Hi! Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Reflectionary! I’ve been working on this idea for over a year and have finally found the time to put it together. The Reflectionary is a free weekly email newsletter filled with fresh spiritual insights for people who want to follow Jesus and his teachings in a world gone mad, and for pastors looking for fresh ideas for communicating spiritual truth.
Can anyone subscribe? Yes. Is there a cost? No. Can I share it with others? Yep. I hope it’s an encouragement to you!
Lectionary Sermon Starters
For Sunday, May 8, 2022
The Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C
(And also Mother’s Day in the US)
Nothing brings more positive attention to Jesus and his people than the healing and transformation of the broken! Peter heals Aeneas and the Bible says, “the residents… saw him and turned to the Lord.” And then he heals Tabitha and the Bible says, “and many believed in the Lord.” We, of course, have the witness of the Word and the testimony of people of faith, but there is no argument against a powerfully transforming act of love that heals another.
If preaching from this passage, I would challenge the congregation to scatter as we leave and to seek out those who are broken and suffering and offer a loving touch, an encouraging word, and an act of love to show the world who Jesus really is.
For a couple of years now, we’ve all been walking through a long dark valley, a valley of the shadow of death. We’ve endured a pandemic, social unrest, political chaos, and the threat of world war. And God walked with us through it all! He leads us to peace, contentment, recovery, and fresh life. The key phrase is probably, “you are with me.”
I once preached a four-part sermon series through Psalm 23 called FearLess. Feel free to click the graphic to see the notes, transcripts, videos, and graphics for that series (and freely use anything that helps you).
The Revelation is a beautiful, powerful piece of apocalyptic literature designed to comfort and strengthen people living under oppression and suffering. It was written to people living under the oppressive, persecuting thumb of Rome. And the point of the book, regardless of your interpretive perspective, isn’t the signs and symbols. It’s that the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, will absolutely WIN in the end.
And what does winning look like for Jesus, the Lamb of God? It looks like a vast, innumerable throng of people from every ethnicity, brought together as one in a grand celebration of God’s saving and renewing work. The vision John shares is that at the end, when the smoke clears and the battle is over, an end will have been brought to all violence, sin, evil, and suffering in the world.
I love that the NRSV translates verse 14 as “they who have come out of the great ordeal.” Again, it feels like the last two years, which certainly pale in comparison to the suffering of the early Christians living under Roman rule, has nonetheless been extremely hard. We’re all tired. We’re weary. And we need to cling to the promise that, even in the middle of our chaos, God is doing the world of saving and renewing all things for his glory.
I will leave it to you to dissect the theological meanings behind who the sheep are in Jesus’ message. What thrills me far more is the picture of intimacy. Those who know Jesus and follow him for any length of time learn his voice, his walk, and his company. He draws us close and walks in fellowship with us.
When Jesus says, “The Father and I are one,” the Jewish religious leaders pick up stones with which to stone him. Jesus’ claims in this passage would be absolutely preposterous were he not truly the Son of God, sent for the salvation of the world. To claim to be one with the Father and to provide ultimate, eternal spiritual protection to all who know him is as clear a statement as Jesus had made to this point about his identity.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is definitely worthy of being followed closely. And while we all, like sheep, tend to wander and stray, the Shepherd knows every one of us and everything about us and is still willing to lead us every step of the journey.
Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass
My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes or sermon outlines) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:
From the Description:
This six-week sermon series looks at different healings in the Gospels, revealing Christ’s power, divinity, compassion, and loving character. In these distinct episodes, we can see that Christ not only heals these individuals physically but also spiritually—a healing that Christ extends to all his followers.
Books, Links, and Resources for Pastors and Church Leaders
I also want to share helpful and encouraging resources each week including articles I’ve read, books I love, and practical tools for leadership. This week:
- A recent article I wrote, How to Create Authenticity in Your Leadership Culture
- An article by Rick Warren on Six Ways God Tests Your Faith and Character
- A book my wife and I are both reading: I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet, by Shauna Niequist
- A video from Brandon Kelley’s Youtube channel on How to Write a Sermon That Connects, Step-by-Step
- A post by Holley Gerth on 4 Simple, Powerful Questions to Help You Overcome Negative Thinking
- OFF TOPIC: Have you gone through my free course-by-email, 21 Days to Start Earning an Income from Blogging?
Support The Reflectionary
The Reflectionary is always free so there is never a barrier to receiving it, but if my writings, videos, or other resources help and inspire you and you have the resources, feel free to partner with me in any amount.
Or, if you can’t partner long-term but would like to so do, feel free to give a one-time gift in any amount.
Coaching for Pastors and Leaders
When a leader grows, the world gets better. Healthy teams, led by healthy leaders, create healthy organizations! Whether you’re going through transition, walking through discouragement, or pressing onward enthusiastically, I’d love to have a conversation with you about what leadership coaching can do for you and your church or organization.
Also, if your church needs help with communications, website design, social media, or marketing with paid ads to reach newcomers, that’s what I do full-time now and I’d love to help!