Sermon Ideas for June 26, 2011
2011-06-24 by David von Schlichten

Genesis 22: See the post below this one for thoughts about preaching on this passage. A reader sent me a compelling point that I responded to below.

Jeremiah 28:5-9: This is an alternate first reading to the Genesis passage. This text from Jeremiah tells the story of Hananiah the false prophet. Most people probably don't know this story, so it could be especially engaging to preach on. A sermon on this story could focus on how to determine a true prophet from a false one and how to keep from being a false prophet.

Let me elaborate on this last point. Hananiah, the false prophet, is not trying to trick anyone. He truly believes what he is prophesying. It just so happens that he's wrong. How do we keep ourselves from proclaiming that which is mistaken?

Psalm 13: It practically preaches itself.

Psalm 89: This song praises God but then (beyond our pericope boundaries) goes on to lament over God's abandoning of his people and begs God to help them. How do we praise and trust in God in times of apparent theo-absence?

Romans 6:12-23: There is much in this passage. One valuable point is that Paul exhorts the people to not let sin have dominion over their mortal bodies. One move in a sermom, then, could be to go from body part to body part and consider how that body part can serve God. "How do your hands serve God? You feet? Your mouth?" You get the idea. 

Of course, we'd want to stress that our bodies can serve God only because Christ has died for us and so we live liberated from sin. In other words, we cannot serve God on our own but only because Christ has freed us.

Matthew 10:40-42: This passage assures the disciples that those who welcome them will be blessed. How can we welcome one another? Through Christ, we are welcomed so that we may be welcoming.

The disciples are essentially ambassadors for Christ. Serving them is the same as serving Christ. This idea of being Christ's ambassador is found elsewhere in Scripture and would be nourishing to preach on.

Augsburg Confession: For Lutherans, I'd like to point out that June 25 is the anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, so it would make solid sense to incoporate the Confession into Sunday's sermon.

What ideas do you have? Feel free to send me a private message or to submit something here for the Tub. Hot and bubbly!

Turning 42 on Monday, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Genesis22: Fathers Sacrificing Their Sons
2011-06-22 by David von Schlichten

A reader pointed out to me the many ways that fathers sacrifice their sons, such as by forcing them to play a sport the son doesn't want to play or by forcing them to take over the family business or by forcing them to conform to a gender role that the son is not comfortable with. The reader makes a compelling point. Thank you, reader, for your contribution!

We could also consider more broadly how parents in general sacrifice their sons or daughters and, for that matter, how we adults sacrifice children to various idols. I think of parents who live vicariously through their children ("Toddlers in Tiaras") or parents who triangulate their children in the midst of a family dispute (such as a divorce).

Of course, in all those examples, the sacrificing of the child is a bad thing. In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to make the sacrifice. God stops the sacrifice, but God still commands it. Moreover, Abraham is held up as a model of faithfulness precisely because he was willing to sacrifice his son. Yikes.

Then we have God sacrificing the Son on the cross. This sacrifice is different, as well, in part because the Son is God. Thus, this Son-sacrifice is really a self-sacrifice on God's part. God sacrificing the Son is NOT divine child-abuse. 

What thoughts do you have about this horrific idea of child-sacrifice and how to proclaim that?

I encourage others to send me questions or comments or to submit something for posting here. Dive in!

Wearing a shirt he received on Father's Day, I am 

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Initial Thoughts for June 26
2011-06-20 by David von Schlichten

Genesis 22: The almost-sacrifice of Isaac is shocking, offensive. Frankly, if God called upon me to sacrifice one of my children, I wouldn't do it. I guess the story shows Abraham's great faith, and, of course, at the last minute God reveals that it was all just a test. Nevertheless, I find the story distubring. Would God really subject someone to such a test? Seems sadistic.

Jeremiah 28:5-9: In the ELCA, this is our first reading, the story of Jeremiah the true prophet versus Hananiah the false prophet. How do we tell true from false? In this passage, the test is whether a prophet's prophecy comes true, but such a test does not always work. What do we do then?

Psalm 13: What a magnificent lament. What a sermon this would make!

Romans 6:12-23: Slave and freedom. Luther wrote, "A Christian is free, subject to no one. A Christian is a slave, subject to all." Something like that. This passage is related to that statement. Americans are freedom-olatrous. How do we preach on slavery and freedom?

Matthew 10:40-42: Welcoming. How do we welcome one another in the Church, outside the Church? How do we give a cup of cold water to the little ones? How is this passage both comfort and challenge for the Christian?

That's a start. What thoughts do you have? Send me a message, or post here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Sermon Ideas for June 19, 2011 (Father's Day/Trinity)
2011-06-16 by David von Schlichten

Here are some thoughts that I have that could be homiletically fruitful.

1. Psalm 8 mentions babies glorifying God. That image seems relevant to Father's Day.

2. Genesis 1 emphasizes God's sovereignty. God has made all things, including fatherhood. We are stewards of fatherhood.

3. The Trinity is non-hierarchical, diverse-yet-one, love-centered, and relational. May our earthly relationships be the same. What does it mean to be a father a la Trinity?

4. The Great Commission calls us to baptize in the name of the Trinity. What does it mean to live in the name of the Trinity, i.e., in a trinitarian manner?

5. 2 Corinthians 13:13: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all." You have a sermon outline right there. Spend time proclaiming the grace of Christ, then the love of God, then the communion of the Holy Spirit. Are these three different ways of saying the same thing?

6. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis contains quite a few interesting thoughts on the Trinity.

7. Wm. Paul Young's The Shack contains some compelling images and thoughts about the Trinity. For instance, the Father is depicted as a Black woman, the Son as a Middle Eastern man (with a big nose!), and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman. 

8. According to the Bible, the Father is not the sole creator but creates in concert with the Spirit and the Word. Likewise, the Son is not the sole redeemer, and the Spirit is not the sole sanctifier.

9. This would be a good time to dust off the Athanasian Creed. People like to poke fun at it, but it's quite useful (and somewhat poetic).

10. I had a professor in seminary say that the Trinity is like a jazz combo. They perform together, one entity. A soloist might be featured, but, overall, the combo is an egalitarian, dynamic relationship of mellifluity.

What are your thoughts?

I might not have Internet access for a couple days, so it may take a while for me to respond to questions or comments. If you wish, you can text me at 724-757-6695. The cell phone will be ever by my side.

Eager to listen to Mark Hanson over the next couple days, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Reader Question: Liturgical Calendar or World's Calendar?
2011-06-14 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to the reader who sent me an email asking how do we manage the issue of secular calendar events versus the liturgical season. For instance, this Sunday is Father's Day and Trinity Sunday. What, then, do we focus on?

It seems to me that we are to put the Trinity first. Of course, it makes sense to say a word about Father's Day, so then preaching about fathers can be done in the context of preaching about the Trinity. For instance, I could preach about the good that fathers do as being an expression of the Trinity's love for us. Moreover, while fathers fall short, the Trinity never does. So keep the Trinity primary in the proclamation.

Now, this Sunday I will be preaching at a Father's Day service, so then I will want to say more about fathers. Nevertheless, I will still want to make the sermon first and foremost a proclamation of the Good News and not simply a tribute to dads.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think? Feel free to email me or post here. I love to hear from readers!

Not wanting a tie on Father's Day, I am

Yours in the Trinity,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





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