The Urgency for Peace
2010-11-23 by Stephen Schuette

Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44

The metaphors are startling in the way they are mixed together.  There’s swords and spears converted into plowshares and pruning hooks.  And in Romans there’s the “armor of light,” presumably connected with what Paul is urging us to “put on,” the light of Jesus Christ.  And there’s the “boy scout” message of Matthew to “be prepared,” alert, ready.

The images of making war are converted to making peace, suggesting what we may rationally understand but have not yet incorporated by way of a behavioral change:  that making peace requires diligence, determination, focus, energy, preparation.

A colleague related a story he attributed to Wm. Barclay.  (Note that this telling is subject to all the inaccuracies of the oral tradition.)  The devil is debriefing three demons about their strategy for disrupting the human relationship with God.  The first demon suggests telling people that there is no God.  The devil replies that there is too much hope in human beings to believe that.  The second suggests telling people that there is no devil.  The devil replies that there is too much fear in people to believe that.  The third suggests telling people that there is no hurry.  The devil replies, “That will do perfectly.”

So if the avoidance of war is not genuine peace how do we become active peacemakers?  It probably begins with an inner, spiritual attitude, but it cannot end there.  There must be a readiness at any second to witness for it, to point the way, to sound the “alarm” that peace is seen on the horizon.

Have fun mixing your own metaphors and thereby untangling the link between urgency and war and making urgency available for peace.  It's a warm-up for the realignment of our thinking/understanding in the divine-human being.  Talk about a mixed metaphor!  ....Blessed Thanksgiving to you.

Tom Steagald's Preaching Journal
2010-11-22 by David Howell

Check out Tom Steagald's Preaching Journal!

Great material!

A Thanksgiving Sermon

Lots of information on the lessons for the First Sunday in Advent!

Click here.

From Tom's Thanksgiving Sermon:

If the downturn or recession or little Depression makes us fearful, makes us hoard, keeps us from sharing, then indeed it is an awful thing.

But if the recession exposes our material idolatry, teaches us to disregard our stuff, really reminds us that life is more than our things, then the recession might be a wonderful thing. If it teaches us how to share—you bring the hambone, I’ll bring an onion and some pepper, you bring some navy beans and together we will make a stew so that no one of us starves—that is a good thing. If the recession changes our prayers from “Thank you God, for what I have” into “Thank you, God, for who you are…and thank you, God, for faith and friends and the assurance that though heaven and earth and the Dow Jones pass away, your Word does not pass away…thank you for the promise that whether I have a lot or have nothing, I need not fear because you are near”—then that can be a good thing. We shall see.

And from his First Sunday in Advent preaching preparation:

Advent, as Lent, calls us to work against the calendar in favor of another kind of time. We put the brakes on the culture’s superficial rush to acquisition and largess; throw cold water in the face of our fevered consumptive frenzy; throw-down the culture’s  idolatries and high places, like Wal-Mart and Target; and combine tears of repentance with the heat of God’s Word, to release a “cloud of unknowing” into the presumptions of our preferences and expectations. Either that, or just go with the flow. 


Tom is the Pastor at Lafayette Street United Methodist Church in Shelby, NC, and adjunct professor at Hood Theological Seminary (AME, Zion) in Salisbury, NC. Tom has just published Shadows, Darkness and Dawn: A Lenten Journey with Jesus (Upper Room). Previous titles include Praying for Dear Life and Every Disciple's Journey, both from NavPress. He is a frequent contributor to Feasting on the Word, The Abingdon Preaching Annual, and other preaching resources. Tom's journal will detail each week's work to "discover" the sermon to be preached at Lafayette Street.

(I think we are in for a real treat!)

Welcome and thanks, Ro Ruffin
2010-11-20 by David Howell

Welcome and thanks to our guest blogger. Rev. Ro Turner Ruffin is an adjunct instructor for Mercer University. She is currently submitting her dissertation, in which she argues for death education in public high schools in the United States, to the University of South Africa. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

The start and the finish
2010-11-20 by Ro Ruffin

When all this started, I went through the scriptures.  Some I will mention in the sermon, but as twenty minutes is a very short time, from my point-of-view, some will have to be left out…but still they inform the results.  Some thoughts from scripture, all in paraphrase, and some in brackets [because they are wholly my thoughts].

Psalm 27: 1-3, evil cannot cause my heart to fear, because the Lord is “my light and my salvation.”  4-6, The Lord has granted that I may always remain in the Lord’s company.  7-10, I have sought you as you commanded, and you have found me.  All others may depart, but you ever remain…   11-14, Lies and violence nip at my heels as snarling dogs – I would succumb, but I trust you.  (Lament and apology)

Psalm 28: Prayer for aid and vindication

Psalm 29: Song of praise

Psalm 55: Song of lament, supplication, and betrayal, trust in God (23)

Psalm 56: Song of lament over evil man – trust in God and thanksgiving

[So far no promise of physical, or material help, but rather of soul salvation that seems to equal relationship (13)]

Psalm 57: trust that God will save and vindicate (3, saves with loving kindness and truth), sings praises

Micah 7:5  Front notes to the NAS indicates that prosperity comes to the few and they do not share with or help even their own.

So, in Ch. 7 the writer continues the theme of social injustice to say that our closest friends (5), even our families cannot be trusted.  Not one person in all the land is upright.  Vs. 7 and on – God is the only true one, the only one who may be trusted.  Watch!  Wait!  God alone is our salvation (9) our [my] sin has brought darkness, but God will bring light, and those who spurned and blamed God will be put to shame.  Evil will be cut down.  18b- God does not remain angry – God love is unchanging [not God is unchanging, but God’s love is unchanging, but that is for another sermon].  God will keep God’s promise.  [In this section “Micah” is looking backward, both to the promise, and in a sort of nostalgia – the good old days will return – of course, his memory of “the good ‘ol days” is faulty.]

Philippians [4:4]  Starting with first chapter of Philippians, 1:12-20, thankful in all circumstances and outcomes, because the KOG is moving forward.  1:21-26, for their sake, live, though to be with the Lord is preferable [sounds like a Bodhisattva].n  1:28-29, from God – granted to you to suffer for his sake.  2:12c, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  Vs. 13, God works in us for God’s purposes, thru 18, [Paul is willing to suffer if people are saved, if the KOG is furthered (here and beyond)].  2:19-30, When Epaphroditus nearly dies of illness, Paul says God was merciful and let him live for all their sakes.  [Jews view life as good – a la Genesis and the God created and saw that it was good variety.  Too much in the way of dualism surviving in Christianity?]  3:7-11, Paul gives up his standing to attain life for self and others [resurrection from the dead (11) due to death in Jesus – relationship].  3:13, forgetting what lies behind – press on!  3:21, God has done it in Jesus Christ.  4:1 Therefore!  (4) Rejoice! 5b, the Lord is near. 6, so, be anxious for nothing, zip, nil, nein, zero, empty set!  Instead let your requests be to God in prayer, and receive peace (7), which will guard your sanity and your love for others.  8, think about “good” things and God will be with you [relationship]!  10-13, I can bear-up,  and even know peace in all material circumstances. [this does NOT say that in Jesus I can do anything at all!]   Could do more research, but time is short.

Ro Ruffin; Live Thanksgiving in Response to the King
2010-11-19 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to our guest blogger, who addresses theodicy and other important issues in his reflections on Thanksgiving. Stephen Schuette also provides us a worthwhile post. Scroll down to savor.

I have no clue what I'm preaching on this Sunday. Well, not NO clue. I will be uniting Christ the King and Thanksgiving. Christ is our king who endures suffering for his subjects so that we can live forever. In response, we live Thanksgiving. What does it mean to live Thanksgiving? I'll elaborate in the sermon.

Something along those lines.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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