Initial Thoughts for August 28, 2011
2011-08-22 by David von Schlichten

Exodus 3: The burning bush! I AM! What a text. Have you ever seen a burning bush? I'll bet you have. The world is full of them. When you see a burning bush, do you remove your shoes? Do I? 

What does it mean that God is who God is, will be who God will be. That's tautalogical. Or is it?

Jeremiah 15:15-21: God is so hard on Jeremiah. Jeremiah feels the hand of God upon him and also feels like God is unfaithful. God says that, if Jeremiah repents, God will take him back so that Jeremiah can continue to proclaim God's difficult message. Thanks, God. At least God promises to give Jeremiah strength against persecution.

Romans 12:9-21: This text is full of liberating challenges. Where to begin? The exhortation against vengeance is a smart place to start given how much we humans love Schadenfreude and revenge. As we draw nearer to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it behooves us to relearn, "Overcome evil with good." Such an orientation is not only better for our "enemies" but is better for ourselves.

Matthew 16:21-28: When are we Satan interfering with Jesus? Who is Satan to us? How does God empower us to shove Satan behind us?

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

Looking forward to back-to-school, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Sermon Ideas for August 21, 2011
2011-08-18 by David von Schlichten

Exodus 1 and 2: Enslavement can last a long time. It may seem that God is not hearing us. God did eventually send Moses. What Moses does God send to us? Are you ever a Moses?

Isaiah 51:1-6: God gives us a rock-foundation and enables us to flourish. Salvation is forever. No matter how bleak the world may seem, God is with us, future, past, and present. What wilderness or exile are you in? How does God lead you out?

Psalm 138: I will praise you, God, with my whole heart. Whole-hearted praise! There's a sermon topic.

Psalm 124: We praise God for rescuing us. How has God rescued us, and how do we show our gratitude?

Romans 12:1-8: Your body is a living sacrifice, not in order to earn God's mercy, but because you have received God's mercy.

We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds is not a self-help, Osteen-ossifying sentiment, but is a statement about transformation that is made possible because of, not us, but God. This transformation is not self-help. It is theocentric-help.

Matthew 16:13-20: When are we in Caesarea Philippi? This district was known for paganism, yet here we have this declaration of faith in Christ.

How are we rock-like (because of God), and how does God enable us to smash the gates of Hades (death, paganism, evil)?

The keys to the kingdom empower us to bind and loose. What we do affects what happens in heaven. Amazing! In what particular ways do the binding and loosing appear in our lives?

What ideas do you have? Feel free to email them to me or to submit them to be published here.

Getting ready to resume teaching, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Initial Thoughts for August 21, 2011
2011-08-15 by David von Schlichten

Exodus: We have the beginning of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. God is our liberator. How does God liberate us? How do we function as Moses, the Israelites, Pharaoh? How does God use us to liberate others?

Isaiah 51: God as rock. God leading us home, restoring us. What kind of rock is God? What kind of rock are we because of God? 

Romans: We are to make our bodies a living sacrifice. We are not to conform to this world. God gives us gifts that we are to use for the good of others. How are we to be a living sacrifice?

 Note that we are not to sacrifice ourselves in order to earn a place in heaven; we have a place in heaven because of Christ, not because of us.

Also, sacrificing the self does not mean that we deny all our needs. We must care for ourselves and allow others to care fo us. Self-sacrifice does not require self-abnegation.

Matthew: The confession at Cesarea Philippi. When are we at that place? When are we Peter? What does it mean to have the keys? When should we bind? Loose?

The gates of Hades shall not prevail. Think about that. We are attacking the gates of Hades, and they are collapsing. Satan is running for cover!

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

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Sermon Ideas for August 14, 2011; Theoptimism
2011-08-12 by David von Schlichten

Evangelism and Ecumenism: Scroll down to read a compelling question that a reader asked and a response from Dee Dee Haines (Great to see you on here, Dee Dee!).

My response to the question is to say that we are to be open to opportunities to bring people to Christ but are also to keep in mind the broader sense of evangelism, which includes sharing the love of Christ without trying to convert people. The word "evangelism" comes from the Greek for "Good News." The Spirit calls us to share the Good News in whatever way is appropriate, and we are always to keep uppermost in our hearts and actions the call to love one another as Christ has loved us.

So then, can giving food to an atheist as an act of Christian compassion be an act of evangelism, even if we don't try to convert the atheist? Sure it can.

Those are my two coins. Let's move on to other sermon ideas.

Isaiah 56: The castrated and foreigner are welcome to receive God's blessing. Whom among the foreign or physically/mentally disabled do we tend to exclude?

Romans 11: Israel's disobedience is part of the plan! One point that comes to my mind is that, when we are getting discouraged about people's rejection of Christ, we should be patient and not despair. Who knows what all is part of God's plan? We do know that God is often more in charge than we think God is.

I'm not trying to encourage complacency. I am just saying that we have good reason to be theoptimistic.

By the way, you should hear how pessimistic my Bible study attendees can sound. I wish I were better at helping them to see that, because of God, life is, not perfect (there are many problems), but ever hopeful.

Matthew 15: What comes out of the mouth defiles. That teaching does NOT mean that it doesn't matter what we put into our mouths. What the teaching does mean is that getting hung up on ritual to the exclusion of the larger points is, well, silly at best, deadly at worst.

JESUS AND THE CANAANITE WOMAN: Some have suggested that Jesus actually learns  from the woman. This story is reminiscent of Old Testament stories of a human changing God's mind. Part of Jesus' wisdom is that he is open to changing his mind.

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

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

2011-08-11 by Dee Dee Haines

If we begin by considering the core evangelical practices of Jesus (welcome & hospitality, table fellowship, mercy & compassion, forgiveness & reconciliation, acts of justice) and use these practices as the context for dialogue with the texts and our own stories, the voice of ecumenism not only shines through, but begs to be heard.  I am wondering what treasures we might find if are we are able to ground our own stories in those same evangelical practices.  Perhaps we would be better able to see the rootedness of faith that speaks to all that connects us, rather than those things that divide.  For me, the spirit of the text invites us to consider what we mean when we speak of evangelism---and to broaden our understanding of what it means to bear witness to Jesus in the world.  Maybe we can only do that by “reaching.” 

Dee Dee Haines

Isle of Man



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