In this week’s installment of Adventures in Preaching, we who follow the Revised Common Lectionary have options of a hopeful prophesy in Isaiah (that is fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew), the calling of some of Jesus’ disciples, a Psalm expressing deep faith, and Paul preaching to the church in Corinth about unity.
Those of us in the USA might find Paul’s words to be particularly meaningful this first Sunday after the inauguration of an extraordinarily divisive man as President. How can Christians today “be united in the same mind and the same purpose”? What would that look like? And what work do we have ahead of us?
Psalm 27 is one of my personal favorites to use, in its entirety, at hospital bedsides or in other situations when people are struggling. The psalmist reminds us that life isn’t always easy, but God remains with us and supports us through it all.
Matthew’s account of Jesus calling Simon and Andrew, James and John, is well-known and inspiring. What do we leave behind if we choose to be disciples of Jesus? What did Jesus mean about having them fish for people – and what does that look like for us? Somehow increasing the numbers of people on church membership lists doesn’t seem like a good enough motivation for the disciples to leave their whole livelihoods behind – Jesus must have meant something deeper than this.
In Isaiah, the prophet proclaims words of hope to a people who have experienced military defeat and oppression by the Assyrians. In Matthew, the evangelist claims that the prophesy is fulfilled in the person of Jesus. It’s worth sometimes preaching on a prophesy from the Hebrew Bible by just looking at it in its original context and considering how the people of Israel would have understood the words. With today’s combination of readings, worshippers will easily make the connection to Jesus even if the preacher stays focused on the original intent of Isaiah.
What is speaking to you this week? What do your people need to hear? Please share your ideas and stories and questions below. Blessings in your writing and your worship preparation this week.
Katya Ouchakof is co-pastor of Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She blogs less often than she would like at Provocative Proclamations. She looks forward to warmer weather so that she can get back out on the water in her canoe.
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