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Sermon Illustrations for Proper 12 | OT 17 (2018)

Illustration
2 Samuel 11:1-15 and Psalm14
In July 2016, Pope Francis spoke at World Youth Day which was held in Krakow, Poland. In that year, just like our present year, in eastern Europe there was a strong anti-migrant sentiment. Refugees were fleeing hunger and religious persecution but were refused sanctuary in many European countries. The Pope called for “courage” and “compassion” when dealing with the war-stricken refugees. The Pope said that what is needed is “a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from war and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety.”

Application: In one of the saddest stories in the Bible, David did not hold back one unjust act against Uriah. David was concerned only about David, and in so doing there was no welcoming of Uriah. The psalmist discusses those who “do abominable deeds.” Such actions are present in the society that surrounds us this day. This is why we must answer Pope Francis call to have “courage” and “compassion.”
Ron L.

* * *

2 Samuel 11:1-15 and Psalm 14
Geoffrey Chaucer, in The Canterbury Tales, wrote “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” (Tale of Melibee). That phrase has travelled through time from the fourteenth century until now. The meaning of this is clear. If you aren’t doing something constructive with your time, the devil will find something unproductive and harmful for you to do. Many people mistakenly attribute this statement to the Bible. It isn’t directly from scripture, but the message definitely is.

In no scripture do we see it more plainly than today’s. David has been a powerful warrior and king for God and for Israel. It was spring, and his army had gone to battle against the Ammonites. David normally was with his army, but not this time. He stayed home. Verse 2 notes, “It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch…” The rest of the story you know. How did it happen? David wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He wasn’t doing what he normally would have been doing. He had idle time. While giants and imposing opponents fell at David’s feet, he was tripped up by one that he never viewed as a threat. Having too much time on his hands ended up being a deadly situation for David and the others caught up in the ripple effect of his sin.
Bill T.

* * *

2 Samuel 11:1-15 and Psalm 14
Shades of the “Me Too” movement -- powerful people thinking they can do whatever they want without accountability. This passage begins with these words: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.”

David did not go out to battle when he ought. He exempted himself. That meant he was home when he saw Bathsheba bathing, and as a powerful person assumed he had the right to have his way with her. Bathsheba, a married woman, has nothing to say in the matter, and this sin on his part will lead to many deaths and much suffering.
Frank R.

* * *

Ephesians 3:14-21
The Pauline author speaks of a union with Christ (v.17). About this union, Martin Luther once proclaimed:
The sum of the matter is this: Depressed or exalted, circumscribed in whatsoever way, dragged hither or thither, I still find Christ. For he holds in his hands everything... Therefore, so long as he dwells in my heart, I have courage where I go. I cannot be lost. I dwell where Christ my Lord dwells. (Complete Sermons, Vol.2/1, p.354)
Elsewhere the reformer elaborated on the nature of the union:
It further follows from this that a Christian man living in this faith has no need of a teacher of good works; he does whatever the occasion calls for, and all is done well... We may see this is an everyday example. When a husband and wife really love one another, have pleasure in each other, and thoroughly believe in their love, who teaches them how they are to behave one to another, what they are to do, say or not to say, what they are to think? (Luther’s Works, Vol.44, pp.26-27)
Augustine prayed that this sort of union would occur in his life so that God might take full control: “O Thou strength of my soul enter into it, and prepare it for Thyself, that Thou mayest have and hold it....” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol.1/1, p.142)
Mark E.

* * *

Ephesians 3:14-21
These days we spend a lot of our time thinking, solving problems, analyzing information and trying to make rational sense of the world around us. It’s exhausting. Is that what we want to do with our faith? Do we want to analyze every moment and aspect of our belief? Do we want to proof text every word of the Word? Paul reminds his church to take to its knees, to wonder at the immensity of God and God’s presence in the world.

The love of Jesus surpasses all understanding. It is not for us to analyze, to judge, or to prove. It is for us to settle into, to experience and to feel. When was the last time you simply shut your brain focused thinking to pause and just felt worship, just felt the presence of God? We need that feeling time, that reflection time, that time to cease thinking and move into our hearts and spirits. Try that this Sunday. Close your eyes and feel the community around you. Feel the energy of the worship. Encounter your feelings about the music. Just be in the marvelous presence of God. My friends, we are human beings not human doings. Just be.
Bonnie B.

* * *

Ephesians 3:14-21
We have our name “Christian” which makes us family.

First comes faith in Jesus, then he puts his love in our heart. Jesus in the source of all love. His sacrifice on the cross showed us his fantastic love for us.

We also have other loves in us: We love our country and appreciate the sacrifices our forefathers made for us. We also love our wives or husbands which we promised to do, and appreciate the love and sacrifices our parents made for us, which should be one of the best earthly examples.

Those loves were not as great as the love we received from our Lord, and we assume his love is an even greater example. When I read about the agony of crucifixion, I can’t imagine having that kind of love, though some of Jesus disciples did also and died on crosses.

I had a scientist tell me that he could not believe in something he could not examine in the laboratory or maybe put under a microscope. But I told him that the most important thing on earth could not be examined in a laboratory and he should know what it was: LOVE. He loved his family, his home, his country, yes and even his job. He had to agree that they came first and he could not take them to his laboratory or measure and weigh his love for them.

There are many things we can’t take to the lab: like wind or smells or temperatures, though we have ways of measuring them. But there is no way we can measure  our feelings, both positive and negative for those around us. Many things I can think of can’t be examined in a lab. For example: love for art or sports or scenery or friends or a good book. The list could go on forever. The most important things in life can’t be taken to a lab and examined as a material object, though it can be examined in other ways.

Jesus’ love surpasses knowledge. It is so great my mind can’t contain it. He has to put it in my heart. It makes me a different person. That is something that could be seen by others.
Bob O.

* * *

John 6:1-21
George Muller, who lived in the 1800’s, built many orphanages at Ashley Down, England. Muller never took a salary from the church he served or from any of the orphanages. Instead he relied only on God to supply the money and food needed to support the hundreds of homeless children he befriended in the name of Christ. A man of radiant faith, he kept a motto on his desk for many years that brought comfort, strength, and uplifting confidence to his heart. It read, “It matters to Him about you.” Muller lived this motto.

One day the housemother of one of the orphanages approached Muller. “The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat.” George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow, I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.” Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children.

“It matters to Him about you.” God does care and provides. Jesus demonstrates this in our text. He cared for hungry people and fed them. He cared for searching people and gave them a sign that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He cared for storm-tossed disciples and walked on water to them. He cares for you, too.
Bill T.

* * *

John 6:1-21
The feeding of the multitudes is one of a very few incidents in the life of Jesus that appears in all four gospels. One of the big differences between John’s version of the story and the other three gospels, which more closely resemble each other, is that the people intend to crown Jesus king, something he avoids here. That’s not to say Jesus is not the king of kings and lord of lords. In his triumphant entry into Jerusalem Jesus will be proclaimed King, and of course the royal title is ironically nailed to the cross as the crime for which Jesus is executed. But the bread Jesus offers is not the bread and circuses of the emperors or even the manna from heaven that the people will mistakenly attribute to Moses and not to God. Jesus himself is the Bread of Life, which the people are not ready to receive.
Frank R.

* * *

John 6:1-21
Reverend Billy Graham died on February 21, 2018. After his death newspapers began to report on Graham’s personal thoughts regarding death. In his remarks at the funeral for Richard Nixon he reminded the family and audience that everyone of them would one day die. Graham said, “John Donne said that there’s a democracy about death. ‘It comes equally to us all and makes us all equal when it comes.’” At another time Graham spoke to those who wanted to escape the inevitability of death. Graham said, first “accept the fact that you will die;” second, “make arrangements;” third, “make provisions for those you are leaving behind;” and finally, “make an appointment with God.” During his Las Vegas evangelistic crusade in 1980, the MGM Grand Hotel burned. At that time Graham said, “Someday, for all of you, if you don’t know God, the music will stop. It will be over.” Graham was not afraid of dying, but he was concerned about the dying process for he has seen many people suffer. But for death itself Graham said, “I’m looking forward to it -- I really am. I’ll be happy the day the Lord says, ‘Come on. I’ve got something better planned.’” Graham went on to say about death, “Think of a place where there will be no sorrow and no parting, no pain, no sickness, no death, no quarrels, no misunderstandings, no sin and no cares.”

Application: Jesus, in feeding the 5,000 and calming the sea, is a testimony that he will be our peace in this life and the next.
Ron L.
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