Philemon! This is the week we get to hear Philemon, the only time this letter shows up in the 3-year lectionary cycle! Given this letter’s history of being used to justify slavery, and considering racial and socioeconomic conflicts that seem to be ever-increasing in our society, a re-interpretation of Philemon for the modern-day Christian could be a wonderful sermon path. You might visit Eric Barreto’s excellent commentary on Working Preacher for additional ideas. Even if you don’t use Philemon as your sermon text, I hope you consider re-reading it as you prepare your sermon for this week, and reading in its entirety in worship on Sunday. It’s the shortest book in the Bible, it won’t take you long. 🙂
Psalm 1 and Psalm 139 are both beautiful, and could be used as a litany to begin worship, to stand in for a confession, or as a prayer during the service sometime. Most preachers shy away from sermons on the Psalms, which means that many worshippers have never heard a sermon on a Psalm. I love using Psalm 139 for the children’s sermon, bringing a knitting project and explaining how each stitch takes effort, and that’s the level of care that God used when creating us! What will you do with the Psalm this week?
For the Old Testament lesson, there are choices from Jeremiah or Deuteronomy. Which lesson will you use – if any? Have you been following one track or the other through the summer for a lectionary preaching series? If so, please share your themes and insights! If not, this might be something to consider for future years in ordinary time.
This week’s Gospel from Luke doesn’t sound much like good news at first blush. Thankfully, this is also the only time this passage shows up in the three-year lectionary cycle! (There is a partial parallel in Matthew 10 that the lectionary gives us in year A, but that passage has a different theme overall.) In Luke 14, Jesus tells his followers that they must hate their families and life itself if they’re going to be his disciples. Moreover, being a disciple is pricey work, and you had better count the cost and be willing to sacrifice all your possessions if you want to follow Jesus. Give up family and possessions and life itself to follow Jesus? It’s a tough sell. How can you translate Jesus’ extreme call to discipleship for your congregation?
If you’re in the USA, you may be expecting small crowds since it’s Labor Day weekend and many folks will be traveling or simply doing other things over the long weekend. A quick Google search tells me that Australia and New Zealand are celebrating Father’s Day this Sunday, and Vietnam’s Independence Day is Sept 2! What is going on in your community? Where are the RCL texts leading you? Which Bible passages and what theme will your sermon address? Please share questions, brainstorms, blog posts and resources below. Happy writing!
*Note: this post was scheduled a few days early, as I am currently on vacation and offline. Many thanks to Monica Thompson Smith for following up to comments in my absence. And apologies if I have missed some relevant current events due to advance scheduling this post. I trust you all to discuss as needed below!
canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI, part-time hospital chaplain, and certified canoeing instructor. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and has recently given her blog a facelift: Provocative Proclamation.
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