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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
    Leah Lonsbury
    Dean Feldmeyer
    UPS and Mary: A Story of Delivery / Fear Not!
    Luke 1:46b-55; Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

    To provide you with a full complement of resources, the next installment of The Immediate Word offers two main articles – one primarily addressing a Fourth Sunday of Advent text, and another focusing on the Nativity.
         For the Advent 4 piece, team member Leah Lonsbury will address the well-known Magnificat text. While on the surface we are drawn in by its joyful tone and its keen insight about God completely upending the human order of things, Leah reminds us that there’s much more going on in this passage -- after all, Mary’s outburst comes from an unwed teenage mother... who despite Joseph's steadfast support fits the stereotype of someone who is a social outcast.
         As Leah points out, there are many different view in our society toward those who are pregnant -- especially as the large-scale introduction of women into the labor force in the last half-century has made women working while they are pregnant a common phenomenon. But as a case argued before the Supreme Court last week indicated, in numerous cases pregnant women still face a significant risk of losing their jobs. Leah examines what this controversy indicates about our attitude toward women, especially those of “lowly” station -- especially in light of Mary’s viewpoint as described in the Advent 4 and Christmas scripture texts
         For Christmas Eve, team member Dean Feldmeyer looks at vv. 10-14 of Luke’s nativity account, in which the angel tells the frightened shepherds: “Do not be afraid... I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people... Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” At its core, this is the Christmas message -- the birth of the Messiah trumps all of our fears and brings peace to a troubled world. But as Dean suggests, that flies in the face of our current headlines -- which are dominated by fear, and which we use to justify all sorts of harsh measures as we seek to find security. The list goes on and on....more
    Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life
    An early movie version of Victor Herbert's romantic operetta Naughty Marietta has the young and dashing Nelson Eddy sing to an enraptured Jeanette MacDonald:

    Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found you.
    Ah, at last I've found the secret of it all
    ... Yes, 'tis love and love alone
    The world is seeking....

    This charming song expresses what the Christian has known to be true all along. It is love -- and love alone -- that unlocks the mysteries of life. Not the transient and sometimes trashy love of the modern novel but the eternal love of the Advent Christ who wrote the real meaning of love, not in words but in the greatest of deeds, the giving of himself on a cross in order to secure humankind's profoundest need -- the need for forgiveness.
         At the conclusion of this epistle to the Romans, the grandest of all Paul's letters, theology turns to doxology as he speaks of the mystery of God's gracious action toward each of us in Christ, our Lord. May these words speak deeply to us today....more
    David Coffin
    When does a house become a home for the holidays?
    Many people make Advent preparations in hopes that they will be able to celebrate their hard-earned holidays in a "home." However, there is also the risk that the dwelling of relatives, family and friends where the holidays are observed hardly meets that definition. Will these be times that are spent in merely a house that warm bodies occupy for a finite period of time while awaiting the next event in their lives? The texts today point out the differences between a "house" and "home" in rhetoric or the framing of the cherished event of the day. One caveat of such descriptions of "house and home is that one person's home may seem to be merely another person's house and vice versa." The first lesson in 1 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 is God's reply to King David's offer to build the deity a temple....more
    Peter Andrew Smith
    Finding Your Way
    Luke 1:26-38

    Kevin came down the stairs and worked his way over to the man sitting by himself in the bleachers. Dan's attention was fixed on the youngsters practicing their skating on the ice but he noticed his son and waved him over.
         "How did you know I was here?"
         "It is Saturday morning at dawn, where else would you be?" Kevin scanned the players on the ice until he found the number sixteen. "Is my little sister still dreaming of playing professionally?"
         Dan smiled. "Julie is nothing if not persistent."...more
    Janice Scott
    Mystery and secrets
    One of my most relaxing hobbies is the reading of mystery stories. I especially enjoy a well-written plot which keeps me guessing until the very end of the book, although I'm not so keen on plots which seem contrived just to get in a twist at the end....more
    Cynthia Cowen
    A Servant of the Lord
    The Point: We are to be servants of Jesus.

    The Lesson: Welcome boys and girls. Thank you for sharing this special time with me.
         This morning I brought my apron. Why do people use an apron? (let children answer) When I am going to do some cooking, especially when I barbecue, I put on my apron....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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