Welcome to the 5th Sunday after Epiphany! How is the season of light going for you?

salt-51973_1920This Sunday’s RCL Gospel continues the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus shares words of wisdom that are counterintuitive to the world’s values. The Isaiah reading is explicit about the requirements for a faithful life requiring housing the homeless and feeding the hungry, among other things. How can you share the good news with your worshippers through these texts? How can you do so without being accused of being “too political”? Perhaps the Psalm or the lesson from 1 Corinthians is speaking to you this week. How will you speak this word to your worshippers? Some RCL ideas were shared on the blog earlier this week.

The Narrative Lectionary has a pair of miracle stories – healing the slave of the centurion, and raising the son of the widow at Nain. Will you preach on one or both of these miracles? What do they mean for Christians today, especially for people suffering from illness or grief? What will you do with the issue of slavery, or of a woman’s need for a man in her household? See this page for some lively discussion on these stories.

Whether you’re preaching on these texts or something different, looking for children’s sermon ideas, preparing your liturgy, or working on anything else for worship, please share your ideas below!

canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a certified canoeing instructor, occasional hospital chaplain, aunt to the best kids in the world, and a devout Star Wars fan. Katya is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and blogs periodically at Provocative Proclamations.

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33 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Salt and Light

  1. working with Matthew and Isaiah from the RCL, thinking about how salt and light and worship are not ends in themselves, or something like that. i have over 1/3 written, and it is only mid-afternoon Saturday – a record!


    1. Glad you got an early start this week! Hope that the rest of your sermon comes together quickly so you can enjoy the evening 🙂


  2. I’ve got some stuff rolling around my head about Matthew but I’m not sure if it’s a sermon or just leftover thoughts from the week. I’m thinking about the city on a hill and the notion of American exceptionalism. And about the Johnson Amendment and a discussion with our high schoolers last Sunday about how/if faith should affect our politics. They (in a noncommittal way) thought that faith should be a totally separate sphere. So I find myself wanting to say something about the political/corporate nature of our faith (it’s a city on a hill, after all, not just one person waving a candle) but also something about not confusing the city with our nation.

    Also I listened to Casting Crown’s song “City on a Hill”, which might offer a different direction. Ugh. I really don’t know. The Spirit turned up totally unexpectedly last week, and maybe she will again.


    1. Yes, lots of thoughts running around! Hopefully that’s better than no ideas at all? Describing the political/corporate nature of faith sounds like a good topic without being partisan, if you’re trying to avoid that. Blessings in your preparations!


    2. I’m intrigued by your exploration of the city set on a hill. First I think of Sepphoris, that Roman city near Nazareth set on a hill and what it represented to Jesus’ listeners. Then I remember that Jerusalem, another city on a hill, that was not in Jesus’ day what I think he hoped the people would emulate. So I wonder if we might challen]ge our people to think about how Jesus would describe a model city on a hill in his day and ours.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark 4 and parables here. Reflecting on the generosity of the sower, the abundance of the seed, the need to actually get out there and sow the seed, and the idea that seed, once planted, grows (plants don’t grow faster if you pull them up by the roots to see how they’re getting on)

    Our youth are leading the service and I feel honoured to have been invited to say a few words so I’m trying to keep it short and snappy. Am also going to read Mother Theresa’s “anyway” prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment about pulling up a plant to check its roots made me laugh! And it’s great imagery – I hope you use it in your message 🙂 Happy preaching!


  4. Even though the political climate is a little different here in Oz compared to the USA, i suspect there will be fallout becasue of the Isaiah paraphrase which mentions opening our homes and hearts to refugees – there are some in the congregation that are opposed to taking refugees 😦

    i finished the first draft before dinner, now i have cut it down a bit.
    Enhancing Life:Salt, Light and Isaiah



    1. Yes, the refugee topic seems to be of global political concern these days. Thanks for sharing your draft – I’ll read it after doing a funeral this morning.


    2. Oh, I like how you start by acknowledging that salt has a bad reputation these days! And then you do a great job describing various uses for salt. Tying light back in to a congregational event is wonderful. The piece on Isaiah is very good also, but the imagery you used from Matthew just worked for me – thank you!


  5. This week I plan to go the subtle route. Who are the people you know who are zesty and reflect the light of Christ? What are their values? What centers them? Talk to them. Engage them. Learn from them how to incorporate that in your own life and share it with others. Is our church a light that shines outward or inward? Would the community notice if we aren’t here anymore? How do we nurture and share our personal and social salt and light so that it comes together to form the beloved community?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would the community notice if we weren’t here – that’s a great question for faith communities to revisit often! Blessings on your writing today.


  6. Friends, I’ll be at a funeral for the next couple of hours. Keep the party going, and I’ll check back in on the salty, light-filled, miraculous conversation when I return!


  7. I’m sort of thinking in the direction of how these two healing miracles proclaim “good news of great joy…for all the people.” I’ve long thought that announcement from the angels in Luke 2 is sort of the thesis statement for the whole Gospel (well, that and Luke’s expressed desire to present “an orderly account” of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection). In this case, the first one indicates Jesus responds to faith even when it is found in an unexpected place and comes with mixed motives; and the second shows that Jesus responds to dire human situations with gut-wrenching compassion (for that is what the Greek word used in verse 13 literally means). I may focus on the second story, so that I can challenge my folks to think about the times and circumstances in which we, following Jesus and continuing his ministry as his body, are moved to similar gut-wrenching compassion and how we respond. I might give some specifics, and slip in a subtle reference to the plight of refugees. We’ll see how that goes.


    1. “Good news of great joy for all the people” as a thesis for the Gospel of Luke… I like it! And it’s very easy to tie that thesis statement to current affairs, like the refugee crisis. Thanks for sharing your ideas, and happy writing!


  8. I have a draft of a sermon. Writing it has not been easy. I leave town after church tomorrow for a few days of continuing ed. I will also get to see my daughter who is about to give birth to our first grandchild. My distraction factor is so high one would think I was having the baby….


  9. I’m doing pulpit supply tomorrow, so I don’t have history to build on. Right now, there are two main ideas that are incubating in my mind; and I *think* that I can tie them together into one cohesive sermon.

    The first idea comes from the grammatical form of the verses that say “You are salt” and “You are light.” That is not a question, an invitation, or a statement of possibility. It is a simple statement of fact: You *are* salt. You *are* light. You don’t get to choose whether to be salt; you are, because God has said that you are. (I might even quote parts of Julia’s wonderful blog post this morning at http://lutheranjulia.blogspot.com/2017/02/because-god-loves-you-i-cant-lie-to-you.html?m=1 to illustrate the point that we don’t have the option to be other than salt and light.

    So what does that mean? And especially, what does that mean in the face of a society that seems to have gone mad? I’m thinking about inviting the congregation to think with me about the characteristics of salt and light, and then tie them in with how we act as followers of Jesus. For instance, if someone suggests that salt can be used for protection (sprinkling it on icy sidewalks), I might make a comparison with our job to protect those who are vulnerable in any way. If they say that light enables us to do work, we might talk about the way we can shine light on both good and bad situations and provide inspiration to others to join in the work as well.

    My hope is that they will help to make the connection between scripture and society, they will “own” that connection, so that they will better understand that “too political” simply isn’t a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The interactive possibilities of brainstorming ideas together sounds endless – especially in cold climates that are lacking in light at the moment and using lots of salt of the roads! Blessings as you prepare a sermon for a congregation that is new to you.


  10. After a glorious 2 1/2 hour nap (thank you, spouse, for watching the toddler) I’m ready to knock this sermon on Luke 7:1-17 out. I’m focusing on humility – how the Centurion humbled himself before Jesus, how the widow had been humbled by her situation and did not need to. I’m going to tie this into my tradition’s emphasis on corporate confession.


  11. I have a draft from yesterday on salt and light. I need to look at it and see if it sounds ok today. I’ve had a long day with a difficult and lengthy meeting, then taking our daughter to a birthday party, then using the last dregs of my patience for supper, showers, and bedtime.

    Thanks for hosting, canoeistpastor, and thanks for the company.


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