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Showing posts from March, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A

Readings for 4th Sunday in Lent, 3/30/14: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41 1 Samuel 16:1-13: This is a classic story of God calling an unexpected person. David seems to be the last choice of all the brothers - except to God. "how long will you grieve?" God asks Samuel. Sometimes we can get bogged down in bad decisions, plans gone wrong, etc., that distract us from following God. God says - Get on with it. There are other plans. Other ways I can work. You just have to keep moving, keep being open to God's creativity. "for the Lord does not see as mortals see" - THANK GOD for that!!! God sees insides, not outsides. God sees potential, not past. Psalm 23: Ah, perhaps the one passage of scripture that most people, regardless of their usual preference of translation, prefer to hear in the poetry of the King James version, myself included. Just a part of our identity as people of faith. "I shall not want." Hmm. I think we

Sermon, "24 Hours that Changed the World: Condemned by the Righteous," Mark 14:53-55, 60-72

Sermon 3/23/2014 Mark 14:53-55, 60-72 24 Hours that Changed the World: Condemned by the Righteous             We continue, today, following Jesus through the last 24 hours of his life on earth, 24 hours that changed the world. First, we started with the Last Supper. Last week, we spent time with Jesus, Peter, James, and John, in the garden, as Jesus anguished. Now, we find Jesus arrested, having been betrayed by Judas. He’s brought to trial by the Sanhedrin. Meanwhile, Peter, confronted about his association with Jesus, denies, three times, ever knowing Jesus, just as Jesus told him he would.             The Sanhedrin was a body of the religious leaders in Jerusalem who were appointed to judge in disputes among the people. Their origins trace back to the days of Moses, when Moses found he alone could not judge in all the matters that came before him. Sanhedrin means literally “sit together.” They were the ones who could try the king, extend the boundaries of the Temple a

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday in Lent, Year A

Readings for Third Sunday in Lent, 3/23/14: Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42 Exodus 17:1-7 "wilderness of Sin" - great image. Human nature is so perfectly exhibited by the Israelites, isn't it? We tend to find things to gripe about no matter what is going on in our lives. "They are almost ready to stone me," Moses admits. Perhaps pastors sometimes feel that way when trying to lead congregations out of the wilderness and into the vision which God has laid before the people. How can we get over our griping, count our blessings, and forge ahead? The name, Massah and Meribah, is summed up as indicating the question of the people, "Is the Lord among us or not?" Hopefully, that should be a rhetorical question: the answer is yes. And if God is among the people, then the people should respond, live, with faith. Psalm 95: This is a good call-to-worship psalm - that's what it is, in part. Note the switch in voice between verse

Sermon, "24 Hours that Changed the World: The Garden," Mark 14:32-42

Sermon 3/16/2014 Mark 14:32-42 24 Hours that Changed the World: The Garden We’re continuing today with our Lenten series examining 24 hours that changed the world, as we study in depth the 24 hours before Jesus’ death on a cross. Last week we looked at the Last Supper, and thought about how we are Christ’s body in the world, how we say yes, again and again, to God’s offer of covenant with us. Today, we turn to what happened after the meal. After the meal, Jesus and his disciples go to the Mount of Olives, and sing hymns, as was customary. And there Jesus tells the disciples that they will all soon desert him. They all protest, Peter in particular, but Jesus tells Peter that Peter specifically will soon deny Jesus, multiple times. And then they all go to a place called Gethsemane, a place that meant “Olive Press,” named for a place to process the olives from the olive trees of the region into olive oil. And there, among the olive trees, Jesus takes Peter and James and Joh

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday in Lent, Year A

Readings for Second Sunday in Lent, 3/16/14: Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, Romans 4:1-5, 13-17, John 3:1-17 Genesis 12:1-4a : "So Abram went" - ah, I can't imagine just up and going like Abram did. What courage he must have had. Why did he go? God laid out a vision and a promise to him, which Abram found compelling enough to take risks for. As a church, perhaps that is also what we need to do: lay out a compelling vision for where we are going. Then, perhaps, people will have the courage to go with us as we seek to follow God. "I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse." Not sure how I feel about this. But God is protecting God's promise here, however you look at it. Protecting the vision God wants to see come into fullness. Psalm 121: "I lift up my eyes to the hills." This is one of the best known psalms, next to the 23rd. Indeed, just hearing the first line makes me want to chime in with the rest. I find i

Sermon, "24 Hours that Changed the World: The Last Supper," Mark 14:12, 22-25

Sermon 3/9/2014  Mark 14:12, 22-25 24 Hours that Changed the World: The Last Supper             Normally, liturgically speaking, I don’t enjoy doing things out of their proper season. We’re always in such rush in this world, barely enjoying what we’re actually doing before we want to move on to the next thing. Hurry, hurry, hurry. So I don’t like to sing Christmas Carols during Advent, and I cringe when my colleagues move the day of Pentecost around to better suit their church calendars. But this Lent, we’re doing the exact same sort of thing here at Liverpool First, and I think it’s a great idea! Normally, in Lent, we’d be dealing each week with themes that prepared us, eventually, for Holy Week and Easter – Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the anointing of Jesus’ feet, the raising of Lazarus, Jesus’ late night conversation with Nicodemus. These passages are indeed great preparation in the season of Lent, a season of reflection and honest repentance, as we seek dili

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday in Lent, Year A

Readings for First Sunday in Lent, 3/9/14: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7, Psalm 32, Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11 Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 : I love the story-telling quality of this text. Growing up, going to  Camp Aldersgate , the then-director Rick Stackpole used to tell this story about the creation of the world, about how the turtle had to swim to the bottom of the water to pick up sand to make the land. I loved those stories, and loved camp, and was shaped by experiences there. So then, I read this story, with phrases like, "now the serpent was more crafty than any other," and I can just hear the intonation of a story-teller sharing this with people thousands of years ago. And no doubt, as we have it to read today, this story shaped the people, and their faith, as they sought to understand God at work in their world. For other great creations stories, check out two of my favorite C.S. Lewis books:  The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew  and from the space tri

Sermon, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Disciples: Committed," Mark 8:27-38

Sermon 3/2/2014 Mark 8:27-38 Seven Habits of Highly Effective Disciples: Committed “As members of the body of Christ and in this congregation of The United Methodist Church, we will faithfully participate in the ministries of the church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness, that in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” Today, we finally come to the close of our sermon series on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Disciples. We started out talking about our purpose: what is the purpose of our life? Our church? What’s our life’s mission statement? Our thesis? And then, we spent several weeks figuring out how our life would give supporting evidence that proves our thesis. How do we prove our purpose – and in the collective sense our denomination says our purpose is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – how do we prove our thesis in our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our w