Getting Out of My Own Way
2009-12-01 by Stephen Schuette

At the close of our weekly lectionary gathering my friend said he was going golfing today.  My silent benediction to him:  may your crooked be straight and your rough places smooth!

But let’s press deeper.  With the readings of the previous few weeks still ringing in our ears – the questioning between Jesus and Pilate, the apocalyptic upheavals – you can’t just receive Luke’s introduction to Chapter 3 as historical context.   You have to hear it as irony that amid all the powerful people, the who’s who of the day, those featured on Oprah, the Word of God came to some guy named John, the son of Zechariah (by the way, the ruler of nothing – sometimes you are meant to hear what’s missing).

Reminds me vaguely of a couple sneaking past all the security of the United States Government.  Right under your noses something that will change the world is unfolding and most of you don’t even know it.  As one of my teachers would remind us students, in scripture you have to pay attention to the minority report.  Remember the theme song of Jesus Christ, Superstar, also full of irony?

And as was inferred last week this is creation being redone, made new.  The hills and valleys that have stood since the beginning of time, that have seen other empires come and go, they’re going to be moved by that very force that created them in the first place.  This is at once concentrated and specific and huge and cosmological!  What an opening to a story!

And people will be changed.  It will transform everything.  People like Paul will be able to give thanks in prison.  The covenant of old will finally be fulfilled, in the words of Malachi.

The trouble is there’s something standing in the way.  And it’s not the Emperor Tiberius or Pontius Pilate or Herod.  God can move past all them, no problem.  The one standing in the way of my own transformation, my own participation in this new creative movement is me.  Oh yea, advent is a season of penitence, right?

Post-Sermon Reflection
2009-11-29 by David von Schlichten

My sermon this morning was a monologue by Satan, which is the first of a four-part series of monologues entitled, "Voices of Christ's Coming." Satan expresses frustration that, while he is able to achieve short-term success, in the long run God always foils his efforts. Satan acknowledges that his days are numbered, because the Second Coming will mean his annihilation. In the meantime, he tries to have as much fun ruining lives as possible.

The early service worshippers said little about the sermon, but the late service worshippers had many positive comments. My early service folks tend to be quieter with feedback. I don't know if that's because they are not quite awake or if they are quiet about feedback for some other reason.

Next Sunday's monologue: John.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten

Advent Preaching
2009-11-27 by David Howell

James Howell is sharing with us how he prepares for Advent preaching. Wonderful ideas!

You can even send him a question.

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James Howell's Preaching Journal

Happy Thanksgiving!
2009-11-26 by Jacqueline King

 Happy Thanksgiving!!! Every year I look forward to the season of delicious food, family, a game of cards, and a long nap during the football game before our family congregates to eat again.Thanksgiving is so part of the American experience. Of course every year there seems to be a battle between Halloween and Christmas since Christmas trumps Thanksgiving as soon as Halloween is over. Who knows it may be a matter of time when Christmas trumps Halloween too! But today Thanksgiving is a reminder for me to be living a life of Thanks (what I like to simply call Thanksliving). The holiday challenges me to give thanks in all things (I Thessalonians 5:18). Normally I tend to not mix religion and politics, but today I thought it be appropriate to repost George Washington’s original Thanksgiving Proclamation (as given to me by the Euliss Consulting Group):"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best."

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.                                                                                  -George Washington
Thanksgiving is not just a day of Turkey and Football, but shared memories with loved ones and service for the common good. May we never lose sight of this vision. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)Have a Happy, Inspiring, and Safe Thanksgiving!

"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlight; Jacqueline King; Satan; Squirrels
2009-11-25 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Jacqueline King for her posts so far. It's delightful to hear her be so enthusiastic about her calling. Scroll down to read her thoughts about the apocalypse and the new Church year. Among other things, she reminds us of the importance of a both/and paradigm when thinking about God, the End, and our lives. Many in the pew think in either/or terms, but the Good News has a both/and hue.

Lectionary Homiletics Highlight:

Luke Bouman suggests in "Theological Themes" that, although Luke writes that Christ's followers will "escape" the horrors of the end, what Christ really means is that we will proclaim and embody God's life-giving love in the midst of the horrors and trials. After all, through Luke and Acts, the followers of Christ face many hardships. They do not "escape" so much as they proclaim God in the face of death.

This Sunday, I am starting a four-part series called "The Voices of Christ's Comings." Each Sunday will feature a different "character." This Sunday's sermon is entitled, "Satan" and will be a monologue in which Satan explains how he uses panic about the End to distract people from seeing God's loving activity in the world.

Finally, here is a poem I posted on the "Poems" site under Share It!. I include the poem here because it is relevant to the lessons.

Squirrel Eschatology

Silver bullet streaks

From tree to tree, furry blur

Making my heart wag.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving of savory gravy-gratitude, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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