Preaching to the Choir

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For Sunday's Lectionary, Aug 24

Lectionary Discussion for upcoming Sunday

Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus asks the disciples what's the word on the street about him, and then puts it even closer to home, who do you say I am. Simon Peter gets it right, and Jesus blesses him with a new name, the rock, by saying that upon him will the church be built.

The Gospel of Matthew was written shortly after the failed Jewish revolt against Rome. In the wake of the destruction of the Temple and devastation of Jerusalem, God's promises to Israel were at stake.

Do members of your church know what the word is on the street about Jesus? About the church? About your church? Who do we say Jesus is? Who holds the keys of the church now? And what does that mean? How are we to use these keys? Are we still to be silent about Jesus being the Messiah?

Why Peter? Why not one of the other disciples? Why us?

Exodus 1:8-2:10
"Powerful God-Courageous Women" The welcome mat is no longer there in Egypt for the Israelites. Here is the story of Moses' beginnings. This story proves that even Moses was a basket case, (Just a joke.) But I think what is so powerful in this story is the story of the women, Shiphrah and Puah, his mom, and his older sister involved in keeping Moses alive and safe and giving him a new beginning. This all happens under a repressive regime and one that wants all the Hebrew male children killed. This is good justice material. "It's God's compassion, God's faithfulness, God's tender care that are extended by the compassion, faithfulness and care of the courageous women, including, mysteriously, the pagan princess." taken from Weekly Seeds written by Katey Huey. Would we be so courageous? How do we seek justice in today's world for those who are treated injustly? How would you present this story to your members? What is it that they need to hear?

Romans 12:1-8,
We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, pure and clean according to Paul. We are to have our minds renewed, transformed. The body of Christ has many parts, many gifts, What does it look like today to present our bodies as living sacrifices, when we don't do any formal sacrifices anymore? What would it look like if we really were the body Christ as Paul describes it? I like what Paul says, God has been kind to me? Do we recognize how kind God is to us?

Psalm 124
This Psalm declares the protection and help from God in a time of crisis and threat.

So now its your turn, join in the discussion and let us know what you think and where you are headed for Sunday.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

A prayer for Sunday

Gracious and loving God,

We come to you having spent ourselves in preparation for leading in worship, preaching and other duties of being a Pastor. We come some of us with heavy hearts, physical ailments, tired minds, weary souls and overworked bodies. We ask for your grace to face these hours, to deliver your message to your people, to stand strong when called to do so, to bring the healing touch to those who need it, to be the calm presence in the midst of the storms of life. We ask for your Holy Spirit to empower us with your love, your grace, and your mercy. We take this time Lord for the nurturing of our souls that we may serve you this day and all the days of our lives. Amen.

cross posted at rev abi's long and winding road


Monday, August 11, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for Sunday July 17, 2008

Proper 15A/Ordinary 20A/Pentecost +14August 17, 2008

Genesis 45:1-15 “And now, the Rest of the Story” This is the other side of Joseph and his brothers. 45:5 And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. Here is the reconciliation of a family with much weeping, hugging and kissing. There is a fine line here of Providence and Theodicy Joseph interprets his years of suffering and displacement as part of God's plan for the salvation of his family.
Notice also the process that takes place before the actual reconciliation. Today, medical researchers speak of the “forgiveness factor,” that is, the importance of forgiveness in overall emotional and physical well-being. Long-held grudges imprison us in the past, limit our freedom and creativity, and block God’s highest possibilities for our lives. Perhaps, over many years God was present inspiring Joseph anew each day to let go of the past, forgive his brothers, and embrace new possibilities for his life. Bruce Epperly

What does your congregation need to hear from this passage? The providence of God? The forgiveness? The Reconciliation? Maybe all of them.

Psalm 133 (UMH 850) verse 1 says; How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! The Psalmist then goes on to describe that unity in a most beautiful way.

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 God does not reject Paul goes on about the relationships of the people of Israel to God, stating that God does not reject them. He then compares their relationships with our relationship to God; that God neither rejects us but is merciful to all. I was uncomfortable with the words "God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all."

Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28 Going to the dogs In verse 11, Jesus says; "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles." 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. Jesus was talking about the Pharisees religious practices, but even the disciples could not understand. This is followed by the story of the Canaanite woman seeking healing for her daughter. In it is the strange exchange between Jesus and the woman about feeding the dogs the children's food. But Jesus is moved by her faith, and heals the daughter. This passage might be hard to interpret to 21st century Christians unless you are Rabbi Rob Bell. I don't know about you but I don't like how Jesus treats the woman.

Who are the "Canaanites" in our society, those we would push aside or not welcome? -"Canaanite" signified "pagan" to the Jews of Jesus' time. The area of Tyre and Sidon, on the Mediterranean coast northwest of the Jewish region was where those called pagans traditionally lived. Who are treated like "Dogs" in our world? The term dogs (or in this case, literally "little/worthless dogs") was used by Jews to refer derogatorily to non-Jews. What are some of our rituals, traditions that we view as important but in the long run are not?

Where will you be heading this Sunday? What thoughts and ideas do you have for this Sunday?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for August 10

August 10, 2008 Ordinary Time/Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Here are the passages for the week:
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 "Here comes this dreamer.” Joseph’s being loved more by his father, and his previous dream gets him into trouble with his brothers. They conspire to first kill him, but then sell him into slavery. Jacob’s patterns are passed on to his own children. How do we treat the dreamers in our congregations? How do we deal with conflict in our families? Our church? Our world? Where are you focusing in this text today?

Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b (UMH 828) 4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually. 5 Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, and then brings us to the story of Joseph.

Romans 10:5-15 “Beautiful Feet” Lots to preach on in these passages; righteousness that comes from faith instead of righteousness that comes from the law, confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him, and "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Then Paul’s rhetorical questions that leads to; "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Do we believe that the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him? Do we believe there is no distinction? Are our feet beautiful for bringing the good news to others?

Matthew 14:22-33 “Water Walker” The disciples are in trouble out in a boat in a storm, and Jesus comes walking toward them on the waves. Brave Peter asks Jesus to command him to come to prove it is him. Peter gets out of the boat, walks a way on water, but when he notices the wind starts to drown. Jesus admonishes him for his little faith and doubts. Only when Jesus gets into the boat and the water and wind is calmed down do they all worship him and recognize him for who he is. Are we water walkers or stay in the boat kind of people? What takes our eyes off of Jesus? And when we recognize him do we worship him? What are the storms battering our lives these days? Our Churches? What does this passage have to say to your congregation? Where are you focusing? the night? the trust to step out onto the water? the wavering? or the going on after sinking? Or the worship?

One question that comes from the Preaching Helps is; What does a preacher do with miracle stories two or more weeks in a row? How will you help people in your congregation see the sacred in these stories? How will you deal with Jesus’ strong words of rebuke to Peter? Are they words for us today?

What direction will you go with these passages?

Now its your turn.