Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl named Esther. The King took notice of her beauty and brought her to live in the palace.
Then, all hell broke loose. Esther's people were threatened with death, and her uncle asked her to take up their cause with the King. At first she was afraid to talk to him, but finally she found her courage and spoke up about the life-threatening injustice being planned against one group of human beings just because they were different from the people in authority. And the King heard her.
Part of Esther's story appears in the lectionary this week. As with any books of more than one chapter that are ideally approached as a cohesive whole, it may be considered difficult to preach on just the lectionary text (which may be found here). It requires, perhaps, a storytelling approach, and I believe that is where I am headed this week. It is the focus text in Seasons of the Spirit, the curriculum we use for Sunday School, and I have pledged to be in concert with our teachers and students as much as possible this year.
The New Testament texts before us, Mark 9:38-50 and James 5:13-20. They each have their difficulties as well.
Mark has us cutting off our hand or foot or plucking out an eye if we are at risk of stumbling, as well as other pithy little statements that I have a feeling didn't get on the Jesus Seminar's red-bead list. (Sorry, that book is at the office and I'll have to check it later!)
James assures us that earnest prayer will heal all, leaving open the possibility that lack of healing was the result of ineffective prayer. (Is this kind of like saying "If" the Great Pumpkin comes, instead of "when," and being deemed insincere?)
Which of these tricky texts might you feel called to preach this week?
If you're not a lectionary preacher and would like to use this forum to talk about sermon ideas, please do join us.
Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)