June 1, 2015

Sermon Starters

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Sermon Starters

Some may have been confused at first about the voice they were hearing, as Eli was when he first heard the voice of God calling him in the tent (see 1 Samuel 3:1-10). Others may have felt inadequate to respond at first, as in the case of Moses (see Exodus 3:1-12). Still others may have resisted, but God’s persistent voice presented in different ways eventually provided clarity. Every person’s experience of God’s call is different. Instead of offering complete sermons, we’re offering stories you can tell in your own sermons by four writers exploring how they have wrestled with God’s call in their own lives and how they understand God, call, church, and community working together to shape us all into who God has created us to be.

Below is a sample of the Sermon Starters resource.


Tracing a Call through an Asian American Story and Beyond
by Rev. Dr. Gerald C. Liu

Scripture passages for reflection:

  • Ezekiel 37:1-6
  • Psalm 104:24
  • Acts 2:1-21
  • John 16:12-25
  • Romans 8:22-27

I pursued my Master of Divinity degree strictly as an intellectual exercise until I began working at a United Methodist Church in Clarkston, Georgia. Clarkston resembled something like Mayberry, the fictional small country town of the Andy Griffiths television show. A train track divided it. The Methodist church sat next door to the Baptist church. I lived in a dogtrot parsonage behind the sanctuary. Yet Clarkston wasn’t Mayberry. It was the world. Eleven different nationalities worshipped in our congregation of one hundred. Thirteen different languages were spoken at the public high school. At that time, the town was the second largest hub of refugees from Africa and many others resettled there too. Every weekday morning, women and men from Sierra Leone, Congo, Sudan, and Ethiopia but also Bosnia, Burma (Myanmar), Nepal, and Mexico would walk to English as a Second Language instruction at the Baptist church. The wonder and ministerial potential of it all compelled me to pursue ordination as an Elder in the UMC.

From there I went on to study theology in Germany and serve churches in greater Atlanta and the United Kingdom. I completed a Ph.D. and taught in Boston and Louisville before landing at Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey as an assistant professor of preaching and worship arts.

In Ezekiel 37:1-6 things are looking bad for the house of Israel. So much so that Ezekiel has a vision where all he sees are dry bones. God poses the question, “Mortal, can these bones live?” Ezekiel answers, “O Lord God, you know.” God does know. God instructs Ezekiel that he must prophesy to the bones! They will take on flesh and live as a testimony that the nightmare of death cannot stop God’s promise of life for Israel.

Before professional ministry and higher education …[download the rest of this Sermon Starter resource or the full worship resource]