Thursday, July 25, 2013

When We Fall, God Raises Us -- Alternative Lectionary Proper 13 (David Ackerman)


With his book and website -- Beyond the Lectionary -- David Ackerman provides preachers or students of scripture an alternative lectionary, with focus on texts that often get neglected. We all know the story of Samson and Delilah. We learned it in Sunday School, but do we preach it. Then there's the story of Eutyches, who falls out a window due to Paul's long winded sermon, and in the Gospel of John there's conversation about eternal life. I invite you to consider these texts and David's guidance into them.


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Proper 13


August 4, 2013
“When We Fall, God Raises Us”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:17-24 NRSV
One:  Deal bountifully with your servant, so that I may live and observe your word.
Many:  Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
One:  I live as an alien in the land; do not hide your commandments from me.
Many:  My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times.
One:  You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.
Many:  Take away from me their scorn and contempt, for I have kept your decrees.
One:  Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Many:  Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors.
Gathering Prayer:  Spirit of life, you have blessed us with so many gifts.  You have raised us up and empowered us to be your disciples in this world.  As we come together this day, may we trust in the good news of your resurrection and be blessings to this world in your name.  Amen.
Confession:  So many times, God, we confess that we fall.  We give in to temptation, our courage lapses, our strength is broken, and we disappoint ourselves, others and you.  Have mercy on us.  Forgive us and change us so that we might follow you anew in faithfulness and love.  Amen.
Assurance:  God lifts us up and gives us the promise of eternal life this day.  Because of this, we can live with boldness, knowing that God will raise us up when life knocks us down.  Amen.
Scriptures:  Judges 16:1-5, 16-31 – “Samson and Delilah”
Acts 20:7-12 – “The Fall of Eutychus”
John 6:37-40 – “Raise It Up on the Last Day”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
In today’s story in Judges 16, how does Samson fall?  Delilah?  The Philistines?  What do you make of the violence in the passage?  Do you see anything redeeming in this story?
The story of Eutychus might be a cautionary tale for preachers who go on a little too long!  Is this a story of resurrection?  What would you have thought if you had witnessed such a thing?
Jesus speaks of the raising of believers to eternal life in John 6.  What do you think he means by “eternal life?”  When is the “last day?”
Have you ever fallen in life?  Has God raised you up?  What was that like for you?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  For all those times that we have fallen and you were there to lift us up, we give you thanks, God Most High.  We praise you with all of our hearts for all the good that you have done for us.  Thank you, gracious God.  Amen.
Benediction:  We go now as a people of resurrection and new life.  We go to share good news of a God who raises us from the dust of death.  Let us move on then to joyfully lift up this message with our lives.  Amen.

2 comments:

Jeffery Agnew said...

One must be careful of any preacher who doesn't read the story of Eutychus as a cautionary tale. ;-) Seriously, I miss the days of longer sermons.

Robert Cornwall said...

Jeff, the warning isn't to the preacher, but to the listener. Don't sit in windows high above the ground on a hot evening, when the preacher gets going!!