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LCH Sermons—Time after Pentecost 2008 (August and September)

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 26—September 28, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32; Psalm 25:1–8; Philippians 2:1–13; Matthew 21:23–16
Summary: We can identify with the religious leaders in today’s Gospel who ask where Jesus’ authority came from. We know that human authority often comes from money or power, but the lesson in Philippians tells us that divine authority comes from emptying self and from humility. The current world situation tempts us to respond to power in politics or fear in economics, but God calls us to be stewards in the vineyard. God calls us to be transformed and not to respond to threats and fear but to respond by following the way of the cross.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 25—September 21, 2008

Preacher: Pastor P. J. Sabbithi
Lessons: Jonah 3:10–4:11; Psalm 145:1–8; Philippians 1:21–30; Matthew 20:1–16
Summary: People frequently complain “It’s not fair.” Jesus spoke the parable in today’s Gospel in that kind of a situation—when Peter told Jesus that the disciples had left everything for his sake. In the parable of the householder who hires workers for his vineyard, there are two things to remember. First, God is generous, not to the faithful, but to those who come late. The workers who started at daybreak complain just like Jonah when God is merciful to Nineveh. This is a question of justice and not fairness. Second, God is gracious. God’s justice transcends our idea of fairness and teaches us to look at inequity with new eyes. The Good News is not about fairness. It is not fair that Christ was crucified for us; it shows us that God is generous and gracious.

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Holy Cross Day—September 14, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Dan Werning
Lessons: Numbers 21:4b–9 Psalm 98:1–5; 1 Corinthians 1:18–24; John 3:13–17
Summary: This is one of those rare occasions where all three lessons talk about the same question: how are we saved by God. This, of course, relates to the question of God’s existence, which Paul talks about in Corinthians. Paul concludes that the power of God is in Christ on the cross, which seems like foolishness but is true wisdom. John 3:16 is a wonderful verse, but my favorite is the next one, which says that God did not send Christ to condemn the world but that we might be saved. The bottom line is that if we look to Christ on the cross, we will be saved.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 23—September 7, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Ezekiel 33:7–11; Psalm 119:33–40; Romans 13:8–14; Matthew 18:15–20
Summary: In this week’s Gospel, Jesus gives practical advice about dealing with misunderstandings. First go to the person privately; if that doesn’t work, take one two people with you; and finally, tell the whole church. This must be connected to the promise that where two or three are gathered together, Jesus is with them. If we behaved this way, the church and the world would be better. There is great power if we gather together, uphold each other, and hold each other to account.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 22—August 31, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Jeremiah 15:15–21; Psalm 26:1–8; Romans 12:9–21; Matthew 16:21–28
Summary: In last week’s Gospel, Peter got it right that Jesus was the Messiah, but this week he has it all wrong. The news that Jesus would suffer and die was bitter, and Peter wanted to stop it. But Jesus had a different view of the Messiah that moves us from self interest to a deeper vision. Jesus’s announcement that we must pick up our crosses and follow him is a tough sell. In the Epistle, Paul talks about genuine love that sacrifices self for others, but through it all, Christ remains with us. This life of genuine community begin here in church—in the home of the cross—and goes with us into the world.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 21—August 24, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 51:1–6; Psalm 138; Romans 12:1–8; Matthew 16:13–20
Summary: Much of what we have done over the years in churches has been to try to make people conform, to be acceptable to God, to make everyone look and sound alike. People are comfortable in communities of faith that reflect themselves, and not many search for churches that challenge them. But Jesus was more interested in transformation than conformation. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is not looking for the stock answer to the question about who he is. Peter had the transformational answer that Jesus is the Messiah. God is like a potter working on a wheel. Each piece is unique, just as we are all unique. Each piece is beautiful but not perfect, finished but not complete. I pray that we will always be God’s art in the world for the sake of the world.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 20—August 17, 2008

Preacher: Seminarian Jacob Burkman
Lessons: Isaiah 56:1, 6–8; Psalm 67; Romans 11: 1–2a, 29–32; Matthew 15:10–28
Summary: A few weeks ago in my clinical pastoral training, I talked with a young man who seemed sure to die soon, but he was a person of faith. Today’s Gospel tells of Jesus facing the question of what makes a person unclean. This points out a difference between the Hebrew concept of ritual uncleanness and the Greek concept of sinfulness. It is difficult for us to understand because of cultural distance. The Canaanite woman was also culturally distant from Jesus, but through her faith in Jesus, should could be joined to God. Isaiah had told about a time when the stranger would be welcome. Often we say that the journey is more important than the destination, but being joined to God is much more important than how we get there. This week, as I finish up my clinical pastoral training, I visited that young man again. This time he was sitting up and breathing on his own—a man of faith who had been healed.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 19—August 10, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: I Kings 19:9–18; Psalm 85:8–13; Romans 10:5–15; Matthew 14:22–33
Summary: In today’s familiar Gospel of Jesus walking on the water, we don’t know why the disciples are in the boat, only that Jesus told them to stay there. We call the church space where we worship the Nave—a word that comes from the Latin word for boat. It is a place that keeps us safe, so we are tempted to stay here and not venture out on the sea. But a boat is of no use tied up at the dock. Jesus wants us to go out in the chaotic sea of life in this boat. We often focus on Peter in this story, but we should look at the other disciples who stayed in the boat. From this story, we learn that we should keep our eyes focused on Jesus and we cannot keep our boat tied up at the shore. It is time to cast loose the dock line and take a risk to be witnesses in God’s ocean.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 18—August 3, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 55:1–5; Psalm 145: 8–9, 15–22; Romans 9:1–5; Matthew 14:13–21
Summary: Isaiah invites us to eat and drink, and then he asks why we spend for things that do not satisfy. These words really bring light to the story in today’s Gospel of the feeding of the five thousand. These days there are so many things we think we cannot live without. They are not evil in themselves, but they cannot give life. God pours out life abundantly and for free. What gives us life is not stuff but relationships, especially with God who loves us. Jesus fed five thousand with twelve baskets to spare. God continues to lay out a feast for us each week. Wafers and sips of wine don’t seem like much, but they are the food that binds us together as no device can. Listen to the prophet, “Ho! Come and eat and drink!”

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