Blessed Assurance
2009-11-11 by Bruce Hoffman

During our Lenten Series of services, our area churches used the hymns of Fanny Crosby as the theme. Each of the preachers was asked to select a Fanny Crosby hymn and a scripture that would relate to the hymn. I chose one the most familiar of Crosby’s many hymns, Blessed Assurance, and the scripture lesson from Hebrews 10:18-25. In verse 22 of this passage, the writer says, “let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” As the opening illustration for that sermon, I told the story of how Crosby wrote that hymn. The year was 1873. Fanny Crosby was visiting her friend Phoebe Knapp at the same time the Knapp home in Brooklyn, New York was having a large pipe organ installed. The organ was not yet ready, so Knapp went over to the piano and played the new melody for the blind poet and hymn writer to hear. "What do you think the tune says?" asked Knapp. Without skipping a beat, Crosby answered, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” And then Crosby went on to write the rest of the words to that beloved hymn, perhaps the most famous of the more than 8,000 hymns she wrote over her lifetime, which extended to nearly 95 years. When we hear the tune to this familiar hymn, obviously the words “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine” come to mind because we have long sung those words to that tune. But imagine hearing the tune for the first time, as Fanny Crosby did that day in the Knapp home. Imagine, as she must have done, connecting the melody line with the deep faith that she had in Jesus, in the blessed assurance of his salvation. Imagine, as she composed the words and thought about the blessed assurance she had received and would continue to receive from her Savior Jesus Christ.

 





Stephen Schuette; "Lectionary Homiletics" Highlight
2009-11-11 by David von Schlichten

Scroll down to read Stephen Schuette's reflection on his sermon this past Sunday. It is quite moving. Thank you, Stephen, for sharing a painful experience and how you responded to it.

"Theological Themes"

In Lectionary Homiletics, Luke Bouman writes that, rather than fixating on the logistics of the endtimes, a better way to respond to Mark's little apocalypse is to evaluate our priorities. Do we invest our worth and trust in buildings or Christ?

I don't know what I'm preaching on this Sunday. At the moment, I'm going through a bout of, "I'm a failure as a pastor, and I want to quit yesterday." Indeed, someday I will leave the ministry, at least parish ministry. I just don't have what it takes. I am working on a PhD in English; as soon as I can get a job teaching college, I will leave the parish.

Maybe there's a sermon in that. Perhaps I'm being torn down and rebuilt?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





...In Light of Circumstances
2009-11-09 by Stephen Schuette

In light of circumstances I rethought the sermon when we discovered the Church had been burglarized Thursday night and the communion chalice and plate were among the items missing.  Beyond that it was simply replaceable electronic stuff.  While acknowledging the loss I tried to move forward with radical faith with the widow and her "mite" as the example.  I spoke about the loss of the entire temple in 70 AD, probably known to Mark as he wrote, and how the followers of Jesus affirmed that the presence of God was not in the temple but in Jesus himself, and that this continued to be a living presence which no one could take from them.  While those with long robes were probably no where to be found after the loss, my hunch is that the widow was still there.  While the congregation continues to be disturbed by the event many said they found the sermon reassuring.



Post-Sermon Reflection
2009-11-08 by David von Schlichten

I didn't receive much feedback on the sermon. Such is often the case, isn't it? How can we elicit feedback on sermons?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlight
2009-11-04 by David von Schlichten

"Sermon Reviews"

Audrey Schindler summarizes "The One to Watch" by Barbara Brown Taylor. Taylor notes the similarities between the poor widow and Jesus: Both give their all. Taylor also notes that Jesus points out a person whom most people at the Temple were overlooking.

This idea of Jesus noticing the overlooked is probably the focus I will give Sunday's sermon.

Then again, last night one of my parishioners died suddenly, leaving behind his wife of 60-plus years. Last night in the ER she sat in a wheelchair, barely able to hear and see because of her health, shocked over the death of her beloved, newly widowed . . .





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