Submit Your Own!

September 28, 2014, 16th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 21, Year Ah

September 28, 2014

16th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 21, Year A


Call to Worship

Leader: They rejected John, and then they rejected Jesus.

People: We mean to follow Christ, but sometimes we are also guilty of rejection.

Leader: Just as Christ self-emptied in the name of serving God,

People: so also are we to self-empty.

Leader: We embrace the Mother.

People: We pour ourselves out and follow the Three-in-One. Yes!


God, we thank you for not giving up on us even when we have given up on you. Refresh us with your generous love. Renew our dedication to you. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Mother, we sin against you every day. We are stubborn about listening to you messengers. Often we turn our backs to you. We blame our forebears for our problems instead of taking responsibility for our sins. Rather than emptying ourselves, we stuff our bellies. You call us to obey, but we’d rather be our own boss.

For the sake of the Rock, forgive us. Please. Yes.

Words of Assurance

Alleluia! Because of Christ’s blood, the Mother forgives us. The water flows from the rock. Alleluia!

Prayer of Inspiration

Holy Spirit, hollow us out. Refill us.

Prayers of the People

Father, we exalt you for the Church, from the humble St. Francis of Assisi to the translator St. Jerome, to St. Michael and all angels. God, by your authority (congregational response: we are healed.).

Mother, we thank you for our nation and your magnificent creation. Direct us toward peace overseas and at home. Lead us to be better about conservation and sustainability. God, by your authority . . .

Adonai, we thank you for our Jewish siblings. Bless them as they prepare for Yom Kippur. God, by your authority . . .

Lord, autumn is here, and we love it! God, by your authority . . .

We thank you, Creator, for our pets. Increase our willingness to care for them according to their needs, not according to our wants. God, by your authority . . .

Elohim, heal all we mention [Add names]. Humble us to be your healing helpers. God, by your authority . . .  

You may add other praises and petitions here.

In Jesus’ name we turn these prayers over to you. Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Accept these fruits for your glory.


Leader: By the Three-in-One’s authority

People: we commit ourselves to Christ. Yes!


David von Schlichten, poedifier

September 21, 2014, 15th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 20, Year A
By David von Schlichten

September 21, 2014

15th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 20, Year A


Call to Worship

Leader: God, Three-in-One, shows mercy even to people we think deserve wrath.

People: The last will be first, and the first will be last.

Leader: We are not to be envious because Christ is generous toward those we regard as undeserving.

People: Truth be told, we are all undeserving.

Leader: Just as our Mother has shown mercy to the Ninevites and those who repent last-minute,

People: so also are we to show mercy toward one another.


Munificent Abba, you are quick to forgive us. Humble us to forgive one another, including people who wish to kill us. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Father, our sins! So many! We cling to grudges. We demonize people different from ourselves. We consider it acceptable to kill our enemies instead of working harder to find peaceful solutions to crises. We grow indignant when someone receives a break that we don’t think she or he deserves.

For the sake of the Messiah, forgive us.

Words of Assurance

Rejoice! Just as God showed compassion for the people and animals of Nineveh, so also does God show you compassion. Your sins: gone. You receive a full day’s wage, because of Christ. Yes!

Prayer of Inspiration

Holy Spirit, show us.

Prayers of the People

Mother, in gratitude for the Church and all its saints, including Matthew the Evangelist, we pray. (Congregational response: Your compassion is boundless.)

Abba, for our nation and your entire creation, that we may all strive together for non-violent solutions to problems, we pray . . .

Allah, for the end of the terror that ISIL wields, that the loss of life may cease and the healing from love may be ceaseless, we pray . . .

Elohim, in gratitude for the beginning of autumn, a season rich for senses and soul, we pray . . .

Everlasting, for the healing of those in need [Add names] we pray . . .

You may add other praises and petitions here.

In Jesus’ name we give thanks for your answers to our prayers. Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Accept this portion of the harvest you make possible.


Leader: You have forgiven our trespasses, Father, Son, and Spirit,

People: so we go to forgive one another. Yes!


David von Schlichten, poedifier

A Choir of Witnesses
By Randy Saultz

Ben Witherington dedicated one of his earlier works to New Testament scholars Raymond E. Brown and John P. Meier for their labors in study and in the service of God.  He concludes “may their tribe increase.”  After Witherington’s book, The Indelible Image, lets just state the obvious “the tribe has increased.”  This is exciting reading.  It is difficult to point out highlights because they occur on nearly every page.

The Indelible Image is written after 25 years of exegesis.  After thinking long and hard about the use of the OT in the NT, about ancient rhetoric, about narrative theology, about divine revelation, and a host of related subjects.  After a substantial commentary on every book in the New Testament.  Volume one is expositional and focuses on the individual witnesses.  One of the joys of this work is that he allows the witnesses to speak for themselves.  Another is that he is attentive to lesser discussed portions of the New Testament.

The sub-title is The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament.  As the sub-title suggests, Witherington writes with the conviction that ethics and theology intersect with one another.  Since this connection between ethics and theology has not been treated significantly, this work will likely form its own niche.

This intersection of ethics and theology is visible “Just as when one looks on the Son, one sees the splitting image of the Father, so too when one looks on the spiritual brothers and sisters of Jesus, one ought to be able to see the image of the Son.”

Of course, not everyone will want to pick up this two-volume set.  Volume one alone is 818 pages long.  As unbelievable as it may sound, biblical theology is not everybody’s choice reading.  To curb this somewhat, Witherington plans a one volume work for a broader audience in the future.

Witherington himself desires that we read as if the individual witnesses were a choir.  All sing the same cantata.  Each witness sings their own part.  It is the task of volume one to listen to all the voices.  The second volume will then attempt to re-create what this choir might sound like if they had ever gotten together and performed their scores as a single, masterful cantata.  I find myself eager to pick up volume two and listen to that score.

By David von Schlichten

Chris Rodell's "Use All the Crayons!: The Colorful Guide to Simple Human Happiness" (2012, iUniverse) is an entertaining book that offers some worthwhile ideas about how to increase happiness for oneself and others.

Rodell argues that, if a person is more colorful, then s/he will have a positive impact on others that will increase their happiness. He offers 501 suggestions, some silly, some serious. He intersperses among those suggestions humorous stories from his life that amplify how a person can be more colorful.

Several of the suggestions are religious. For instance, Rodell recommends that a person go to church and listen thoughtfully to the sermon. While the book is far from religious--indeed, at at times, it is quite irreverent--it is clear that Rodell is spiritual and recognizes the value of a well-developed spiritual life.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten

Another Thank You
By Randy Saultz

When we think of Calvin Miller, many of us may think first of The Singer Trilogy. But he has contributed significantly to the craft of preaching. One of the things that has always stood out to me was the way he was able to unite zeal and art in sermon. To speak with urgency and with beauty is a rare gift indeed. Calvin Miller had that gift. It is our loss that Calvin Miller died this past year.

I rather like the way that he talks about preaching and the role of preacher in Spirit, Word, and Story. “Preaching first came as a shout of hope.” He goes on to say that “The Messiah had come at long last! Hell, eternal as it was, had been confronted by life… The sermon, born as a desperate reply, was created by two words: the rhema (rhetorical word) that disclosed the logos (incarnate word). Both words, however, were silent without the critical bearer of the news: the preacher.”

Spirit, Word, and Story contains a chapter titled “The Word as Art.” A peculiar chapter title since in it he prefers to speak with urgency about urgency (though admittedly, he does so artistically). “The desperation of first-century sermons needed neither reason nor art… Why outline or exegete or illustrate when the theater is afire?! Humankind was perishing and needed neither an artistic word nor a scholarly word. Only a desperate word was needed. Urgency takes no time for irrelevancies. John the Baptist would not even answer the simple question, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name… My name… What matters my name?… I am a crying voice – Flee from the fire.”

He preached like a hayfield worker from Northern Oklahoma. “I think there is a time when the secular grime sticks to us and gritty, itchy boredom clings to us and we turn our eyes to Jesus Christ and reach for the tap that washes our obscene egos away. We look imploringly to heaven and cry out, ‘Please, God, I wanna get washed!’”

He preached like one who was familiar with the characters in the text. “Who was Habakkuk? According to some, his name means “Babylonian house plant.” Since I have never appreciated being called a house plant, I can only guess that it wasn’t much of an ego boost in 607 B.C. Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah, but neither of them wrote poetry that caught on while they were alive. They must have presented quite a pair: Jeremiah crying all the time, and Habakkuk consoling him, “Now, don’t take it all so hard, big fellow. God isn’t listening anyway! Besides, Jerry, how would you like to have Dan Rather call you a Babylonian house plant every night on the 5:30 news!”

Miller is critical that “some contemporary sermons are little more than moral speeches that tip their homiletical hats to God. The fearsome trumpets of fiery desperation have settled into chatty liturgy.” Miller would rather we speak with urgency. Yet, he would desire us to attempt it in ways that grip and hold attention and cause others to remember. His sermon language is both urgent and artistic. Miller knew that urgent truth is not watered down when it is made beautiful. Perhaps, no one knew that better.

Thank you Calvin Miller.

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