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

Initial Thoughts for June 5: 1 Peter 4:8; John 17:1-11; Acts 1:6-14
2011-05-30 by David von Schlichten

John 17:1-11: We have part of the High Priestly Prayer, with its vision of Trinity-based oneness. It's easy to do lip-service to this idea without any real commitment. How can we challenge people toward genuine oneness?

We have been struggling with this issue in the ELCA regarding homosexuality. We have approved the ordination of openly gay people, and some folks have decided that they therefore must leave the ELCA. So I find myself wondering: How do we preserve oneness even when we disagree passionately (as we always do sooner or later)?

Acts 1:6-14: Christ is ascended. So what? This Sunday would be ideal for doing a doctrinal sermon on the Ascension. Why should we care that Christ is ascended? What if Christ had never ascended after the Resurrection?

1 Peter 4:8 warns that the devil is prowling like a roaring lion. One could run with this verse and preach on how exactly the devil prowls around us, seeking to devour us, and how exactly God keeps us firm in our faith.

I'll offer more on Wednesday.  I welcome your input, either through private submissions to me or through posts here.

Cooking on the grill while remembering those who have served in the Armed Forces and gone to heaven, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

John 14:15-21; Psalm 33:10
2011-05-25 by David von Schlichten

John 14:15-21 has several important themes. One is that it points ahead to Pentecost, which is rapidly approaching. Another is that the passage reassures the disciples that, even when they are alone, they are not alone. A third is that Jesus exhorts the disciples to remain faithful to him by keeping his commandments. Love demands adherence to the commandments.

In general, love means faithful action. If we say we love a person, we need to SHOW that we love that person, or our words are a noisy gong. So also when it comes to our relationship with God. Indeed, as it says in 1 John 4, if we say we love God but hate our sibling, then we do not love God.

Psalm 33:10: God has tried us just as silver is tried. What does this mean? God refines us, but how? Does God send misfortune to us to refine us? Does God punish us to refine us? Answering yes to these questions is theologically problematic but is also rather common.

So then, how do we talk about God refining us without perpetuating the notion that a person's suffering is a God-sent affliction for that person's own good?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator


Initial Thoughts: Unknown God, Descent to the Dead, Memorial Day
2011-05-23 by David von Schlichten

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 29, 2011

Acts 17:22-31: Paul talks to the Athenians about their Unknown God, and it occurs to me that many of us today worship an unknown God. That is, many of us humans have, at best, a vague sense of the Divine and spirituality. We talk about Faith and "I'm not religious but I'm spiritual" and everything happening for a reason and the power of prayer without really knowing what we're talking about. What I mean is that many people speak of God in general, vague, nebulous terms. There is a need for greater clarity.

This Sunday could be an especially good opportunity to provide some of that clarity. In other words, the sermon this Sunday could imitate what Paul does in Acts 17. Paul responds to this Unknown-God-notion of the pagan Athenian culture by using the idea as an entry point for talking about Christianity. What if we did something similar this Sunday? After all, many in the pews know little about the religion they claim to believe in.

(I don't mean to be snarky or cynical. I mean to be diagnostic.)

1 Peter 3:13-22: This passage offers much, including verse 19, which speaks of Christ proclaiming the Good News to the "spirits in prison." This verse is one of the supports for the creedal declaration that Christ descended into the world of the dead or hell (see also 1 Peter 4).

What an intriguing doctrinal sermon we could have here. Christ is so powerful that not even death and hell can keep him out!

Memorial Day: We want to be careful of falling into civil religion, but we can use this day as a springboard for proclaiming the importance of Easter. Your loved one has died, but s/he is not gone, thanks be to Christ.

I'll provide more thoughts on Wednesday. In the meantime, feel free to provide your own or to send me a question or comment.

Not raptured but elohim-enraptured, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 

Rough Draft of My Sermon on 1 Peter 2:2-10
2011-05-20 by David von Schlichten


The Bible is full of rock-imagery. Today’s readings are full of stone-imagery. Stones. In our psalm, Psalm 31, in verse three, we pray, “Be my strong rock . . . ” We pray for God to be our strong rock. Elsewhere in Scripture, we are told that God is indeed our strong rock, our mighty fortress. Indeed, repeatedly in Scripture, God is associated with rock-strength.

            In what ways is God our rock? It is tempting to think that God is not much of a rock for us. It is tempting for us to think that evil is stronger than God, that Satan is mightier than the Savior. After all, the world pelts us with violence. Satan loves to throw stones at us humans. The world is full of stones flying at the innocent. Sometimes people throw stones at us, the baptized, to try to stop us from being good Christians. With all those stones flying, we are quick to become depressed or to fill up with anxiety, even panic. “[sing] All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces . . . ”

            But we are never alone. No, never alone. God is our rock. “[sing] On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” God is the rock from whom the waters of baptism gush to wash us clean. Because of baptism, we are God’s adopted children, members of the Church. Throughout our lives, that baptism holds. We are ever the baptized, ever God’s children, rock-strong because of the Rock. At confirmation, we remember that baptism and say yes to it, and the Holy Spirit confirms our faith, makes it stronger, fortifies it. Yes! That’s what’ll happen to you in about ten minutes, Tyler. You will say yes to your baptism, and the Holy Spirit will confirm your faith. The Holy Spirit will strengthen your faith, and we shall declare you an adult in the Church.

            God our Rock fortifies us in other ways, too. When you ask God to forgive you, God strengthens you through forgivenss, no matter what you’ve done wrong. No matter what! When you pray, God strengthens you by answering your prayer. God may not answer your prayer the way you want him you to, but God always answers somehow in a way that’s good for you. When you attend worship, God strengthens you. When you receive holy communion, the real body and blood of the crucified and risen Christ, God strengthens you. In a boulder field of ways, God strengthens you, makes your soul rock-strong.

            You are a living stone with which God builds the Church. That’s part of the message we hear in our second reading, 1 Peter 2:2-10. Verse five says, “ . . . like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” That’s you. A living stone, a priest. Yes, you are a priest, the passage declares. God has baptized you. As Luther says, your baptism is your ordination. You are sacred, part of the communion of saints, a living stone.

As a living stone, you are part of God’s holy building, the Church, and we need you. If you take a stone out, the building is incomplete. Yes? Take a brick out of the wall of a building, and you have a hole. The building is incomplete. Same with the stones. Without you, the Church is incomplete. Without you, a stone is missing, and we need all the stones to have a complete building. Your presence here is essential.

God is your strong rock who makes you into a rock-strong living stone. You are to respond by loving one another. You are not to respond by throwing stones but by being a living stone. We are not to throw stones. We are not insult each other, put each other down, backstab, hit, yell, slap, steal. We are not to be judgmental, self-righteous. We are not to throw stones but to be living stones. Indeed, we can be living stones because God gives us the power to be living stones. Christ is risen! He has rolled away the stone of the tomb. Christ is alive! We have power in this life, and we know the way to eternal life. Christ has won the way for us, even though we are undeserving. We shall live in heaven forever for free, thanks be to Christ our resurrection rock.

You know the way. It’s shaped like a cross.


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