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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

It's fascinating to me how the ideas I begin with on Tuesday are seldom what I walk into the pulpit with on Sunday morning. Is it that way for you, too?

This week I'm looking seriously at the James passage, mainly because I feel as if I spend so little time in the pastoral letters, and also because I think the message therein is so important.

Yesterday there were many opportunites to hear "talking heads" on television. After watching a short segent of the tributes to the losses on Sept. 11, 2001, I went on a media diet. I just couldn't listen to any more.

I learned, along with everyone else, "Stick and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me" and I suppose our well-meaning parents taught us that to toughen us up against playground bullies and middle-school taunts. But the truth is, words can hurt, and the tongue can be a sword. A double-edged one.

I'm glad Scriture reminds us of that.

What is on your mind, homiletically speaking? And those of you who aren't preaching this week, or are off-lectionary, what are your thoughts this week?


  1. I'm preaching for our pastor who is on vacation this weekend.

    I am also looking at the James passage. Not only is it the bad things we say, it is also the things that we should say and don't. You have to lead the horse or guide the boat somewhere after all.

    I am also going to pull in Ephesians 4:3 at some point. My title (at this point in the week) is "Speak Up in Love".

    I look forward to seeing what other people are thinking this week.

  2. It is my turn in the pulpit this week. Couple of things I'm thinking about.

    We are blessing backpacks (and the children who wear them!) this week, so I hope to touch on teaching, parenting, etc.

    James cautions us to tame our tongues - to teach and speak carefully. (and not many should become teachers!)

    Time magazine came today with the bold headline, "Does God want us to be rich?" There is hopefully a way to address this kind of teaching as well.

    But, as you say, who knows where I'll land by Sunday!

  3. Good thinking Cheesehead. I did a series on James one time. I learned a lot, and so did the others. They said they had never heard anything from James before. But James is a tough one, because he does not mince meat.

    Hope it goes well for you too. Many Christians don't know how to speak the truth in love.

    And Bethany never heard of the blessing of backpacks. Can you say more?

    And no sometimes what I think of early on is not where I end up in the pulpit. Oh and I didn't watch tv yesterday, read blogs instead, wrote, called people, lounged around. Was lazy!

  4. Our theme for this year is "Take Action." As part of that I preached a sermon series from James. It was one of the best I've done (surprise)! It was time to lay it on the line, and James sure does that! Tough to preach, but good in the end.

  5. Reading the James passage, I am reminded of the fine line one treads between "prophetic speech" and just being a jerk.;-)

  6. I'll be preaching from Mark, both for my congregation and for Rock'n Roll Church later in the afternoon. As a secondary text, I'm using the song "The Church of What's Happening Now," which includes the lines:
    Throw away yesterday
    Today is a brand new day
    Throw away yesterday
    Today is a brand new day

    Welcome to
    The church of what's happening now
    Head straight through
    It costs nothing but change

    I'm thinking particularly of Peter, the blow it must have been to be rejected by Jesus when all he wanted to do was protect him, and the hard recognition of where the journey would really lead.

    It costs nothing but change, indeed.

  7. I have an all age service, so I think I will tackle the James passage- have a great illustration for the children which involves cans of cream- you can't get it back in the can- watch what you say etc...
    might even make the adults think!

  8. People often speak of "perfection", or being "perfect", but I look at the word 'perfect' as not so much meaning 'correct', but 'whole' or integrated. Isn't that what Shalom really means peace and wholeness?

    We are all looking for that and working for it too....being more fully human. As Christ was.

    The tongue is the smallest organ, but can do the most damage. The thing is no one seems to stick around to heal the damage they do. The person cut down is left alone to deal with it.

    I did a poem on "Speaking and Hearing" that addresses this. It may seem a play on words but it gets to the point and ends in a prayer for all of us. I will put it on the spiritual motion blog. Also another one that does much the same on how we affect each other. ("Today's Tomorrow")

    I work out things sometimes this way...writing. I find it helpful and fun. It always has movement from a Good Friday to an Easter, and they often offer a message of some sort. I sometimes go back and read them for I need to remind myself too.

    Free Flying Spirit

  9. Cheese, I'm thinking about how I am NOT WRITING A SERMON this week.

    I studied the past two James' lectionary passages and enjoyed reviewing what I know and don't remember about this pastoral epistle.

    Sally, I like the cream from the can illustration. Are you thinking of pressurized whipped cream from a can?

    Abi, many churches here do the blessing of the backpacks. I love acknowledging the beginning of school in this manner.

    Cheese, you are T & C.

  10. I am leaning toward the passage in Mark - wondering what are the things that we don't want to hear ourselves, and why we need to hear them.

    My Wednesday Bible study group is now a lectionary study group. I look forward to hearing both their reflections from last Sunday and their thoughts on this week's passages. We just started this last week and I think it will prove to be quite helpful.

  11. Me no preaching at this stage... :) whew.

    I did use an illustration with kids one time on this passage which involved a tube of toothpaste. I had one child squeeze as much as she could into a paper cup, then asked another child to stuff it back in. Same idea as the cream...
    and I think some how the "big children" who were listening got it too...

    who regularly suffers from "oops I didn't mean to squeeze the toothpase" syndrome...

  12. Well, I've nothing to add to these texts, because I'm off-lectionary until January! These next 7 weeks are part of a Back-to-School sermon series I'm preaching called Christian Basics 101. Each week I'm taking a word or two from our Christian terminology and doing my best to upack and repack it. Last week was on Sin and Salvation. This week the topic is Grace. I was off-lectionary all summer and found it a wonderful, freeing, and joyful challenge! I decided to go with it into fall and Advent. I figure I'll be more than ready to head back to the lectionary when Epiphany rolls around!

  13. April that sounds wonderful. Do share what words, and how you unpack them !

  14. OOH, I like these discussions and what all everybody is doing and not doing(those not preaching this Sunday). Like the toothpaste and whipped cream. How neat. My kids would love that.

    St. Casserole and Bethany even if school has already started is it too late to bless the backpacks? I am thinking of asking them to bring them, and blessing them. I really like this.Duh why didn't I think of this before?

    We are doing Baptism this Sunday. 5 people and possibly some more. Also, have a couple joining the church. God is moving in our midst. But do you know what passage I preach Sunday? Oh Yeah the Armor of God uh huh. Yep, maybe the truth is Baptism is part of that armor, but Paul just doesn't come out and say it in the Ephesians 6 passage.

    Free Flying Spirit, be sure to give a link to your poems, we would love to read them.

    Set Free, Rock and Roll church? Too cool. I love that song. I am drawing a blank of who sings it, just not ringing the bell in my brain.

    April, way to go off lectionary. And good series. At the blog
    Ben Meyers has been doing a series on Theology 101 for beginners. It's really well written. I was trying to keep up the links on my blog, but just have not reposted them. You might go there and read what he has written.

  15. Great comments everyone! I'll be curious to see what those of us who are preaching are talking about at the Saturday Preacher's Party!

  16. I am doing a "candidate weekend" this weekend, preaching three services, and the church is in the middle of a series on celebrating creation. I have the "sky" week, with Psalm 19.1-6. ugh.
    I don't have much of an idea where this is going...somewhere with sky/day/night having no voice and yet loudly praising the God who made them...and something about how if voiceless things can praise then so can we? maybe? I'm desperately! I have to be done by Friday because all the stuff starts Saturday morning, and the first service is Saturday afternoon. oy!

  17. More on Blessing of the Backpacks:

    We don't do it the first Sunday back because it is so hectic! But this week we'll have the kids all come to the front, and say something to them each individually. One of the committees is going to present each child with a cross keychain to put on their bags. I love the "integration" this promotes - God goes with you to school, too!

    We also use this day to celebrate children. The kids parade around the sanctuary with their bags and the adults will sing "Jesus Love the Little Children".

    I have also heard of churches who use this as a community event - like a blessing of the animals (though I hate to draw the parallel!). Some even use it as a time to give away school supplies or collect them for those who need them. [These are generally done prior to school starting]

    Coming forward for a special blessing is not a typical occurrence in our tradition, so it's extra special.

    That's the short of it! :)

  18. I had a thought on the Gospel lesson, and how we tend to not understand the significance of "taking up your cross" over at my place .


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