Every Monday I share a few tidbits, nuggets, or ideas for incorporating some stewardship themes in your preaching. This week’s stewardship nuggets based on the appointed readings by the Revised Common Lectionary and Narrative Lectionary are as follows:
Sunday November 5, 2017: Revised Common Lectionary- All Saints Sunday A
First Lesson: Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
Second Lesson: 1 John 3:1-3
Gospel of Matthew 5:1-12
As we remember and celebrate the saints, living and dearly departed, hearing the Beatitudes provides a balm of comfort but also a reminder of our call, mission, and ministry together. On this day as we remember, we remember to “rejoice and be glad” (Matthew 5:12, NRSV). It could be a good day to talk about legacy, memory, and stories of faith and ministry- remembering who we are, where we have been, and wondering where God might be leading us yet.
We celebrate the promises of God, some of which we are reminded of in the reading from Revelation this week. “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10, NRSV). Further, “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away eery tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17, NRSV).
In your context, what are the stories of legacy, memory, faith and ministry who have shaped who you are as a congregation of God’s people? How do you remember who you are and where you have been?
With the anxiety and tumult of daily life, perhaps a message such as this would be a helpful stewardship message, especially if linked with the gospel message, such as, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4, NRSV). This might well point to where God might be leading, but it also points to a reminder of the promises and presence of God with us, in the good, bad, and ugly of life. God is there.
God is here with us, just as God has always been with those who have gone before us, and just as God has promised that God will be with those yet to come. This is good news, for all of us, both simultaneously saints and sinners.
May God be with you this week in your ministry, your work, and may God speak through you in your words and deeds.
Sunday November 5, 2017: Narrative Lectionary
Narrative Theme for the Day: God Speaks to Elijah (Year 4, Week 9)
Focus Passages: 1 Kings 19:1-18
Gospel Verse: John 12:27-28
God speaks in the silence, and God is with us even in the most horrible and sad times and experiences of life. God chooses to be in relationship with us. How do we steward our relationships? Our memories and lessons learned from those relationships (perhaps of saints who have dearly departed as well as those living)? And how can we steward the message, that no matter what happens in life, God is with us and wants to be with us?
This isn’t the easiest story this week about Elijah’s journeys, but perhaps it is not too far of a leap to connecting it to the lives of those in your midst- who have ups and downs, good days and bad days, and face hard challenges each day.
Obviously, I hope that we can’t identify with the extremity of death and destruction that is described in this story. It’s a hard text, and it’s not easy to hear that, “Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed them” (1 Kings 19:17-18, NRSV).
It’s not too much of a leap to connect to the bad and awful things happening in the world- war, refugee crises, nations turning their back on others, people rising against people because of differences, and sins of ‘superiority’ complexes… the list is long. Perhaps this story this week opens the door to thoughtfully raising today’s tough life questions? Questions that might well relate to our identity as simultaneously being a saint and sinner.
On this All Saints Sunday, how do we remember and celebrate the stewardship of relationships in our midst? How do we celebrate the legacies of those who have gone before us? And how do we tell the good and the bad, and then remember the one who gave himself for us? The one whom we hear about from John today, that, “it is for this reason that I have come to this hour” (John 12:27, NRSV).
It may not be the easiest message, but it will be one about life, and about God’s promises to be with us even in the midst of the worst days of life. And maybe, just maybe, that’s a message that needs to be told today even more than yesterday.
However you feel led to preach, may God be with you and may God’s love and promises be made known through you.
Image Credit: For All the Saints