Preaching to the Choir

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for Sunday, November 23

Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Ezekiel writes about God seeking out his sheep, those lost, the weakened ones, the scattered, and those needing rescuing. In verse 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. He goes on to say how he will then heal them, take care of them, make sure they have good grazing area, and strengthen the weak. But then he speaks a note of judgment for the fat sheep, who have abused the weak ones, and who forced the scattering. We like hearing the news of God being the shepherd; it reminds us of Psalm 23. We won't and don't like hearing the news of judgment, because it us who are the ones being judged. Yep, we are the fat sheep. How will you preach this good news of grace and judgment? How can we be the ones who God works through to bind up the wounded, feed the hungry ones, and strengthen the weak?

Psalm 100 (UMH 821) A joyful Psalm of praise to God.

Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul starts with a note of thanksgiving for the Christians in Ephesus for their faith, and their love of the saints. He then prays for them that God will give them wisdom, revelation, and enlightened heart to all that is there in the relationship with Jesus. He then makes a statement about Christ being the King. So you can preach on what it means that Christ is your King, and what hope, what riches we have because of this. But what does it mean that we don't have Christ as our King? I like what Paul says in verse 18 and 19 you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. Wow we live in a world that feels hopeless with the economic situation; all that people have invested their money, their time, their selves in has left them empty and hopeless. We have that hope to offer this world. How can we offer it to this world? How can we offer Christ to others? How will you preach this good news?

Matthew 25:31-46 Ah the separation of the sheep from the goat by Christ the King. But which one are we? And how is this a message of judgment on us? And how will you then preach this? How many times have we missed Jesus in our lives? How did we do that? How do we keep doing that? How can we stop doing that? One year I preached this and came up with the idea that I was really a Shoat or a Geep, a combination of the two. Isn't it interesting that in the Ezekiel passage the judgment is between sheep and sheep but here it is between sheep and goat. Safiyah Fousa at Preaching Helps says; "we do not believe in salvation through works of righteousness, it does seem to follow that God is very concerned about our responses to the myriad needs around us. In what ways can we, as individuals and as churches, respond more faithfully to the cries of the indigent, to the ever-increasing numbers of strangers and prisoners, and to those who are chronically ill?" If we were called upon today to define the least of our city, our neighborhood, who would they be and what would they need?
Be sure to read "Blogging toward Sunday at Christian Century written by Christian Coon, the pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Deerfield, Illinois. on this passage. Christian makes reference to the book by Sara Miles; Take this Bread about her journey from being raised as an atheist to becoming a Christian and starting a food pantry at her church.
A note on Christ the King Sunday preaching from Karoline Lewis, Assistant Professor of Preaching, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN; at Working Preacher: Approaching our mom or dad, we would say something like, "Mom, when I turn my head like this," (which was then demonstrated with great intent and vigor) "my neck hurts." The response was always, "Well, then don't turn your head like that." This is a logical answer, indeed, but frustrating for a child of eight-years-old or so. It may be the case that a similar conversation occurs in the minds of preachers for this Sunday. "When I try to preach Christ the King Sunday, my neck hurts." The answer may be something like the following, "Well, then don't preach Christ the King Sunday." The result of moving back and forth between text and liturgical context can indeed be a pain in the neck. We are given texts that are rich and unique on their own merits, yet in our efforts to preach the day we do not preach the text. Sometimes the chosen lens through which to read them can seem forced or even manipulative. We find ourselves searching for what Christ the King Sunday says about the text rather than what the text might say about what it means to claim Christ as King. On Sundays such as this, it is a good reminder that the sermon takes place within the context of a worship service. It may be best to let the rest of the hour preach Christ the King and not the sermon itself.
Bruce G. Epperly at the Process and Faith lectionary ask the following questions of us who are preaching; What are we to say about the celebration of the reign of Christ" or "Christ the king" in a pluralistic age? Are such global affirmations simply whistling in the dark in a world in which 1) the majority of the world is non-Christian; 2) fear for the future of the planet is ubiquitous; 3) some of the most vocal Christians also advocate USA imperialism, unrestricted capitalism, incarceration and deportation of undocumented residents, and discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual identity? If Christ is "king," where is Christ's kingdom? If Christ is Lord, where is Christ being followed in ways that are saving the planet and its peoples?

And isn't it interesting that Jesus who is King saved he came to serve all becomes the one served but unrecognized.

So what about you, what are preaching for Sunday? What are your thoughts on these passages? What gets your goat or your compassion for this Sunday?


Blogger Sally said...

Thanks for this Abi, it has confirmed some of what I hope to preach tomorrow and raised some questions.

We are fat sheep indeed....

9:43 AM  

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