Year A, Ordinary 13, 2017 – Your Choice
Hello! Welcome back! As usual, we have choices to make about sermons and worship for this week. We must admit that two of the three passages proved to be hard work for us. The Genesis passage is the story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac. Much ink has been spilled about this story and while we attempted to find grace in it, the tale is dark and complicated. We think it is important to keep that in mind and be honest about it whatever path you choose for your preaching. The Romans passage continues Paul’s argument about the total change in living after one is baptized into Christ. We are freed from the deathly effects of sin, but still have choices about how that freedom will be manifest in our lives. And Jesus’ brief words of encouragement to his disciples proved to be a bit too short for us to get hold of it until we looked at some commentary and the Greek. In essence, how we choose to welcome and be welcomed is important for proclamation of the Gospel. You have options for your preaching this week. You need to choose which passage to preach, how to connect them (if it is possible), and if you will use any of our illustrations and special effects! We certainly hope you choose to do so!
This week’s texts are:
Genesis 22:1-14 [01:58]
This is a difficult passage to interpret. Part of the difficulty is the straightforward nature of the story; there is not much ambiguity. And that’s another part of the challenge; we want ambiguity because of the story’s nature. How do we preach this passage? In WORD smart, we looked at Soren Kierkegaard’s book, Fear and Trembling for some answers. Maybe, like Abraham, we are too focused on one part of the story and are unable to see more because of tunnel vision which we mention in EYE smart. The choice Abraham must make to obey God is gut wrenching, much like William Styron’s book Sophie’s Choice which we talk about in MATH smart. For BODY smart, we wonder what it takes to destroy the promise you hold in your hands. Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen wrote songs about this story; check out our links in MUSIC smart. For NATURE smart, we suggest a special effect that could double with EYE and BODY smart. We have a discussion idea for PEOPLE smart and in SELF smart, we encourage individuals to consider Calvin’s commentary about having three days to think about big decisions.
- Smarts – Word [03:19], Eye [04:24], Math [06:03], Body [07:27], Music [08:50], Nature [09:16], People [10:40], Self [12:17]
- Genesis 22 worksheet
- Links in Genesis:
- Fear and Trembling (1843), Soren Kierkegaard (see this SparkNotes link)
- John Calvin’s commentary
- Sometimes we don’t see because of tunnel vision
- Sophie’s Choice
- Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited (annotated lyrics here!)
- Leonard Cohen “Story of Isaac” (interesting insights on this forum
- The Abyss
- Kathryn Schifferdecker commentary
- Mark Twain: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Romans 6:12-23 [13:46]
We’ve been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, so Paul has some advice about what that means for daily living. In BODY smart, we we suggest using a toolbox to illustrate and demonstrate Paul’s argument. Bob Dylan makes another appearance in MUSIC smart and we also have a very short poem written by a soldier. The incredibly abundant nature of God’s goodness and mercy, which Bill Loader talks about in his commentary on the passage, made me think about perennial plants so we use that as an illustration for NATURE smart. To what will we be freely obedient? We have some video clips for a PEOPLE smart illustration and some thoughts to spark discussion among your congregation.
- Smarts – Body [time], Music [time], Nature [time], People [time]
- Romans 6 worksheet
- Links in EPISTLE
Matthew 10:40-32 [23:06]
This selection concludes Jesus’ instructions to his disciples as he sends them out to do the ministry he himself has been doing. He ends his teaching by talking about welcomes – a bit backwards, but then Jesus is always doing things to upset expectations! We have a quote about Clinical Pastoral Education to start off EYE smart. Jesus surprises us with a triple, which we have looked at before, and so we suggest getting out the three legged stool from Trinity Sunday for MATH smart to explore his comment. Pass out a cool drink for NATURE smart and discuss how hospitality and mission connect in your congregation for PEOPLE smart.
Image Credit: Copyright: studiostoks / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.