David von Schlichten's Sermon
2007-10-05 by David Howell

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Harsh honesty
2007-10-05 by Rick Brand

Somewhere along the way of World Wide Communion, and the longing for home and Psalm 137 there has to be a facing of the deep desire in all of us for revenge. The Psalm speaks volumes about our duty to be honest and clear in what we want from God. Dash the heads of their babies on the rocks because they did it to us.  Maybe at the table we can understand that God was willing to be dashed upon the Cross so that we no longer had to dash the babies of our enemies upon the rocks. The memories of home are as much a part of that Psalm as the prayer for revenge. All of it is lifted up in prayer.   It seems to me that we are too polite in much of our worship. This psalm has all kinds of passions and emotions.





Sunday's Coming
2007-10-05 by Jim Somerville

As David Von Schlichten put it yesterday, “The sermon is slow growing this week, but there’s time.  The Holy Spirit provides.” Yes, David, the Holy Spirit does provide, but there’s less time today than there was yesterday. The old saying, “It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming!” has a whole different meaning for preachers. Thank God for Saturday, I say instead, and sometimes even that’s not enough. Too many Sunday mornings have caught me still writing and re-writing, striking out whole paragraphs of text and scribbling notes in the margins of my manuscript. I go to the pulpit whispering fervent prayers, begging the Holy Spirit to provide. And far more often than I deserve those prayers are answered. But what the Spirit usually whispers to me on the way home from church is that she doesn’t like to write the sermon all by herself and she wouldn’t mind if we got started a little earlier. “Next week,” I promise. “Next week.” 

So, here I am on Friday morning, still making promises to the Spirit, and still trying to put the pieces together. Here’s what I think might happen on October 7:

1) It is World Communion Sunday, and we’ll make a big deal out of that at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC. Our international members will carry the flags of their home countries into the sanctuary, three dozen in all, and we’ll put them up around the balcony railing to make worship even more festive and colorful than usual. When it comes time to serve communion, we will use breads from around the world. And at the end of the service we may actually move to the outer walls of the sanctuary and join hands all around as a way of representing our common union in Christ. All of that could tie in nicely with

2) the sermon, which will come from Psalm 137, and focus on the experience of exile, of being broken apart like a loaf of bread and scattered to the ends of the earth. I will probably spend some time talking about the longing for home, and how hard it is to find such a place in the world, or in this lonely city, and then talk about this place—the church—as that place where the body of Christ comes together, where his dis-membered body is re-membered, and where we have the best chance of finding our heart’s true home. That’s when I will

3) move to the table and reflect on the words of institution, talking about communion as a way of re-membering Christ, of putting the pieces of his broken and scattered body back together again. And then if we do join hands all around the church (which I’m thinking now we should), we could sing together some simple refrain like “We are one in the bond of love,” and then be dismissed with a benediction. Those are my plans for now, but hey, it’s only Friday morning.  

The Holy Spirit may have other ideas.

_______________

Jim Somerville is pastor of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC; adjunct professor of preaching at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies; and one-time host of the Festival of Homiletics.





Sermon Feedback Cafe!
2007-10-04 by David Howell

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Have a cup of coffee and enjoy.






2007-10-04 by David Howell





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