Submit Your Own!
Free Sample for October 26, 2014
By David Howell
***Purchase recordings of 2014 Festival of Homiletics (and earlier years). Purchase
The free sample below is just one of many resources enjoyed by subscribers to GoodPreacher.com this week.
Click here to see over 70 preaching resources for most Sundays for your sermon preparation at GoodPreacher.com.
Preaching Matthew 22:34-46
If you decided to preach through the gospel texts, you will have noticed a pattern in Matthew 22. People asked Jesus a lot of questions. A preacher could frame several sermons as a series dealing with questions people asked Jesus. The good news is that Jesus’ answers were always amazing. The challenge is that his answers were rarely what anyone expected.
The dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees in today’s gospel reading lends itself to rich sermonic discourse. “Teacher, which of the commandments in the law is the greatest?” The question is not asked out of genuine curiosity. The Pharisees want to test Jesus. The first time Jesus is tested in Matthew is by Satan in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11).
Do you ever wonder how your congregation would respond if you took a poll asking them to name the most important rule to live by as a Christian? The headlines in the news and the sometimes heated conflict in our churches indicates that we have all set life priorities. Some people have chosen “the right to bear arms” or some other political tenet as their greatest religious conviction.
Jesus steps back from partisan agendas and draws upon the deeply rooted teachings of his Jewish heritage. The first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The full weight of Jesus’ response is diminished when we say boil his response down to a generic love. Jesus is not saying that love in general is not the greatest commandment. Jesus says that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord (Yahweh).
This sounds like a replay of his earlier conversation on paying taxes to Caesar. The greatest commandment is to choose the Lord as God and to honor the Lord above everyone and everything else.
In the age of social media, the greatest compliment you can pay to someone is to “like” their profile or their status update. Liking God is not enough. Jesus’ message to the Pharisees is clear. God is not interested in superficial relationships. God wants total devotion, a complete surrender of one’s mind, will, and desires. Many people in our pews will hear the word “love” and immediately think of a warm, sentimental feeling. This is what we mean when we say we love a car or our favorite food. But this is not what Jesus had in mind.
Loving God involves action and ethics, which is why Jesus adds a second commandment to complete the first commandment. Together the first and second make up the greatest commandment. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving God is not sentimental. Loving God is compassionate action toward neighbors and strangers. “Those who say, I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20)
When we invite hearers to love God as Jesus commands, we must point to the world around us at the concrete, tangible ways where this vision of love can be expressed. Show them what the love of God looks like. Jesus says that all the law and the prophets “hangs” on these two commands: love of God and love of neighbor as we love ourselves. Since we take care of our own needs, loving God means taking care of others’ needs. Since we are concerned about caring for the members of our church, loving God means offering care to those beyond the parochial borders of our sanctuary. This is the most important commandment.
Prince Raney Rivers
***Purchase recordings of 2014 Festival of Homiletics (and earlier years). PurchaseSee Tom Steagald's Preaching Journal! 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.
Subscribers have access to approximately 60 articles on the texts each week. These articles are not just exegetical articles but essays (and sermons) on the texts from theological, pastoral, arts, and homiletical perpectives. All for $19.99!See Homiletical Hot Tub on Homepage for more discussion on texts. Go to Homepage and then to Share It! and see Stories, Movie Reviews, etc. At Share It! you may also submit stories, book reviews, etc. And even submit a sermon for feedback at the Sermon Feedback Cafe. Click on Submit Your Own!"I am not really a lectionary preacher most of the time, but I have found the archives at GoodPreacher.com helpful over and over again as a resource for exegesis, interpretation, and just the pleasure and inspiration of reading good sermons on a text I am studying. It is a rich community to share in."
Dean J. Snyder, Senior Minister
Foundry United Methodist Church
"GoodPreacher.com is like having coffee with some of the most gifted
preachers in America today. You come away with a caffeine buzz and a dozen good ideas for Sunday's sermon." --Jim Somerville, First Baptist Church, Richmond, VA
"As the solo pastor in a very busy rural congregation, this resource provides the mind stretching theological insights that are immensely helpful as I struggle weekly with how to share the message of God’s all encompassing love. The ability to move back and forth between the print version and Good Preacher.com enables me to save time as what I need is simply a click away." Jackie Ahern, ELCA pastor
"With all the lectionary resources on the market today I did a great deal of shopping and testing before I settled on www.GoodPreacher.com . The quality of the resource is excellent, drawing on some wonderful minds. But even more than that is the variety. One week I am inspired by the artistic approach and another week it might be the biblical background and the next week the pastoral perspective. Thought provoking, inspiring, creative and helpful, what more could a preacher need?"
Northminster Presbyterian Church
"The best lectionary preaching resource."
Zan Holmes, UMC pastor and former homiletics professor
"...an ideal place to begin the process and adventure of sermon writing, as it provides clever insights and a window into the lectionary text. When you cannot get started it is a jump start into Sunday!"
Fr. Bob Trache
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
"...the best because it offers so many different ways to enter the text, more than any other available, and the material is always current and relevant..."
Fred Darbonne, Disciples of Christ pastor
"As a subscriber for more than ten years what I appreciate most is the variety that's built into the format - many voices contributing from a variety of perspectives on exegesis, relationship with he arts, pastoral perspectives, sample sermons, etc. I've never been isappointed. There's always something that sparks an idea or inspires."
Rev. Steve Schuette
Bethel UCC, Elmhurst, IL
“I am a lectionary preacher but I have difficulty scheduling a regular time to meet with a lectionary study group. This reality is why GoodPreacher is so important to me. I am immediately placed into a conversation with preachers both past and present. GoodPreacher is helping to form an interpretive community for all of us who are out in the ministry trenches. This interpretive community helps us stay fresh and alive in our personal faith and in our communal preaching.”
Shannon Johnson Kershner
Woodhaven Presbyterian Church
"A treasure chest of scholarship and story that feeds both heart and head."
Susan R. Andrews