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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Easter Edition

Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly difficult this week to concurrently live into Holy Week and work ahead for Easter?

I made my choice for the Easter gospel this year based on what I chose last year. It went something like this: "Gee, I preached John last year. Luke it is!"

But the more I look at this, the more I am intrigued by it--especially the words, "they remembered his words". This seems to be the turning point for the women. Nothing they saw that day, nothing they heard, made sense until they remembered his words. Then everything was new!

Each year, folks stream into church on Easter morning after months of staying away (since Christmas Eve) or maybe even a year (last Easter). Is there a word we can offer on Christ's behalf that they can remember--a transforming Word that might make every thing new for them?

It's a tall order. Come, Holy Spirit!

What's your transforming Word this Resurrection Sunday?


  1. I am planning on playing with the coverage about tombs and bones earlier this year in my sermon titled Finding the TOmb of JEsus.

    You can see my early thoughts at the church blog (scrolling down a bit more will get you to Good Friday thoughts as well)

  2. Oh and the opening portion of our liturgy (including Call to Worship and Opening Prayer) can be found at my place. Feel free to borrow it if it is helpful.

  3. As an intern, this is my "first look" at the "clergy superbowl" from the other side. And I have to agree with Cheesehead - I'm having a hard time living into Holy Week as I finish planning the Easter Sunrise Service.

    I'm going with the John text. My decision-making process went like this: hmmm, the pastor is preaching the Luke text at the 10:30 service; so John it is for the 6:45am service.

  4. Emily: LOL! Glad to see that someone else is taking a long discerning look at scripture choices!

    Good stuff, Gord!

  5. I'm preaching John - all-age.
    Last year I took us through the four days with objects that the children held etc, from the foot washing and last supper through to Sunday, to see how it all fits together (with what we did in church to remember each 'event' running alongside what was happening to Jesus). This year I have no ideas yet!!

  6. Spirit is at work b/c I had the exact same experience of "zeroing in" on v. 8 - "they remembered his words."

    Before that they were prepared. Then they found it - then perplexed - then terrified and stared at the ground. How that is us. We move through life in this patter...until we remember His words.

    That's where the sunrise sermon is headed. Toward the end & after sharing some real life stories of how remembering his word changes things... I am actually using Easter eggs and every member gets one to crack open. Inside they find a scripture verse.. a Jesus said... the story doesn't stop there of course b/c the women after remembering went to share. So it is with folks in the pews... we'll take time for them to share their passage w/those near them. whew! I do think the Spirit is on the move...

  7. is very challenging to live Holy Week and plan Easter at the same time. I strive to get my Easter Day sermon written early, like today (Tuesday) so I can free myself to be fully present in Holy Week...

    But I know others who can not write their Easter sermon until Sat. night, until after they have lived through Holy Week...

    I am preaching on the Luke text for Easter Day. We rarely get a big crowd, and only a few of them are visitors...isn't that odd. I've never been able to figure out what it is about this area that fails to draw a bigger crowd on Easter...well any way.

    I think I'm going to use Easter Eggs as the illustration to get us into what Easter is all about...a little history teaching followed by the resurrection message of new life...I read about a tradition that Mary Magdelen gave the Emperor red eggs after the resurrection and then taught him about maybe I'll have red eggs for every one?

  8. I'm going with Mark - reasoning "I did the dramatic presentation of Palms through Passion based in Mark, better finish up in the same book."

    Right now my head is filled with so many items from the news. Like, if we were really a "Christian Country" we'd be raising $26 million to feed the hungry and give our children medical care, not to run a presidential campaign. . . And, if God forgives us then we should also forgive as the Mennonites in Nickel Mines PA forgive - build a new structure for our lives and move forward, leaving the ugliness behind. Yeah, it'll preach, but is it Easter?

    I'm ending where Mark ended - "and they told no one." The women had such wondrous news, but their fear kept them silent. Hmm - sounds like the people in the pews. Fear of what others will think if they talk about their faith keeps them silent, and our little church gets littler.

    OK, clearly I'm confused. Hopefully better things will come after the Maundy Thursday footwashing, Friday's prayer vigil and experiencing a five-church combined choir performing Rutter's Requiem.

  9. One thing to remember about the Easter/Christmas Day crowd -- I think many of them do enter into the church with significant guilt. They feel like outsiders looking in, and are expecting a snarky reprimand from the pulpit. What keeps them away the other 50 Sundays of the year I don't think is so important as appreciating the fact that they're in our churches now, at this moment, for whatever reason.

  10. mompriest - a little more background on the Magdalene red egg story. The story is that when she visited the Emperor Tiberias in Italy and proclaimed Christ's resurrection, she brought an egg tas a symbol of new life. But Tiberias said that no one could rise from the dead, anymore than the egg she was holding could turn red. Immediately, the egg turned blood red. (Afterwards, Tiberias had Pilate removed from Jerusalem).

    I love that story. At my ordination, I was given a lovely icon that is a picture of Mary Magdalene holding an egg (before it turned red) and pointing to it. She has such a fierce look on her face. I was given the icon as a reminder to preach the gospel and a reminder that the first one ever to preach the good news was this woman, whom men believed was telling "an idle tale."

  11. Oh, and to answer the original question, I'm preaching the Luke text but not yet sure what I'm focusing on (original title: "An Idle Tale" - not sure I'm sticking with it).

    I have to preach Maundy Thursday as well, and am feeling a tad schizoid right now...

  12. My title is also "An Idle Tale." My angle is that in the mainline we inhabit the great middle between non-believers who think all Christians take the story literally and find that idle and believers who say if we don't take it literally it's idle. How do we hold the tension of believing the essential truth of a tale that can't be prove? (Or disproved, for that matter.)
    I'm headed for a conclusion that puts it on us. How do we live out the resurrection so that it will not be an idle tale but a living truth?

  13. lutheranchik, it makes me sad to think that anyone would get a snarky comment from the pulpit, on any day, especially Easter.

    There will be no snark at St Stoic, that's for sure.

  14. earthchick, thanks for filling in some more of the details of that story. It is really a good story, and may be the heart of my illustration. And, if I can find enough red eggs I'll give one to everyone - probably with a question in it about how do we live the resurresction in our sort of along the lines of where Songbird is going...hum...we'll see if this actually developes as I put it on paper. Thanks!!!

  15. rev maria,
    I went with MArk 16:1-8 last year, focussing on that fear, that challenge of moving from Saturday to Sunday. There is more about that sermon here, or here or here

  16. I don't know how you people are so prepared for Easter already! I'm still working on Maundy Thursday. (yes, I have to have a sermon ready for Easter because HoS is sick and getting it's a "just in case" sermon. Please, God, don't make me have to preach it four times on Easter morning!!)

  17. I have finished planning out the church stripping portion of the Holy Thursday service for one church ... it is the first time we've ever done it there, and, with all the effort they have put into sanctuary repair lately, I think it will have quite the impact.

    I appreciate your thoughts about focusing the "then they remembered his words" verse --that's a really good idea!

    And, although, I have been a Christian for a quarter century now, I have never heard the story of the red egg. Going to follow that one up!

  18. Oooooh, Cheesehead, I love the remembering his words thing. If I borrow that, do I have to say "My fellow RevGalBlogPal, Cheesehead, says..." That prolly would turn some heads. ;-)

  19. I was struck by the same thing. And I have a great title, "Remembering What We Already Know." If only I had a sermon to go with it...this is my first Easter sermon after 7 years in ministry, so surely I have something to say!

  20. Why Cheesehead, I went through the EXACT SAME method of prayerful, pastoral and theological discernment. Luke it is!


  21. It's a great question cheesehead.

    they remembered His word - is that what brings them back into church after a long spell away? maybe!

  22. Having gone through the same discernment process as Cheesehead and others, I'm going with Luke (I did John last year).

    I'm struck with the last verse...Why did Peter go? If the others thought it was "an idle tale" why did Peter feel compelled to go? Poor Peter, who denied his friend and tried to be a hero...he's one of my favourites.

    And somehow I'm tying Psalm 118 into the whole thing, since we're supposedly doing a Psalm series for Lent--end with a bang? Or a whimper?

    any way, that's where I am. And I'm still stuck on my kd lang CD...think I can work in Shadowlands? No?

  23. Hey, no snark here either. I am doing the John passage, but for the life of me, I don't know why. I don't know what it is like here at Easter, so we will see. We did get a lot of visitors for Christmas, so may get the same at Easter. Thoughts, what thoughts? I can't even live into Holy Week. I feel like running, away, as fast as I can.

    I love these prayerful choices of scripture.

  24. Songbird: I really like the flow of your idea. Something along those lines came up in "Serious Answers to Hard Questions" study at church last week. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Not preaching this weekend, but getting ready for Thomas and the Upper Room for the next Sunday. As my long time spiritual director always said, of course T. didn't believe the others if a week after they saw Jesus they were still cowering upstairs with the door locked....

    I'll be looking at, in Songbird's terms, how we can live so as to make our resurrection witness convincing and not an idle tale. And following up on my Prodigal Son sermon by trying to tease out what Jesus meant with entrusting us with the ministries of both forgiving and retaining sins to come to a healthy balance of mercy, healing, justice for the oppressed, and transformation for the oppressor.

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  27. I'm not preaching, but am directing the choir in our "Canon and Canticles" -- our poorly-named version of Easter Lessons and Carols. I'm excited because due to an unannounced absence by my secretary this week, I was forced to have everything done for this week on Thursday of last week. So for the first time EVER in ministry, I get to spend Holy Week looking for the holy instead of readers for the services!! And I get to do a little playing, too!! I'm making flatbread for the Maundy Thursday dinner and Hot Cross buns and Easter eggs with my family. I'm just so darn excited to do Easter this year! And to think I considered firing my secretary. Now if only I had a great outfit...

    But besides gloating, I wanted to say, I preached Mark last year and ended it where Mark did. I called it "Not Much of an Ending" and talked about how Easter is supposed to be this grand, big event with all the loose ends tied up. But it wasn't for these women, nor is it for us. We still have to find ways to be Easter people in the midst of declining worship attendance, budget woes, and even freezing rain on Easter morning. Jesus rose despite the fears and worries of his followers. Jesus is risen in the midst of all of our messiness, too! And I think Mark will always be my favorite for that reason!

    Hope that you are all able to find some moments of wonder in the week. Blessings to you all!

  28. Dear all- blessings on you all- I am not preaching on Easter, but on National Pastoral Intern Sunday (Easter II) and, like Mother Laura, on T- my take is that T is asking the questions we all want to ask (earlier in John: But we do not know where you are going! How can we know the way?) but are too embarassed to ask- the stuff you think you should know, and assume everbody else inthe class knows- but they are just as perplexed as you- so I vote for renaming him Brave Thomas, or Inquiring Thomas, or anything else than Doubting....any ideas? N

  29. Hello all- I find myself dragged into Easter- maybe because I also am tired, cold, and ready for spring.

    So the Easter sermon is going to be finished first! Hopefully that will give me space to steep in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

    So- I'm running with Luke, since John is Good Friday, and I will also play a bit with the bones and tomb- while directing it with the words:

    "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

    Too often we seek our life in things that are dead- will faith grow out of bones and tombs?

    Peace to you all

  30. Well, as a seminarian intern, I don't get to preach on Easter (next year when I'm ordained ... and the year after ... and the year after ... and so on!). But, the John passage always makes me smile when I hear about Mary Magdalene mistaking Jesus for the gardener. I'm originally from Southern California and most of our professional gardeners/landscapers are Hispanic, wear Dodger caps, and have a leaf blower slung over one shoulder. Now isn't that an "out of the box" image of the risen Christ? (or maybe I'm just nuts!)

  31. Like Chelly I have an All Age Service- at a small church with some difficult pastoral issues surrounding a building project- so I'm going to storytell Mary Magdalenes account- taking Johns gospel as the Scritpure reading- it is a toughie though as there are so amny dynamics involved in holding the Easter Sunday as a celebration- it will also be the last week in the "old" building!

  32. Anjel--hey, come to think of it, when I lived in NoCal I had a gardener named Jesus!

    (We rented our house, and the owner was a retired arborist. We were forbidden to take care of the plants and trees, per the lease! That was a lucky break for the plants and trees.)

    I had forgotten about that.

  33. Ooh you are all so clever! Catherine, I often reference "one of my clergywoman blog-pals" in sermons. BTW you got rave reviews in the Convocation evaluations! (yes, I do get to read them all)Good preaching sister-mine.

    anjel is absolutely right about the gardners here, and such a perfect image of Jesus.

    My sermon got a boost while I was visiting a broken-hipped member. I was looking for ways to address Mark ending at: "and they said nothing to anyone" and as I went over the possibiities with her we both became very excited. examples may include things like If you don't advertise your product, you won't sell any. If you don't talk about your faith (and your congregation) because you are afraid - of being judged, whatever - no one will know, no one will come. (hope that preaches better than it looks here!)

    And - what does "Snarky" mean? If it means "hit them over the head because they are C&E Christians," none of that here either. We're just so happy to see them all they get overwhelmed with hugs!

  34. I've always like Mark's Gospel ending. Since most think it was our first Gospel, it set the stage for the others. And even though the text stops, the message doesn't.

    They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid...

    But they did tell! We know it! It likely happened in underground communities of women evangelists! When ever I read it, my mind always goes back to the beginning of Mark- it's cyclical.

    They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid... The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

    Preach the Good News sister!

  35. I'm going with the Luke passage and playing around with how often it uses the word "but." I think the sermon title will be "Yes, but..." We can make a big mess, BUT God has other ideas...we'll see how it comes together.

    On a lighter note, if I were preaching more about the women and their jaunt to the cemetery with spices, I would call it...are you's really bad..."The Spice Girls!" Oooh, somebody slap me!

  36. Chilly Fingers -

    The sermon title may be really bad, but it did make me laugh out loud after a 12 hour day. Thanks!

  37. The Spice Girls. I love it!

    Haven't started thinking about Easter yet, but some great ideas here and places to get started. I think I'm preaching Luke too--also for a long-considered reason: that's what was printed on the pre-printed bulletin insert.

  38. So--I'm intrigued that at the start of Luke's gospel we have Mary "perplexed" at the angels greeting and at the end of the gospels we have the women "perplexed" to find the tomb empty. Not sure where that takes us, but it feels like I'm on the scent of something.

    (I did check the greek on this. As far as I can deciper, it's two different words even though the NRSV translates both as "perplexed"--but I'm not sure that matters . . .)

  39. chilly fingers, what a great title, I may have to use that somewhere.

  40. I would probably help myself if I focused either on my Good Friday reflection (Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross) or my Easter morning sermon (the John reading)... rather than having my mind constantly flitting between the two!!


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