Thursday, September 26, 2013

“God Can Deal With Our Anger” -- Alternative Lectionary -- Proper 22 (David Ackerman)

Christians aren't supposed to get angry!  We've all been taught this bit of wisdom.  And yet we do get angry.  And for good reason.  Even Jesus gets angry on occasion.  And we've all heard about the wrath of God -- right?  A good Jedi always keeps his or her emotions in check (Stoic), for anger leads to the dark side.  But is there a place for emotions?  These are the kinds of questions that David Ackerman raises for us in this set of alternative lections for Proper 22, which falls on October 6 (World Communion Sunday).  David invites some reflections on that connection as well.  I invite you to consider this set of readings for Proper 22. 


Proper 22

October 6, 2013
“God Can Deal With Our Anger”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:113-120 NRSV
One:  I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
Many:  You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
One:  Go away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.
Many:  Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope.
One:  Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually.
Many:  You spurn all who go astray from your statutes; for their cunning is in vain.
One:  All the wicked of the earth you count as dross; therefore I love your decrees.
Many:  My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.
Gathering Prayer:  We come together, God, having been hurt and wounded by the world.  We feel this hurt deeply, and we ask that as we gather today, you would teach us how to cope with it, as we seek to be your disciples in the world.  Amen.
Confession:  God, we confess that we have a hard time trusting you with our anger.  We do a lot of different things with the anger that we feel.  We express it, suppress it, and deny it.  Sometimes it comes out in healthy ways, but at other times we allow ourselves to be consumed by it.  Help us, God.  Forgive us for not having faith that you are big enough to deal with our anger, and give us the resources we need to express anger in ways that you would have us do.  Amen.
Assurance:  God is bigger than any emotion we feel and is there for us in every circumstance of life.  For grace beyond our imagining, let us give thanks and praise to God.  Amen.
Scripture:  Job 3 – “Why Did I Not Die at Birth?”
2 Corinthians 11:16-31 – “Paul’s Defense”
John 8:39-47 – “Jesus Defends Himself”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
Job 3 expresses feelings that many people find to be negative and even unacceptable in themselves.  Do you think such talk should appear in the Bible?  Why or why not?  What good can come out of it?
Paul’s defense of himself in 2 Corinthians 11 is a clear case of self-justification in scripture.  Do you think it is ever okay to defend yourself like he does?  Why or why not?
In this passage, Jesus has some very harsh words for his opponents.  What do you think about such words being placed on the lips of Jesus?  What does this say about how we as Christians should deal with our own feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal?
Do you think that the expressions of anger that are shown in today’s scriptures are the best examples for us to follow as Christians?  Why or why not?  If not, what do you think are some better examples?
Many Christians celebrate World Communion Sunday today (except when October 1 falls on a Sunday, in which case it is observed on Proper 21).  What do you make of the divisions that exist in Christianity today?  Is it ever okay to be angry about them and if so, what, if anything, do today’s scriptures have to say about how we might deal with such anger?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  Thank you, God, for the gift of anger.  Teach us to look to you for help when we have a hard time knowing how best to express it.  Amen.
Benediction:  God sends us out to change the world.  Let us do so, knowing that God goes with us.  Amen.

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