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Showing posts from November, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Advent 1, Year B

Readings for First Sunday of Advent, 11/30/14: Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37 Isaiah 64:1-9: "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence" - Do you ever get so frustrated with the way of the world that you want to call on God to break into the scene and rile things up? I don't blame Isaiah's call. Its just that God hardly ever comes in the ways we're expecting! Isaiah realizes this too, God's unexpected ways: "when you did awesome deeds that we did not expect" he says in v. 3 - what do you expect from God? Do you expect the unexpected? "consider, we are all your people." Isaiah is pleading a case here. He realizes people haven't done much for God that would make someone want to stick around and continue being neglected. But remember, Isaiah reminds God, we're yours! I

Lectionary Notes for Reign of Christ Sunday, Year A

Readings for Reign of Christ Sunday, 11/23/14: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, Psalm 100, Ephesians 1:15-23, Matthew 25:31-46 Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24: This is a great passage, and goes so well with the gospel lesson for today. What vivid images of God as our shepherd! God's preference is clear: "I will see the lost . . . I will strengthen the weak," and "the fat and the strong I will destroy." Which kind of sheep are you?  Compare this to Jesus' teachings about who he came to serve. I will feed them with justice." What does it mean to be fed with justice? How do you feed your life with justice? Does working for God's justice in the world fill you up?   Psalm 100: "It is God that made us, and we are [God's]; we are [God's] people, and the sheep of [God's] pasture." Again, imagery of being sheep in God's fold. We  belong  to God. We humans have a great need to belong. The best we can belong to is God. "Worship t

Sermon for Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday, Year A, "Giving Thanks: Sighted," Matthew 25:31-46

Sermon 11/16/14 Matthew 25:31-46 Giving Thanks: Sighted Today we continue on in Matthew’s gospel, immediately following the Parable of the Talents we talked about last Sunday, and we arrive at what we call the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. It is another one that is probably familiar to you, and it is Jesus’ last parable, last major segment of teaching in the gospel of Matthew. After this, things rapidly move toward the passion and crucifixion. So in this last parable, Jesus tells about a future time of judgment when the Son of Man will gather all people before him and separate them like you might sort sheep and goats in a flock. “Son of Man” is a term used by Jesus to refer to himself which means kind of like “the human of humans.” So Jesus, Son of Man, king, will sort the people into two groups. To the sheep on his right, he’ll say that they are blessed and can inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world. And they receive this

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 28, Ordinary 33)

Readings for 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, 11/16/14: Judges 4:1-7, Psalm 123, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30 Judges 4:1-7: "Deborah, a prophetess" I think those words in themselves are pretty powerful. In a set of scriptures that certainly doesn't  focus  on women, it's great to find and lift out stories of strong women leaders in the Bible, the Old Testament even! Not only is Deborah a prophetess, but she's also a type of military leader here. She may not physically fight in the battles, but she is making decisions about the armies and where they will go. The Israelites cry out because they are oppressed, and God moves to respond, in perhaps unexpected and unusual ways. God responds to our cries for help. We have to look and see who God might use and how God might use them/us to respond to oppression.  Psalm 123: We look to God like those under another's authority look to their authority (master, mistress.) How do these images translate to

Sermon for Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "Giving Thanks: Talented," Matthew 25:14-30 (Proper 28, Ordinary 33)

I skipped a little ahead in the lectionary for the purposes of our "Giving Thanks" theme - so here's a sermon for this Sunday upcoming's text.  Sermon 11/9/14 Matthew 25:14-30 Giving Thanks: Talented I hope you’ve all been counting your blessings each day, as we focus on our theme of Giving Thanks this month at Apple Valley. I've been enjoying the discipline of looking back over my day and finding the joyful moments. I’ll admit to you that there are days when it isn’t easy, when the blessings come less quickly to mind than others. I know I’m blessed. But some days I feel like I could more quickly make a list of things that went wrong: I lost a treasured necklace. My mom’s car wouldn’t start. That bill was four times as much as my brother was expecting it to be. We all have days like that. As I talked about with the children today, one of the best things we can do when we’re having trouble counting our blessings is to figure out how we can offer a blessing

Hunger Ministry Resource for Local Churches

Like many churches will at this time of year, Apple Valley United Methodist Church is participating in a food drive to support our local food pantry, the Navarino Community Food Pantry , which we house at the church. Along with a list of items particularly needed by the pantry, I wanted to include some bible verses, United Methodist Social Principles, reflection questions, and action ideas that would help give a little depth to what could otherwise be just comforting charitable giving. Many of you know that my Doctor of Ministry project focused on helping congregations ground their outreach ministry in justice, rather than charity. I put this document together rather quickly, and could have done more/better with it. Nonetheless, it's a start, and if you'd find it useful in your setting, you are welcome to use and adapt it (and add to it!)  Food Drive Shopping List, Hunger Facts, and Reflection/Action Ideas

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 27, Ordinary 32)

Readings for 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 27, Ordinary 32, 11/9/14: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25, Psalm 78:1-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13 Joshua  24:1-3a, 14-25 This passage is sort of an inauguration scene for leadership in the community. V. 15: "choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua puts it in their hands - serving is a choice. Who will you serve? We can serve lots of people/things/gods these days. What choice have you made? How can others see you choice by your actions? Joshua spends the rest of the passage trying to convince the people not to follow God because of how costly it will be and how demanding it will be. In a great reverse-psychology sort of way, this only gets the people begging, pleading to serve God. Wouldn't that be a great tool of evangelism? Telling people not to be Christians because it is too hard? Jesus, of course, sometimes uses these strategies in the gospel