Preaching to the Choir

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lectionary discussion for Sunday, Nov 16th

This week's lection:Ordinary Time/Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

The lectionary scriptures found here.

Judges 4:1-7 During the period of Judges that ruled from the time of Joshua's death until King Saul. Joshua had warned them of apostasy and what did they do? They put their hand in the cookie jar anyway. Oh boy aren't we like that. Out of this arises the story of Judge Deborah. Calling her the wife of Lappidoth was another way of saying that she had a fiery spirit. There is not a lot known about her, although we know she judged and people came to her for her leadership. At this point of crisis with Israel in the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, Deborah took charge. She put together an army with Barak in charge of some and worked up a battle plan that had them working together to rescue the Israelites. Safiyah Fosua at Preaching Helps brings up the point about the cooperative work they had to get things done. You could address the connectional system or cooperating with each other in getting the church's ministry done or working with other ministries in the community. Ralph Klein at Working Pastor says that "Deborah is among the most prestigious female leaders in the Old Testament and her exemplary leadership may provide encouragement to lay and ordained female leaders in the church today." I think it could give encouragement to our children, our youth, our marginalized, and those maybe feeling a call into the ministry.There are two accounts of Deborah's battle, in chapter 4 and in chapter 5. The latter is written in archaic poetry that is probably one of the oldest documents in the Old Testament. There are several differences between the accounts as well. In the poem, Deborah is identified as a "mother" in Israel (5:7) Bruce Epperly at Process and Faith Commentary says "there is one nugget that is worth preserving—the visionary spirituality of Deborah. Despite the oppressor's power, Deborah was inspired by a vision of freedom. She first saw and then she proclaimed the military strength, residing among the Israelites, despite their subservient position. She claimed the vision of freedom and victory in a challenging time. She reminded them that God would provide them with opportunities to rebuild their society."
Psalm 123 or Psalm 76 (UMH 797) Psalm 123 is a Psalm calling for mercy from God for our contempt.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Paul continues his lessons on behavior as Christians in the period of waiting for Jesus' return. And he tells them not to worry, don't get caught up in all the prophecying, number games, and books written about the time of Jesus' return. Just live your lives as always ready and "let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." He concludes with "Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing." He tells them that we are destined for salvation and not wrath. We are to live as people of hope, faith and love, and yet how many of us do that? How many people outside the church are longing for that kind of hope, faith and love, and yet when they look at us that is not what they see. We are living in a time of economic uncertainty, that is having a ripple effect. How can these words be a light in the midst of this uncertainty?
Matthew 25:14-30 One of Jesus parable telling us what the Kingdom is like; "it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them." Jesus then proceeds to tell how then the property is divided up and entrusted "to each according to his ability. Then he went away." We are let in on how each one dealt with what is given them and we can see why the man chose each according to his ability. "After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them." The settling of accounts is quite unsettling to read; two get to enter into the joy of the master. One who is afraid of the owner's retribution hides it and does receive his retribution. Many a Pastor have used this as a stewardship sermon, and it might well be one. The question is stewardship of what then? Just our money? What about our membership vows we make, there is a many of our church members that aren't stewards of those at all or just one. Is this about risk taking? Is this about God trusting us? How will you preach this if you do preach this passage?Bruce G. Epperly says that "the heart of the parable is the challenge to faithfully and boldly explore and develop God's gifts in our lives. This scripture challenges persons and congregations to think big and live big. In light of God's abundant life, we are called to be spiritual visionaries who ground our visions in the transformation of daily personal and institutional life. What great thing is God calling you toward today? What vision of your congregation's future is luring your church forward? What limitations do we need to break out of both personally and congregationally in order to become God's partners in healing the world?"When I served the three point charge in Wadley and didn't have that many members, At each church I gave each member an envelop of money and challenged them to ask God what to do with that money and challenged them with this passage. Well one church combined their money and put in more money to help the poor in their community. In one church they all did a variety of things with the money but found ways to double the money for some ministry, or some need. I didn't have to invite them into the master's joy, they shared the joy they received from doing it. And many went on to continue doing things to grow a ministry. One church just could not figure out what to do and just returned the money given them. It was rather depressing. It wasn't long after that that church closed. There was no joy there.

So what are you preaching and what direction are you going in. Share your thoughts on the lectionary if you want or just share your thoughts in general.If you are preaching other passages, series, etc let us know.

I am not preaching this Sunday, I preached last Sunday and it was enough.Thank you all. I'll try to do better about posting these, I am sorry I got off track.


Blogger 1-4 Grace said...

Good throught and a wonderfully, depressing, thougth provoking story. how totally sad that the one congrgation did not use the money at all.
I really want to push the idea and necessity of stewardship of our own gifts and abilities, not just eh monetary ones.
Okay, have agreat day and enjoy the day off from preaching!!!!

6:44 AM  
Blogger Mary Beth said...

A great story. It's clearly indicative of where they were. "who are we? what are we supposed to do?" they didn't know.

How much did you give them!?!?!?!

8:40 AM  

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