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Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday in Lent, Year C

Readings for Third Sunday in Lent, 2/24/13:
Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9

Isaiah 55:1-9:
This is one of my very favorite passages. "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters...why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?" Check out John 6 for strong correlations with this passage. Why indeed to we choose again and again for our lives things which we know will not cure the hurts and desires and pains that we have? God must scratch the head over us all the time. We choose so poorly for ourselves!"And nations that you do not know shall run to you, because of the Lord your God." I really like this image! Too often, as Americans, we find that our claim of faith has just the opposite effect on people. Nations run from us because of the way we claim our God, God blessing America at the expense of all others. What would it mean for nations to run to us because of our faith?Psalm 6…

Sermon for Second Sunday in Lent, "New Arrangements: What Wondrous Love Is This?" Luke 13:31-35, John 3:1-17

Sermon 2/24/13 John 3:1-17, Luke 13:31-35
New Arrangements: What Wondrous Love Is This?

            What wondrous love is this? Oh my soul, oh my soul! What wondrous love is this, oh my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of life to lay aside the crown for my soul, for my soul? To lay aside the crown for my soul! What Wondrous Love Is This is probably my favorite Lenten hymn, simply one of my favorite hymns overall. I find the plaintive melody deeply moving, as tune and text combine to fill us with what the title suggests – a sense of wonder at God’s love for us, expressed in the gift of Jesus Christ. This hymn has both an unknown and a rich and interesting history at the same time. The author of the text is unknown. We know that it was first heard in the Appalachian Mountain region in the late 1700s, early 1800s, and was written down by William Walker, editor of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.             Southern Harmony is a famous collection of hymns, f…

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday in Lent, Year A

Readings for 2nd Sunday in Lent, 3/4/07:
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18:
"Do not be afraid, Abram." How many times does the phrase "do not be afraid" occur in the Bible? I'm sure someone has counted, but whatever the number, it is obviously a huge theme. God is always telling us not to be afraid. Why is that? What does God suspect,know, that we are so afraid of anyway? Are we afraid of God? Afraid of being alone? Afraid of finding out that our lives don't have meaning, or that they do? Whatever it is, God promises to be there in it with us, and to calm our child-like fears.In this passage, God promises Abram that it will not be a slave, but a child of Abram's own that will carry on Abram's line, one of his descendants which will be as numerous as the stars, and that they will live in the land that God is promising them. What do we make of this passage? I think about what it means to "ca…

Sermon for First Sunday in Lent, "New Arrangements: Old Rugged Cross," Philippians 2:1-8

Sermon 2/17/13 Philippians 2:1-8
New Arrangements: The Old Rugged Cross

            This Lent, our worship theme is New Arrangements. Pastor Aaron and I chose some traditional Lenten hymns, and we will sing one each week during Lent, but we’ll also hear an alternate arrangement of the hymn. Sometimes we’ll hear special piano music, sometimes a special anthem or a soloist, sometimes a recording, but always a variation of some kind on the traditional hymn. In this Lenten journey, as we prepare ourselves to travel to the cross with Jesus, we find ourselves in a season of contemplation and reflection. I was trying to find just the right image to accompany the theme to use on our church facebook page and in our powerpoint presentations during worship, and I was asking for suggestions. One of my pastor friends suggested using a blueprint image, with furniture that could be rearranged in a room. I really like her concept. Lent is a time when we try to open up our lives for God’s rearranging. Ar…

Not Buying It: My Lenten Discipline

I don't always "give up" or "take up" something at Lent. I've read blogs from a lot of folks that will tell you about their deep theological reasons for not engaging in such a Lenten discipline, but I can't claim anything so thoughtful as my reason. I just haven't. Procrastination, lack of discipline, disinterest - those reasons are more likely!

This year, though, I've been thinking about trying something out for a few months. A blog I read, called Fake-it Frugal, has done a 31-days-of-nothing - buying nothing - for the last couple of years. As I mentioned in my sermon a couple of weeks ago, I just haven't been able to get this out of my head this year. I just keep thinking about it. And so I've decided, after a little back and forth about when and how, to try this as my Lenten discipline this year. For the season of Lent, I plan not to buy anything except gas and necessary groceries. I've stocked up my pantry, so I can cook at home…

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday in Lent, Year C

Readings for 1st Sunday in Lent, 2/25/07:
Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13

Deuteronomy 26:1-11:
In this passage, the Israelites are reminded to keep sight on where they've come from, even as they now enter into this promised land that they've been longing for for such a time. They might want to forget their troubled past, their years of wandering, and their time of slavery, but God commands them not to forget, but to remember, to remember clearly, to remember with ritual, to remember with thanks, to remember in celebration.Telling of History, Telling of the Story. Such important elements to our Christian life. What if we only got the part of the story where the Israelites were already in the promised land? Or just the Resurrection, without the teachings and Crucifixion before hand?What is in your past that you want to forget, now that you're in a better place? What benefits are there to remembering, even celebrating where you have come fro…

Sermon for 2/10/13, "Beyond Membership: Fruitful," Matthew 25:31-45

Sermon 2/10/13 Matthew 25:31-45 Beyond Membership: Fruitful

I’m terrible with proverbs. I never remember them correctly. I once asked my mother, with complete sincerity, why people said, “close, but no potato.” It made no sense to me. Of course, she explained that the saying is actually, “close, but no cigar,” and its origins. So I try to double-check on proverbs before I use them. As I've been preparing this sermon, I've been thinking about the proverb, “The proof is in the pudding.” I know what it means, but I haven’t always known why it meant that, what the origin of the proverb was. It means: You’ll know the truth of it by the end results. The proverb we use today is actually a shortened version of the original, which makes more sense. It’s actually "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." In other words, you can tell how good pudding is by eating it, by testing the end product. Making it correctly, preparing it just so – that’s important, sure. But in the end, …

Lectionary Notes for Transfiguration Sunday, Year C

Readings for Transfiguration Sunday, 2/10/13:
Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99, 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, Luke 9:28-36

Exodus 34:29-35:
Moses has been on the mountain receiving the ten commandments. His face is shining because of talking with God. I picture someone who is glowing with being newly in love, or the glow of a woman who is pregnant, or the glow of a parent proud of her or his child."Mountaintop experiences" - a phrase we often use to describe those experiences where we feel super-close to God, and super confident that we can live a holy Christian life and do God's will for us. We describe it as 'mountaintop' because we always know we can't stay up there - we always come walking, running, stumbling, trudging, or crashing back to earth again.What's your mountaintop experience(s)? For me, one was always attending our conference camp, Camp Aldersgate. I tried to prolong the experience by signing up for more than one week of camp in the summer, or eventually b…

Sermon, "Beyond Membership: Follow," Mark 8:27-37

Sermon 2/3/13 Mark 8:27-37
Beyond Membership: Follow

            I have this bad habit, and some of you might share this too. It’s one I’ve had since childhood, that often drove my mother crazy, as she would look on, exasperated, trying to convince me to do it a different way. If I have eight bags of groceries to carry into the house, rather than taking two trips with four bags on each trip, I will do anything I can to arrange the bags just so and carry them all at once. “Why don’t you just put something down and go back?” my mom would ask, which of course, would be very sensible. And my experience over the years tells me that carrying eight bags at once is usually not any faster than carrying four bags at a time in two trips. Carrying eight bags usually means you go a lot slower, you end up in pain, having cut off the circulation in your arms, where you’ve tried to carry the extra bags, and sometimes, you end up dropping or tearing bags, and having to go back anyway.               Maybe …