Thursday, August 08, 2013

Seek God's Glory, Not Human Glory -- Alternative Lectionary (Proper 15)

Knowing who you are at all times is important.  Know your place -- seek after God's glory not your own -- that is the message of the alternative texts for this week.  Again, we thank David Ackerman for helping provide guidance for exploring the scriptures outside the normal lectionary pattern through his website and companion book -- Beyond the Lectionary.  


Proper 15

August 18, 2013
“Seek God’s Glory, Not Human Glory”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:41-48 NRSV
One:  Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise.
Many:  Then I shall have an answer for those who taunt me, for I trust in your word.
One:  Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your ordinances.
Many:  I will keep your law continually, forever and ever.
One:  I shall walk at liberty, for I have sought your precepts.
Many:  I will also speak of your decrees before kings, and shall not be put to shame.
One:  I find my delight in your commandments, because I love them.
Many:  I revere your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
Gathering Prayer:  You bring us together, God, into your presence this day.  Help us to trust that you are with us so that we may look to you as the one who makes meaning out of the apparent chaos of this world.  Amen.
Confession:  Too often, Holy One, we have prized the praise of others over your praise.  We haven’t really cared about glorifying you, but instead have craved honor and power for ourselves.  Have mercy on us.  Forgive us, and help us to turn to you and focus our lives on you.  Amen.
Assurance:  God is truly present to us in this place and in all places.  God hears our prayers and gives us transformative grace, so that we may work to pave the way for the realm of God here on earth.  May it be so!  Amen.
Scriptures:  2 Samuel 16:20-17:7, 11-14, 23 – “Ahithophel”
1 Corinthians 11:2-16 – “Head Coverings”
John 7:10-18 – “Jesus at the Festival of Booths”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
The saga of Ahithophel, like last Sunday’s selection from 2 Samuel, is graphic and violent.  What do you make of the scene described in 2 Samuel 16:20-23?  How could people have watched such a scene?  Would you call this rape?  Are there problems with trying to impose 21st century categories on people in earlier times?  Are there times when it is more important to speak our truth than to respect other cultures’ social norms (especially when we consider these practices to be harmful, destructive, or degrading to women)?
Do you think the author is saying that God gave Ahithophel what he deserved?  Why or why not?
What do you think are some of the dangers of living to please other people?
Encounters with suicide are some of the most painful things that people can experience.  Have you ever known someone who committed suicide?  Where was God in such a time?
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul makes an impassioned argument as to why women should wear head coverings in worship.  Does he convince you?  Why or why not?
What point do you think Jesus is making in John 7:18 when he says, “The one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true”?
Do you think we discover healing more when we look inwardly or outwardly?  Why?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  We thank you, Gracious Spirit, for saving us from ourselves.  May we find strength for living by losing ourselves in the wonder, love and praise of you!  Amen.
Benediction:  Now is the time to go and share the good news of God’s glory.  So let’s head out into the world and live for God’s praise instead of the praises of others.  Amen.

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