When We Despair, God Gives Us Hope -- Alternative Lectionary Proper 19 (David Ackerman)

Should you choose to explore this alternative lectionary for September 15, 2013, perhaps you will hear a word for today.  For many despair remains the operative word.  Whether it is the news emanating from Syria and Egypt or our own cities and towns, we seem a drift.  That sense of aloneness has bred a form of individualism that undermines our ability to trust in God or anyone else.  Perhaps these texts and David Ackerman's skillful guidance can lead us into a sense of divine hope.


Proper 19

September 15, 2013
“When We Despair, God Gives Us Hope”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:73-80 NRSV
One:  Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
Many:  Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.
One:  I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
Many:  Let your steadfast love become my comfort according to your promise to your servant.
One:  Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
Many:  Let the arrogant be put to shame, because they have subverted me with guile; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
One:  Let those who fear you turn to me, so that they may know your decrees.
Many:  May my heart be blameless in your statutes, so that I may not be put to shame.
Gathering Prayer:  God, you bring us here today and set before us a way of hope and life.  Lead us away from all despair and bring us to a place where our lives overflow with gratitude and love.  Amen.
Confession:  We confess that too often we have spun so deeply inward that there is no finding us.  We try desperately to hide from ourselves and from you.  Thankfully, God, you will not let us keep up this charade.  You break through our resistance and find us and deliver us.  Thank you for letting go of all sin that would keep us from you.  Show us how to live as the free people that you have made us to be.  Amen.
Assurance:  God has let go of all our wrongdoings and moves us forward.  Our dwelling on the past has proven to be useless and we are set free today from the tyranny of yesterday.  Let us move on, then, trusting in the hope that we have through Jesus, our Savior.  Amen.
Scriptures:  Jeremiah 32:36-44 – “I Will Do Good to Them”
2 Corinthians 1:3-11 – “God Will Rescue Us”
John 7:53-8:11 – “A Woman Caught in Adultery”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
In light of Jeremiah’s prophecies last week, how do you think his audience would have responded to what he says in chapter 32?  What do you think they would have made of the promises attributed to God in vv 37-42?  Do you think they would have believed the message about buying fields in vv 43-44?
Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthians by talking about consolation in the midst of sufferings.  What is his response to the events that happened to him in Asia?
When you face sufferings, does your attitude toward them make a difference in how you get through them?
What does the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 teach us about judging others?
Have you ever made a snap judgment that you later regretted?  What sort of spiritual discipline do we need to keep us from “casting the first stone”?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  Time and time again, God, you have rescued us from all kinds of trouble.  We thank you for your deliverance, and we pray that we might show with our lives how you bring hope out of despair and good out of evil.  Amen.
Benediction:  God has set us free from judgment and condemnation.  Let us go and declare this liberating message to others as we show God’s love in our lives.  Amen.


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