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Showing posts from January, 2015

Lectionary Notes for 4th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B (Ordinary 4)

Readings for 4th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/1/15:
Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Psalm 111, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, Mark 1:21-28


Deuteronomy 18:15-20:

Moses declares to the people that God will raise up a prophet after his death - ostensibly he speaks of his successor, Joshua. He does this because the people feel that God speaking to them more directly, as at Horeb when God spoke out of the fire, is too frightening, too much to handle. Can you imagine thinking that God speaking directly too you is too much to handle? It might be intimidating, but most of us seem to wish God would speak to us more directly. (Maybe we'd change our minds after experiencing it!)So this new prophet, like Moses, will act as a go-between between the people and God. Has anyone ever served in this role for you? A pastor/priest can fill in this role, but if you are a clergy person, do you ever wish someone would stand between you and God? What experiences have you had?There is a condition, though, to the arrangement: T…

Sermon, "A New Name: Jacob --> Israel," Genesis 32:3-32

Sermon 1/25/15 Genesis 32:3-32
A New Name: Jacob --> Israel

Last week we talked about Abram and Sarai and the promise that God made to them to bless them and be their God and make their descendants more numerous than the stars. They had to wait a long time to see their promise begin to unfold with the birth of their son Isaac. And of course, to demonstrate waiting for God’s promises, I somehow promised 10,000 cookies to our children by the time they turn 16! And I’ll figure out how to make it work, because I’m convinced that God’s promises are dependable, and my children’s sermon won’t demonstrate much if I can’t even come through on some cookies as evidence of God’s faithfulness! In the meantime though, we see God’s promise continue to unfold as today we learn about some of Abraham’s descendants. Today, we’re talking about Jacob and Esau, twin grandchildren of Abraham and Sarah, sons of Isaac and Rebekah. The story of Jacob and Esau spans several chapters in Genesis. I encourage you …

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday after Epiphany, Year B (Ordinary 3)

Readings for 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, 1/25/15:
Jonah 3:1-5, 10, Psalm 62:5-12, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Mark 1:14-20

Jonah 3:1-5, 10:

This is the only week Jonah appears in the lectionary, so consider reading other sections, or expanding your focus, so that people get the full story.The interesting thing about this story, not included in today's text, is that Jonah wasn't happy that God was sparing the people. In fact, Jonah knew that God was likely to be merciful and spare the people, and this is what most upsets Jonah. Are you ever upset at the liberal way God shares grace with others? Why do you think this is? Sometimes I think we act as if God's grace will run out for us if God gives too much to others!How would you feel as a resident of Nineveh? Are you open to others telling you that you are not following God? Generally, we don't like people telling us what to do, or telling us what we're doing wrong. But the residents of Ninevah get their acts together, and…

Sermon, "A New Name: Abram & Sarai," Genesis 17:1-8, 15-22

Sermon 1/18/15 Genesis 17:1-8, 15-22
A New Name: Abram and Sarai

            What are you waiting for? What events, or situations, or circumstances, right now, are you waiting for to take place? A child or grandchild to be born? A birthday? A retirement? A vacation? And how often, like a child on a road trip, have you wondered, “Are we there yet?” As I child, I attended one of our church camps, Camp Aldersgate, every summer. And I couldn’t wait for my week of camp to come. I’d start packing way in advance. And then finally, we’d head for Aldersgate. The trip seemed to take forever. But when the trees changed into tall skinny pines, I knew we were close, at last. I was shocked, when I got older, to realize Aldersgate was only about an hour from home. Not even. How could that be? But from a child’s point of view, an hour drive may as well be a whole day spent stuck in the car. Perspective is everything.             Today, we continue our series looking at the New Names given in the scriptu…

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B (Ordinary 2)

Readings for 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, 1/18/15:
1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20), Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, John 1:43-51

1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20):
This is a great story of call, and along with today's texts from Psalms and John, makes a great day for preaching about knowing who we are and what we're meant to be doing. Combine that with the fact that this is Human Relations Day, celebrating, among other things, Martin Luther King Jr., in the UMC, and you've got the makings for a great day to inspire people to respond to God's call.Samuel is confused about who is calling him. He keeps thinking Eli is calling him. But his confusion doesn't keep Samuel from being willing, again and again, to respond to the call. How have you been called? Have you shared your call story with your congregation?Eli plays such an important role in this text, helping Samuel understand what is happening to him. It is an essential role in ministry to have people who are willing t…

Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, Year B, "A New Name: Beloved," Mark 1:4-11

Sermon 1/11/15 Mark 1:4-11
A New Name: Beloved
Tim: Today we’re starting a new series in worship called, “A New Name.” Each week, we’ll be looking at a different person in the Bible who goes by a new name. Abram and Sarai become Abraham and Sarah, Jacob becomes Israel, Simon is called Peter. Saul becomes Paul. In each of these cases, the new name corresponds with a significant moment in their spiritual journeys. This is a series Pastor Beth’s been wanting to do since her first weeks at Apple Valley. Surviving a merger of congregations is a difficult task for churches. It usually isn’t all smooth sailing. And sometimes there’s a lot of residual grief and pain and tension and so on. Pastor Beth served as pastor for a few years at a church that was a United Church – Presbyterian and United Methodist– and when she first met with them, they told her about how firmly they thought of themselves as united. This made sense, because they had been merged together as one congregation for almost 40 y…

Lectionary Notes for Baptism of the Lord, Year B

Readings for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, 1/11/15:
Genesis 1:1-5, Psalm 29, Acts 19:1-7, Mark 1:4-11

Genesis 1:1-5:

"In the beginning," so starts the word of God. What a great beginning. I believe that science and faith can go hand in hand. I believe that evolution doesn't have to contradict our believe in God as creator. This said, I can't ask for a better description of creation than the poetic opening of Genesis.Also compare Genesis 1 with John 1 - John clearly tries to align himself with this style of writing, showing Christ's presence even at creation."wind from God swept over the face of the waters" - how would you draw this - visually represent it?Note that here on the first day, and throughout creation, God declares things as "good." Creation is good.
Psalm 29
:"The Voice of the Lord" - I guess I've never noticed this psalm before, which speaks primarily of God's voice.It is also visualizing God creating or in relation to …

My 2014 Reading List

Books I Read in 2014


I didn't read as much as I wanted this year, especially in the first several months. I did finish my DMin though, so perhaps reading what I had written over and over and over in the editing process counts in lieu of a few books....
1.Hamilton, Adam, 24 Hours that Changed the World(church Lenten study) - Pretty good. My congregation enjoyed this. 

2.Hamilton, Adam, Making Sense of the Bible(church Bible study) - I think this is a really excellent study. It's got a lot crammed into it, and will delve into some uncomfortable topics, but my folks took it mostly in stride. I think if pastors realize their congregants want and appreciate this kind of look at the Bible, it would make things easier from there on out. 
3.Kalas, J. Ellsworth, A Hop, Skip, and a Jumpthrough the Bible(church Bible study) - Not my favorite of his books. (Christmas from the Backside is) but this was a nice companion book to my Bible 101 class. 
4.Hamilton, Adam, Not a Silent Night (clergy Bi…

Lectionary Notes for Epiphany Sunday

*I have a sung communion liturgy for Epiphany here,* set to IN DULCI JUBILO/"Good Christian Friends, Rejoice." 

Readings for Epiphany Sunday, 1/4/15:
Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

Isaiah 60:1-6:
On Epiphany Sunday, we use many light/dark images which correspond to good/bad, and sometimes, unfortunately, white/black. Make sure to double check your language for overtones that may be perceived as racist or convey a message that you don't intend!"Lift up your eyes and look around." Sometimes things that we need/want/pray for/hope for are right in front of us, we just fail to see them because we are not looking. During seminary, I had the chance to travel to Ghana, West Africa, and walk across high-suspended canopy bridges in Kakum National Park. I had to remind myself to stop, breathe, and look around at the rain forest that I was crossing high above!This passage is addressed to Israel, as the people have been permitted by the Per…