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LCH Sermons—Time after Pentecost (August and September) 2012

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 26—September 30, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29 | Psalm 19:7–14 | James 5:13–20 | Mark 9:38–37
Summary: In today’s Gospel, the disciples want Jesus to stop someone from preaching in his name, but Jesus tells them not to put a stumbling block in the way of anyone trying to follow God. Jesus uses hyperbole to tell them how important it is to bring the kingdom of God to fruition. We can encounter many different stumbling blocks in our lives, or we can put them in the paths of others. God has set before us a mission. Our responsibility is to live so that we do not become obstacles for others who want to follow.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 25—September 23, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Jeremiah 11:18–20 | Psalm 54 | James 3:13—4:3; 4:7–8a | Mark 9:30–37
Summary: Today’s Gospel has enough ideas for many sermons, but I want to focus on the fact that the disciples didn’t have any questions when Jesus announced that we would be killed and would rise again. Most people start their faith development in certainty—in sentences with periods. And the disciples responded to Jesus’ announcement with statements about who would be first in the kingdom. Later in the Gospel, the disciples grow into asking questions, as we do in the next phase of faith development. At the end of Mark—and as we grow in faith—we use exclamation marks, which point to what is coming next and send us out into the world. I pray our lives will be full of question marks and exclamation marks, not just periods.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 24—September 16, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Angela Freeman
Lessons: Isaiah 50:4–9a | Psalm 116:1–9 | James 3:1–12 | Mark 8:27–38
Summary: There are times when we want God to come and fix everything so we don’t have to do the dirty work. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us and the disciples that we have to deny ourselves and take up our crosses. Jesus takes on the burden of the cross so we can take up our own crosses and follow. As with anything in life, we have to do the work to get the reward. By calling us to the work of the cross, Jesus opens up God’s bigger picture of being human.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 23—September 9, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Angela Freeman
Lessons: Isaiah 35:4–7a | Psalm 146 | James 2:1–17 | Mark 7:24–37
Summary: I grew up in a family with a mixed-breed dog that we never gave table scraps. But when she grew old and sick, we relented because that was the only food she found appetizing. In today’s Gospel, Jesus meets the Syrophoenician woman seeking healing for her daughter. Because she is an outsider, Jesus refuses. But her persistence and faith make Jesus understand that he is a servant of an uncontrollable Spirit who blows where she will. This story shows Jesus not as a perfect figure but one who grows and changes. If we are to follow this Jesus, we must change our understanding of those we see as outsiders. Let us not be too proud to sit under the table and learn of the feast prepared for us and for all people.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 22—September 2, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Angela Freeman
Lessons: Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9 | Psalm 15 | James 1:17–27 | Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23
Summary: In today’s Gospel, Jesus responds to criticism that he did not wash his hands as required by tradition by saying that what is in the heart is what really matters. He wants people to know that tradition supports faith, but law is evolving to nurture faith. We need to examine our traditions to make sure they show the love of God and welcome the stranger.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 21—August 26, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Joshua 24:1–2a, 14–18 | Psalm 34:15–22 | Ephesians 6:10–20 | John 6:56–69
Summary: In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues to say he is the bread of life and that to remain in him, we must eat his body and drink his blood. This is too hard for some disciples, and they leave him. We often take this as an example of decision theology, but that misses the main point: that God is constantly seeking us out. The rest of John is about how the disciples learn to eat the bread and accept God’s free gift of grace. God has given all of us that gift; we have been chosen by God. May we all eat of that bread.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 20—August 19, 2012

Preacher: Pastors Jeff Lilley and Angela Freeman
Lessons: Proverbs 9:1–6 | Psalm 34:9–14 | Ephesians 5:15–20 | John 6:51–58
Summary: This dialog sermon looks at today’s Gospel, where Jesus says that if we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we will live forever. Pastor Angela tries to explain the mystery of this metaphor to a questioning person attending LCH for the first time. In the end, she says that while we do not have a perfect answer, that’s OK. We are all invited to see what God’s real presence in bread and wine will mean in our lives.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 19—August 12, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Angela Freeman
Lessons: 1 Kings 19:4–8 | Psalm 34:1–8 | Ephesians 4:25—5:2 | John 6:35, 41–51
Summary: Today’s Gospel continues looking at bread, but I want to consider the image of water and think of God as an undertow drawing back into the ocean. Without that undertow, the water would become stagnant on the beach. Without God miraculously drawing us back, we would have to rely on our own power to return to God. As disciples our own learning shapes us, but it is the draw of God’s spirit that gathers us as community. We cannot live without Jesus, the bread of life, and we are called to share that bread with others.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 18—August 5, 2012

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Exodus 16:2–4, 9–15 | Psalm 78:23–29 | Ephesians 4:1–16 | John 6:24–35
Summary: Today’s Gospel comes right after the feeding of the 5,000. The crowds followed Jesus, and he says they just came because they had eaten their fill. Jesus then tells them to seek the bread of heaven that truly satisfies. We are the same way, always wanting more. We hunger for things that do not satisfy when what we truly want and desire is God’s graceful love. This is the gift we receive from Jesus; this is real food. With it we can become bread of life for the world.

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