking for every person and the struggle of being human. And yet he points to God’s grace for our lives. How have you experience God’s grace in your life? How has your congregation? How have they experienced God’s grace defeating sin in their life? Maybe this is a Sunday to use a witness to that.

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 What about this scripture are you going to focus on? The dancing, eating and drinking with the sinners? Or the “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Either way you can’t lose. We are tired and heavy burdened in our society today. And yet again, we don’t have anything to do with sinners, and we have made religion a sour tasting thing.
Maybe they both go together.
Also you have the words of Jesus "But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another.” It could be a jumping off place to discuss how your church is reaching out to the younger generation, using some of what Lovett Weems said at conference?
On the statue of Liberty it says;-Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. (Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus) Jesus offers the true new Colossus. This is no longer true in our country for those from other countries, you got to win the lottery now to be able to come in and then you have to go through all kinds of gyrations.

What are your thoughts for Sunday? What are you preaching on? This Sunday is part of the 4th of July Weekend, how will you handle it in worship? How will that effect your preaching? Where are you headed this Sunday?
Let us know....