Thursday, May 23, 2013

God Knows the Truth -- Beyond the Lectionary (David Ackerman)


Many of us who preach regularly turn to the lectionary, which offers a three year cycle of biblical texts. It's a helpful way to move through the biblical story, but the compilers of the lectionary leave out portions of that story. David Ackerman, a United Church of Christ pastor, has created a secondary lectionary -- what he calls "Beyond the Lectionary." David approached me about sharing the message with my readers, and so with this posting I begin sharing this word. My plan is to post these beyond the lectionary materials on the Thursday prior. I would also invite you to get a copy of David's forthcoming book, which I plan to review in the near future. Here is a description of the book:

Beyond the Lectionary gives preachers a new year of Biblical texts that are not found on Sundays (or other mainline Protestant holy days) in the three-year cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary. It provides readings from the Hebrew Bible, Psalms, Epistles/New Testament and Gospels for each Sunday of the liturgical year, along with several midweek observances. The texts have been selected with an eye toward continuity (progressing in order) and complementarity (textual completion or harmony), and they are accompanied by commentaries and prayers. Written in language that is accessible to both lay people and professionals, Beyond the Lectionary has the potential to transform congregational culture by bringing more of the content of scripture to people's awareness.

 As one who seeks to preach out of the biblical story, I welcome this new resource.  For more information see David's site -- Beyond the Lectionary.



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Proper 4


June 2, 2013
“God Knows the Truth”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 11 NRSV
One:  In the Lord I take refuge.
Many:  How can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains; for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.  If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
One:  The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven.  His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind.
Many:  The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence.
One:  On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
Many:  For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
Gathering Prayer:  God, we gather together today knowing that we have many things to learn about you.  When we think that we understand you, remind us that we have only begun to discern the length, breadth and depth of your grace.  Amen.
Confession:  God, so often we think that we know the truth about things when we haven’t even begun to understand what is real in your sight.  We have misused scripture to justify hatred and bigotry toward groups of people.  Forgive us our arrogance and ignorance, and grant us humility to be aware of our limitations.  Help us to teach what is true and reject falsehood when we discern it.  Amen.
Assurance:  Hear now this good news: God knows us better than we know ourselves.  God has already heard our prayer and let go of all our sins.  We are now set free to open ourselves to the living God and embrace the truth that God reveals to us.  Amen.
Scriptures:  Genesis 19:1-8, 15-26, 30-38 – “Sodom and Gomorrah”
2 Peter 2:4-10a – “False Teachers Are Like Sodom”
Matthew 11:20-24 – “Comparison to Sodom”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
In what ways do you see connections between the first reading about Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and the other readings for the day?
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most misunderstood stories in scripture.  Popular culture has often considered the sin of Sodom to be homosexuality, but this, of course, is far from the truth.  What do you think is really going on here?  How is the violent intent of the men of Sodom a sign of extreme inhospitality against outsiders?
Today’s reading in Genesis 19 also includes the story about Lot in vv 30-38.  What impression do you get of Lot in this passage (or, for that matter, in v 8)?  How is this different from the impression the author of 1 Peter has of him?  Do the authors have different agendas when talking about Lot?  If so, what are they?
What can we do to work to bring an end to sexual violence, rape, and homophobia in the world?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  God, thank you for giving us insight to discern your truth in the world.  May we respond to this gift by working together to build a world of justice and peace!  Amen.
Benediction:  Let us now go out and work for a world where justice and peace are at home and violence and hatred are overcome by love.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

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