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A Ordinary Time (late)

Ordinary Time began back on Trinity Sunday and progresses through several numbered weeks Proper 4, 5, 6... 26, 27, 28, finally finishing on Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday in November).

This web page, Ordinary Time (late), picks up the Lectionary year calendar at Proper 18 and goes through the last Sunday of the Christian year (end of November). Then begins Year B's Advent season.

In the listing below, clicking on a sermon title takes you to a Google Doc of the sermon notes. You can view/print these from any browser, or download the file in various formats (such as Word, RTF, or PDF). If you are using a version of Word prior to 2007 you may need to download it in RTF. Then it will open with most (if not all) the formatting intact.

You can also access any of these sermons from the Sermon Chart, which displays them in the context of the entire 3-year lectionary cycle. Browse down the second column until you see the lectionary season of interest. To access the sermon notes just click on the sermon title.

Not a lectionary preacher? You can change the Sermon Chart so that it lists the sermons in the order of the primary biblical text for each sermon. In the Sermon Chart, browse down to the chart and look at the right-hand column. Click on Sort: Ascending. Notice that many sermons list additional scriptures. If you want to find all entries for a particular biblical book from the whole list just use your browser's Find function. The top of the Sermon Chart web page explains the biblical text abbreviation system I use.

For more about the Revised Common Lectionary, click on Lectionary Basics and Lectionary Preaching.

Feel free to extract any ideas, outlines, or entire sermons from my site. That's what it is for. To subscribe to email or RSS notifications of new posts from this site, click IsbellOnline News.

Proper 18: Redemptive Remembering

Exodus 12 (First Passover)

Thesis: God offered the Israelites' freedom from slavery to Egypt through the blood of a lamb; he offers us freedom from slavery to sin through the blood of Christ. God teaches us to regularly remember the freedom he gives and not just dwell on the evils of slavery.

Some of us are wired with a high sense of justice. This can be a good thing, but it can also lead to a life filled with "ain't it awful" feelings about injustices we suffered in the past. Throughout scripture, God teaches his people to keep the focus on his salvation from these injustices and not just on the injustices themselves. In some cases, we already experience his justice in this life. In other cases, we trust God to eventually provide justice - if not in this life, then in the next.

Proper 18: Resolving Conflict (The Matthew 18 Process)

Matthew 18.15-17  (Jesus instruction on how to handle the situation when someone sins against us.)

Thesis: When someone does wrong against us, the Christian response has three steps: go to them personally, take someone with you, take the issue to the church.

These are the notes for a sermon I preached in 1998. It walks listeners through the implementation of this passage and also suggests that this same process works for the simpler cases of disagreements and arguments - including in the workplace.

Proper 19: Forgiveness

Matthew 18.21-35 (Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor)

Thesis: One distinctive of Christian faith is its teaching on forgiveness, which flows from the fact that God offers undeserved forgiveness to us. 

This sermon nicely follows the previous one. In pastoral ministry, I often deal with people who have received a deep injustice which has taken far a too prominent a place in their life for far too long. This sermon addresses the concept of forgiving injustices even when the victimizer is not repentant, or not even present. 

Proper 19: Arcs of God's Story

Matthew 18.21-35 (Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor)

Thesis: In troubling times (like now), we find hope in the present age from knowing how God worked through many arcs in the Bible, and we find confidence in living based on God’s promise to resolve the final arc in the future age.

This sermon unpacks the four "arcs" that I see in Joseph's story. Arc #1 is when God called Abram and promised his descendants would become a great nation that would bless the world. Arc #2 started with Joseph's dreams that his brothers, and even parents, would bow down before him. This finally gets resolved in Genesis 50. Arc #3 started with Joseph's interpretation of the cup-bearer's and the baker's dreams in prison. These were resolved within a week. And Arc #4, Pharoah's dreams about the seven years of bounty followed by seven years of famine. This arc was resolved within a couple decades.  

Proper 20-23: 4-sermon series on Philippians

A synopsis of the series and links to each of its sermons is available in the link.

Proper 20: Living through Storms

Jonah, Mark 4.35-41 (Jesus calms the storm)

Thesis: God's power is real, infinite, unmanageable, costly - and it will get us through any storm.

This sermon was initially developed for Year B Proper 7, based on the Mark story. But it moves to a strong conclusion that ties this story to the Old Testament Jonah story. So the sermon also is an appropriate stand-alone sermon for Year A Proper 20. To access the sermon notes for this one, click on the title link just above.

Palm Sunday: Descending into Greatness

Philippians 2.5-11. Jesus did not think of equality with God as something to cling to...

Thesis: We are called to follow our Lord's example and descend into greatness.

This sermon starts with a reflexive, using questions such as Your boss says your company is being reorganized and your job is history. But good for you, there are 2 other positions that you can apply for. One represents a promotion, the other a demotion. Which interests you more?  Then it moves on to show how the Christian gospel turns the worldly drive for everything to "go up and to the right" on its proverbial head. 

And it shows how Jesus, himself, descended into greatness. And that he did so to deal with the one thing that we desperately need to deal with - but which we cannot deal with on our own: sin. Near the end is an unpacking of the classic "sin gap," along with an offer of salvation. This sermon is my repackaging of the thinking in Descending into Greatness.

Proper 24: Becoming Great Worshipers

Exodus 33 (The Lord shows his glory to Moses)

Thesis: Even more precious than God's gifts is his presence, which is often especially true in times of corporate worship.

This sermon addresses the contrast of receiving God's gifts and receiving God's presence. It deals directly with the person who says, "I don't go to church anymore because I just don't get anything out of it." It also deals with the person who mindlessly sits through worship. The last section walks the congregation through the elements of a conventional Christian worship service, showing their significance and suggesting ways we can enrich worship experience - for us and for God.

Proper 24 or 25: The Goodness, the Glow, and the Vision

Exodus 33.12-23, 34.28-34, Deuteronomy 34 (Moses sees the Lord's glory. Moses receives the 10 Commandments for the second time and his face becomes radiant. The death of Moses)

Thesis: God gives us all we need to write the next chapter of our adventure with him.

God's response to Moses' request to show his glory not by God showing his greatness - but by showing his goodness. We know God loves to receive our praise as part of worship, but praise for what. I'm sure God appreciates praise for his greatness, but in Exodus 33 when Moses asks God to show his glory God doesn't tell him to look at the stars, or nature, or his power, or other parts of his greatness. No, God shows Moses his goodness. This suggests that he appreciates praise for his goodness even more than praise for his goodness.

Proper 26: Why Prophets are Cranky

Micah 3.5-12 This is what the Lord says: “You false prophets are leading my people astray! You promise peace for those who give you food..."

Thesis: Prophets are cranky because they see the brokenness of the world through God’s eyes; Micah’s message to all is, do right, love mercy, and walk humbly.

The crankiness of prophets bothered me for a long time. This sermon not only answers the question about the cranky-ness of many biblical prophets, but it also addresses the issue of cranky parishioners (and preachers) with the "prophetic gift."  This one is definitely worth a read - even if you never preach it.

Proper 27: Living the With-God Life

Joshua 24 (The Lord renews his covenant with Israel, just before Joshua dies)

Thesis: God’s call is to trust him and follow him with single-mindedly, living the “with-God” life.

Using a top-level view of the Old Testament stories, this sermon helps people see that God's invitation to a life of intimate fellowship is as much for us as for the Old Testament characters. Near the end, it invites listeners to abandon their present dis-integrated life for one lived single-mindedly with-God.

A Proper 27: The Early Old Testament Story

Joshua 24 As his last kingly act, Joshua reminds the Israelites of how they fit into the grand story of God.

Thesis: God’s call is to trust him and follow him with clarity, living the with-God life.

This sermon is an opportunity to interactively construct the top-level story of the early Old Testament period, and then to draw together the top-level messages from this story. In the process, you can invite the congregation into God's story. Here's how I started this one: 

I want to tell you a story …

One that I’ve illustrated on a napkin or a scrap of paper across many tables in many coffee shops and cafeterias. It helps people who are just beginning to discover the Bible, and people who have read bits and pieces of the Bible but have never assimilated it into the big story. This is the story the Bible revisits over and over. Joshua tells it in the last chapter of the book by his name. Stephen tells it in Acts 7. Hebrews 11 summarizes it. And it shows up in many other places.

It’s been told over and over for 2,000 years since because it is that important a story; it is God’s story about himself, and about us...

Proper 28: God Owns Everything; We are His Managers

Matthew 25. 14-30 (Parable of the 3 servants in charge of the rich man's wealth while he went on a trip)

Thesis: Even when it comes to money: do not be afraid - trust God in everything.

This sermon is part of a collection called Money Sermons. Click on the link for a longer description of this sermon and a glimpse of other related sermons and resources.

This sermon is also a part of the series: Interactive Sermons on Character and Conduct in the New Life.

Proper 28 (alt), Thanksgiving Day: Giving Thanks for Daily Bread

Deuteronomy 8 (This is the lectionary scripture for Thanksgiving Day, which falls on the Thursday between Christ the King Sunday and the first Sunday of Advent. So it fits well on either the Sunday before or after Thanksgiving Day.) 

Thesis: God wants us to understand that we depend on him for everything, to cultivate a sense of gratitude for the big and small things of life, and to remember that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can fully satisfy the daily hunger of our souls.

It connects the Matthew 6.7-15 passage where Jesus teaches the Lord's Prayer, the Matthew 4.1-11 story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, and the Old Testament story of God's daily provision of manna in the wilderness.

Although you can easily change this, the sermon leads to a time for the congregation to share their thankfulness for God's blessings of the year, and to a prayer time in the end.

Proper 29, Christ the King Sunday: Intercession

Ephesians 1.15-23 (Paul's intercessory prayer for the Ephesians)

Thesis: God invites us to intercede between himself and our world, at least partly to grow us up.

This is a very practical sermon designed to help people engage in intercessory prayer. It traces a thread of Old Testament stories about people interceding for various situations. Then it suggests the reason God gives us this responsibility is to grow and equip us for reigning with him in the Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity. It concludes with some very practical on how to do intercessory prayer and what to expect from it.

Proper 29, Christ the King Sunday: Jesus is Lord, Now and Forever

Ephesians 1.15-23 (Paul's intercessory prayer for the Ephesians). This sermon also uses Mark 16.19, Hebrews 1.3, Romans 14.10-12, Philippians 2.8-10, and Colossians 2.8-10.

Thesis: Christ is Lord of everything and everyone, whether or not we know or accept it, and he is seated in the place of honor at God’s right hand, and ultimately Christ will judge lives on how we trusted him, loved his people, and carried out his assignment to care for the weak.

Since this sermon was preached on Year A Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday before starting the Advent Season for Year B, it starts out with a short teachable moment regarding the Revised Common Lectionary. This section also encourages people that because the following week (Advent), this week is a great time to start fresh on a daily (or at least weekly) scripture reading and reflection habit.

The core of the sermon, though, drives home the point that Jesus IS Lord of everything now (as opposed to the idea that Jesus may be Lord of the church now but only someday will be the Lord of everything). It also includes the concept that the primary difference between Christians and everyone else is that Christians recognize that right now Jesus is Lord of all and that right now we choose to live in this reality. We cannot do this in our own power, we can only do this through the power of the Spirit of Jesus. 



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