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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The "Holy Crap! Is It Tuesday Already?" edition of Lectionary Leanings

This week is flying by already, isn't it?

This coming Sunday is Pentecost, of course. I am preaching the Ezekiel passage and the Acts passage. I love the imagery of the wind.

A preacher friend of mine once preached a sermon about wind in the church's sails that has made me think about this for years. From the beginning of the 20th century, the church could count on the support of the culture. Church and society were tighly entwined.(Perhaps too tightly, but that's another sermon.) But that is not true any longer. The church needs to count on something else--the fresh winds of the Spirit.

There are those who are trying to re-entwine church and society in ways that are (IMHO) unhealthy. Instead of being supported by culture, some churches are trying to adapt to the culture and become part of it instead. I'm not talking just about "Coffee House/Seeker" church where little theological curiosity is demanded, but that is one example of where I see the tail potentially wagging the dog.

Send us fresh winds instead, Lord!

Anyway, that is what I'm thinking today. How about you?


  1. Was Jesus in bed with his culture? He went to where people were eating and drinking. He took a simple gospel to the ones who needed it. They weren't coming to the synagogue for theological discussion. He was out with the people. They loved him. They responded to his message.

    The Apostle Paul adapted his message for each culture and setting. He was in the synagogue with the Jews of the community on Shabbat and then out with the Gentiles on Sunday. He said that we need to become all things to all people so that we might win some. Sounds like Paul wants us to engage and adapt to the culture--not change the message.

    I am not saying that churches and pastors that seek to engage the culture have Jesus' skill or insight. We might not be as good at adapting as Paul. But it is about time that high brow, theological snobs get off their high horses.

    Read some of what Leonard Sweet's books. I am currently blogging on "Post-Modern Pilgrims."

  2. Here's what I see at Small Church. People who are aging out of attendance, whether by death or infirmity or simply moving south for the bulk of the year, are being replaced by people who don't have the habit of church attendance deeply engrained. We see fewer people on Sunday than we used to see. It looks to some people like death, but I believe it's leading to a Resurrection.

    However, I'm pretty sure the Resurrected Church will look a little different. In our particular case, I think we have to make some changes in how we operate, how we worship. Some of that is already happening, at a pace designed to not drive away the older faithful. In a more general way, for the wider church I hope it doesn't look like the prosperity-oriented churches to which I believe cheesehead refers. Because that's not getting off the high horse; it's selling out. And there is a difference.

    This is our Children's Sunday, packed full with Confirmation, a Baptism and Communion. I will tell the story of the dry bones and have the children participate, the emphasis being on the Spirit's power to bring back to life even things we think are surely dead. And in that re-animation, are we the same? Of course not. God is making a new thing.

    I hope the adults hear the message, too, especially those who are working hard to support the church and are afraid when they see change, even if they don't want to be.

  3. This Sunday is my first as the Pastor at Wilmette. It is an exciting Sunday to begin.

    So I am looking at the idea of the Spirit being poured out on all flesh. It is an all encompassing reality...where all things are constantly being made new. It is the greatest sign of hope...Ruah Elohim!

    Lovely scriptures this Sunday.

    Happy Birthday, Church.

  4. I will be away at a study weekend which seems strange- we have a day of silence from Friday evening prayers to Saturday coffee time- I am looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time....

  5. Hi Lance, I don't know if I've seen you around these parts. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    You had me until you got to "Theological snobs getting off their high horses." I don't know any people like that. Care to say more?

    Songbird, sounds like you have a lovely Sunday to look forward to.

    Tripp, have a great first Sunday! Happy Birthday, indeed!

    Sally, have a restful, restorative retreat.

  6. M-M-M Holy Crap, now that's a title to use for a sermon, because without the holy spirit we are a bunch of *** well you know what I mean. And I hope you know I am kidding. Good thoughts. Good luck to Tripp preaching his first Sunday on the birthday of the church.

    I am using the John passage John 15:26-27,16:4b-15. I do like Acts alot. I am gong to talk about counselor, spirit of truth, testifying,etc.

    Anybody ever throw a party for Pentecost in their church?

  7. revabi, I was a member of a church that had B-day parties about every other year for Pentecost.

    One year we made kites in worship and then flew them out in the parking lot. One other year we did a balloon release on Pentecost.

  8. Well, I definitely need balloons now.

  9. While I was teaching SUnday School we always did a b-day party type thing for Pentecost.

    For this week I am thinking about transformation, as per my opening thoughts on the church blog. I love the fact that the SPirit's transforming action calls us to look at where all seems lifeless and find signs of hope.

    I also wonder if the church is actually looking for transformation, or just something like transformation that doesn't really make us change -- just that others would be transformed to join our way of thinking/being.

  10. I've been doing a series of sermons on worship. This week will be more of that, but focused on how the work of the Spirit looks, sounds, influences...and I'll be talking about transformation too. Wow, Gord, that last paragraphhas me thinking!

  11. Meant to say that I'll be talking about how genuine worship transforms us. And Gord's paragraph still got me....

  12. I keep running into examples of, and discussions about, Christians who talk the talk but who operate on a principle of "practical atheism" -- as if God isn't present, as if the Spirit isn't still speaking. I'm not preaching, but I think I may explore the imagery of "dry bones" on my blog later in the week.

  13. On Pentecost we celebrate and thank everyone who has participated in ministry in our parish over the past year.

    As part of all this on Sunday, I'm preaching about call/vocation. My main objective is to tell people that God calls each and every one of us, and that by depending on God and listening for God's voice in our lives, we can figure out what God is calling us to do.

    I haven't preached more than a few times, ever, and I've never preached on Pentecost before. I'm pretty nervous about this. We're having one combined service instead of two like we normally do, and I'm preaching as the postulant for Holy Orders that they are sending to seminary. No pressure.

    I'm going to be able to vest and sit up front and there will be much pomp and circumstance involved. I got to request a hymn and picked the perennial favorite "I am Lord of sea and sky." It should be a marvelous morning but first I need to finish something that passes for a sermon.

  14. Sophia hope preaching on Pentecost goes well. Thanks for the answers to the question about celebrating. I like the idea of releasing baloons and I may do that Sunday. The kids would love it. Don't have a place to fly kites. But the other thing you provoked in me was the celebration of the birthday of the church, the ministry. I am giving that some thought. I am rethinking my sermon from my first thoughts to some fresh thoughts. Looks like fresh wind of the spirit is blowing. Thanks

  15. Revabi,

    I was thinking of some other things we've done to celebrate.

    One thing we've done is make something for everyone to wave during the reading of the Acts passage - nothing fancy, just a dowel of some kind with red and maybe a bit of yellow ribbon or streamers. We also try to remind everyone to wear red. Another church nearby has a neat processional kite for Pentecost. It looks like a white dove and has long red streamers trailing out behind. They use kite string, a telescoping kite pole, and an energetic but careful acolyte to "fly" the dove up the aisle during the procession (the key is avoiding light fixtures and ceiling fans!). It is very very cool.

  16. We're having a special luncheon and everyone has been encouraged to wear flame colors to worship. Something big and secret is happening with the confirmation class.
    I am looking forward to it!


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