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Showing posts from November, 2012

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday of Advent, Year C

Readings for First Sunday of Advent, 12/2/12: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36 Jeremiah 33:14-16: "surely" - check out the Advents texts this cycle. The world 'surely' appears almost every week. Maybe that's nothing, but I like it - it's a word of promise, a word of sure fulfillment. Definite. "Fulfill the promise." What promises have you made? Broken? Kept? Which have other made/broken/kept with you? What promise is Jeremiah referencing here? Do you believe God fulfills promises made to you? The world? How? "execute justice" - I like this phrase, because it has such a different meaning than the meaning 'execute' usually has in our system of justice today. Today, when we execute, we mean we take life for life out of revenge. But God means bringing real justice to those who have been oppressed. That's execution in justice that I can support and work for. A name: "The Lord is ou

Sermon for Christ the King/Reign of Christ Year B, John 18:33-37

Sermon 11/25/12 John 18:33-37 In Between: Christ, the King                                     How many of you know what Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday is? If, by chance, you do know what it is, is it anybody’s favorite Sunday on the church calendar? I didn’t think so! Often, Christ the King Sunday gets a bit neglected, because most years, it falls on Thanksgiving Sunday, which isn’t technically even part of the liturgical calendar, but usually takes precedence for Christians in the United States. If we have to choose between Thanksgiving as a focus in worship and Christ, the King, we usually choose Thanksgiving! I’m not complaining – we don’t do enough of thanks-giving. But I am glad for these occasional years where the calendar falls just so and there is a Sunday left between Thanksgiving and the start of Advent, and Christ the King can stands on its own. It is the last Sunday of the year, in terms of the church calendar, and next Sunday we begin anew, with a

Lectionary Notes for Reign of Christ/Christ the King, Year B

Readings for Christ the King/Reign of Christ, 11/25/12: 2 Samuel 23:1-7, Psalm 132:1-12,  Revelation 1:4b-8, John 18:33-37 2 Samuel 23:1-7: "the last words of David." Handily, David's last words are eloquent and of faith. What do you hope your last words will be? We never can be sure which will be our last. My grandfather's last words were "I love you," and my family all carries the comfort of those words wit us. In verse 3, David talks about a just ruler. Do you think he sees himself that way, or do you think he wishes he could have been more like the description he gives? Unfortunately, the last of his last words are about his enemies being consumed "in fire on the spot." I hope I'm not worrying about enemies on my deathbed. But I guess David was worried about the future of the nation he had rules as a whole. Psalm 132:1-12: This Psalm ties into the Old Testament lesson, a sort of eulogy or prayer for David's soul, perhaps rig

Sermon for Thanksgiving Sunday, "Enough: Defined by Generosity," 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Sermon 11/18/12 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Enough: Defined by Generosity (The structure/content of this sermon is shaped by the book Enough (Stewardship Guide) , by Adam Hamilton, and adapted for use in the context of Liverpool First UMC)             A couple of weeks ago we celebrated All Saints Sunday, and I asked you to share the names of the saints in your life. I was deeply touched by all the names that you brought forward, by this great cloud of witnesses that you lifted up. How truly blessed we are to be so shaped by the people that God has put into our lives for different seasons. I have two saints in my life that I particularly carry in my heart with me. First is my Grandpa, Millard Mudge. Grandpa died fourteen years ago, which seems impossible, so vivid is his memory in my mind. And you’ll hear about him a lot over time, I suspect. But today I particularly want to share with you a bit about my Great Aunt Clara. She died in January after a struggle with lung cancer that

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-Five Sunday after Pentecost

Readings for 25th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/18/12: 1 Samuel 1:4-20, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25, Mark 13:1-8 1 Samuel 1:4-20: "because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb." In a society that valued the fertility of women so highly, Elkanah's treatment of Hannah is particularly sweet. I'm amazed at Hannah's generosity - she prays for a child, but promises to give that child to God. Could you ask for and receive a gift from God, and then turn and offer that gift back to God in thanks? Eli accuses Hannah of being drunk because of her prayer-behavior. The Bible has some interesting examples of people being touched by God and having others accuse them of drinking! I guess that is the dramatic affect God's action in our lives can have. Eli, being set straight about what Hannah is doing, doesn't dismiss her, but acts as an agent between her and God. Do you ever act like Eli for someone seeking to connect to God? 1 S

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for 24th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/11/12: Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17, Psalm 127, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44 Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17 : The 'love story' between Ruth and Boaz has always been one I've enjoyed, but it is really quite a practical tale: Naomi wants to make sure Ruth's well-being is secure. Do you think it must have been hard for Naomi to find a husband for Ruth in place of her own dead son? "uncover his feet" - This is a euphemism for sexual relationship. However, though Ruth makes herself available to Boaz, per Naomi's instructions, Boaz does not apparently take advantage of her. (Check out the verses in between today's sections of text for the rest of the story.) The women congratulate Naomi as if the child of Ruth and Boaz is her blood kin, and as if Naomi was the father of Ruth or at least the father of the baby. The role reversals are somewhat strange in this story! Technically, Ruth's child is  not  Naomi's next-of-k

Sermon for All Saints Sunday, "Enough: Wisdom and Finance," Luke 15:11-24

Sermon 11/4/12 Luke 15:11-24, Proverbs 21:5 & 20 ( Much of the structure for this sermon is suggested in Adam Hamilton's Enough Stewardship Guide, and adapted for use at Liverpool First UMC. )  Enough: Wisdom and Finance             The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most-loved of the parables of Jesus. I’m not sure exactly why that is, except that maybe we all pictures ourselves to be a bit like the prodigal, wandering away from God, making foolish choices, and hoping, and finding that God welcomes us back with joy no matter how foolish we’ve been. Personally, I would admit I am much more like the older brother in the parable than the younger son, and I suspect that is true for a good many of us, especially in the life of the church, but I’ll save all that for another sermon! Today, we’re really only focusing on the first part of the parable, and this younger, prodigal son. Prodigal is one of those words that we use incorrectly so often that most peo