I’m quite late with this week’s edition of The Reflectionary, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the topics of the readings on which the following message ideas are based.
What does it look like to be wealthy in a world where so many suffer in extreme poverty? Why do we find ourselves “at ease” when so many cannot find peace? And what is our responsibility to make a difference in the lives of those who are marginalized?
These are big questions and the scriptures provide big answers.
Sermon Ideas Based on the Lectionary
Note: The notes in the Reflectionary each week are based on Lectionary texts ten days out (so, the next Sunday, not the coming Sunday). If you need to see notes for this Sunday’s texts, visit last week’s Reflectionary.
For September 25, 2022
Year C – Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
First Reading and Psalm
WORKING TITLE: Don’t Stop Believing – Our Best Days Are Yet to Come
No matter how bleak your current outlook may seem, the best days for God’s people still lie ahead. Keep hoping. Keep believing. Keep living to become like Jesus. Stop telling yourself your best days are in the past and begin to believe that, one way or another, the eternal outlook from the perspective of God’s people always leads toward a brighter future. Today is the struggle, but for tomorrow there is always hope.
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
WORKING TITLE: Knowing God as Our Great Protector
The deeper we go in our personal relationship with God, the greater our boldness grows toward the life ahead of us and the world around us. Yes, the world is scary. But it always has been. The one thing more constant than the dangerous nature of life on earth is the goodness and protective nature of God. Spend time this week in the secret place, the shadow, where God alone knows who you really are at your most naked and vulnerable self.
Alternate First Reading and Psalm
Amos 6:1a, 4-7
WORKING TITLE: The Real Problem with Privilege
When we walk in privilege, it’s so easy to ignore how our privilege came at the expense of others, and it’s also so easy to turn a blind eye to those who are struggling and suffering. In short, we lose connection with the purpose of God for our lives and for our world. Open your eyes. Look around. Love those who struggle and, where possible, put your own privilege to work on their behalf.
Working Title: The Global Issues That Move God to Action
So many stories in scripture are about how God acted on behalf of people whose cries had risen up to him. This is a part of God’s good nature that deserves our honor and praise. Worship with an openness to see what God sees in the world around you and a heart ready for action on behalf of others.
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Working Title: How to BE Rich (When You Already Are)
Most of us are already rich, so the question isn’t how those people should handle their wealth, but rather how we should handle our own wealth in a way that honors the heart and purposes of Jesus. That means cultivating contentment, generosity, and right priorities. Determine that you will trust in God, not money, to grow within you the virtues that matter far more than physical possessions. And lastly, be ready to give to those in need because a readiness to share frees us from our attachment to temporal things.
WORKING TITLE: A Warning for the Rich, A Promise for the Poor
God will flip the script on behalf of the poor for eternity and he invites all of us to be part of that process now, during this life. He offers judgment to those who are rich and ignore the poor, which puts vital questions before each of us. Will we see? Will we care? Will we act? Or will you and I, like the rich man who knew exactly who Lazarus was, turn a blind eye and continue to enjoy life’s luxuries without regard to those who are suffering?
Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass
My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:
From the Description:
Scripture is filled with teaching about money: how to use it, the effect that it has on us, the problems it causes in our communities. Why does money have such a hold on us? How can it end up being so destructive in our relationships, our communities, and our relationship with God? How can we create habits and attitudes that defeat money as an idol in our lives? This four-week series addresses those questions with some of Scripture’s most important passages about wealth and poverty.
African-American Preaching Conference
September 27-29, 2022 (Waco, Texas)
The purpose of the African American Preaching Conference is defined in its permanent title with an emphasis on “Where the Pulpit Meets the Academy.” The preachers and plenary speakers are selected for their widely known expertise as both students and preachers. The program always focuses on the rich legacy of African American preaching in relationship to today’s culture, church, and the academy.
The Church Mental Health Summit
October 10, 2022 (Online)
This one-day virtual event equipping the church to support mental health in their communities has perhaps never been more relevant than now. The church is, too often, ill-equipped to handle the concerns people share about their own struggles with mental health issues. We need to remove the stigma and invite people to bring their hardest struggles to Christ and his body for help.
A Conference for Church Communications Leaders
October 18-19, 2022 (Charlotte, NC)
The Church Communicator Conference is specially designed for the accidental church communicator, the one that wears many hats and may have stumbled upon this role without a plan. Lead pastors and executive pastors will also benefit from this conference as it will introduce principles and concepts that will assist with creating a unified communication strategy that aligns with the vision and mission of the church.
Exiles in Babylon: Theology in the Raw Conference
March 23-25, 2022 (Boise, ID)
To be a Christian is to be an exile. The Bible has a name for the country we’ve been exiled to: Babylon. As exiles living in Babylon, we need to think biblically, Christianly, indeed exilically—not partisanly—through cultural and political issues. This year, our topics include: The Future of the Church, Disability and the Church, Multiethnic Perspectives of American Christianity, a conversational debate on the Problem of Evil, and a pre-conference symposium on Women in Leadership!
Books, Links, and Resources for Pastors and Church Leaders
This part of The Reflectionary will take a break this week and return in the next issue.
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About the Cover Art: Works of Mercy with Dives and Lazarus, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.