22nd Sunday after Pentecost (Year A, Proper 28)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
- I don’t think I would focus on the OT lesson for the day. But, it is a powerful lesson. We get to know a little about Deborah the Judge. For anyone who ever doubted that God could use women to further the kingdom, this should make you think. If you ever thought that women were not capable of being powerful leaders, better think again. The story of Sisera’s defeat is quite amazing, and great reading, but I find the military images difficult to preach.
- The Psalm is one of the Song of Ascents. I find it lyrical and powerful. It will make for an excellent responsive reading or sung chant on this Sunday.
- The Epistle takes on an Apocalyptic theme–very typical at the end of the Church Year and anticipating a new Church Year with Advent just a couple of weeks away. The “day of the Lord” language used in Thessalonians hearkens back to language that you would find in the prophet Amos. The day of the Lord-the parousia-the Second Coming of Christ will come like a thief in the night. Given the fact that we just went through a huge prediction this year of the Second Coming that didn’t pan out, and then a new prediction quickly following, the folks in the pews are aware of the language, but not terribly versed on its history or meaning of these concepts. It has been my experience that people are either very eager to hear passages like this read in church (these are folks you probably need to be most careful with) and there are the folks who would rather not hear these words at all (and these folks may be difficult to work with as well). If preaching from the Epistle, the words speak for themselves: keep awake, be prepared, have faith, etc. How do we live in this world in a period of uncertainty and anticipation? These are powerful words: For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
- The Parable of the the Talents is one of those texts that I can read every year, and each time I hear something different, some new challenge that I didn’t hear before. That is the mystery of Jesus’ parables–they have a breadth and depth that speak to us anew each time we hear them. They are meant to be read with eyes, ears and heart open. They often speak in extreme terms and with a storyteller’s penchant for exaggeration. The “talent” that is spoken of in this parable is not small change. It is a serious amount of money–the equivalent of 75 pounds of gold. (For those of you who have been investing in gold instead of stocks, a talent may be worth $2.5-3 million today!) Keep this in mind when preaching this parable. We are stewards of amazing resources as God’s people, even more priceless than a pile of gold. How will we utilize them?
- Speaking of Stewardship-many of you are in the midst of “stewardship season” in your churches., not a bad Gospel Lesson to have on your radar during this time. The parable certainly has plenty to do with money and investments, etc. But you can be sure it has to do with everything we have–time, talents, gifts and service. When you receive an abundance of God given resources, you are supposed to use them boldly, not with fear and trembling. Tough words from Jesus- For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
- Here’s a nice reflection on the Gospel from The Christian Century, 2008: Recession-proof investments
- Here’s a sermon from Sermons That Work: Time and talents