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Lectionary Readings
(from the Revised Common Lectionary)

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Click on any Bible reference below, and you'll receive results—sermon illustrations, sermons, and more—for that Scripture text. (Note that some Scriptures may not have sermon illustrations associated with them yet.) Or click on the Bible icon to view the full text of the passage cited.

This lectionary covers the next thirty days. For full lists, see the seasons and years below.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Proper 15 (20)—Season after Pentecost, Year C


Jesus’ words in Luke 12 are terrifying knowing that they come from the Son of God. What does it mean that the Prince of Peace comes with fire and division? The Jeremiah passage helps us to clarify the picture. In it, God’s word is described as fire. Fire is often held up as a purifying force, consuming worthless things and purifying what is worthwhile, like gold. Jesus then brings the fire of God’s word to bear upon people and they either accept or reject it, creating division, even in the midst of households (cf. Micah 7:6). Later, in Luke 24, the disciples on the Road to Emmaus exclaim “Were our hearts not burning within us ... while he was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

The preacher may remind the congregation that the faith has never promised peace without pain, and many whose families are divided over the faith may find great comfort in that their situation was not unanticipated by the Lord.

The remaining verses are against complacency: we know that we will have to settle our account before the Lord, but this will need to be done “on the way” (i.e. in this present life). Jesus’ admonishment in verse 56 asks us to apply worldly canniness to spiritual matters. If we spent half as much time preparing for our eternal destiny as we do scheming about how to improve the conditions of our worldly life, the Way would not seem so difficult to walk.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Proper 16 (21)—Season after Pentecost, Year C


That Jesus’ teaching is practical and logical is not always discussed. Here, Jesus contradicts the synagogue leader’s scrupulosity by making an argument a fortiori. If certain material goods can be provided for on the Sabbath, then certainly human beings, who are of greater worth, may be as well. This is essentially the same format as the parables in Luke 15 leading up to the prodigal son. The message is “if you would go to great lengths to go after one expensive sheep, or one month’s wage, then what about a human being? Aren’t they worth more than these?” The woman in the miracle also becomes a microcosm of the human race, bent over by sin. Jesus comes to heal from sin, and none may accuse whom he has vindicated.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Proper 17 (22)—Season after Pentecost, Year C


In Luke 14, the eschatalogical banquet of the kingdom of God is compared with the ordinary meals that people share with each other. The latter ought to reflect the former, and the repayment for generosity in this life is to be found in the life to come.

Here is an opportunity for the preacher to explain the New Testament’s vision of charity to the poor. The act displays total reliance on God for repayment. Nothing we have in this life: either money, material goods, or time, is completely frivolous. All of it represents sustenance, enjoyment, or social capital, in short, the stuff of life itself and the things that make it worth living. People recoil from giving because they rightly perceive that they are giving away parts of their life—the only one they’ve got. Jesus, again, does not repudiate the activity of providing for oneself, but rather recommends wise investment. Eternal repayment awaits those who give to the least fortunate precisely because there is no worldly repayment. Charity is an act of faith in God, and the life to come. Only those who have shown that they believe enough to give toward that life are counted worthy to enter it.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Proper 18 (23)—Season after Pentecost, Year C


A misunderstanding of the word “hate” here has caused much confusion. A Hebraicism, it means the opposite of “prefer.” Jesus is not prohibiting love of family or holding possessions (v. 33) but demanding that he be put first in people’s lives. The disciple must be ready to renounce family, wealth, and anything if it comes between him and Jesus.

The idea may seem afar off to many modern Christians, but the reality is coming on quickly. It seems likely that there will be a very near future in the West which the Christian’s adherence to the moral vision of the New Testament will disqualify them for employment and social status and put them at variance with those closest to them, and whom they depend on (indeed, in many places this regime has already arrived). In these cases, Christians must soberly take account of the cost of the Way to which they have been called, not so that they may decide whether it is worth it, but so that they may steel themselves for the journey.

This is why Jesus warns against the sin of apostasy: a Christian who sets out and then stalls halfway presents a unique conundrum: if one has let go of the lifeline, then what else is there to grab hold of? We see many jaded, lapsed, former Christians today whose very history in the church inoculates them to taking hold again of grace. Jesus’ command is stark here, but believers who pass these tests may rejoice in the confirmation that they have proven themselves true disciples.