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 

Initial Thoughts for June 19: Father's Day and Trinity
2011-06-13 by David von Schlichten

Part of what's tricky about Father's Day is that fathers have a reputation for doing more harm than good to their children. Of course, the world is full of caring, good-hearted fathers, but there is no shortage of stories about abusive and neglectful fathers. These mixed feelings are in the room on Father's Day. How do we deal with them?

Perhaps one valid approach is to acknowledge that fathers don't always get it right but then to move on to positive examples. More importantly, God the Heavenly Father is the ideal parent who helps us all in the midst of our fallenness.

Actually, not just the Father, but also the Son and the Spirit, the entire Trinity, helps us overcome sin and evil to a better life. Whether our fathers were wonderful or awful (most are in the middle), the Trinity is unfailing in God's love and support. The Trinity saves us from human failings.

The Trinity can be hard to preach on because the concept is difficult to grasp and because many parisioners probably don't really care much aboutTrinitarian theology (three hypostases in one oosia?). What is easier to grasp and more relevant in the mind of the hearer is that:

1. The Trinity is relational; the three members interrelate

2. The Trinity is heterarchical, not hierarchical; no one member is superior to another

3. The Trinity is cooperative; the three members work together, not in competition with each other

4. The Trinity has diversity and unity; the three members are not exactly alike; there are differences but still unity.

Those are initial thoughts. What do you have? Feel free to send me a private message or to post here in the tub.

Hoping I get to go to Olive Garden on Father's Day, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Sermon Ideas for June 12, 2011, Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21)
2011-06-08 by David von Schlichten

1. A topical sermon on the Holy Spirit using the Apostles'/Nicene Creed as a guide.

2. A sermon on 1 Corinthians 12 and the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us.

3. How does the Holy Spirit enable us to speak different languages? For instance, one could say that the Holy Spirit guides the preacher to speak the language of the parishioners.

4. The Holy Spirit enables us to forgive sins and withhold forgiveness. Withholding forgiveness should be done in accord with God's will and not, for instance, out of spite. Explore this.

5. Peter uses Joel to explain the Pentecost miracle. Do a sermon on using Scripture to explain miraculous events.

6. Do a sermon on the Joel passage, which speaks of the Spirit being poured out on all people, regardless of age, gender, or status (or color, sexual orientation, etc.).

What else? Feel free to send me your ideas privately or post them here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Initial Thoughts for June 12, Pentecost
2011-06-06 by David von Schlichten

For many churches, this is Holy Spirit Day. Of course, we are always to be attentive to the Spirit, remembering that the Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son. Unfortunately, quite a few of us treat the Holy Spirit as somehow less than the Father and the Son. Why is that?

The third article of either the Apostles' or Nicene Creed can be helpful in thinking about what to preach on this Sunday, given that those articles deal with the Holy Spirit and what She does in the Church. That is, because of the Holy Spirit, we have the communion of saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and so forth.

FORGIVENESS: In John 20:19-23, Jesus gives the apostles the Holy Spirit and then tells them that they now have the ability to offer and withhold forgiveness. It would be valuable to explore the implications of that power. For instance, why would one withhold forgiveness? Do all Christians have this power or just clergy?

ONE SPIRIT, MANY GIFTS: 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the many gifts we receive from the Spirit. It would be useful to help people think about what gifts they have received from the Spirit and how to use them for the common good.

ACTS 2:1-21: The Holy Spirit is given, not just to the twelve, but to many believers and is given so that the Good News can extend to all people, not just to certain people (such as people we like). What does it mean to share the Good News? How do we share the Good News with atheists or people who have no intention of converting to Christianity?

How do we share the Good News with terrorists? Sex-offenders?

What thoughts do you have? Please feel free to send them to me privately or to post them here.

I'll offer more on Wednesday.

Yours in the Ruach,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Sermon Ideas for June 5, 2011; Heaven's Tickertape Parade; Pentecost's Advent
2011-06-01 by David von Schlichten

1. The gospel, John 17:1-11, talks quite a bit about glory. You could do a topical sermon on glory. What is it? How is Christ glorified? Verse 10 says that Christ is glorified "in them," i.e., all that he shares with the Father. What does that mean? Is Christ glorified in us? How?

2. You could preach on John 17:1-11 more generally, such as by proclaiming the text's message of reassurance that Christ, ultimately, never leaves us, even when he leaves us.

3. You could use this Sunday to get ready for next Sunday. What does it mean to be waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit? This Sunday is to Pentecost what Advent is to Christmas.

4. 1 Peter 4:8: In what ways does the devil prowl like a roaring lion in our lives? How are you tempted, and how does God lead you not into temptation but deliver you from the Evil One? The Seven Deadly Sins might help to stimulate thought here.

5. THE ASCENSION: What does it mean that Christ ascended? Why is his ascension important?

6. I have this idea of telling the ascension story from the perspective of heaven, where everyone is getting ready for the tickertape parade that they will have when the triumphant Jesus returns to heaven.

7. The End: The disciples ask in Acts 1 if this is the time when Jesus will restore Israel, and he says that they are not to worry about that but instead are to be witnesses (That's a wise message for us all to heed, Harold Camping.).

8. Clouds: Cloud-imagery appears in Acts 1 and Psalm 68. You could use cloud-imagery in some significant way homiletically.

9. Luther notes that the Ascension is not our doing. That is, humans play no role in making the Ascension happen. It is purely God's doing, purely a gift.

10. John 17:1-11 deals with abiding, intimacy among the members of the Trinity and the followers of Christ. The passage also calls for oneness, so a sermon on how to live out that oneness and abiding could be compelling.

What ideas do you have?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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