“God Saves Us from the Ravages of Time” -- Alternative Lectionary -- Proper 28 (David Ackerman)

We are nearing the end of the liturgical year. Advent is on the horizon and an opportunity to start the journey again. If you're a preacher you might want to start considering whether it might be useful to take a look at an alternative fourth year lectionary cycle.  David Ackerman's cycle, Beyond the Lectionary,  is one of several that are discussed in a recent Christian Century article written by Steve Thorngate, which explores other ways of approaching the text.  In this set of readings, the texts speak of death, justice, judgment, and salvation.  They ask us to consider how God is with us, and how we are with God.  I invite you to take a look and perhaps make use of David's selections for preaching, study, and personal devotion.   


Proper 28

November 17, 2013
“God Saves Us from the Ravages of Time”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 144:1-8 NRSV
One:  Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the peoples under me.
Many:  O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them?
One:  They are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow.
Many:  Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains so that they may smoke.
One:  Make the lightnings flash and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them.
Many:  Stretch out your hand from on high; set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hand of aliens, whose mouths speak lies, and whose right hands are false.
Gathering Prayer:  We are here together again in your presence, God, and we thank you for all that you have done to bring us to this time and place.  Lead us from one moment into the next, and teach us to trust in your care for us.  Amen.
Confession:  We haven’t trusted you, God, like we should, and we’ve fooled ourselves about how much time we have.  Our days go by so quickly, and we continually fail to reflect on how we are living.  We nurse petty grudges and go about our lives as though you don’t make a difference in the world.  Forgive us and change us, so that we may have faith that you will save us from the ravages of time and even from death itself.  Amen.
Assurance:  God delivers us from life’s wreckage.  Since we have been made new by God’s grace, let us live as people who are truly thankful for all our blessings.  Amen.
Scriptures:  Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 – “Remember Your Creator”
Acts 27:39-28:10 – “The Shipwreck”
John 12:44-50 – “I Came to Save the World”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
Do you think Ecclesiastes 12 is about death, old age, or something else?  Take a look at each of the images in vv 2-7 and try to guess what each one means.
Does the end of Ecclesiastes fit or seem out of place to you?  What do you think is the book’s message for you?
What do you think is the point of the story about the shipwreck at the end of Acts 27?  What do you make of the stories about the viper and the healing of Publius in Acts 28?
John 12:44-50 is Jesus’ final teaching before he shares the Passover with his disciples.  Do you think that this is a good summary of what he has been saying over the previous chapters?  If you could sum up what Jesus came to teach us in a sentence or two, what would that be?
All of today’s readings offer images of the nearness of death.  Do you ever think about how close death might be, or how long we have to live?  How do today’s scriptures help us come to terms with the realities of the passing of time and death?  In the context of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, how do these scriptures teach us to count our blessings?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  Teach us, God, to be grateful for life while we have it, and remind us of our mortality, so we might make the most of the time we have been given.  Amen.
Benediction:  God sends us out today in a ministry of new life and healing.  Let us go now to share the good news that Jesus has taught us.  Amen.


Ron said…
steve, i'm really intrigued by your line of interpretation/ reasoning. Can you share with me any written resources that approach scripture in this way? thanks

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