“God Does Not Abandon Our Dysfunctional Families” -- Alternative Lectionary Proper 14 (David Ackerman)

There are some biblical texts that likely give us trouble, and yet they speak to issues and concerns that overwhelm our lives.  The story of Amnon's rape of his sister Tamar, the man who is sleeping his step-mother, and family that don't believe in you -- each of these stories that David Ackerman has picked out for this alternate to the lectionary for Proper 14 will challenge and yet perhaps enlighten.  If you're preaching you might want to check out this alternative lectionary, see where it takes you.  Once again David provides liturgical resources and reflection questions.  You can find more sermonic support in his book: Beyond the Lectionary: A Year of Alternatives to the Revised Common Lectionary.


Proper 14

August 11, 2013
“God Does Not Abandon Our Dysfunctional Families”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:25-32 NRSV
One:  My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to your word.
Many:  When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes.
One:  Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
Many:  My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
One:  Put false ways far from me; and graciously teach me your law.
Many:  I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your ordinances before me.
One:  I cling to your decrees, O Lord; let me not be put to shame.
Many:  I run the way of your commandments, for you enlarge my understanding.
Gathering Prayer:  So often, God, we find that the relationships we have with those who are closest to us are strained or broken.  We come before you acknowledging our brokenness, and we pray that our being with each other today might restore a sense of healing and wholeness to us.  Amen.
Confession:  God, we confess that we have acted in ways that are divisive and destructive.  We have often failed to be kind to our families, as well as our neighbors or strangers.  We have forgotten that the way we treat each other is the way we treat you.  Have mercy on us.  Give us the strength to let go of the hurtful things that our brothers and sisters have done to us.  May we do so not so much for their sake as for ours, so that we may be free to embrace the new challenges and opportunities that life brings our way.  Teach us to look to you as a model of how to live in right relationship with those closest to us and with our whole world.  Amen.
Assurance:  The One who gives us health and wholeness hears our prayers and yearns for us to be restored into right relationship with our brothers and sisters.  May we live knowing that because we have been given new lives we can show genuine love even when it is hard to do.  Amen.
Scriptures:  2 Samuel 13:1-20, 27b-29 – “Amnon and Tamar”
1 Corinthians 5:1-5 – “Sexual Immorality”
John 7:1-9 – “The World Hates Me”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
The story of Amnon, Tamar and Absalom in 2 Samuel 13 is filled with incest, rape, and murder.  Do you think it is appropriate to share such a story in a setting of worship?  Why or why not?  What could be gained by bringing such a story to light?  If we reject this story outright, is our rejection consistent with our understanding of Biblical authority?
The story of the man who is living with his father’s wife in 1 Corinthians 5 is obviously a challenging situation for the Corinthians.  What do you think about Paul’s response?  Do you think he is being too harsh?  Why or why not?
In John 7, the narrator of the story states that even Jesus’ brothers don’t believe in him (v 5).  Have you ever been through a tough time where it felt like even family members or those closest to you let you down?  What was that like?
How do you think God can (or does) intervene to help with dysfunctional families?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  We grieve, God, when things go wrong with us in our families.  Thank you for caring for us even when things around us seem to fall apart.  Amen.
Benediction:  We have been sent out by God into the world as agents of healing.  Let us go, then, to bring wholeness and help to families and communities who need God to break through all barriers to fullness of life.  Amen.


Steve Kindle said…
If you read in the newspaper about a 13 year-old girl who had a baby out of wedlock, raised her child, alone, and watched as her child was executed by the state for treason, you would call this family dysfunctional. Most call it the Holy Family.

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