Saturday, July 23, 2016

Christian education and liturgical resources

As the summer flies by all too quickly, you may find yourself in need of doing some planning for the fall, both for Sunday school and worship, in which case, I could well imagine 6 or 7 weeks in the study of the Lord's Prayer ...

and 6 to 9 weeks rediscovering an important, but forgotten Reformer.

The seventeen chapters in this piece are very short and could easily be read two or three at a clip. For many an adult ed class or book group, you could well spend a whole semester on these two studies alone.

After which, you may be ready for something lighter at Advent and Christmas. Written to "delight," this story is probably most suited to a family night or fellowship gathering, but perhaps it has been adapted for pageants; you might also think of it as an extended Christmas card for a congregation, a thank you gift for key families, a welcome gift for visitors, etc.

Where worship is concerned, if you haven't looked into Year D yet, it is not too soon to plan ahead:


On the other hand, if you want to restart the RCL cycle with Year A and the Gospel of Matthew, you may want to have this on hand:

These are just a few — hopefully helpful — pieces developed over the years in small church ministry, and one (the translation) that has arisen from the nagging sense that we still have a lot to learn about our identity and mission as Christians in the Reformed tradition from the actual Reformers (there are more than just Luther and Calvin) who got the ball rolling. In short and paradoxically, clues to the way forward always seems to demand attending to the past, if we are patient and teachable enough to search out the great treasures of the tradition. Obviously, that applies to scripture above all, especially to those basic, but neglected essentials like the Lord's Prayer.

Spread the Word!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Apocalyptic Discourse — 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 11]

Deuteronomy 31:23–29 or Micah 7:1–7 or Daniel (11:40–45) 12:1–13
Psalm 54
Matthew 10:17–22a; 24:9–14 or Mark 13:9–13
1 Corinthians 9:1–15

O Lord our protector, we live in troubled times, when many run to and fro in pursuit of vain things, and lawlessness increases. Nevertheless, in Jesus Christ you deliver your people from death to life, everyone who is found written in your book of life. Speak to us once more of eternal things: of life and love, of your holy splendor and your complete joy, that we may gain wisdom and shine with your glory like the brightness of the sky, like the stars forever and ever. This we ask in the name of your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness.

For homiletical commentary on these texts, follow the link.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Apocalyptic Discourse - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 10]

Jeremiah 7:1–15 or Daniel 2:1–49
Psalm 17:8–14 (15) or 83
Matthew 24:1–8 (or Mark 13:1–8)
1 Corinthians 7:1–40

OPENING PRAYER [see Daniel 2:20–23, 47] [from GREATER ATTENTION: LERW, YEAR D]
Blessed be your name, O God, from age to age, for wisdom and power are yours! Truly, you are God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries! You change times and seasons, depose and establish rulers, give wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to the understanding. You reveal deep and hidden things; you know what is in the darkness, and light dwells with you. To you, O God of our ancestors, we give thanks and praise, for you give your faithful ones wisdom and power, and reveal yourself to those who seek you. Draw near to us now, we pray, as we gather in your presence to magnify your holy name.

NB: Here is some related homiletical commentary on these texts.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 9]

2Kings 6:8-23
Psalm 57 OR 3
Matthew 12:38-50 OR Luke 11:24-36
1Corinthians 5:1-5 (6-8) 9-13; 6:1-11

O LORD our refuge, you have spoken through your prophets and your teachers of wisdom, yet you are among us as one greater still! You have expanded our understanding of family, saying, whoever does the will of our heavenly Father is a brother or sister of Jesus Christ the Son. Yet one far greater than the church is here! Yes, you are here, for so you have promised to be present in the Spirit where your followers are gathered in your name, you who were three days in the heart of the earth and are now seated at the right hand of power. Therefore, awaken us to the nearness of your presence, speak to us with the power of our risen Lord Jesus, and give us courage and determination to obey, for we are eager to receive the blessing you promised when you said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”

Sunday, June 26, 2016

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 8]

2Kings 20:1-21 or Amos 4:1-3 or Malachi 3:6-18 (4:1-6)
Psalm 56
Matthew 9:27-34 or John 5:31-47
1Corinthians 3:12-15 (3:16-4:5) 4:6-21 or 2John


May grace, mercy, and peace be with us from God the Father
and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
         Let our service to God and our faith in Christ Jesus
         be a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. 
If we are fools for the sake of Christ, let others become wise in him.
If we are weak, may they become are strong.
         When reviled, we shall bless; when persecuted, we shall endure;
         when slandered, we shall speak kindly.
For even if we are like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things,
We know that the Lord himself has received as much from the world.
         Therefore, in God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;
         I am not afraid; what can flesh do to me?
My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
         For you have delivered my soul from death,and my feet from falling,
         so that I may walk before you in the light of life.

Friday, June 17, 2016

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 7]

Isaiah 29:1-24 OR Isaiah 59:1-21
Psalm 55
Matthew 15:1-20 OR Mark 7:1-20 
1Timothy 4


Our Holy and Gracious God, we confess we have often seen things upside down. We have made a habit of following blind guides rather than fully trusting in your Word, and have risked fall into the Pit. We confess we have been afraid to see what you would show us, to hear what you would say to us; thus, we find ourselves in a stupor, in a spirit of deep sleep. We have forgotten ourselves and foolishly regarded you, the potter, as though you were the clay; we have rashly questioned why you have made us this way. Forgive us, LORD! Give ear to our prayer, and do not hide yourself from our supplications. For we are besieged us and hemmed in by sin. Redeem us unharmed from the battles that we wage, for many forces and foes are arrayed against us. Nevertheless, we will trust in you to hear us as we call upon you, to save us from the wages of sin, and train us up in godliness. This we ask in Jesus’ name.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

In memory of Hughes Oliphant Old

I was saddened to read of the recent death of Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old, late Dean of Erskine Seminary and a rare historian of preaching and worship in the Reformed tradition. His textbook on worship ever a staple of the classroom, Dr. Old's scholarship on preaching crossed my radar screen again lately in the form of his contribution to Communio Sanctorum, a 1982 festschrift for J.-J. von Allmen, Old's essay being a study of the preaching of John Oecolampadius on the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Basel Reformer.

May the coming General Assembly in Portland not come and go without notice of Old's valuable work and his passing. In my own small way, and hopefully on the way to other projects related to the homiletics of the "house lamp" of the Reformation, I would honor the memory of both Dr. Old and the Basel Reformer, with this translation of Theophil Stähelin's mid-19th c. biography of John Oecolampadius.