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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
    Chris Keating
    Unprovable Hope
    Mark 8:31-38; Romans 4:13-25; Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

    Hope seems so improbable this Lent.

    To those stuck in the grinding blizzards and chilling winds of winter, hope may feel like a promise of warmer days or plane tickets to Florida.
         To ever-faithful baseball fans, hope is the news that pitchers and catchers are getting to business in spring training. Every team still has a chance.
         Everyone is hoping against hope, even as we wash away the ashes from last week’s Ash Wednesday worship. But hope is more than the arrival of spring or the smell of grass on freshly washed baseball pants. Hope built on faith in God’s provision seems even more improbable -- especially in light of recent unrest and violence across the world.
         Last week, 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS on a bloody beach in Libya. In Nigeria, the militant Boko Haram group is suspected in bombing attacks near the Nigerian border, and in an uprising across the border at a Cameroonian military base. Hope seemed elusive in Europe too, where French President Francois Hollande decried growing acts of violence against Muslims and Jews as eroding the nation’s foundations.
         Hope isn’t easy -- as Peter discovers in his conversation with Jesus, or as Paul reminds us when he instructs the Romans to see Abraham as the heir of faith, who “hoping against hope,” believed he would become the progenitor of many nations.
         It all seems so improbable -- yet for that reason so much richer....more
    An Incredible Blessing
    When I was in the second grade, I won a Bible storybook by selling magazines. It was illustrated with colored pictures unlike the King James Bible from which my mother read our nightly bedtime stories. It was a significant improvement. I was very pleased.
         Bible bedtime stories are very formative. Mostly they teach us about God, his love, mercy, expectations, and blessing. They also teach us how to live. They even plant seeds.
         Our Bible story today is very familiar. It is the story of Abraham and Sarah depicting how they were chosen by God to be blessed in order that they might be a blessing. "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father (and mother) of a multitude of nations ... I will make you exceedingly fruitful ... and give you the land of Canaan." ...more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Remember when you first said to someone that you loved her? Remember how those words changed everything? You didn’t know if you should say it. You wanted to, but then again, you didn’t want to.
         But suddenly the words blustered out and smashed into the open space between you. They took over. They stopped the conversation. There was nothing more to be said. You just sat there and looked at one another. It was like time stood still. This is the moment! Make this moment last!...more
    Frank Ramirez
    How You Play The Game
    Mark 8:31-38

    Is there a household that doesn’t have a copy of the game Monopoly? Or maybe even two or three?
         It seems there is version for everyone’s taste -- the classic game, or one based on your state or favorite university, or built around a movie franchise. There are even unauthorized versions....more
    Janice Scott
    The Covenant
    The Gentleman's Agreement is something which seems to have passed into history in the UK. Time was when two gentlemen could agree on some project, shake hands on it and thereafter know that both parties would regard the agreement as binding. But this is no longer the case....more
    Cynthia Cowen
    Save your life for eternity
    The Point: Save your life in Jesus, and you shall have your life for eternity.

    The Lesson: Welcome, girls and boys. Thank you for coming up to share in this time that together we might let Jesus teach us and encourage us as his family....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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