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Epiphany 6 | Ordinary Time 6, Cycle B

“Lord God, mercifully receive the prayers of your people. Help us to see and understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do them; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is in the portions of The Prayer of the Day for this Sunday that are italicized above that we see the unifying factor in the four texts selected for this day. Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria, needed help from the Lord God through Naaman’s own servants before he could understand the things that he should do in the cleansing of his body from leprosy in the 2 Kings 5:1-14 Elisha story.

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  • SermonSuite Special
    Dean Feldmeyer
    Authority and Power
    Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

    An old adage warns leaders that “authority is like soap -- the more you use it, the less you have.” Effective leaders use their authority only as a last resort. They know that productive planning more often comes through building consensus and group ownership. People want to be led, but not pushed or forced.
         History and literature teach this lesson over and over. Julius Caesar, King Lear, Chairman Mao, Richard Nixon, Captain Kirk, Pontius Pilate, John XXIII, and Superman all come to us as figures who struggled to find a balance between authority and power -- some more successfully than others. And we struggle with it still.
         As our president and the congress jockey for position, thrusting and parrying in their ongoing legislative duels, they both want to claim the authority that gives power. The president points to the successes he has managed to achieve in spite of an obstructive congress, as well as to the recent rise in his approval rating to 50 percent. He claims that these accomplishments give him the necessary authority to move forward with his agenda. The Republicans in congress counter with their victories in the midterm elections, and claim that the voters have given them the authority to block the president’s agenda and move forward with their own.
         Each side is claiming authority and trying to exercise the power which they claim is concomitant with it. Who is right? Whose authority is genuine and how much power flows rightly from it?
         This week’s lectionary readings point us toward the only kind of authority that matters to the people of God -- and that is the authority that flows from God and God’s words....more
    Setting: Corinth, Greece, 55 AD
    The conversation paused as the slave, Rhoes, poured wine for the host and his reclining guests. In the silence, a ripple of wind from the Saronic Gulf stirred above their evening meal. One man began to talk but stopped. Another man coughed. A third man ran his fingers through his hair. The presence of Rhoes, the slave, made them uneasy. The nine had been hotly arguing as a group. They now began to chat among themselves in twos and threes. Two guests nodded to the slave and one even said, "Thank you, Rhoes." Although few looked directly at him, the slave, Rhoes, was the center of attention....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    When the nation of Israel came out of Egypt and met God at Mount Sinai, there was a political transaction taking place. Israel had belonged to the pharaoh of Egypt. Now she belonged to God. God had fought the pharaoh for the right to own and care for Israel, and he had won. Just as prior to the Exodus the pharaoh had specified the contours of his relationship with Israel, so now God did the same. At the top of Mount Sinai, God and Moses hammered out the political, social, and religious covenant that would determine the character of Israel’s future existence....more
    Sandra Herrmann
    Thank You, God, With My Whole Heart!
    Psalm 111

    "Go ahead and ask her! There’ll never be a better time -- she's alone. Quick, before the rest of her gang gets here!"
          Declan leaned forward, as though to walk over to her -- or maybe to stretch himself out, with just his head getting close to Abby. Then he took a step forward and nearly tripped over his own feet. And, of course, here came Abby's best friends. All of them. They seemed to surround her, cutting off any hope he had to talk with her alone....more
    Janice Scott
    The Foolishness of the Cross
    I recently watched a televised tribute to Dame Judi Dench, who really is an outstanding actress. She'd been selected for a special BAFTA award, so it was a glittering occasion gathering in the great from around the world.
          Many famous names gave testimony to Dame Judi's terrific acting ability, but what came over from almost everyone who spoke, was that Judi Dench doesn't act, she actually becomes the person she's portraying....more
    Cynthia Cowen
    Live Life with Power
    The Point: Jesus brought authority and power to God's word.
    The Lesson: Good morning boys and girls. Thank you for sharing this time with me.
          I brought a lamp with me this morning, and I have an extension cord that is plugged into an electrical outlet on the wall....more

Author of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen

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