This is a little guide for preachers who preach the lectionary, a little wind in the sails for those who might not make it to Sunday prepared. I’ll give you a push, and you steer your way into the pulpit. What I’ve given you here are (1) a cluster of themes that emerge from the readings, (2) a few leading questions and (3) a few helpful links.
This week’s chosen readings (for October 26, 2014) are Deuteronomy 34.1-12, Psalm 90.1-6, 13-17, 1 Thessalonians 2.1-8, and Matthew 22.34-46.
Topics addressed by these verse include: Silencing Opponents, or the nature of having opponents in the Christian life, How law works in Christian theology, The greatest commandment worked out in church and personal life, Does Jesus think of himself as the Lord of David, Suffering for the gospel, How not to be deceitful, impure, and full of trickery in evangelism, On pleasing God and not man, power that comes from being in Christ. Relational walls and the love that is born in ministry, On Moses being a man of God, Death in the Christian life, OT Foreshadows of resurrection, The fleetingness of life, How to make a God with wrath your dwelling place, Seasons of Christian struggle–seasons of Christian joy, The importance of praying for favor for the work of our hands, Disappointment in the autumn years of our life, and The place of signs and wonders in the Christian community.
Themes converge more potently in suffering, disappointment, and having opponents in the Christian life OR the power of God among the people of God.
If you choose to take the route of preaching on suffering, disappointment, and having opponents in the Christian life, here are a few questions to think through:
- When in your journey have you been most disappointed in the Christian life? When have you suffered the most, especially at the hand of others?
- What do you think is the connection between suffering and disappointment in the Christian life? Where you see the church resisting suffering and disappointment, and why do you think we do so? At what cost?
- What do these scriptures say is the point of having suffering and disappointment in the Christian life? How does Moses (especially in Psalm 90 think through suffering)? —By the way the lectionary leaves out verses 7-12 in Psalm 90, apparently because it talks too much about God’s wrath toward his people. This might be a great place to help your congregants think through the deeper meaning of finding our refuge in a God that has wrath—. Also, what do these scriptures suggest is the place of opponents in the Christian life?
- What are five our six practical steps people might take to embrace suffering, disappointments and enemies in the Christian life, Christian-ly?
- What do you think our churches would be like if people embraced suffering and disappointments with a greater Christ-likeness?
Here are a few links that might help you think through this sermon emphasis:
- Richard Foster on Suffering http://blog.renovare.org/2006/02/16/perspective-embracing-suffering/
- Smattering of Verses on Suffering: http://www.catholicbasictraining.com/apologetics/coursetexts/8m.htm
- Resource on Suffering (Haven’t Clicked Through All The Links). http://www.malankaraworld.com/library/Reading/Suffering/Default.ht0m
- Reaching Perfection Through Suffering: http://www.malankaraworld.com/library/Reading/Suffering/Suffering_perfection.htm