Preaching on Stewardship- November 12, 2017

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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 12, 2017: Revised Common Lectionary- 23rd Sunday after Pentecost
First Lesson: Amos 5:18-24
Psalm 70
Second Lesson: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13

After a couple weeks away from the more continuous lectionary because of Reformation and All Saints, we return to the stories of Matthew with the story about some bridesmaids. It’s a fitting passage as we move closer to the end of the liturgical year, and the Advent of another. Some bridesmaids are ready with oil in their lamps. Others are not.

If you have been in a wedding, it may not be too much of a leap to think of how sometimes bridesmaids or groomsmen aren’t always ready or on-time for pictures and the wedding festivities. Maybe this problem existed back in Jesus’ time too?

lamps burning
Keep your lamps burning, and “keep awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Whatever the case may be, the message of the story seems clear, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13, NRSV). If you love the movie or musical, “The Lion King,” maybe the song, “Be Prepared,” comes to mind? Or perhaps the motto of the Boy Scouts?

From a stewardship sense, how do we steward all that we have and all that we are as stewards of God’s love? Do we use our time well as God’s stewards and servants? Do we respond with grace when times of need arise? Are we ready to answer God’s call to meet the needs of our neighbor? Or, more directly as today’s story illustrates, are we ready for the bridegroom?

In terms of stewardship though, the gospel isn’t exactly the obvious text for me. In my initial read, I am drawn more to the Amos text. As I dwell in this, I am wondering, what is the relationship between our worship and service and ministry? What is the relationship between our worship and offering, and God’s work for justice in the world?

I am convicted in part when I read, “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps” (Amos 5:22-23, NRSV). Are we sincere in what we do? Or are we going through the motions? Do our claims of ministry, our confession, and creed, match up with our discipleship, stewardship and service? Or are they just empty words, songs, and offerings?

I am not trying to sound like I am talking about works righteousness here. But I wonder, if there might be something to ponder here about our response to God’s work and promises?

We hear, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24, NRSV).

This is our hope for God, but it’s also a call and invitation to each one of us to be a part of God’s work for justice in the world.

If Amos seems like a stretch, there may also be some room for stewardship reflection with the psalmist this week. With the psalmist we remember that this is about God’s work and promises. “Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!'” (Psalm 70:4, NRSV) It’s not about our work, but our need for God to do God’s work that only God can do, the work of salvation. “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!” (Psalm 70:5, NRSV).

Wherever you feel led to preach this week, may God use you, guide you, be with you, and speak God’s word of hope, promise, and challenge through you.

Sunday November 12, 2017: Narrative Lectionary
Narrative Theme for the Day: Amos: Justice Rolls Down  (Year 4, Week 10)
Focus Passages: Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24
Gospel Verse: John 7:37-38

In a weird coincidence, this week the Narrative Lectionary lines up with the revised common lectionary, as the RCL’s Old Testament reading from Amos is included (with a little more detail) as the focus passage in the NL.

This week’s selection includes a little bit of grounding, to help situate the Amos passage in the larger book and narrative, and then it moves in greater detail to the idea of God’s work for justice.

“Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14-15, NRSV).

I hear the words of Dr. Fretheim from seminary in my head, as he summed up the law and prophets with the idea that their message and meaning is out of the hope, “that it may go well for you,” and “that you may live.” This seems pretty direct from Amos.

What is the relationship between our worship and service and ministry? What is the relationship between our worship and offering, and God’s work for justice in the world?

justice stream
Amos 5:24

I am convicted in part when I read, “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps” (Amos 5:22-23, NRSV). Are we sincere in what we do? Or are we going through the motions? Do our claims of ministry, our confession, and creed, match up with our discipleship, stewardship and service? Or are they just empty words, songs, and offerings?

I am not trying to sound like I am talking about works righteousness here. But I wonder, if there might be something to ponder here about our response to God’s work and promises? We hear, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24, NRSV). This is our hope for God, but it’s also a call and invitation to each one of us to be a part of God’s work for justice in the world. 

It’s a call and invitation to be a part of God’s work in the world. A work that is grounded in the promises of God in Christ, like we hear from John this week, “”On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink'” (John 7:37-38, NRSV).

May God’s work of justice, be made known through you, and wherever you feel led, may God be with you, and speak through you.

Image Credit: Keep Your Lamps Burning and Amos 5:24.

1 comments on “Preaching on Stewardship- November 12, 2017”

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