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Formational Preaching

SermonSeeds: The Father Voice in blessing

A Formational Pastor Post

Ephesians 3:14-21 – RCL New Testament reading for July 29, 2012 (Proper 12 / 9th Sunday after Pentecost

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The people of God over whom we pastor come to us Sunday after Sunday (and sometimes in between) having made it through another week – sometimes just barely.  Some make it by the skin of their teeth.  Some have been beaten up by life, and come licking their wounds.  Some of the wounds are decades old, and they’re still limping from the effects.  We acknowledge their wounds, and sometimes look for the cause so they can be treated appropriately.  But the people of God don’t need us to beat them more with shame or blame or accusations or “shoulda – woulda – couldas” – they’ve already had enough wounding from the rest of the world.  What they need from us is medicine, healing, and caring.  The kind of caring that only Jesus gives.

They come to us again and again not needing to hear our thoughts on the latest movies or TV shows or politics or issues.  They come to us again and again needing to hear words like Saint Paul writes here:  Regardless of what is happening in the rest of the world and the rest of your life, I love you.  I’m praying for you.  I know that God cares for you.  I know that He has riches He is giving you now, that you can’t even see.  If you find it hard to hear the voice of the Father through the noise of the world, listen to it here in these words.  This is the Father’s voice of prodigal love.  Come, soak in it – bask in it – and receive His healing.

So I’m thinking about not preaching this text this Sunday.  This text doesn’t call for exegesis.  Instead, it’s calling “use me to bless the people of God!”  I think I will.

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Pericopes for June 17, 2012 (Proper 6 / Third Sunday after Pentecost)

From The Formational Pastor

Ezekiel 17:22-24 – The Cedar Tree

Core longings: Significance (the shoot on a lofty mountain); purpose (the splendid cedar bears fruit and gives shelter)

Emotional upheaval / dysfunctional behaviors: We might respond to the pain from wounds of belittling or marginalizing by retreating further into insignificance; or we might respond to the pain of perceived insignificance with a manufactured sense of purpose. How wonderful it would be to be a tall cedar, standing on a mountaintop to be admired by everyone! But only Jesus, who is Lord of all, can restore true significance by restoring life and fecundity to those who are wounded. And perhaps the purpose of the Lord is not what we would have imagined, yet vastly more important – my purpose for you, He might say, is to give gentle shelter from the raging elements to some of my tender creatures who might otherwise be destroyed in the storms.

2 Cor. 5:1-17 – Present tents

Empowered living: As we progress along the healing journey the episodic encounters with Jesus, the truths that replace the lies, and the peace that passes all our understanding give us a new perspective on everything that we are going through. We don’t have to build walls anymore – the secure building is in heaven. We don’t have to live in shelters anymore – the flimsy tent of the body is shelter enough. The energy that we have devoted to building defenses for ourselves can now be directed to the healing of others.

Mark 4:26-34 – Preaching to the right side of the brain

Notice how Jesus “did not say anything [publicly] without using a parable” but instead taught to the right side of the brain. He allowed the picture to paint the point, and the imagination to draw the conclusions. More than “sermon illustrations” that prove the point, the parable IS the point. Can we preach only in parables as Jesus seems to have done, or do always we have to make the left-brain / right-brain connections for our hearers?


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