Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

From Rev. Kelly Bedard

Divine Dissension
Luke 12:49-53

A. The gods of family and tradition

    1. Families on fire, pleading for religious freedom and tolerance often resulting in apathy; seeking to extinguish the fire (Law) and silence and/or punish its messengers

    2. "Peace," harmony and orderliness at all costs, though ultimately only a shallow and temporary calm disguising real conflict and division

B. The Tradition of God's Family

    1. Jesus on fire: through the baptism of suffering and death--for us!; so we are "fire from God," lamps in this world of darkness

    2. Division resulting in true and lasting peace--forgiveness through Christ--not the absence of conflict but, rather, the presence of God in the midst of it


1. sunecho (verse 50): to hold together; to hold together with constraint, to compress; to hold one's ears, to shut the heavens that it may not rain; of a cattle squeeze, that pushing in on each side, forcing the beast into a position where it cannot move so the farmer can administer medication; metaphorically, to be held by, closely occupied with any business; in teaching the word; to urge, impel; of the soul

2. This is not a text one would choose for a sermon on ecumenism--or is it? "Harmony" is one of those soft words which people sometimes use to plea for peace. The peace is often a shallow calm of suppressed fears and conflicts which are bound to emerge from under their marshmallow captivity. Orderliness and harmony were great Stoic themes. At worst it meant everyone in their place, an unchanged and unchanging status quo. For many people Christian peace is still seen as that kind of harmony: if not achievable outwardly, then, at least achievable inwardly. The gospel then takes up its stall beside all the others offering serenity of life and "feel good" spiritualities. (William Loader)

3. If there is a place for "harmony" in the teaching of Jesus, it is about unity with God and what God is doing in the world and a sense of solidarity with those travelling that path. (Loader)

4. A punny sermon title: "Passers of Fire or Pacifiers?" (Brian Stoffregen)

5. The Gospel today continues the emphasis on urgency in the message of Jesus. He is not praising family quarrels. Nor is he advocating them. But he is saying that, however essential family ties may be, we cannot permit them to interfere in the really and truly important things in life. There are no magic formulae for balancing the demands of family and the demands of faith. Usually we must try to respond to both. No one can use God as an excuse for abjuring responsibility to spouse and children and parents. Yet there are times when we are backed into a corner and must choose. (Andrew Greeley)

From Rev. Wayne Dobratz

The Race Of Life
Hebrews 12:1-2

Mr & Mrs Jones are talking at the end of the day. "How was your day?" She asked. "Oh, it was really hectic; I felt as if I were running a hundred yard dash all day." Sound familiar? Just go to a place like Union Station in Chicago as the Commuter Train crowd dashes for the train home. You have to
look both ways before crossing to the other side of the Food Court. The Race mentioned in today's text isn't a dash; it's a marathon. Let's look at four things about this race.

I. The Audience

A. Some of them are from the "Hall of Fame of Faith" mentioned in last week's text-Heb. 11:35-39 passim.

B. Others in the audience urging you on toward the finish line are 
1. Pastors& Teachers-Acts 20:24
2. Veteran Christians-Acts 20:2, Rom. 15:5-6, 2 Th. 2:16-17

II. The Hindrances

A. They had to throw off their robes in order to run the race.

B. In the same way, the Bible urges God's Children to "take off" the ways of sin and death-see Eph. 4:22-23, Text, v.2.

III. The Coach

A. Jesus fought the Devil in the desert and won with the power of the Word-see Matt. 4:4ff.

B. He's an experienced fighter and a savvy competitor-text v2ff.

C. "No Pain-No Gain" is also true in this Marathon-Cf. Text v5ff. Strict Training is necessary-Cf. 1 Cor. 9:25a.

D. While we are still here in training and running this race, recognize that our Heavenly Coach is preparing us for the finish line through a variety of trials, troubles, and growth experiences.

When Lou Holtz was the Coach at Notre Dame, he followed this policy for the discipline of his athletes:

1. Will it make him a better man?
2. Will it make him a better student?
3. Will it make him a better athlete?

If the answer is yes, then we make him do it. The next step is up him. You have a choice when you are being disciplined: You can get bitter or you can get better.

IV. The Finish Line-Cf. Rom. 8:18, Dan. 12:3

The Teachers Commentary adds this note about "discipline": Several important characteristics of God's discipline are given: *Discipline is a family thing. If suffering (one aspect of discipline) comes, some may fear God is angry or rejecting them. Not so. Even hardship is part of God's guidance for His sons (v. 7).

*Discipline's purpose is our good. Whatever motive human parents may have in discipline, God's sole concern is our good. He is motivated only by love (vv. 6, 10).

*Discipline has a clear goal in view. Through discipline, God helps us to share His holiness (v. 10).

*Discipline's product is assured. Though an extended time may be involved, and our experience during this time may be painful, we can rest assured. God's discipline does produce "a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (v. 11).

When we understand God's attitude and purpose for disciplining care, strength replaces feebleness. Discouragement gives way to hope.

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM