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Sermon Illustrations for Proper 9 | OT 14 (2021)

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Quite naturally on this holiday, we think of leadership of our nation. King David’s actions may be a model for leadership. David recognized that leadership involved partnership with those led (why he entered a covenant with the people [v.3]) and also to operate in a way which makes clear subordination to God. John Wesley regarded this kind of humility as crucial for all citizens, not just our leaders, an awareness that any good accomplished only happens because of God. He wrote:

Deeply conscious, therefore, should every member of this society be of his own foolishness, continually hanging with his whole soul, upon Him Who alone hath wisdom and strength, with an unspeakable conviction that “the help which is done upon earth, God doeth it Himself”; and that it is He alone Who “worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Works, Vol.6, p.161)

Dwight Eisenhower, who certainly knew something about leadership, understood it somewhat along these lines, and since we all engage other people, it is good advice for everyone. He claimed that “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Get other people to want what you want, assist them in doing it, and give God all the glory for it.
Mark E.

* * *

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
The crowning of David as king is an important moment in Israel’s history. David reigned as king for forty years. He was not flawless, he was, after all, human. Jerusalem was renamed and became known as the City of David from this moment and into this day. As I traveled in the holy land, I was awed by the scenes and sights that I had only read about in history and in scripture. I did not feel the presence of King David, but I did feel the presence of God, of Jesus, as I walked in places he would have walked, sat where he had been seated, and prayed where he prayed. David had a huge impact on Israel, but he was, of course, a human being, not God. So, I am not surprised that I felt the presence of God, rather than the presence of David.
Bonnie B.

* * *

2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace.”

We understand that. Chambers is referencing the familiar account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and their trust despite being put in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. The Christian band Mercy Me sings a song called “Little Faith” that speaks to that and other times when God’s answer is different than what we hope. Here are some of the lyrics.

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

Despite his praying for the thorn in the flesh to be removed, the apostle Paul knew what Mercy Me, Oswald Chambers and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego all knew. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (vs. 9)
Bill T.

* * *

2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Those who speak of near-death experiences often express their feeling that there is no longer, for them, any fear of death. The same is true for those who have had a vison or dream of assurance. Fear is replaced by a sense of purpose and meaning. Paul speaks of the vision of the third heaven he was granted, something both timeless and timely, which fuels his ministry and which he shares with the conviction of one who has experienced the eternal firsthand, with the confession that despite his earnest prayer, his own personal affliction, his thorn in the flesh, will not be taken away. One is reminded of Julian of Norwich, who ardently prayed that her pains would put her more in touch with the heaven, and perhaps for the reader of saints they have known who have borne their afflictions with patience. It is on this basis that Paul assures the Corinthians he looks forward to a third visit, no matter what the experiences before. Paul lays great weight on his weaknesses which demonstrate God’s strength. The gift of being the more practiced, the more experienced Christian, is what he intends to offer.
Frank R.

* * *

Mark 6:1-13
I can remember when I first answered the call to ministry. Some people were incredibly surprised. That wasn’t the way they saw me. They had known me for years and years, just as the people had known Jesus. They didn’t see me as a preacher, teacher and pastor. The people in Jesus’ hometown didn’t see him as prophet or teacher either. They certainly had difficulty seeing him as the Son of God. And yet, this man, this divine man, taught, healed, prophesied, loved, and redeemed us human beings. He sent others forth to do the same. So, my friends, whether people recognize your call from God, please answer it. Please respond to the call of God on your life. For me, and for others, it has made all the difference.
Bonnie B.

* * *

Mark 6:1-13
What with all that has happened in 2021, how can we believe that God is still in control of our nation, of our lives? How can God be in control when Jesus could not do all the miracles he wanted to do?  An ancient theologian, Dionysius of Alexandria, urges us to think of the universe as a vast choir. Choirs need directors who organize everything, pick the music and tempo, but can’t control the performance quality (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.6, pp.88,91). So, in our story, God in Christ could bring everyone together, but bad faith got in the way of the healing performance, but not totally. Just like the choir director ensures that the show goes on, some cures did transpire (v.5). Does this help explain how the tragedies of life could still happen under the rule of our loving God? Garrison Keillor said something remarkably similar to Dionysius’ analogy:

God writes a lot of comedy — the trouble is he’s stuck with so many bad actors who don’t know how to play funny.

Evil is a function of bad actors in God’s planned comedy and fun-time life.
Mark E.
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Epiphany 4 | OT 4
20 – Sermons
150+ – Illustrations / Stories
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John Jamison
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(vv. 16-21)

The Immediate Word

Dean Feldmeyer
Thomas Willadsen
Katy Stenta
Mary Austin
Christopher Keating
George Reed
For January 23, 2022:
  • Coach Comes Calling by Dean Feldmeyer — In today’s Epistle lesson, when Paul speaks of gifts that are given to us by God, nowhere does he mention the word “privilege.”
  • Second Thoughts: A Healthy Body by Tom Willadsen — Imagine the whole church being able to act in coordination, as a healthy body, because everyone recognizes the collective, communal health depends on the responsible choices individuals make.

Emphasis Preaching Journal

David Kalas
I’ve attended a lot of NFL games over the years. I lived in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1980s, when the Browns were often fielding an exciting and competitive team. And now, for the past decade, I have been living in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the Packers have enjoyed a lot of winning seasons. And so, I’ve been fortunate to watch a lot of good football in person.
Mark Ellingsen
Bill Thomas
Frank Ramirez
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
In a comment which explains a lot of what is happening in contemporary America, the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed, “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” Mahatma Gandhi is said to have observed that “Poverty is the worst form of violence.”

Singer-songwriter Bono observed in a comment in accord with a Christian reading of this lesson (esp.vv.9-10): “To me a faith in Jesus Christ that is not aligned with the poor... it’s nothing.” The initiator of black theology James Cone made a similar comment: 


Peter Andrew Smith
“No problem.” Carl held up his hands. “If you tell me as the senior minister that I need to wait to hold the session until later in the week, then that is what we’ll do.”

Pastor Luke frowned. “Jack told me you were adamant that you had to start on Tuesday night --otherwise nothing would work properly.”

“Well.” Carl rubbed his neck. “It would make things easier if we didn’t have to delay. I mean, we have the promotional material all done up for the rally and we are talking to speakers.”

“Yet it is not impossible for you to move to a different date?”

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
When Jesus chose that particular passage from Isaiah, he went to the heart of his gospel - an option for the poor. But the existence of large numbers of poor keep comfortable people comfortable, so he was immediately marked out as a dangerous person with dangerous ideas. And he was eventually executed for his beliefs.

Today's story is about Oscar Romero, who suffered a similar fate when he too chose an option for the poor.

The Christian gospel is a dangerous gospel when it's truth is really heard.


Stephen P. McCutchan
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
-- Psalm 19:14

Richard A. Jensen
It was to be "Spiritual Gift" Sunday in Corinth of old. After all it was no lesser an authority than Paul himself who had said of these people that they were, "... not lacking in any spiritual gift" (1 Corinthians 1:7). Not lacking indeed! They were abounding in spiritual gifts and once every year they gathered in their worship service to honor the greatest among them.
Mary S. Lautensleger
One of the more colorful eras of our country's past is the old Wild West. We can visualize cowboys chasing stagecoaches over rough, barren terrain, and sheriffs swaggering down dusty main streets. Towns sprang up virtually overnight around regions rich in natural resources such as lumber, borax, silver, and especially gold, the glitter that inflamed a continent.
Carlyle Fielding Stewart, III
Sweat swarmed and beaded the palms of his hands as his heart thumped and pulse escalated. Bulging eyes blinked rapidly as his face twitched. His brown, swollen hands rumbled nervously through the inside pocket of his urine-stained tweed overcoat. "I got to find a match," he said to himself. "I got to find a match." Again he jerked through every pocket of his pants, jacket, and shirt. Still no match.

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