Tag Archives: kingdom of God

Labor Day

The Dignity of Work 

Ecclesiasticus 38:27-32a
Psalm 107:1-9 or Psalm 90:1-2, 16-17
1 Corinthians 3:10-14
Matthew 6:19-24

God is our creator. He is the master craftsman of the universe. We are made in his image. Thus, a large part of our life on earth is the discovery of the God-given talent and creativity which he has placed within us. This discovery gives us joy but also contributes to the wellbeing of others.

King Solomon wrote about the skills of the potter:

He molds the clay with his arm and makes it pliable with his feet; he sets his heart to finish the glazing, and he takes care in firing the kiln. All these rely on their hands, and all are skillful in their own work. Without them no city can be inhabited, and wherever they live, they will not go hungry.   (Ecclesiasticus 38:29-32)

We are familiar with King Solomon. He was the wisest and the most wealthy ruler of his time, or perhaps of any time. Yet, Solomon found that all that material wealth was “vanity and striving after wind.” It did not satisfy. Again he wrote:

So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them? (Ecclesiastes 3:22)

Solomon was saving the our work itself should provide us satisfaction. The doing is more rewarding than the wages and what they can provide. Thus, whatever we do, let us do it unto the Lord, offering him praise and thanksgiving.

This Labor Day let us pause and rest. But let us also enjoy and appreciate our work and that of others. If we are still on the discovery to find our God-given vocation, we should not give us. God is with us. The psalmist wrote:

May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us; prosper the work of our hands; prosper our handiwork.   (Psalm 90:17)

There is great dignity in any kind of work. All work if for the betterment of society. To not work is a drag on society and on others. The Apostle Paul warned:

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.   (2 Thessalonians 3:7-11)

While on the earth Jesus never stopped working:

“My Father is still working, and I also am working.”   (John 5:17)
We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”   (John 9:4-5)
We need to follow his example. Soon the darkness will come upon us. We want to be working up to that day in the Kingdom of God. Then we will be prepared to work for him in his millennial reign.
Today, let us pause and give thanks for all our workers and citizen saints who keep us going.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, Labor Day, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B

Twelth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 15

Track 1: Asking for Wisdom

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm 111
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

Today, let us look at the place of wisdom in our faith. We read in Proverbs:

Give instruction[a] to the wise, and they will become wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.   (Proverbs 9:9-1:9-10)

God is our teacher. He is wiser than we will ever be. We need to fear him. We need to respect him:. We need to acknowledge his wisdom and understanding.

God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.   (Isaiah 55:5-6)

But God is ready to teach us wisdom. In the Book of James we read:

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.   (James 1:5)

Solomon was made king of Israel after his father David. But he realized the difficulty of his position:. Reading from 1 Kings:

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”   (1 Kings 3:7-9)

Solomon understood his limitations. How many of us understand ours? God wants us to ask him for help:

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word.   (1 Kings 3::10-12)

It pleases God that we ask him things that line up with his word. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   (Matthew 6:33)

God blessed Solomon with wisdom, but he also blessed him with in other ways. God said to him:

I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”   (1 Kings 3:13-14)

Unfortunately, Solomon eventually became distracted by the things of this world. He did not keep the commandments of God. Wisdom, alone, will not save us. We need something even greater than wisdom. We need a relationship with God. We need the saving power of God. In John’s Gospel we read:

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.   (John 1:11-13)

How do we access the power of God. We need Jesus living on the inside of us. From today’s Gospel reading:

So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”   (John 6:53-56)

Solomon had the right idea to ask for wisdom, but he did not rely on God’s help to keep it. If we are wise, we will ask God for his help. He sent Jesus to die for our sins. He paid the price for our sin so that we re empowered to live jn his victory. He is our best help. We need the mind of Christ. We need him abiding in us. His victory is our victory  He is our source of strength and power to overcome this world.

Her is our wisdom. Imagine this, he is living on the inside of us if we have3 made him Lord. He can then direct our thinking and actions.

 

Track 2: Suggetions

Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalm 34:9-14
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

Today’s Old Testament and the Gospel reading talk about a feeding. In Proverbs, wisdom is calling out:

“You that are simple, turn in here!”
    To those without sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Lay aside immaturity, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”   (Proverbs 9:4-6)

And in the Gospel:

Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”   (John 6:51)

The first meal is a foretaste of the second. Jesus is the wisdom of God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B

Third Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 6

Track 1: Faith and Patience

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
Psalm 20
2 Corinthians 5:6-10,[11-13],14-17
Mark 4:26-34

God had rejected Saul as king fro his disobedience, yet Saul was still the nominal king. Samuel lamented what had happened to Saul. Often we become stuck in a place of emotions, but God had moved on. Reading from 1 Samuel:

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”   (1 Samuel 16:1)

Jesse brought out his sons for Samuel to choose which one would be the new king. Samuel was considering them based on their appearances. But looks can be deceiving:

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.   (1 Samuel 16:6-13)

It was over forty years before David actually became king. David had to endure many hardships, even threats to his life by Saul. Yet David put his full trust in God and did not lose hope.

God’s ways are not our ways and his timing is not our timing. He is planning and positioning things for our future which we may not aware of for a season. This is often the way God works. From today’s Gospel we read:

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”   (Mark 4:26-32)

What is Jesus saying? He is talking about thye advancement of the kingdom of God on the earth. He was speaking of the kingdom of God advancing in us. This advancement is taken place, much of it hidden at first. When seed is sown it takes some time to germinate. But later the growth is evident. What is our stance when we wait for the growth? Do we ever get so frustrated that we get angry with God for making us wait?

Is our confidence must be in God. He sows the seed, but then he waters it and nurtures it. He knows how to bring it to harvest ad he does for those who trust in him.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

We are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord– for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.   (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)

Satin attempts to steal away our confidence in the promises  of God.  Reading from the Book of James:

My brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.   (James 1:2-4)

Marten Luther did nt like the Book of James. He said it distracted from the doctrine of faith alone. But we need the wisdom of James in order to understand and apply faith. Our faith in God must be continuous. Paul wrote:

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.   (Romans 8:24-25)

Patience and faith are our keys to our growth in the kingdom of God. Today, let us reaffirm our faith before God. Satin will not steal our joy. He will not steal our hope. We are standing on God’s Word. All his promises are yes and Amen. Without patience we may miss out on some of God’s greatest blessings.

 

Track 2: Suggestions

Ezekiel 17:22-24
Psalm 92:1-4,11-14
2 Corinthians 5:6-10,[11-13],14-17
Mark 4:26-34

Looking at the appointed Old Testament Lesson from Ezekiel and Psalm 92 together a theme seems to emerge. Both speak of a planting of the Lord. The nation of Israel is his tender plant. It is planted on a “mountain height” which is Jerusalem.

“All the trees of the field shall know
that I am the Lord.”   (Ezekiel 17:24a)

All the nations of the earth will know the Lord through Israel.

We are also a planting of the Lord. We do not take the place of Israel. Rather, we are in ingrafted branches of Israel. The promises of God for Israel also apply to us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B

Second Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 5

Track 1:  Darkness to Light

1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15)
Psalm 138
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35

The children of Israel wanted a king like the other nations around them. Samuel new it was a bad idea and took it to the Lord. God gave the people a warning:

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; [and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers.] He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”   (1 Samuel 8:10-18)

God’s warning did not dissuade them. How often do we think that we no better than God? With our limited understanding, do we think that God is out of touch to reality? This must have been the thinking of the children of Israel:

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”    (1 Samuel 8:19-20)

The founding fathers of our nation understood the dangers of concentrating too much power in governmental leadership. That is why they built in a system of checks and balances agents that power. Leadership makes promises to the people, but too often they are interested in their own welfare, often at the expense of others.

God had a completely different idea for Israel:

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.   (1 Pet. 2:9)

There is the kingdom of darkness which is ruled by Satan. The culture has bought into this kingdom. Then there is the kingdom of light. This kingdom is ruled by God. Which kingdom do we prefer? We cannot have both. The Apostle Paul wrote:

He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins .   (Colossians 1:13-14)

To live in the kingdom of God, however, requires faith on our part. His kingdom is not fully formed on this earth yet. Satan will attempt to draw us back into his domain. Often times it is with ridicule and mockin. Ever heard of the mocking bird media?

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus was casting out demons from many people. He was accused of being out of his mind by the religious authorities. Even his own family were questioning what he was doing:

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”   (Mark 3:31-35)

The kingdom of darkness is passing away. The Apostle wrote:

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.   (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.   (Romans 8:15-81)

Do we have the staying power? Jesus has that power for us. All we need to do is rely on him. He has won the victory over sin and death.

 

Track 2: Suggestions

Genesis 3:8-15
Psalm 130
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35

The theme of two kingdoms seems to fit here as well. The reading from Genesis tells how the kingdom of darkness began with the fall. Man was in charge of the world until he handed it over to Satan.

The theme of casting out demons in the Gospel reading might be explored. This may be controversial. Can christian be oppressed by demons and be bound by generational curses? But there is nothing new here. Jesus’ own family tried to restrain his from. They were embarrassed by what the religious leaders were saying about Jesus. Maybe it is time for religious leaders to wake up to reality?

 

From this Sunday the appointed lectionary reading are split into two tracks. This treatment is carried through out the remainder of the Pentecostal Season. This year we will concentrate on Track !, offering complete homilies for this track. For Track 2 we will offer suggestions  for homilies based on the different Old Testament readings and Psalms of Track 2.

Track 1 of Old Testament readings  follows major stories and themes, read mostly continuously from week to week. In Year A we begin with Genesis, in Year B we hear some of the great monarchy narratives, and in Year C we read from the later prophets.

Track 2 follows the Roman Catholic tradition of thematically pairing the Old Testament reading with the Gospel reading, often showing how the person and ministry of Jesus Christ is foretold in the Old Testament reading.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B