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Showing posts from February, 2015

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday in Lent, Year B

Readings for Second Sunday in Lent, 3/1/15: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38 Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16:   This text ties directly with the Romans passage for today - it is the text Paul is speaking about in his argument. God comes to Abram when he is 99. We should be reminded that we are never beyond the point in life where God can and wants to use us and guide us. There is no retirement from discipleship! Often in the Bible, God changes someone's name as a sign of God's promise to them. Do you have nicknames that are meaningful to you because of what they symbolize? If you chose a name for yourself based on God's work with/in you, what would it be? Psalm 22:23-31:   We see this Psalm again in its entirety soon - a Good Friday Psalm. Today, our focus on on a specific section, not the "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" section we usually associate with this Psalm. This section is the conclusion of the Psalm

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday in Lent, Year B

Readings for First Sunday in Lent, 2/22/15:  Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15 Genesis 9:8-17: One of God's first covenants established with God's people - never again to destroy the earth and its people as God did in the flood. What other covenants does God make with humans? Have you ever made a personal covenant with God? Have you kept your part of the promise? Has God? The rainbow is a symbol of a promise. Symbols are important reminders of promise - we use rings, for example, as symbols of promises made in marriage. What symbols are important reminders in your own life?  Have you seen many rainbows? When I see them, I am always filled with joy, they are so rare and precious. How do they make you feel? Do you remember God's promise when you see them? Psalm  25:1-10: The psalmist mentions shame several times - his shame, the shame of those obedient to God, shame he hopes is put on others by God. Shame is a powerful emotion, a powerf

Lectionary Notes for Ash Wednesday

Readings for Ash Wednesday, 2/18/15: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, Psalm 51:1-17, 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Joel 2:1-2, 12-17: "Rend your hearts and not your clothing." This verse ties into Psalm 51's theme: it is our heart, our inside, our soul that God wants us to worry about most - not sacrifices, not outward signs. (theme of the gospel as well) Inside, not outside. "[God] is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing." I like these descriptions, especially in the midst of the Old Testament, which can have a different image of God. "Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast." Joel urges the people to gather together, to plead to God as a community for forgiveness. When do we do that? Gather as a community and ask God to have mercy on us? Psalm 51:1-17: Ah, a favorite psalm. And like Joel, an element of confession. This psal

Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday, "A New Name: Back to Beloved," Mark 9:2-9

Sermon 2/15/15 Mark 9:2-9 A New Name: Back to Beloved Today we’re drawing our “A New Name” series to a close, and as the title of the sermon suggests, we’re looking again at a name that we started our series with: Beloved. Way back at the beginning of this series, I told you through my surrogate preachers Liz and Tim and Bev and Laura, that I’ve been wanting to do this series for a while. We are a body made up of people and resources from South Onondaga and Navarino and Cardiff and Cedarville. But as much as those places shaped us deeply, we’re this new thing: Apple Valley. For the children of this congregation, for those who have come to this congregation in recent years, for those who are and will become a part of this congregation, the only church they know is Apple Valley, this new creation God has formed. We treasure our history, the legacy of the congregations that birthed this one, but we also treasure this new name, this new creation that God is making. So we began

Lectionary Notes for Transfiguration Sunday, Year B

Readings for Transfiguration Sunday, 2/15/15: 2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9   2 Kings 2:1-12: Aside from the tongue-twisting of an Elisha/Elijah-packed reading, I like this selection - it is a transitioning of leadership - one who is leaving literally passing on the mantle to one who is stepping up afterward. In part, this was the theme of Rev. Safiya Fosua of the  General Board of Discipleship  as she preached at our ordination service at  Annual Conference  some years ago. She talked about how we need to step up in support when we have those in our midst who are called, even though they need to own their own calls as well. Who can you support who is being called? Especially look out for young people who are hearing God's voice, who may not have many avenues of affirmation coming their way. "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." When asked what he wants from Elijah, this is how Elisha responds. Sometimes we'r

Sermon, "A New Name: Simon Peter," Matthew 16:13-26

Sermon 2/8/15 Matthew 16:13-26 A New Name: Simon Peter             Today we’re taking a look at Simon Peter, one of the twelve disciples, one who was called a different name by Jesus himself. We pick up in the gospel of Matthew, just after Jesus has been warning the disciples against the corrupt teaching of the Sadducees and Pharisees, two groups of religious leader who were always questioning Jesus, his methods, and his authority. Now, as they enter Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” He seems to want a sense of what his reputation is, how people understand the ministry he’s been doing. They tell him that some are calling him John the Baptist, and some Elijah, others Jeremiah, or another of the prophets. And then Jesus is more direct: “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responds, clearly pleased – Peter has it right. Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon

Lectionary Notes for 5th Sunday after Epiphany, Year B (Ordinary 5)

Readings for 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/8:15 : Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 147:1-11, 20c, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, Mark 1:29-39 Isaiah 40:21-31: "have you not known? have you not heard? has it not been told you from the beginning? have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?" - Isaiah seems to be saying, " Don't you get it yet? " How many times do we need to hear about God's love and grace before we finally believe it? "like grasshoppers" When I was in junior high, I used to have a "map" of the universe with a little arrow pointing to earth, which said, "you are here." It reminded me of how very very small we are in the scheme of things. I found it quite overwhelming - took it down eventually. But we can remember - we are so small - and yet - God knows us by name. "calling them all by name" - I'm always nervous, as a pastor, that I will forget names of people I'm supposed to remember. Names

Sermon, "A New Name: Saul --> Paul," Acts 9:1-22

Sermon 2/1/15 Acts 9:1-22 A New Name: Saul -->  Paul Have you ever known someone who started going by a different name? They were always called one thing, but they started going by another name? Or maybe you have changed what you are called, over time. Sometimes this is something that just seems to happen, and other times it’s a deliberate choice. Some of you met one of my three brothers, Tim, on Christmas Eve. Tim is Timothy Jon, and so most of his childhood, we called him Tj. But at some point, he started going by Tim instead. It was a hard change to get used to, after referring to him as Tj for so long. Over the years, Tim has become comfortable switching back and forth – Tim or Tj – especially for family. But if he introduces himself, I’m betting he’ll tell you he’s “Tim.” Or, there’s my older brother Jim. He’s married to Jennifer, and when they got married, Jim decided to take Jennifer’s last name. Jim is Jim Thompson, not Jim Quick. There were a few reasons for