The image of a scroll that one consumes is provocative. It is a call to take in and digest the Word that God offers so that we might share that word with the World around us. It is a word that is sweet and yet can be bitter. It depends on who is receiving it -- as Jesus reminds us in his rationale for speaking in parables -- some will understand and others won't. The heart must be prepared to receive the Word of God. Each of these texts that David Ackerman has chosen for the alternative readings for Epiphany 6 (February 16) are intriguing and will lead into into interesting conversations -- whether from the pulpit, the study group, or internal ones as one explores the texts for the week. Take, read, eat, and be blessed.
Proper 1/Epiphany 6
“Consume and Share God’s Words”
Call to Worship: Psalm 3 NRSV
One: O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising up against me; many are saying to me, “There is no help for you in God.”
Many: But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory and the one who lifts my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill.
One: I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Many: Rise up, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people!
Gathering Prayer: God of newness and nurture, we thank you for delivering us from the dangers of the week and for bringing us together this day. Sustain us with your words. May they so fill and infuse us that they become part of us and an authentic extension of ourselves. Help us to be present to you as people who hear, understand, and respond faithfully to your good news.
Confession: Gracious God, we confess that we have not feasted on your words to us. We have filled ourselves with things that do not satisfy us and as a result we have become weak. We flee quickly at the first signs of trouble and lack the courage that we need to faithfully proclaim your message in this world. Forgive us for our dull hearts, our closed ears, and our weary eyes, and help us to turn to you and be healed.
Assurance: Today, God has opened our hearts, ears and eyes to receive good news. God feeds and sustains us with a message of grace that no one can ever sabotage or take away. Thanks be to God!
Scriptures: Ezekiel 2:6-3:4 – “Eating the Scroll”
Revelation 10:1-11 – “Eating the Scroll”
Matthew 13:10-17 – “The Reason for Parables”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
- What connections do you see between the scrolls in Ezekiel 2-3 and Revelation 10? How might you understand the stories of the consuming of the scrolls to be parables about ministry?
- What does it mean to you that the scrolls are sweet in the prophets’ mouths but bitter in their stomachs?
- How does consuming the scrolls empower both Ezekiel and John of Patmos to speak in their settings?
- How do parables help us to understand what the kingdom of heaven is like and how do we sometimes resist such parables?
- What might it mean for you to eat the scroll of God’s words in your life?
Prayer of Thanksgiving: We praise you, God, for feeding us with your words. Help us to respond faithfully to your call and share your good news with a world that starves for a lack of hearing it.
Benediction: Having been fed with God’s words, let us go now into a world full of challenges and dangers. May we be filled with courage, knowing that God’s grace will sustain us always! Amen.