Preaching to the Choir

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for Jan 4, 09 Epiphany Sunday

Hi friends, sorry, I am a little late. I have been enjoying my family here in Florida. I hope that this is a good New Year for everyone.
Here are the scriptures for Epiphany Sunday, Jan 6, 2009;
Isaiah 60:1-6 Arise, shine; for your light has come. I learned this verse as a GA in the Baptist Church. How then shall we arise and shine? What is this light we are to shine in the world of darkness? Isaiah saw it that the Lord would come upon you and then Nations as well as Kings would come to you. What is this darkness the light shines into? Is it not time for us to rise and shine and give God the glory? What would that look like in your church? What would happen in your community?
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 (UMH 795) A Psalm of Justice from God.
Ephesians 3:1-12 Paul tells why he is a prisoner for Christ. He tells them the mystery that is now made known, that Gentiles are now fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Paul goes further to say he is a servant of this Gospel and the least of saints. He says he is all this to bring the good news to the Gentiles boldly for Christ. What happened that we decided to make the mystery ours and exclude the Gentiles? What happened that we stop boldly telling the Gentiles the good news? Is that how we lost our boldness, and instead of being a prisoner for Christ we a prisoner of ourselves? How can your people be freed to boldly share the good news that the gospel is for all people? Who are the Gentiles in your community?
· Matthew 2:1-12 The three wise men come who have seen a star and are following it. The stop for directions from Herod, got the directions to Bethlehem of Judea, and went on their way. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. What can we say that hasn’t been said about this passage? Where will your focus be? Following a star from afar even to its end? Worshiping the child? Home by another way? The Herods in our world today? Being overwhelmed with joy? The wise men from the East as seekers? The gifts they brought? The prophesy fulfilled?
A little about Epiphany:
The Epiphany is one of the oldest feast-days in the Christian Church. It was first celebrated in the Eastern Church to commemorate the manifestation of Christ to the World. We commonly use the word epiphany to describe a revelation or an "aha" moment. The word epiphany has Greek origins, and it originally meant appearance or manifestation. The feast of Epiphany is associated with the visit of the wise men from the east who have come to Judea in search of the new born king of the Jews. They have observed his star or portent at its rising. His coming has been ‘revealed’ to them, and in the star light has literally shone forth. We can, therefore, see why this passage is set for Epiphany. There is no little irony and revelation, however, in the fact that when we get to the story of the crucifixion at the end of Matthew’s Gospel we will hear of the sign ‘This is Jesus, the king of the Jews’ placed over Jesus’ head on the cross (Matt. 27:37). Epiphany is an unfamiliar word to many of us -- even to many Christians. Here are some phrases that may help it to make more sense:
a revealing of the presence of God;
the light of God radiating outward and inward;
a gift, a reminder that God is here.

Lectionary Discussion for Dec 28, 08 Christmas B1

Christmas B1December 28, 2008First Sunday after Christmas Day one of the “low” Sundays of the Christian year. But it is also the First Sunday in the Christmas season. This puts us in a different place than those around us, what does it mean to live in the incarnation, the Christmas season? What is it that our members need to hear to be able to live as Christmas Christians? And what is it that we have to say to the those who don't know what this means? What is it that they need from our preaching?Isaiah 61:10-62:3 The prophet speaks not only of the restoration of Jerusalem , but of its "vindication" that "shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch." Isaiah presents a holistic vision of salvation or shalom.
Safiyah Fosua at Preaching Helps,, offers this: "The worst was over and better days were ahead. The words of this hymn in Isaiah are a reminder to the forlorn and bedraggled that even the worst trials eventually end. On this Sunday after Christmas, invite both those who have narrowly escaped ruin AND those who are in the midst of troubling times to reaffirm that God keeps promises and does not abandon us." Psalm 148 (UMH 861) All the orders of creation join in praise to GodGalatians 4:4-7 God's adoption of non-Jewish believers as children makes us God's children and — indeed — heirs to the promises of God's covenant. Consequently, as adopted sons and daughters, we do what children do (call their father Abba—"Daddy" for instance or “Amma! Mother!” ) and receive what children receive: blessing and inheritance.Luke 2:22-40 Luke describes the song (Simeon) and the prophecy (Anna) that accompany the presentation of Jesus at the temple at the time of his family's offering of the sacrifice for the firstborn.
Anne Osdieck of the Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University asks the following question: “–and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” What does Simeon’s statement to Mary mean to you?
This is a message to our older people who have been faithful that they are still useful in God's Kingdom, and that when they see God that they too can have a vision and be prophetic like Simeon and Anna. (Whoa, does that mean us?)
This is a message to our families about how important all we do and what we make important in our lives effects our children's. I met a family Sunday morning that I thought were visitors, turned out they had been members for 16 years. Why were they there, well Travel Soccer wasn't traveling and playing during the holidays. Travel Soccer had become their priority and well their temple. I can understand in this day and age when people are trying to get scholarships for their kids and competition is great that parents feel like they have to do all they can to get those few scholarships. However, I wonder what we are teaching our children about the priority of Jesus in our lives. So when we look at this very poor couple who take their kid to the temple to do the customary ritual, we see where their priority lies. And for that they receive blessings beyond compare.

Let us know what it is you are preaching on and focusing on? Thoughts and ideas?
Or maybe you aren't preaching at all or taking time off, let us know. Or maybe you are the lowly Associate Pastor preaching this Sunday after the big crowds for Christmas Eve, let us know.
And Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I am taking some time off from Christmas day to the New Years.

Lectionary Discussion for Christmas Eve 08

Well friends, you made it through the fourth Sunday of Advent now comes;
Christmas Eve
Isaiah 9:2-7Psalm 96 (UMH 815)Titus 2:11-14Luke 2:1-20

Isaiah 9:2-7 Isaiah speaks of new hope to come in his own day for the war-torn regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, the heart of Galilee , which became the center of the ministry of Jesus. The prophecy concludes with the now-famous words: "For a child has been born for us, a son given for us: titles given to the coming child: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. This child will usher in justice and righteousness "from this time forward and for evermore" (v. 7). This is the child born in a stable. Last week John spoke of the light coming, and now this light has come into the darkness of the world. Psalm 96 (UMH 815) A psalm of jubilant praise for the glorious reign of God!Titus 2:11-14 The grace of God has appeared in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God's grace in Christ continues to cleanse and free us from the power of sin the Titus passage tells us is that God acted by giving us a gift in Jesus Christ, "bringing salvation to all," and that the appropriate response to such an act is "to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly" (2:11, 12).Luke 2:1-20 "The Christmas Gospel" or “The Christmas Story”. Jesus is born, angels announce this to shepherds, and Mary ponders the message of the shepherds in her heart. What is the biggest challenge for you in preaching this all familiar passage on Christmas Eve? Possible focus; Who the message came to and how we are like or different from them? How would we (will we) have responded to the angel's message? Would we (Will we) have gone on to Bethlehem to find the baby? Would we (will we) spread the good news? Where is our joy this Christmas Eve? You could also focus on verse 10 "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. How is we are afraid, and how can we not be afraid? How is it that we are afraid when it involves the holy? Or you could focus on 14b "on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Or you could focus on Mary's response in verse 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Most want to hear the Luke passage and story, you could have that read along with whatever passage you choose to be the focus of your preaching. So let us hear from you about Christmas Eve preaching and Communion.

Tomorrow I'll introduce the passages for Sunday.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Lectionary Discussion for Dec 21, 2008

We are almost there, if you can just hang in there, we will all make it together.
This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Advent:
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16Luke 1:47-55 (UMH 199)Romans 16:25-27Luke 1:26-38

And then you turn around and have Christmas Eve
Isaiah 9:2-7Psalm 96 (UMH 815)Titus 2:11-14Luke 2:1-20

And then you turn around and have
December 28, 2008First Sunday after Christmas DayIsaiah 61:10-62:3Psalm 148 (UMH 861)Galatians 4:4-7Luke 2:22-40

I sincerely hope you then take some time off.
Right now let’s focus on this Sunday’s passages:

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 Nathan brings good news and a reality check to David. The good news: God intends to establish David's lineage permanently, although conditionally. The reality: God has been present with God's people by being in their midst as they have traveled and has no need for David to build a temple. How does this passage speak to us today? What does it say to us who have built fine churches, permanent places of worship that now we can barely afford to maintain? What would it be like if we worshiped this homeless, wandering God instead of this “domesticated God” we have made for ourselves? After all whatever church we building we are in, its God’s not ours.
Luke 1:47-55 (UMH 199) The Song of Mary. It is a song of praise, humility, prophesy and justice. Is it not a song we need to hear today? And how can this become more than just a song, but a reality? Romans 16:25-27 A concluding doxology to the God who can strengthen us all. A word that many need to hear; not our strength, but God’s strength. What would happen if all people believed that the message of God’s saving plan is for “all nations”?
Luke 1:26-38 The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will become pregnant by God and bear the Son of the Most High whose throne will be eternal. She consents. Would we say yes? Would say that "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."? I fear that we women have said yes, and are paying the price for saying yes, while we serve congregations filled with people just punching their ticket and unwilling to say yes. What could God do for the wounded, the disenfranchised, and the needy world in the world through your hands? Who is the unlikely one that God would use in your church? What is God doing in your midst? Do we believe this; For nothing is impossible with God?

So what passage are you preaching this Sunday? What will be your focus? What are your thoughts on these passages or the ones you are using? I am not preaching this Sunday and would be interested in your thoughts.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for Dec 14, 2008

December 14, 2008 Third Sunday of Advent (Purple or Blue) Gaudete Sunday

The scripture readings are found at Vanderbilt Divinity Library
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 This passage makes me wish I was preaching from the Old Testament this Advent. What a powerful passage; 1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news. Every verse is rich with what this good news is. Jesus Christ used the words of Isaiah 61:1 and 2 when he publicly claimed his calling in Luke 4:18-19 of the New Testament. Jesus stopped short of declaring the day of God's vengeance. IN its original context it is written to the dashed hopes of the earliest returnees from the Babylonian Exile. They return only to find all is not well nor how they dream it would be.
Verse 3 says They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. How are we oaks of Righteousness? What would an Oak of Righteousness look like?
Verse 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. So how has your church built itself up? How have they rose up from the former devastations and repaired itself? How is this a message of hope for us today?
Verse 8 For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; If the Lord loves justice do we and if we don’t why not and what will it take? And if the Lord hates robbery and wrong doing, do we and if don’t why not? How does this verse fit the present day situation? How do we need to hear this again and again?
Dr. Robert Linthicum, Partners in Urban Transformation writes the following; In other words, the prophet who is sent by God (in fact, even the Messiah) would come to the people both with the good news that jubilee was to be reinstated and practiced in Israel, but also to make it happen by his spiritual, political and economic intervention in the land. It would be the Man who would proclaim liberation and organize the people to deal with their spiritual and physical poverty and powerlessness. But they would do it themselves! It would be the people who would take charge of their situation, rebuild their walls, repair their ruined cities, and bloom where they were planted by God. The people would empower themselves. But they would never have empowered themselves, if there were not One to come to them and declare, “Let us rebuild!”

Psalm 126 (UMH 847) A Psalm celebrating the restoration of the fortunes of Zion by God and the joy that followed. I like this in verse 1; “we were like those who dream.” Do you still dream, does your church, what is your dreams? Verse 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; "The LORD has done great things for them." So how are our mouths filled with laughter and shouts of joy? What great things has God done for you and for your church?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 16 Rejoice always is the beginning words of this selection from Thessalonians. Paul promises that with the coming Parousia, God will keep them and protect them, but that there were some things they were to do as faithful. The believers' task is to direct their energies towards the holiness God offers and enables. This includes always rejoicing, praying constantly, giving thanks in all things, not suppressing the spirit, not despising prophesying, holding fast to what is good and abstaining from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely. Has the God of peace sanctified you? Do you know this God of peace? What kind of peace is this? Is this peace the world needs? 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. How has God been faithful in your life? Do you believe that he will do this that Paul talks about?

John 1:6-8, 19-28 Here comes John again; 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. Everybody wants to know who he is and assume he is someone else. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. How are we to be the witnesses to light these days? How is it that the world needs this light these days? The leaders were bothered by John’s baptism since he wasn’t who they thought he was? How does that get played out nowadays? Where does Baptism fit into Advent? Where does it speak to the light and to the darkness of our lives and world?
Bruce G. Epperly at Process and Faith Lectionary says the following: In Advent, we recognize both our witness to the light that has come and to the light that will come. As light bearers, we need to ask: How do we personally live our witness to the light? Do we hide our witness or will we let it shine in ways that bring justice and transformation in our communities, families, nation, and daily relationships? Advent spirituality calls us to see all of life as vocational. The challenge for Advent is to look beyond the limitations of life and our fears for the future in order to imagine along with God new possibilities and then live out these possibilities in practices and actions that will, one step at a time, transform us and our world. Where will God call us next? Toward what Advent adventures is the spirit leading us? Where are we being “anointed” to do great things for God and the world?

The joyful Sunday in Advent (known as "Gaudete") is represented by rose (or pink) instead of the penitential purple color. Gaudete is the imperative plural form of the Latin verb gaudere (to rejoice). It is a command ordering us to rejoice! In these days of penance and preparation leading up to the feast of our Savior's birth, it reminds us of the joy that is to come, and serves, amid this season of penance, as a kind of 'break' when we recall the hope we have because of the coming of Jesus.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for Dec 7, 2008

December 7, 2008 Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-11 1. Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. You may have some people who need to hear this word of Comfort, and being spoken tenderly to that her sins have be paid. On the other hand, your people may need to also hear, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. How are we to do this? How have we not been doing this? What valley needs to be lifted up? What mountain and hill made low? What uneven ground made level? And what rough place made plain? And how will this be done with Jesus coming? The word of our God will stand forever. We are heralds of good tidings; and we need to lift up our voice with strength to declare "Here is your God!" The prophet offers a balm for the festering wounds of exile. What wounds in your church, your area, our state, our country our world needs this balm?

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 (UMH 806) What a beautiful Psalm speaking of the favorable work of God in his Land. This is a motif of restoration, by God.

2 Peter 3:8-15a 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. Isn’t this the good news? 10a The day of the Lord will come like a thief. 11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness? Here is how you are to wait. 14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15a and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. The gift and the demand. We are people of promise, but do we act and live like we are?
Mark 1:1-8 1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. No babies, mangers, Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds or wise men. Mark has an unusual way of beginning the good news of Jesus Christ. And on top of that he begins with John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He is the one preparing the way of the Lord. 6 John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. What a strange person to prepare the way of the Lord and to begin your Gospel with. Would you follow this person and be baptized by him? 7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." What a powerful thing to say for John about Jesus. How many of us would be wanting to claim the spotlight? How may of us would be willing to be the one’s preparing the way for the Lord, and even admit we are not worthy to stoop and untie the thongs on his sandals? And how does the message of repentance fit today’s world and people?
So this is a beginning a new place to start, a new birth, how is it your people need a new beginning? How are your people preparing for this beginning, advent, birth of Jesus, his coming into our lives?

And so what are your thoughts for this Sunday? What are your preaching? What are the texts saying to you?