Category: Steven Laufer

1 Samuel 8:4-11

This text is used as one of the texts for the Lectionary Year B on June 7, 2015.

You know it’s going to be a challenging week of sermon prep when the text at hand mixes religion and politics.  Of course, for the season of salvation history in question God’s spiritual people were also a national people.  Religion and politics often went hand in hand.  In the era of the new covenant, God’s spiritual people are now comprised of representatives from every nation and are, therefore, not confined to any one political region or boundary.  Religion and politics may not share the same relationship that they once did, but the events of the present text illustrate several principles that are vitally important for the church today pertaining to divine authority and human leadership in our lives.  The text breaks down naturally into three elements: the Israelites’ request for a king, Samuel’s interaction with the Lord, and Samuel’s report to the people.

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Isaiah 6:1-8

This text is used as one of the texts for the Lectionary Year B on May 31, 2015.

The call of Isaiah is an archetypal account that takes place over and over again throughout the Bible.  It is Abraham’s story and the Exodus retold.  The same events unfold at Sinai, in David’s kingship, and in the return from Babylonian exile.  The encounter is mirrored in the calls of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, as well as Jesus’s ministry with his disciples.  Here in Isaiah the pattern is concise, the elements are brief, and the interweaving of God’s initiative and Isaiah’s responses is clearly spelled out: God initiates his appearance to Isaiah; Isaiah responds with humility and confession; God initiates a purifying, saving act on his behalf; Isaiah responds with obedient commitment.

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Acts 2:1-21

This text is used as one of the texts for the Lectionary Year B on May 24, 2015.

Peter’s Pentecostal message sets the bar pretty high for all sermons that follow.  He took advantage of current events and cultural context in order to relate the news about Jesus of Nazareth and its significance for all within earshot.  And the response he received, about 3,000 people joining the community of disciples, was not too shabby at all.  His example should inform our own preaching, but it can also inform every Christian’s efforts to communicate the gospel in relevant and captivating ways in everyday conversation.  But lest we think this homily to end all homilies was solely the product of hard work, bountiful commentary consultation, and extensive creative planning, Luke prefaces Peter’s sermon, along with every other spiritual advancement in Acts, with the arrival of the much anticipated “helper” promised by Jesus.  If the resurrection of Jesus is the key moment of Luke’s gospel, surely the advent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus is the defining moment of Acts.

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Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

This text is used as one of the texts for the Lectionary Year B on May 17, 2015.

Reminiscing about Judas probably was not a frequent indulgence on the part of the other eleven disciples, but it did capture Peter’s attention here in Acts, if only for practical reasons.  The twelve who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’s total ministry would now also be witnesses to his resurrection.  Thus the need arose for a replacement to be assigned to Judas’s now vacant seat at the table.  This lectionary reading offers a brief reminder of Judas’s deserted place among the disciples before giving broader attention to the selection of his replacement.  In both instances the theme of bearing witness or testifying, both accurately and falsely, stands tall.
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