Well, here's something a little different: a peek into my thought process before I publish my finished sermon. Being at a new call which has not become accustomed to the lectionary, I decided to take the plunge and go off-lectionary for a while. After my first non-lectionary week, I had three weeks of stewardship, so that was pretty easy. Then I was left with a feeling of, "Ok, now what? How do I choose my sermon focus from the whole Bible?" I'm not sure how it arose, but I decided to start preaching stories. Familiar stories from Sunday school, not-as-familiar stories that are skipped by the lectionary, etc. I began at the beginning, with the two creation stories. The first week, I led a "time of wonder" (based on Godly Play) for my sermon, which allowed those in the congregation to share their reactions, thoughts, and feelings. The second week, I preached a sermon based on how we read both stories, which is posted here. Now, it's almost a free-for-all, though I'm realizing why preachers don't do this much--the stories are LONG! I definitely got used to preaching on small bits of scripture, and then honing in on one line or idea on which to base my sermon. Five paragraphs offer a lot of sermon potential, but at the moment I have this feeling that I should preach on the story as a whole, which I'm not sure will last.
Anyway, this week I've chosen Daniel in the lion's den (Daniel 6) as my story. It happens that this is also Reformation Sunday. Usually I don't even notice, but over the past week I've seen multiple posts on Facebook about how my colleagues are crafting their sermons in relation to this celebration of the birth of Protestantism, and it's caught my interest. So now in addition to figuring out how to focus my preaching on Daniel (in hindsight, perhaps starting a Bible study on the stories, rather than a sermon series, might have been more appropriate), I'm also trying to weave in Reformation.
At the moment, I have a sermon title, "Abraham, Martin...and Daniel" and some sense that I want to talk about faithfulness to God amidst and informing change and reform. How are we reforming now? How can we, like Daniel, hold on to faithful traditions and values even if they put us in danger of ridicule or marginalization (since not many of our lives are in danger for our faith, at least not here in the US)?Not at all sure how that's going to shape up, but I decided at the last minute to finally include in this week's liturgy a prayer of dedication I found in our hymnal weeks ago and have been eager to use. I think the ideas in this prayer will help shape my sermon. (Funny sidenote: I just did a quick search to see if I could find a link to the prayer, and it turns out the author, Herbert Brokering, edited a book of Luther's prayers. Even more perfect!). I can't seem to find it online, so I'm going to share it here, with citation (and begging forgiveness from copyright holders).
Lord, call us into the church.From Lord, Be With. Copyright 1969 by Concordia Publishing House. As published in Hymns for the Family of God, Paragon Associates, Inc, copyright 1976.
Call us in often,
and teach us the old words and old songs
with their new meanings.
Lord, give us new words
for the words we wear out.
Give us new songs
for those that have lost their spirit.
Give us new reasons for coming in
and for going out,
into our streets and to our homes.
As the house of the Lord once moved
like a tent through the wilderness,
so keep our churches from being rigid.
Make our congregations alive and free.
Give us ideas we never had before,
so that alleluia and gloria and amen
are like the experiences we know in daily living.
Alleluia! O Lord, be praised!
In worship and in work, be praised! Amen.
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