Advent 1B (12/3/2017)

Lessons:
Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1st Corinthians 1:3-9
St. Mark 13:24-37

Prayer of the Day:
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection waken us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

13:24 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

St. Mark 13:24-37, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A Season of Waiting and Watching

The season of Advent is upon us: four weeks of preparation, designed to make us ready for the celebration of Christ’s birth towards the end of this month. Traditionally, the church has considered this as a time to slow down and to nurture spiritual growth. Advent is often marked by additional weekly opportunities for worship, personal times of devotion and prayer, and attempts to reach out to the community in acts of service. (more…)

When Did We See You?

Date: November 26, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Last Sunday after Pentecost — Christ the King Sunday; Year A

faithfulness in life
Lord, when was it we saw you?
to the least of these…

Summary:
In the surprising parable “The Judgement of the Nations” both the righteous and the unrighteous bear witness to their character without even realizing it. What do our actions, commitments and priorities say about our character? Spoiler alert: in this sermon, Pastor Dave shares his deep gratitude for the generosity of his congregation. The faith and commitment of Saint Peter members has been revealed by their willingness to contribute more than $70,000 in the past seventeen months to the development of a new school of nursing in Arusha, Tanzania.

Some discussion Questions:
1. What are some specific ways in which we can care for Jesus in his time of need?
2. In Ezekiel 34, why does God propose to replace the fat sheep with the servant David, the shepherd?
3. According to Ephesians 1:15-23, how does the Apostle Paul describe the power and majesty of Christ in this passage?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-11-26 sermon

Download Discussion Questions: 2017-11-26 TIH

The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King Sunday; Year A (11/26/2017)

Lessons:
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 95:1-7a
Ephesians 1:15-23
St. Matthew 25:31-46

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100

Prayer of the Day:
O God of power and might, your Son shows us the way of service, and in him we inherit the riches of your grace. Give us the wisdom to know what is right and the strength to serve the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

[Jesus said] 25.31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

St. Matthew 25:31-46, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Lord, When Was It that We Saw You?

What is the kingdom of heaven like? Images conjured up come from a wide range of sources: songs (especially spirituals), movies, stories, and pieces of visual art. Some imagine angels with harps and wings, pearly gates and streets paved with gold. I was struck, once, to learn that in certain Nordic cultures heaven is depicted as a warm, lush garden and hell is depicted as a cold, snowy tundra. It seems that when we strive to imagine heaven, our thoughts go to the most pleasant possible surroundings. When we imagine hell, just the opposite comes to mind. Truth is: for most people, notions of heaven are not based on anything recorded in the Bible, because the Bible teaches us about heaven in a different way than this. (more…)

Enter into the Joy of your Master

Date: November 19, 2017
Liturgical Day: The 24th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 28A

putting gifts to work
entering the master’s joy
living the Christ-life

Summary:
All that we are and all that we have comes from God. It is pure gift. Gifts God gives with joy. As we put these gifts to work, how do we do so in a way that allows us to enter into our Master’s joy?

Some discussion Questions:
1. How have I put my talents — my gifts and abilities — to work for those things that matter to God?
2. How must these words from Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 have struck the leaders of Israel? How do they strike me?
3. Considering 1st Thessalonians 5:1-11, in our family or in our church, how might we encourage one another and build each other up?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-11-19 sermon

Download Discussion Questions: 2017-11-19 TIH

The 24th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 28A (11/19/2017)

Lessons:
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Psalm 90:1-8 [9-11], 12
1st Thessalonians 5:1-11
St. Matthew 25:14-30

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm
Judges 4:1-7
Psalm 123

Prayer of the Day:
Righteous God, our merciful master, you own the earth and all its peoples, and you give us all that we have. Inspire us to serve you with justice and wisdom, and prepare us for the joy of the day of your coming, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

25.14 [Jesus said] “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ”

St. Matthew 25:14-30, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

“You wicked and lazy slave!”

This text shows up in the lectionary every three years: The Parable of the Talents. Whenever I read it I can’t help but think of the unfortunate third slave. I try to imagine this imaginary character in Jesus’ parable. Compared to the two other slaves, he seems less ambitious, less driven, less adventuresome. He seems aware of the master’s demanding nature — maybe even more acutely aware than the other two. He seems to understand that there is significant risk in investing assets that don’t belong to him, and more than a bit frightened about what might happen to him if he trades with his master’s talent and fails. I know many people — fine, faithful, decent people — who probably would identify more with this slave than his less risk-adverse co-slaves. (more…)

Faithful Waiting

November 12, 2017
Liturgical Day: the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; Year A

waiting for Jesus
grounded, gracious, generous
faithfully watchful

Summary:
There is much in our world — in our lives — that is capable of distracting us from what matters most. Christ calls us to live in a way that is watchful and wakeful, always on the lookout for signs of God’s presence.

Some discussion Questions:
1. In what ways can we prepare to welcome Christ into our lives?
2. What would it look like in our day for justice to roll down like water and righteousness like a flowing stream?
3. How are these words from the Apostle Paul in 1st Thessalonians an encouragement to the Christians in Thessalonica?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-11-12 sermon

Download Discussion Questions: 2017-11-12 TIH

The 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 27A (11/12/2017)

Lessons:
Amos 5:18-24 or Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalm 70 or Wisdom 6:17-20
1st Thessalonians 4:13-18
St. Matthew 25:1-13

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Psalm 78:1-7

Prayer of the Day:
O God of justice and love, you illumine our way through life with the words of your Son. Give us the light we need, and awaken us to the needs of others, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

[Jesus said]  25.1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

St. Matthew 25:1-13, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

In the Time Remaining…

Parables are strange creatures. They are disturbing; sometimes even shocking. They attempt to shake us out of our own preconceived notions about what God is up to, and bring us to a new more faithful place. This is not always an easy journey to take, and we find ourselves resisting it, sometimes with all of our might. This week’s parable might be described in just such a matter. It is a “Kingdom of Heaven” parable —designed to help us see how Jesus envisions what is important to God, and how it becomes part of our lives. (more…)

The 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 27A (11/12/2017)

Lessons:
Amos 5:18-24 or Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalm 70 or Wisdom 6:17-20
1st Thessalonians 4:13-18
St. Matthew 25:1-13

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Psalm 78:1-7

Prayer of the Day:
O God of justice and love, you illumine our way through life with the words of your Son. Give us the light we need, and awaken us to the needs of others, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

[Jesus said]  25.1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

St. Matthew 25:1-13, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A devotional message based on this text will be posted by Tuesday evening

Blessed Are You

Date: November 5, 2017
All Saints Sunday; Year A

richly blessed by God
in good times and in bad times
saints show us the way

Summary:
It is fashionable to speak of being blessed. Jesus does so in today’s Gospel, but he understands it in a unique way. On All Saints Sunday we give thanks for those who have shown us this way, and who have been blessed by God.

Some discussion Questions:
1. When have I been aware of God’s blessing in my own life?
2. What future hope does 1st John 3:1-3 provide for those who have faith in Jesus Christ?
3. According to Revelation 7:9-17, what promise is offered to those who find the life of faith difficult and challenging?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-11-05 sermon

Download Discussion Questions: 2017-11-05 TIH