July 13, 2009

Looking Ahead to July 19, 2009 -- 7th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • 2 Samuel 7:1-14a
  • Psalm 84 (VU p. 800)
  • Ephesians 2:11-22
The Hymns this week are:
  • #325 Christ is Made the Sure Foundation (tune 240)
  • #579 The Church Is Wherever God’s People
  • MV#1 Let Us Build a House (on insert)
  • #427 To Show by Touch and Word
The Sermon Title is The House of Flesh

Early Thoughts: What do we mean when we talk about the the church as "the House of God"? How do we build the House of God?

David had grand dreams. David has pacified and united the nation and so he wants to leave a legacy. And what better legacy than to build a grand house for the God who has led the people to freedom, who has led David to victory. Even Nathan, the prophet of God, says it is a good thing to do.

But God has another idea. God is dubious about the need for the house. People are more important says God. And so I will build a house of flesh says God. As the scriptural story continues the house of flesh is passed on through the generation of kingdom and exile and return until one arises as a "branch from the stump of Jesse" in Jesus of Nazareth. And as people who bear the name Christian we are, in part inheritors of that house too. If God has built a house of flesh then who is in it? The people of God.

And now we have to think about what it means to claim our identity as members of the House of God. Are we part of the structure or the decor? Are we a stud or a joist or a rafter? Do we support the rest of the house or soar into the skies? And even more important, how do we help the house become stronger? How do we help with the maintenance and renovations and additions that come with time?

July 06, 2009

Looking Ahead to July 12, 2009 -- 6th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Amos 7:7-15
  • Psalm 85 (VU p.802)
  • Mark 6:14-29
The Hymns this week are:
  • #574 Come, Let Us Sing of a Wonderful Love
  • #289 It Only Takes a Spark
  • #585 Jesus Bids Us Shine
  • #649 Walk With Me
The Sermon title is The Price of Truth

Early Thoughts: Sometimes telling the truth has dire consequences. Sometimes it takes a great deal of courage.

Being called by God to a prophetic ministry has always been a risky business. Being prophetic in Scriptural terms is not about forecasting the future. It is all about telling the truth. And many times the truth appears to be the type that is "consolingly" (or perhaps warningly) prefaced with "I am going to tell you truth in Christian love". {A friend of mine once said that whenever he heard that phrase he got ready for a blasting.} And so we find that prophets are often not exceptionally popular.

In one passage this week we have Amos being ordered to get out of town after saying that because the nation of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) has not lived up to their part of the covenant and so will be destroyed -- telling the king that, or even saying it in public and having the king hear about it, would be construed as treason in most nations of human history. In the Mark passage we hear of the death of John the Baptist. Joh had the gall to condemn Herod Antipas for his immoral life. While the story puts the blame on Herodias (whom had also been condemned by John) it is doubtful that HErod really regretted executing the troubling preacher -- the head on the plate thing maybe, more out of a sense of etiquette than regret over death though.

ANd yet, even though they know the risks, people continue in the Scripture story to become prophets. There is a sense of knowing that God's truth is more important than safety. Amos, John, Jeremiah, Elijah, Jesus -- all share a truth that is not popular with the rich and powerful. All are threatened or punished with imprisonment or execution. But all have no choice but to tell the truth.

In many ways it is no safer being a prophet in 2009. Churches, Townships, NAtions, Service Clubs, organizations of all sorts sometimes have difficulty hearing uncomfortable truths. As people of Christian faith we are called to be people of God's truth. Are we willing to take the risks that might come with sharing that truth?