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Showing posts from October, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 26, Ordinary 31)

Readings for 21st Sunday after Pentecost, 11/2/14:
Joshua 3:7-17, Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13, Matthew 23:1-12

Joshua  3:7-17:
A new chapter for the people, and a new leader - God declares that God will be with Joshua as God was with Moses.How well do we handle leadership transitions in the church? So often we focus on the particular person instead of on the ways God is working through people in leadership.Another expression of God's presence being made known through strange things happening with water. How many times does water play a significant role in scripture stories? When/how has water played a role in your faith life? What does it mean for our faith when some in our world are without clean, drinkable water? Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37:
Theme of the psalm: God's love is steadfast.Steadfast, according to dictionary.com is "Firmly fixed or established; fast fixed; firm. 2. Not fickle or wavering; constant; firm; resolute; unswerving; steady. God's love for …

Lectionary Notes for Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 25, Ordinary 30)

Readings for 20th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/26/14: 
Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, Matthew 22:34-46

Deuteronomy 34:1-12:
This is where I feel most sorry for Moses, who, though making many mistakes, has more or less followed God on such an adventure, and yet only gets to see the whole promised land from a mountain top, never actually entering it himself. Could you trust God on such a journey, if you knew that you yourself would not reach the desired end, that you would have to entrust that completion to others?I think this is a good lesson for the church - we have to let go of 'ownership' of our journeys - God 'owns' our journey. If we can let go of possession of where we are leading the church, we can get even closer to the promised land than if we demanded we be able to go the whole way ourselves!"Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated." What a great little ob…

Sermon for Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "Promised Land: Are You With Us?" Exodus 33:12-23

Sermon 10/19/14 Exodus 33:12-23
Promised Land: Are You with Us?

            By the time we reach today’s text in Exodus 33, the Israelites have been through most of the worst and bulk of wandering through the desert, seeking after a new homeland. As we’ve talked about, we’ve seen God meet need after need expressed by the hesitant, scared Israelites. And then they started to transition, to think more about where they were headed to instead of what they were running from, and God started to help them shape an identity as a people, carving out a law that would guide them as they entered a new place and a new way of being together with each other and with God. And finally, they’re on the brink of reaching their destination.             And so it seems strange to me, after all they’ve been through, that now Moses would be so plaintively asking if God will be with them, go with them, when they enter into the Promised Land. He’s pleading, practically begging, whining, beseeching God to go with…

Sermon for Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "Promised Land: Commandments," Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Sermon 10/5/2014 Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Promised Land: Commandments
            For the next four weeks we’re continuing our journey in the book of Exodus, but we’re shifting our focus a little bit. We’ve been journeying out of Egypt, but now we’re heading to the Promised Land. The different might not sound like much, but I think with study we’ll find that while initially, the Israelites can only think about where they’ve come from, and can only demand sign after sign from God that they haven’t been led into the wilderness simply to die, now God is pushing them, encouraging them to look forward, to the life that will become theirs. They are no longer going to be simply people who are on the run from slavery in Egypt. No, now they are going to be the Israelites who are seeking the Promised Land. A nation unto themselves. And they need a more compelling identity than “formerly slaves in Egypt.” Instead of knowing who they aren’t, they really need to start worrying about who they are now…

Lectionary Notes for Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 24, Ordinary 29)

Readings for 19th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/19/14:
Exodus 33:12-23, Psalm 99, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22

Exodus 33:12-23:

"My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." This is the promise that God makes to Moses. Moses makes God repeat it, because he knows that God's presence means good things for the Israelites. But I wonder if Moses expects a different kind of protection and presence than God has planned? I think Moses sees God's presence as a safety net, instead of a foundation. Do we ever see and treat God's presence that way?"you cannot see my face." Wanting to meet "face to face" usually is something we want so that we can be on equal footing with whoever we meet with. God reminds us that we are not exactly on equal footing with God! But still, that we see God, that Moses can be so close with and to God shows that God has a unique relationship with humanity. We can talk to God! Compared with other characteristics …

Lectionary Notes for Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 23, Ordinary 28)

Readings for 18th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/12/14:
Exodus 32:1-14, Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14

Exodus 32:1-14:
At first, the story of the golden calf strikes me as ridiculous - who would want to worship or take any such comfort in a cow made out of gold? What can a golden cow do for you?But then I think of the idols we have today: money - certainly a gold cow might symbolize that?! Possessions, even people. We put many things before God. Anything we put before God is an idol. Anything.Does God need to be persuaded? Without Moses 'imploring' God, would God fail to be merciful? I don't think so."And the Lord changed his mind." Everything I think theologically screams out at this notion of God just having a sort-of temper tantrum/mood swing until Moses "sweet talks" God. What do you think?Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23:
"Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times." I like the wording - do righteousness,…

Lectionary Notes for Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 22, Ordinary 27)

Readings for 17th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/5/14:
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20, Psalm 19, Philippians 3:4b-14, Matthew 21:33-46

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20:
People have spent a lot of energy defending these commandments. Are they worth defending? While I don't feel they need to be posted in our courtrooms, for example, I think they are still pretty important for us.The ones I am most drawn to are the first commandments. God is God and our only God. We might not worship other deities, but sometimes we're in danger of worshipping our possessions, our work, our culture, or our country. We may not make golden calf idols, but we idolize plenty of things, don't we?"Remember the Sabbath." This is so hard for me. We're recently started a twice-weekly prayer chapel at our church - 30 minutes to be still and be with God. I find even that hard. My mind is always racing over my to-do list. How do you keep Sabbath?Coveting - that's another commandment that I think is so impo…

Sermon for Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "Out of Egypt: Water from the Rock," Exodus 17:1-7

Sermon 9/28/14 Exodus 17:1-7
Out of Egypt: Water from the Rock
            We’re continuing on journeying with the Israelites this week as they make their way out of Egypt and into the wilderness. The text for today tells us this happens “by stages.” This is both true in the sense that a large group of people can’t really move all at once, but only by stages, and true in a deeper sense. This journey is not just literal but spiritual, and the Israelites certainly are only moving by stages spiritually too. In today’s passage, they’re arguing with Moses. “Give us water to drink.” The language is imperative: do it, and do it now. Moses responds, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the Hebrew here is more explicit – it’s legal language. Moses is saying more specifically something like, “why are you bringing me and God to court over this?” We don’t know if Moses’ word choice is because he’d reached his breaking point, tired of the complaining, or because that large grou…