Sermon Notes for August 21, 2011

Scriptures for 10th Sunday after Pentecost (Year A, Proper 16)

Exodus 1:8-2:10
Psalm 124
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20


  • This is one of those weeks when you could focus on either of the readings and not go wrong. The Psalm is an excellent compliment to the Exodus reading, and so I would definitely use both of them together.  We always use all 4 readings at St. Andrew’s, but I know that others do not.    Personally, because I probably would not have focused on the Epistle for several weeks in a row, I would spend more time with Romans 12, one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament.
  • The Word Cloud to the right is based on the Spiritual Gifts found throughout Paul’s letters., not just in Romans 12.  This is a good time to encourage the congregation to discover their own gifts and graces and challenge them to use them in the Church and world.  Here are a couple of resources that you might use online:
  • Personal note- I will never forget the first time I introduced a congregation to Spiritual Gifts.  It was a very straight-laced United Methodist congregation who head the term, and immediately became defensive-“We are not a charismatic church and we don’t want any part of this.”  They humored me, and we had a great study, and about a third of the congregation went through inventories and discovered their gifts.  Most tried to put them into practice if they weren’t already, and before long, their efforts became contagious.  By the end of the year, we had close to two-thirds of the congregation who had identified their gifts, and were trying to use them effectively for God’s work in the world.  It may have been one of the most significant experiences that congregation ever had.  We saw that congregation grow in so many ways over the next few years, and it all started with a sermon late in the summer on Romans 12.
  • If you are still telling OT stories at this point of the summer, you can’t beat the story of Moses and the basket.  We’ve come along way this summer with the stories of the patriarchs, and Joseph bringing God’s people down to Egypt, and eventually they become slaves. (Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” )  The inkling of their liberation is seen in the civil disobedience of a couple of Egyptian midwives is a classic example of how God works in the world.  God will use whatever is needed to get God’s saving work done, and sometimes it doesn’t follow all the rules, and sometimes the actors are folks we wouldn’t normally consider God friendly. Salvation and freedom will preach.
  • The Gospel offers the age-old question: “Who do you say that I am?”
    Imagine for a moment Jesus asking you that question…what would you say? …how would you put it into words?  Most of us reading this lectionary stuff are learned folks, we often have a couple of degrees, read a few books, even preached a whole bunch of sermons on it, but would we answer Jesus straightforwardly without invoking Karl Barth or Helmut Thielike? (name the theologian of your choice)  Peter tried it in his own way, and Jesus asked again,  “But who do you say that I am?”  I see this as a call for the Church to get personal, get real with that relationship we have with the  Risen One.  Maybe that is the point of the Good News–we are supposed to know Jesus that well.

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