This week’s Revised Common Lectionary Gospel lesson is the fifth, and blessedly final, installment of the Bread of Life series. Next week we return to Mark, where there are still conversations about food, but in a totally different context. No matter how much you love John, or bread, if you’ve preached on the Bread of Life for each of the past four weeks, it’s likely that both you and your congregation members are starting to feel a carb overload. You’re probably also scouring the hymnal for that one last song on bread that you haven’t used already this summer, and praying that it’s halfway sing-able.
What will it be for you this week? Are you glorying in John’s Gospel for one more week? Have you skipped this series entirely in favor of the Epistle or Hebrew Bible readings?
This week’s story in 1 Kings tells of the arrival of the ark of the covenant to Solomon’s Temple. Perhaps you could compare your worship space to the Temple – especially if you’ve recently completed a building project! Joshua encourages the people to follow the LORD, forsaking all other gods, in the alternate Hebrew Bible lesson. What other gods are vying for your people’s time and adoration?
Psalm 84 and 34 both compliment the passages that they are meant to accompany, but they could certainly carry a sermon theme on their own as well.
Ephesians talks about putting on the armor of the Lord. While many of us cringe at militaristic imagery for God or for God’s people, this passage is clearly about donning armor as an act of defense rather than offense. Some good suggestions for spiritual practices can be gleaned from this reading. RevGal Teri Peterson shares a powerful sermon on Ephesians, titled “Stand”.
Then, of course, there is the Gospel lesson. Here we learn that Jesus’ teachings are difficult (and not just because the bread theme has been played out already). What preacher has not experienced the difficulty of Jesus’ teachings first-hand? Despite the sometimes-divisive nature of his message, we are called to live in unity with others who interpret Jesus’ message differently than us. How can we accomplish that? Here’s one inspirational story, please share others below!
If you’re looking for additional resources, check out Working Preacher or Dollar Store Children’s Sermons. For an impressive sermon in rhyme, based on the Joshua and John texts, see Faith, Grace, and Hope! Blessings on your worship prep and sermon writing. Please add any other ideas or questions in the comments!
Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor in Madison, WI. Her office contains a healthy selection of Bible commentaries and children’s books, and she finds sermon inspiration more often in the latter than the former. She blogs occasionally at Provocative Proclamations.
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