Sunday, October 29, 2023

Sermon: "From Scratch", 1 Kings 12:1-17 (October 29, 2023)

One of the most valuable pieces of preaching advice I ever got is, “Don’t be afraid to throw out your babies.” It doesn’t mean that children and pets should be exiled until the sermon is written (although that definitely would speed up the process significantly). What it means is that inevitably, an especially clever turn of phrase or a particularly insightful point will find its way into your sermon every so often. You will be tempted to preserve that sentence or paragraph at all costs because you like it so much; you may attempt linguistic or interpretive gymnastics in order to make it work. But if it doesn’t strengthen the point of the sermon – or worse, detracts from it – you have to be willing to cut it out. You have to be prepared to let your “baby” go completely for the sake of the message.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Liturgy: The Kingdom Divided, 1 Kings 12:1-17 (October 29, 2023)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


GTG #275, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
GTG #379, “We Shall Overcome”
GTG #313, “Lord, Make Us More Holy”

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Sermon: “For the Briefest of Moments…”, 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 6:1-5 (October 22, 2023)

Now that we’re over halfway through the First Testament in this cycle of the Narrative Lectionary, it’s worth remembering where we’ve come from before we find out where we’re going next. We began this Lectionary Year with the second creation story in Genesis, considering what was dysfunctional about the relationship between Adam and Eve. Then, we skipped ahead to Abraham and Sarah’s communication problems, which were uncovered when they learned that they would have a son despite their age. Next, we spent a week with their grandson, Jacob, who would apparently prefer to wrestle with a stranger than have a conversation with him. After that, we picked up the story many years later with Moses and his excuses about why he shouldn’t have to free God’s people. We fast-forwarded past the plagues, the Exodus, and the Israelites wandering in the desert, and then we heard part of Moses’ final speech to the Hebrews, where he begged them to pretty please remember that there’s only one God and that it’s SO IMPORTANT to follow God’s commandments (spoiler alert: it doesn’t work). And finally, we spent last week with Ruth and Naomi in the time of the Judges, after the Israelites had settled into their new home and, as scripture puts it, “there was no king in Israel, [so] people did whatever they felt like doing.”[1]

Phew. That’s a lot of ground to cover in six weeks. Looking at the history of God’s people from a bird’s eye view like this, a theme begins to emerge – it turns out that human beings are really bad at living together. We just keep messing it up. Despite our best intentions and God’s best efforts, human beings are forgetful, selfish, combative, and divisive.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Liturgy: David Anointed King, 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 6:1-5 (October 22, 2023)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymn GTG #37, “Let All Things Now Living”
Hymn GTG #74, “When God Restored Our Common Life”
Hymn GTG #769, “For Everyone Born” (verses 1, 2, 3, & 5)

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Sermon: "Bound By Love", Ruth 1:1-17 (October 15, 2023)

Just over a week ago, the world reacted in horror when Hamas, the so-called “Islamic Resistance Movement” within Palestine, violently and unexpectedly attacked Israel. Although this specific strike came as a surprise, it was far from an isolated incident: it’s just the latest event in the long and complicated history of conflict between Israel and Palestine, dating back to over 70 years ago. Yet even though there are many factors in play (including the fact that between 40-50% of the Palestinian and Israeli people oppose Hamas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, respectively)[1],[2] many people see this struggle as a black and white issue: one side is right, and the other side is wrong. The global community seems to be just as starkly divided as the nations that are actually involved in the conflict. Each nation has done whatever moral calculus makes sense to them, and they’ve chosen a side.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Liturgy: Ruth, Ruth 1:1-17 (October 15, 2023)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymn GTG #306, “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds”
Hymn GTG #340, “This Is My Song”
Hymn GTG #300, “We Are One in the Spirit”

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Sermon: “K.I.S.S.”, Exodus 3:1-15 (October 1, 2023)

Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?” His point, of course, was to say that one’s name is unimportant, that it doesn’t change who the person behind the name is. While that sentiment does have SOME merit, it’s ultimately irrelevant: a name may not change who a person is, but it definitely impacts how we move about in the world and how we’re perceived. (And this is, whether intentionally or not, exactly what Romeo and Juliet wound up proving in the end.)