Sermon Ideas for October 16, 2011
2011-10-12 by David von Schlichten

Here are some sermon ideas that my Wednesday morning Bible study and I came up with.

Isaiah 45: Cyrus is chosen by God despite not knowing God. You and I can be chosen. Anyone can be chosen. Even "evil" people and--gasp!-- atheists can be chosen. Cyrus is a biblical hero, and anyone else can be, too.

1 Thessalonians 1: Be a model of Christian living for others to imitate.

1 Thessalonians 1 also warns of the wrath that is coming. My Bible study ladies loved that. Why do so many people get all revved up about wrath? I imagine it's because they want all the "bad" people to get what's coming to them.

Some folks also seem to gravitate toward the idea that God is forever their scolding parent. One of my Bible study participants, especially, repeatedly talks about how God is reprimanding her or teaching her a lesson. What's that about, and how do we respond to that homiletically?

Matthew 2:15-22: Get your priorities straight. Pay your taxes, but put God first. This last point is easier said than done, of course. We have many things competing for our attention, and we often can't just simply ignore them. We have to attend to numerous issues. How, in the process, do we put God first?

Here's something else: Martin Luther talks about two-kingdoms theory. There is the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God. Christians need to be in both, but, of course, the kingdom of God takes priority.

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or to submit your post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 

Initial Thoughts for October 16,2011
2011-10-09 by David von Schlichten

Exodus 33: God will reveal God's glory to Moses. Where and how do we encounter God's glory? Do we ever see God's face?

Isaiah 45:1-7: God is able to use Cyrus to be his Anointed, his Messiah, even though Cyrus is not a believer. Amazing! What nonbelievers does God use today for good? Who are messiahs (not THE Messiah) today?

Are you and I messiahs? We are, after all (many of us), anointed with oil at baptism. Is ordination also an anointing?

Psalm 96: All creation rejoices. Remember that the next time you want to squash a spider.

1 Thessalonians 1: We are to be models, examples to others of the Christian life.

Matthew 22:15-22: Give to the emperor what is the emperor's and to God what is God's. Is this passage telling us to pay our taxes but always to put God first? Do we have a passage about Christians being in two kingdoms and needing to honor both? However, when we have to choose, we always choose God over an earthly kingdom. Sometimes we may need to embrace a strategy such as civil disobedience.

What do you think? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 

Sermon Ideas for October 9, 2011
2011-10-05 by David von Schlichten

NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY: It was announced today that Dan Schechtman will receive this prize for his discovery of quasicrystals, which he made back in 1982. The scientific community mocked him, but it turned out that he was right.

Likewise, we Christians often are mocked or alienated, but we need to persevere. As it says in Isaiah 25, eventually God will wipe every tear from our eyes. In the meantime, (to draw from Philippians 4) we are to keep rejoicing and doing the work of God the Shepherd (to borrow from Psalm 23). 

Philippians 4: Euodia and Syntyche are fighting, and Paul calls for the Church to work for a resolution. These two disagree, and Paul wants them to work out their differences.

Likewise, we are to work together despite our differences. We disagree on many issues. How can we get along despite our disagreement?

The passage also lifts up women in crucial positions in the early Church.

REJOICE: What does it mean to rejoice in all things? How do we have a rejoice-orientation?

MATTTHEW 22: So, if you're the person at the wedding banquet caught without a wedding garment, and the king confronts you, how will you respond? I'm thinking about a sermon in which I invite people to consider how they would respond. What if we responded by saying, "You're right. I'm not wearing a wedding garment. Please forgive me and clothe me."?

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication. I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Initial Thoughts for October 9, 2011
2011-10-02 by David von Schlichten

Nobel Week: This week (starting October 3), we have the Nobel Prizes being announced. A laureate's work might inspire a sermon illustration. The peace prize-winner is especially likely to do this, so keep your eye on the news.

Columbus Day: This is a day of celebrating a major discovery, but it is also a day of mourning how people exploit each other. We have, then, a good opportunity to remind Christians to unother one another.

Exodus 32: The golden calf. What idols do we have? Besides the usual (money, fame, power, sex).

This story also shows Moses changing God's mind. Is it really possible for us to change God's mind? Do we have any recent examples of this? How do we preach this idea that prayer can change God?

Psalm 23: This is a psalm that people think they know so well that it tends to glide right over them. How do we keep that from happening?

Philippians: This passage has the promise of the ultimate peace and exhorts us to give thanks and rejoice no matter what. That's easier said than done. How do we proclaim such a message in a way that will sound real to hearers and not like naive preacher-talk?

We also don't want to suggest that people are not allowed to be upset. The Bible makes it clear that humans may experience all their emotions. How does one do that and still rejoice?

Matthew 22: What excuses do we make to avoid the banquet? Note that the good AND the bad are invited. What is the wedding robe, and how do we make sure that we are wearing it?

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator


Sermon Ideas for October 2, 2011
2011-09-29 by David von Schlichten

The feast of St. Francis is coming up, so this might be a good opportunity to reflect on his life. It may also be a good opportunity to talk about respect for nature.

Speaking of respect for nature, stewardship is a "popular" fall theme, so you may want to preach on stewardship in a way that gets people thinking beyond money, such as by preaching on the idea of being stewards of creation.

Exodus 20: The Decalogue. People get caught up in thinking of these as rigid rules instead of as guiding principles. One could preach about helping people break from the self-justifying, legalistic, reductive "thou-shalt-not mindset that often paralyzes the Church.

Isaiah 5: The Song of the Vineyard. One could preach on how the passage warns against straying from God without preaching that, for instance, God has turned his back on America because of gay marriage or teaching evolution or whatever. How do we preach about God's wrath on this side of the resurrection? 

Psalm 80 is a cry for help, a plea for God to stop being angry and rescue us.

Philippians 3: All those resume credentials we boast about amount to zip without Christ. Regard it all as dog poopie and cling to Christ. Granted, our accomplishments do matter, but they are not to interfere with our relationship with Christ.

Matthew 21: In what ways do we, the religious insiders, kill the heir, crucify Christ? Remember that this passage is a warning to the insiders, us.

There is a lot of wrath and judgment in these passages. It is important for us also to proclaim God's loving mercy, because that aspect of God is paramount to who God is. One way we can do that is by preaching about how God forgives us when we repent and about how God helps us to be fruitful vine-members.

Through holy communion, for instance, we drink from the vine that which enables us, members of the vineyard, to bear good fruit. How else does God enable us to bear good fruit?

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me or to submit a post for publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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