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 

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

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