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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary leanings: Oops, it's Tuesday! edition


Sorry, the day got away from me. Blame the weather--it is a balmy 61 degrees in the snow belt. That means the temp has gone up about 50 degrees in one week! Yay for Springtime!

I still am not preaching lectionary, since I am finishing up my sermon series for Lent. But you may find the Revised Common Lectionary passages here. I am a little sorry that I am not following this week, since we get a wonderful parable. I can't wait to see what things you all will do with this story!

How are you leaning this week? Is it the "Parable of the Extravagant Father", the "Story of an Envious Elder Son" or the tale of a "Youngest Son Who Blows It all on Wine, Women, and Song"?

Or...maybe something else entirely... do tell!


  1. It's the story of the potentially prodigal family...with opportunities of such radical grace how can our hearts not be can we not respond in kind? Well, 'cuz we're human, so we will probably limit our understanding of God's grace, either by our own burden of sin (the younger son and his "excuses") or we will feel entitled to certain rights by virtue of our faith...and we will fail to see the broadness of the father/God love for all...years past I've also preached on those missing from the story - the wife and sisters who were surely present but go other un-named workers in our world who do the jobs no one else wants...the radical grace of God's love includes those we fail to see...following my Lenten theme I will probably continue to focus on why and how we should pay attention to ourselves and examine ourselves and not judge others...

  2. For those doing the parable, I recommend the poems of Killian McDonnell in "Yahweh's Other Shoe"; he does some neat stuff with the characters.

    I am also off-lectionary this week--during Lent we are doing the last 24 hours of Jesus' life (like the show, but without Kiefer). This week: the trial. I'm chasing down an obscure exegetical detail at the moment but not convinced it will amount to much.

    Happy sermonizing, everyone!

  3. Both Henri Nouwen's "Return of the Prodigal Son" and the section of Frederick Buechner's "The Gospel as Comedy, Tragedy and Fairytale" that deals with this parable may be instructive for those looking for fresh ways of re-telling a familiar story.

    I'm not preaching, but as music director, this is one of the few times during the year where I'll pull out the ol' "Amazing Grace" chestnut, as the first verse semi-quotes the father in the parable.

  4. I'll be preaching the Prodigal Son story. And, my question is when is he "saved"? Funny thing, but its before he makes it all the way home because "While he was still far off, his father..." So my deeper question becomes, "How far is far?" Was it when he was coming down the street? When he passed through customs on the way back to his own country? When he was in the pig sty? We don't know. All we know is that his father found him long before he ever made it back to the ranch. So...maybe we ought to trust that people make it "home" by grace long before they kneel at the altar.

  5. I posted my last shot at this text here. It was unique enough (I think) that I can't use it again in the same congregation, but maybe it will be useful to someone else. A fun exercise in creative writing, anyway!

  6. I was happy to be invited to preach again today by my friend Janine, especially as I have never had the chance to preach this parable. It also fits with a blog post I have been tossing around in my head about issues of healthy forgiveness, abuse, justice, etc. inspired by my own survivor issues at present as well as some recent inspiring and appalling blogging. The former was your story, Cheesehead: Gospel based, healthy dealing with crisis which included confrontation and the expectation of repentance and regaining of trust rather than premature and automatic forgiveness. The latter can be found in the comments to this post by John Plummer. His other commenter actually advocates abused women passively submitting and staying in their situation "in imitation of our Lord," and so far I haven't been able to make a dent in this evil, dangerous perspective.

    So...I will be taking on the version of the parable I have heard way too often: "Do you have lingering pain and need to heal after someone hurt you--who isn't sorry and hasn't made restitution? Do you want justice, apologies, and/or real transformation of a wrong situation before you're ready to forgive? You're a Pharisee, and an evil older brother, and God won't forgive you." The father in the story doesn't shame and attack the older brother, but most sermons I have heard and read do. Bad preaching on forgiveness is my biggest pet peeve and I am gonna try and reverse the trend.

  7. Chilly Fingers--great thoughts, and I'd even take it a step further and point out that the son hadn't even "repented" for a noble reason. Yes, he repented in the classic sense of the word...that is, he literally turned from his situation and REturned to his father, but it wasn't for any higher cause or ideal. He was hungry. Pure and simple. And he knew dad would take care of him.

  8. Good point, Lutheranhusker...that'll preach!

  9. I really like the image of a "prodigal family." Every time I come to this parable, I see myself in a different place. At times I am the returning child, other times I am stuck in righteous indignation. Still others I am observing like the workers who prepare the feast, and every now and then, I can feel the joy and unconditional love of the parent.

    Sometimes, I wonder if we even really need to preach on this one- perhaps read it in the center of the assembly and let it take wing?

  10. Ohh, I like that, read it for the congregation and let it take wing...I wonder what folks would do with it? I really want to get to a place where my parish can dialogue sermons with a spiritual reflection or if you've taken EFM at TR, theological reflection...hum...need to think about this...

  11. mother laura -
    what an intersting link - as another who struggles with survivor issues, it left me sick to my stomach...

  12. PS - but kudos to you for such well-thought out and articulate postings... well-done good and faithful servant...

  13. As so often happens when I come up with an idea for a sermon series I come to one where I have to ask "What was I thinking?" This week is that sermon.

    THe title is The Church in the World: IN but not OF. NOw haow to cover that difference in 10 minutes? ANd do we even really know what the difference is, or could be, or is meant to be??

    Anyway, I have just put up my opening thoughts. If you have any thoughts I'dbe glad to hear them!!!

  14. So, I've been reading Christianity for the Rest of Us for a book group. I'm still in the first part, where she talks about different kinds of churches. Anyway, it got me thinking: What if our congregations could identify with someone other than one of the family characters? What if we saw Christians faith communities as the part of the road - vehicles for helping each other in the space between the desire to return to God, and figuring out how to get there?

    Very rough thoughts right now, but I thought I'd throw them out there.

  15. Thanks for the support Elastigirl--it really helps in the liberating but often terrifying job of speaking the truth in love.

    I just posted another comment there, and if you have the time and energy to weigh in too it would be a real gift, as none of the folks in that discussion besides me are either female or abuse survivors.

    Will be posting soon about a variety of related issues, including preliminary exegesis for the sermon, on my own blog. Likely title: "The Prodigal Son and PTSD" (or vice versa). Keep your eye out and give me a shout out with your wisdom and insights.

    All the best in your own healing process and the prophetic ministry that will come out of it.


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