Thursday, September 19, 2013

God Frees Us to Be Faithful -- Proper 21 (David Ackerman)

What does it mean to be free? How does freedom lead to faithfulness?  Who is the one who sets us free, and what are we free from?  These are all questions that are pertinent for today's world.  David Ackerman's alternative lectionary choices allows us to consider these questions, and at least in 21st century America, the freedom of God isn't the same thing as libertarianism!



Proper 21

September 29, 2013
“God Frees Us To Be Faithful”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:89-96 NRSV

One:  The Lord exists forever; your word is firmly fixed in heaven.
Many:  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
One:  By your appointment they stand today, for all things are your servants.
Many:  If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my misery.
One:  I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
Many:  I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
One:  The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your decrees.
Many:  I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Gathering Prayer:  Bring us together today, Holy Spirit, so that we might overflow in generous love for you and each other.  Amen.

Confession:  Redeeming God, so often we find ourselves in prisons of our own making.  We trap ourselves by our own lack of faith and we fail to look to you in our distress.  Forgive us, God.  Teach us to delight in your liberating love, so that we might find ourselves free from every obstacle that would keep us from following you faithfully.  Amen.

Assurance:  At this time and in this place, God has delivered us from every bond of sin that would keep us from grace and love.  Let us live then as a liberated people, set free to live for God’s praise and glory.  Amen.

Job 1:6-22 – “God’s Deal with the Adversary”
2 Corinthians 8:1-6 – “Generous Macedonians”
John 8:31-38 – “The Truth Will Make You Free”

Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.

Reflection Questions:
What do you make of the figure of Satan (or “the Adversary”) in Job 1?  Is Satan depicted differently here than in other parts of the Bible?  If so, how?  If you had faced the kinds of losses Job faced, do you think you would have responded as he did in v 21?

Why do you think Paul is telling the Corinthians about the Macedonians in today’s epistle reading? 

Have you ever known people who are examples of generous giving?  What are they like?

In John 8, Jesus talks about slavery to sin.  How does Jesus set us free from sin?  What do you think about his statement, “The truth will make you free” (v 32)?

Have you ever felt like you were imprisoned in something?  How did God set you free?  What were you able to do once you were free?

Prayer of Thanksgiving:  Thank you, God, for delivering us from sin and helping us to live faithfully to you.  Show us how to share with others the good news of your liberating love.  Amen.

Benediction:  God has rescued us from every prison that would keep us from living the lives we were intended to enjoy.  Let us now go and share the good news of God’s saving grace with a world that yearns to break forth into fullness of life.  Amen.


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