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Showing posts from October, 2010

Sermon for 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, "Run With It"

Sermon 10/31/10 Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 Run With It             I’ve never preached on Habakkuk before. It’s just one of those books of the Bible that doesn’t get a lot of play. You know, ones that, if you aren’t a regular Bible-reader, you might not have heard of before this morning. Habakkuk is one of the books in the Bible in the collection we call “minor prophets.” Minor prophets are just shorter books of prophecy than major books – they aren’t any less important. Not a lot is known about Habakkuk, the person. He was a contemporary of the more well-known prophet Jeremiah. His writings seem to come at the time around the 6 th century BC when the kingdom of Babylon was becoming a greater and greater world power, and their takeover of Israel was a threat that was forming on the horizon. In other words, the people of Israel probably had a bad feeling about what was coming.             Habakkuk’s writing is a dialogue between him and God. He has some questions, hard questions, to pose

Sermon for 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Gratitude Sunday (non-lectionary)

Sermon 10/24/10 Mark 12:38-44 Putting In Your Two Cents             Last Sunday, I mentioned to you that even in Paul’s day, a lively debate about ministry and financial giving was already taking place. Today, we opened our worship service with a deeper look at some of those issues. Connie read for us 2 Corinthians 9, a chapter where we read Paul talking about a financial gift for the Christians in Jerusalem that has been promised by the Christians in Corinth. Paul writes here to encourage them, essentially, to have the gift ready when his missionaries come to pick it up, and to have the gift ready with a good attitude. Paul wants them to stay firm to their commitment to give, and wants them to give it cheerfully. Paul is smooth in his persuasive style. He says, “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you, and arrange in advance for this bountiful gift that you have promised, so that it may be ready as a voluntary gift and not as an extortion.” Paul goes on t

Sermon for 21st Sunday after Pentecost, Inspiration Sunday (non-lectionary)

Sermon 10/17/10 Luke 12:32-34, Matthew 25:14-30 I’ve been struggling with just how to approach my preaching for this our stewardship campaign on this Inspiration Sunday. I find it difficult because so many things are tied together for us, emotionally and spiritually when we talk about giving. For example, as we talk about what makes up our church budget, salaries and benefits make up a huge chunk of what we pay. It puts pastors in a bit of an awkward position, trying to encourage people to support a church financially, when that support provides their livelihood. This isn’t a new consideration – the apostle Paul considered that very issue in his ministry, and had some lively conversations with his churches about ministry and money. I find it challenging because when we talk about giving in the church, we usually also happen to be talking about giving to our church specifically, when, in reality, giving and supporting our church financially are not one and the same. I find it diffic

Sermon for World Communion Sunday

Sermon 10/2/10 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27             When I was a child, and in my early teens, I used to get excited on Communion Sundays because it usually meant that my pastor would preach either a very brief or no sermon at all. I knew that some faith traditions practiced weekly communion, though, and I couldn’t imagine that. I was sure that doing something every week like that would take away the meaning, the special quality of celebrating communion. Years later, though, when I was in seminary, I experienced living in the midst of a community of faith 24/7 in a way that I hadn’t before. And we had chapel services offered three times a week, with the biggest service being the weekly celebration of Holy Communion. And I found that I loved it. I found that it was moving in a way I didn’t expect. It was a bond that held us together as a community. It was a sacrament that drew me closer to God. It was a ritual that made the words that were preached just before mak