The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

on Deborah and Church Leadership

November 16, 2008
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Pentecost

on Deborah and Church Leadership
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Judges 4:1-7

My sermon outline:

Oddity of Judges 4:1-7 as preaching text. Little connection before, no followup. But precisely for its oddity did I choose it.

4:1 The Israelites. (who and how many) Again. Did what was evil. (worshiped other gods, neglected to pay attention to the covenant. Recall Joshua last week (we will serve the Lord!)

Deuteronomy 5:29-33, after the receiving of the 10C:
29If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children forever! 30Go say to them, ‘Return to your tents.’ 31But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandments, the statutes and the ordinances, that you shall teach them, so that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.” 32You must therefore be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left. 33You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess.

4:1 continued: In the sight of the Lord. After Ehud died.
4:2 So the Lord sold them. Allowed the king of the land (whose general named Sisera basically means servant of Ra (another god) from the city Mighty foreign warrior, harosheth haggoim) to oppress them, along the lines of slavery.

The Story of Everybody...:
This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done

Silly little story, yet true, and evil. Not necessarily the evil that the Israelites did, but a seductive kind of evil called complacency or status quo. Not my job, someone else will take care of it, I don’t have to be involved, I can sit back and let others get it done.

Seems harmless enough, but evil does best when people don’t think it’s evil. Or evil thrives when good folk do nothing. Recall our problem in Judges was not with some, it was with all.

Left Judges narrative with the pattern of the book of judges: People fall away from God, they suffer the consequences (you make your bed, you lie on it), God raises a faithful leader (often to military victory), the people praise God.

Recall 4:1 Again they did evil.

And God inspires Deborah, a faithful Jew, a prophetess (one who bore a message from God) and a judge (a wise woman whom people in dispute sought). Deborah is described as the wife of Lappidoth, which means torches, so there is a kind of wordpicture of Deborah as both illuminating and inspiring. She is a leader, and she speaks for God.

Speaking the word of the Lord, she inspires another Jew, Barak son of Abinoam to take arms against Sisera (arms and ten thousand children of Israel), the commanding general of the land, declaring that God will deliver Sisera into his hand.

God is at work among the characters of today’s odd reading.

And God is at work behind the story, as well. In his righteous anger (and his hurt!) God continues to be compassionate, hearing the cry of the oppressed, whether or not the oppressed are worthy of attention. And God continues to be faithful, in spite of the infidelity of his people. God, who had delivered the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and had led them into the promised land, God who had been faithful from the beginning, would continue to be faithful.

God’s compassion and faithfulness extends through the time of the judges, through the ancient monarchy, even through the exile and into the New Testament, always and everywhere there was a thread of God’s story to be found.

As Deborah and Barak and ten thousand children of Israel had their part in the story of God’s deliverance of the people, so each of us and all of us has our part in God’s story.

Paul calls us to faith and to action in today’s reading from 1 Thessalonians 5:
6So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.
11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

God calls for and provides faithful leaders in every generation. Today in our church conference we affirm those who have answered the call to leadership in this congregation...

Listen for God’s call to action even today:
• Hymn 108 God Hath Spoken By the Prophets

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 63 in worship.


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