Preaching to the Choir

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Psalm 133 for Easter 2b

Psalm 133 NIV
A song of ascents. Of David

1 How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron's beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.

The Psalms for Sunday’s Lectionary continues the theme of being in community with one another as one of unity. The message says it this way: How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! Yes, that's where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life. I didn’t want to leave the women out of this community.

This is literally a song of ascents, sung by the worshipers as they went up the high place; Jerusalem and ultimately to the temple which was on the mount.

Nancy Koester at working Preacher.com says the following; As the Temple in Jerusalem was the high place for the Jewish people, so Easter is the high point of the Gospel. From here the Gospel spreads around the world. Jesus has risen from the tomb, and he raises us up from unbelief to faith, from death to everlasting life.Faith in the risen Christ draws people--not only to see things from this Easter point of view, but to see things with our fellow Christians. The risen Lord creates a new family of those who believe in him. The Gospel flows down freely from the summit of Easter and makes one family in Christ. Easter unites Christians around the world. Standing on this high place, we become one in faith, hope and love. According to the New Interpreter's Bible, the word "kindred" (which may also be translated "brothers") does not mean blood relatives, but a people joined by God's grace1.

What is all the liquid about? The high priest's hair was saturated with oil (Exodus 29:7), signifying his total consecration to God. Mount “Hermon” (v. 3, west of Damascus) receives copious rain; for Jerusalem (“Zion”) to receive as much would be true abundance. From Chris Haslam Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

More from Nancy Koester; In our times of conflict and economic distress, Psalm 133 is like water on parched ground. People who are divided and estranged from one another need God's call to "live together in unity." For them, this Psalm offers hope and the promise of kinship in Christ. And people suffer scarcity in everything from food and housing, to justice and love. The message: God loves us abundantly and holds nothing back.Easter is like the oil of blessing, bringing people together in faith. Easter is like the dew of Mount Hermon, flowing with abundant life.

Quotes and illustrations from the African American Lectionary
“There is a difference between unity and uniformity. Dwelling together in unity does not mean that we are rubber-stamped into a similar form. The church is not to be involved in cookie cutter Christianity. Christian unity is not brought about by mechanical restrictions and regulations. Christian unity is a heart union of believers ready to work together for the purpose of glorifying God and furthering the work of his kingdom.”

-Raymond E. Brown The Unity and Diversity in New Testament Ecclesiology
“Unity is the need of the hour.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When it was born in Jerusalem, the church was a fellowship. When it went to Greece, it became a philosophy. When it went to Rome, it became an institution. When it went to Europe, it became a culture. When it went to America it became an enterprise. How the Church needs to return to being a Fellowship again.”
-Lance D. Watson

During Vacation Bible School, a class was interrupted when a new student was brought in. The little boy had one arm missing, and the teacher was very nervous that one of the other children might comment on his handicap and embarrass him. As the class time came to a close, she asked the class to join her in their usual closing ceremony. “Let’s make our churches,” she said. “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and . . .” The awful truth of her own actions struck her. The very thing she had feared that the children would do, she had done. As she stood there speechless, the little girl sitting next to the boy reached over with her left hand and placed it up to his right hand and said, “Here, let’s make the church together.”
- Author Unknown

During Vacation Bible School, a class was interrupted when a new student was brought in. The little boy had one arm missing, and the teacher was very nervous that one of the other children might comment on his handicap and embarrass him. As the class time came to a close, she asked the class to join her in their usual closing ceremony. “Let’s make our churches,” she said. “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and . . .” The awful truth of her own actions struck her. The very thing she had feared that the children would do, she had done. As she stood there speechless, the little girl sitting next to the boy reached over with her left hand and placed it up to his right hand and said, “Here, let’s make the church together.”
- Author Unknown

I heard a story about a visitor to a mental hospital for the criminally insane. The visitor was shocked to see that only 3 guards were supervising more than 100 dangerous inmates. He asked the guide, “Don’t you fear these people will plot an escape and overpower the guards?” “Don’t worry about that,” The guard assured him. “Lunatics never unite.”
- Author Unknown

“Unity, rather than majority is the principle of corporate guidance. More than mere agreement, it is the perception that we have heard the voice of God. We do not seek compromise, but God-given consensus.”
-Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

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