Thursday, October 31, 2013

God Helps Us through All of Life’s Storms -- Alternative Lections for Proper 27 (David Ackerman)


Life isn't a bed of roses, or at least a bed of roses minus the thorns.  We encounter many storms in life.  The question is -- can we put our trust in God in the midst of them?  In this set of readings for Proper 27 from Beyond the Lectionary, David Ackerman invites us to consider the way we live our lives.  Do we live in fear or in trust that God is with us, even in the storms of life.  If you're a preacher or a teacher perhaps this alternative set of readings will prove valuable.  Or perhaps this offering can be of use for pursuing your spiritual journey.  



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Proper 27


November 10, 2013
“God Helps Us through All of Life’s Storms”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:169-176 NRSV
One:  Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word.
Many:  Let my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
One:  My lips will pour forth your praise, because you teach me your statutes.
Many:  My tongue will sing of your promise, for all your commandments are right.
One:  Let your hand by ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
Many:  I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.
One:  Let me live that I may praise you, and let your ordinances help me.
Many:  I have gone astray like a lost sheep, seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
Gathering Prayer:  Bring us together, God, when we feel like lost sheep in a violent and hostile world.  Give us the endurance we need to face the trials that are before us.  Amen.
Confession:  There are times when we go astray and allow the winds of life to carry us away from being the people we know you want us to be.  So today we turn to you and ask that you would help us to keep our focus on you through all of life’s sufferings and storms.  Help us to forgive, and to find forgiveness in you, so that we may move ahead into the future that you long for us to enjoy.  Amen.
Assurance:  God sets us on solid ground and leads us to a place of serenity that transcends anything this world has to offer.  Let’s give thanks to God, then, who gives us true peace, real joy, and genuine love.  Amen.
ScripturesEcclesiastes 11:1-6 – “Bread upon the Waters”
Acts 27:1-2, 7-38 – “The Storm at Sea”
John 12:37-43 – “They Did Not Believe Him”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
What do you think is the meaning of Ecclesiastes 11:1:  “Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back”?
How is the story of the storm at sea in Acts 27 a parable about things that the early church faced?  What might the following symbols have meant to the early church:  a ship, a prison, a Roman centurion, violent winds, the third day, four anchors, staying in the ship, giving thanks, and breaking bread?  How might this story be a source of encouragement to us today when we feel hopeless and face hostility or division?
Why do you think people didn’t believe Jesus in John 12?  Are there times when we have honestly sought our own glory over God’s glory?
How might today’s readings speak to other events that your church may be observing today?
Can you recall a crisis or a storm that you went through?  What was that like?  Was your faith a source of help to you in that time?  Did God bring you through it?  How?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  God, you continue to look after us even when we haven’t looked after ourselves the way we should.  Thank you for being there for us and for bringing us to your refuge of grace, mercy, and love.  Amen.
Benediction:  God will go with us when we go out this day.  So let’s trust that God will help us to weather the storms that we will face over time, and let’s live in such a way that we are really seeking God’s glory instead of our own.  Amen.

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