Nov 02

24th Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 32B] (Year B)

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17
  • We are all looking for “security” these days, aren’t we?  There are locks for our doors, virus protection for our computers, and even software that guards against identity theft.  In what ways are you – or your congregation or community – seeking some security?
  • Security doesn’t come easily.  For Ruth, she had to prepare herself (wash, anoint herself, and get dressed in her best clothes) and then go down to the threshing floor.  I think it is an interesting detail that Ruth meets Boaz at the threshing floor – the place where the grain is separated from the chaff.  In many respects, it provides a surprising metaphor for courtship – as well as for trusting in God (the Master Farmer who separates the grain from the chaff).
  • Could we identify with the grain on the threshing floor?  Perhaps we should ask ourselves: “Where is our threshing floor?”
  • This scripture could easily be presented as a dramatic reading – with a narrator, Naomi, Ruth, and a chorus of women (perhaps all of the women of the congregation).
  • You may want to decorate your worship space with a variety of grains: wheat, barley, oats, etc.  If you don’t have sheaves of wheat or other grains, you could use glass (or plastic) jars filled with whole grains (barley and oats are easily found in your local grocery store).
Psalm 127
  • Who is in charge of our plans?  Who is the chief architect and master builder of our lives?  Who is our chief guardian and protector?  If the answer is God, then our efforts will not be in vain.
  • This psalm gives us a wonderful opportunity to talk about the importance of Sabbath.  Being a good steward of the time that God gives to us (which is all time) requires that we rest — not just work.
  • While this psalm lifts up the value of having lots of children, the wise preacher will be mindful of those who are unable to bear children (as well as those who may have recently lost children).  Know your context…
  • If your church is in the midst of a capital campaign or building project, this passage could fit well with that.
  • You may want to decorate your worship space with blueprints and building materials.  Or, since the psalmist praises family, you may want to use images of family trees.
  • Thousands and thousands of people have been impacted by the recent storm (Hurricane Sandy) in the United States.  You could – if focused on this passage – invite the congregation to donate to those who are re-building their houses and cities.  If you are wanting to donate to a group making a difference in areas impacted by the storm, I recommend the Presbyterian Mission Agency.  Check with your denomination to see what programs they may have in place to help those impacted by tragedy.
Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all.  That is a powerful message.
  • If you want to read this from a different translation, you might want to use The Message.  If you do, I recommend reading verses 18-28.
  • With Christ’s sacrifice at the front and center of this passage, you may want to feature a cross at the front and center of your worship space.  Or, you may want to feature an icon of Christ Jesus.
  • Or…you may want to create an “icon” of Christ Jesus during your worship service (as an interactive experience).  One way to do it: create a cross-shaped collage, using construction paper, markers (allowing people to write words, prayers, etc on the paper), magazines, and newspapers.
Mark 12:38-44
  • This is an obvious text to use if you are talking about stewardship.  What do we give to God – what we want to spare, what will make us look/feel good, or what all we have been given (everything)?  We are invited and encouraged to contribute our whole lives to the work of God.
  • Are there times when you relate best to the widow?  Are there times when you relate best to the scribes?
  • There are plenty of good translations of this passage – including Eugene Peterson’s The Message, the Common English Bible, and the Easy-to-Read Version.
  • Want to try something new in worship?  Invite the congregation to get into small groups and talk about how they might re-tell this passage.  Then, share your re-tellings with one another.  If you have a congregation that is really daring, invite them to present them as skits or some other dramatic presentation.
  • Jesus warns that we should “beware” of certain self-righteous types.  One way to decorate your worship space that encourages some serious introspection: mirrors that are labeled with words and signs saying “beware” and “caution”.
  • Is there a particular charity for which your church collects funds?  Hold a penny drive to support it — collecting as many pennies as possible.  This is an easy way for kids to participate in collecting mission funds…

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