Thursday, June 20, 2013

Don't Make Your Parents' Mistakes -- Materials for Proper 8 (David Ackerman)

David Ackerman returns with his liturgical materials and reflections for those who would like to expand the lectionary beyond the three year cycle. I'm primarily a lectionary preacher, but it's clear that there are important texts that have been missed. Adding in this extra year can help broader our experience of the biblical story.  And how can you not want to explore a set of texts that speak of not repeating our parent's mistakes?!


Proper 8

June 30, 2013
Call to Worship:  Psalm 44:1-3 NRSV
One:  We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:
Many:  You with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory; but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your countenance, for your delighted in them.
Gathering Prayer:  You have gathered us together, God, as a group of sinners and a communion of saints.  You have woven us together with generations who have gone before us and will connect us with people whom we have not yet met.  Lead us, so that as a people we might grow more and more into your grace with each passing day.  Amen.
Confession:  God, we would like to think that we are better than our ancestors who came before us.  “If only we had lived in the times of the Bible,” we say, “we would not make the same mistakes that they made.”  Yet the truth is that we are no better than they are.  Forgive us for thinking that we are somehow superior to our ancestors in faith.  Remind us that we all came from somewhere and that none of us is innocent of wrongdoing.  Amen.
Assurance:  Today, God accepts us with grace and favor beyond our deserving.  God leads us away from the false gods that we are tempted to place before us and guides us faithfully into the way of life and peace.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.
Scriptures:  Exodus 32:15-34 – “The Golden Calf”
Acts 7:35-43 – “Stephen on Moses”
Mark 7:9-13 – “Rejecting the Commandment”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection questions:
Is there any humor in the selection from Exodus 32?  Why do you think the author seems to be making fun of Aaron?
What do you make of the religiously motivated violence in today’s reading from Exodus?  How do/should we respond to violence committed in God’s name today?
While Psalm 44 praises God’s works among the ancestors of Israel, Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 describes the disobedience of the people.  Are Christians guilty of anti-Semitism when citing passages like this?  Can a text like Acts 7 be understood in a way that does not communicate hostility toward Jewish people?
The verses in Mark 7 note the hypocrisy of those who emphasize human tradition over God’s commands.  Do we ever “change the rules” to suit us?  Are there times when we should?  Do some Biblical commandments simply no longer apply to us today?  Are we all hypocrites, and if so, what do we do about our hypocrisy?
Can we really avoid making our parents’ mistakes?  If so, how?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  We praise you, God, for the good news that you set us free from the wrongs of the past to live courageously in the “here and now.”  We thank you for our heritage and for the blessings of yesterday.  May the past be for us a spring of wisdom and faith from which we may drink and not a prison that traps us in ways of evil, sin and death.  Amen.
Benediction:  Now let us go out into the world, empowered to live freely, as the beloved children God has called us to be.  May we do so, giving thanks to God for our yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows!  Amen.

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