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Monday, April 09, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Fast and Loose With The Space-Time Continuum Edition

Okay, friends, a couple of confessions: It is Monday night, I'm not preaching this week, and I am suffering from either the sinus infection of the century or an abscessed tooth. Since tomorrow I am anticipating being hopped up on something stronger than tonight's Tylenol Sinus/whiskey chaser, I am posting this early. (Yeah, I'm on vacation. Whoop-dee-doo!)

This week is the Doubting Thomas Sunday for many, also known as "Associate Pastor Week" or at St Stoic, "Parish Associate Week".

Although I am not preaching this week, I think the lectionary provides many good options, even if you don't go with the Revised Common Lectionary's Thomas story. I myself am partial to Psalm 150. "Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!"

What will your good people hear this second Sunday of Easter?

*Non-Revised Common Lectionary/off-lectionary preachers: what is your Scripture of choice this week?*

42 comments:

  1. excellent this maens I can look at stuff in the morning- I like Thomas and as I am at the "big" church this Sunday will probably use a clip from the Miracle Maker DVD to start things off...just think of all those things weve thought impossible- but now seem like everyday happenings....

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  2. I got an e-mail from someone asking if I had written any liturgical drama related to Thomas, which led to the following ccnversation at my house:
    Songbird (ponderingly): If I were to write a worship drama about Thomas, would it seem like I was doing too many of those recently and trying to get out of writing a sermon?
    Son: Um, yes.
    Daughter: Really, Mom.

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  3. Confession: I am SICK AND TIRED of preaching about Thomas on Easter 2. The poor guy just gets hammered every year and after three years I don't know if I've got anything new to say. So maybe I'll hike on over to Psalm 150 or even Revelation.

    Nota bene: this is not to be read as condemnation of those who do plan to preach on the John passage - have at it with all your homiletical might.

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  4. I would like to note that Christian Century's blog, Theolog, has added a lectionary feature for the next six weeks, and this one has a sermon starter for the Acts passage (by a little known guy named Brueggemann). I already had my eye on the Acts passage, perhaps in combination with the gospel.
    One of the things I like in the gospel lesson which is not so much about Thomas is the idea that since Christ left his peace with us, the passing of the peace is a sign of our commitment and our radical identification with Christ, an identification that has Peter in some big trouble in Acts 10. Can we even wrap our heads around the riskiness of that self-identification? That, I hope, will preach.

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  5. I have a church search committee making a site visit this Sunday, so sermon needs to par excellent...nothing like a little pressure.

    I will be preaching on Thomas, as the one who, inspite of his fear and doubt, had the courage to speak up to Jesus and share them. I'm going to preach about the vulnerable place of struggle, the disciples hiding behind locked doors. I may use some of Joan Chittisters reflections on the 9 Gifts of Struggle. She uses the Jacob story, but I'll transfer the ideas to this reading. (And I won't unpack all 9...maybe just the one on vulnerability and it's accompanying gift of self acceptance)? Perhaps that is part of the peace of Christ we recieve, self acceptance....

    anyway, my Tuesday morning musings...

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  6. Cheesehead, I hope you get that sinus infection or tooth looked at. A tooth infection in my mouth went wild last fall, landing me in the hospital for 11 days, including surgery to drain the infection, and 9 weeks of IV antibiotics. And it just came out of nowhere...

    Don't mean to scare you...a rare reaction to tooth infections, but it happens...just make sure you get good anitbiotics.

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  7. Love this from the Sermon Starter ( by Brueggemann), suggested by Songbird.

    " Even before we arrive at the assigned verses for the day, the preacher can articulate that an Easter church is a public church that refuses to be defined by the conventional dysfunctions of society."

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  8. Mompriest, I heard Joan Chittister speak on the 9 gifts of struggle at Chautauqua several summers ago -- what a powerful semon that was! And what a wonderful idea to switch it over to Thomas.

    At our church it isn't just associate pastor Sunday -- it's a lay preacher Sunday LOL! which this week means I get to preach. Mine is also about Thomas and Jesus and the daring and risk (on both sides) at the heart of Christianity.

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  9. Well, I'm not on deck this Sunday to either assist or preach...but if I were, I'd point out that Thomas gets an unfair bad rap for his "unbelief." The guy was the bravest and most honest of the Twelve...when Jesus was headed toward Jerusalem and the other apostles were getting twitchy, it was Thomas who said [paraphrasing broadly], "Let's roll." And Jesus, in the "Doubting Thomas" story, doesn't really rebuke Thomas; he just points to believers who follow (i.e., the original hearers/readers of the text) who "haven't seen, yet believe."

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  10. ...and, as my pastor points out: Even given Thomas' blunt, "show me" attitude: Does Jesus fire him? Does he say, "Depart from me, you evildoer?" Of course he doesn't.

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  11. This is our annual Youth Sunday, and they are using the Holy Hilarity model. My boy will be one of the 2 sharing the "sermon", which we wrote last night.
    He's using some of Jesus' best word pictures to show how a good teacher can use funny stories and jokes to help us "get it".
    My favorite part is when he demos bad teachers and uses a series of begats in the style of the Ferris Bueller teacher... Bucki father of Uzzi, Uzzi the father of Bueller... Bueller... Bueller...

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  12. Gannet Girl, Lucky you to have heard Joan C. deliver this at Chatauqua! I only have a CD of it - thanks to my RC colleague - but that also means I can listen to it over and over and really take it in...

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  13. Thanks for your concern, mompriest. I called the dentist this morning, and drugs are forthcoming. Of course, there is a story behind all of this, which you can read here. And blessings on the search committee visit!

    Lutheranchik, I love it when somebody takes the "Thomas gets a bad rap" approach, because I agree.

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  14. As an Associate Pastor who is preaching all three services this week, I want to no more about this "Associate Pastor Sunday." Never heard of it! Is it a way for the Senior Pastor to get a break after Easter :>)

    My Senior will be visiting his son (who is in seminary) to hear him preach for the first time at the church where he is interning....

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  15. A big ditto to what mompriest says, Cheesehead. I'll be praying for you ... by name ... in church ... yeah, I can say "Cheesehead" out loud during the Prayers of the People!

    Yes, poor Thomas gets "hammered" every year. BUT, I'm doing my internship at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church - guess what I'm preaching this Sunday?

    So what's "fresh" about this story? How about Jesus not using the "d" word? No, in the Greek, Jesus does not accuse Thomas of doubting. He asks him why he lost his faith (apistos in the Greek).

    How many people feel guilt over their doubts regarding the Christian message? Doubt is not the opposite of faith - it is faith's partner, the other side of faith's coin. The opposite of faith is certainty - if you know something with certainty, what need is there for faith?

    I like to bash the whole "Doubting Thomas" moniker. He didn't doubt and he had a lot of reason to lose his faith (you can also go down the trust path with this since pistos also means "trust" in Greek).

    I use my own translation when I read the Gospel on this Sunday to get rid of that pesky "d" word. Dang that KJV translation we've been burdened with for so long!!

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  16. Yes, it's Student Sunday, too, just like the Sunday after Christmas. Or Guest Preacher Sunday.
    I've preached Easter 2 most years, though, just had a guest once when I was taking some comp time during that week. (Doesn't comp time sound delicious?)

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  17. The other thing I've done in the past with Thomas is to point out how Thomas, though he was doubting, was doing so in the midst of the other disciples-- in other words, he didn't ditch the whole thing just becuase he didn't believe them. He stayed, and counted on them to "believe for him" until he got to the point where he could do it himself. And they didn't kick him out for not believing either. A good model of the power of community.

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  18. As a faithful volunteer assisting priest I will be preaching on Thomas this Low Sunday. I agree on the bad rap thing..but I'll be focusing on what Jesus might have meant in breathing the Holy Spirit on the disciples and comissioning them (and us) to live out Easter faith by both forgiving and retaining (holding, in Greek) sins.

    Can I get some ecumenical help please? The standard Catholic interpretation of that line, of course, relates it to Confession. I know that Protestants don't generally agree with this, but wonder what range of alternate explanations are given for what he did mean. All I could find on the web so far was one that related it to the general call to preach the Good News, i.e. "the disciples were charged to preach, those who repent and believe will have their sins forgiven, those that don't won't. All insights most welcome.

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  19. I'm really breaking bad and cutting the scripture off right before Thomas. I'd like to preach on the verse, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Our church struggles with the whole idea that we are actually supposed to be sharing our faith, and I thought this might be a good opportunity to concentrate on "so I send you."

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  20. chilly fingers, I think that sounds like a great idea.

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  21. When I preached on Thomas a couple of years ago, I declared that I thought that "Doubting Thomas" was an unfair label. I renamed him "Honest Thomas." Also, I agree, Almost Reverend, doubt is a partner to faith. Doubt is only a problem when we choose to stay and wallow in it and not seek. Thomas didn't. When he came face to face with the risen Christ, he gave one of the most powerful declarations of faith in the New Testament, "My Lord and my God!"

    I think I may preach Revelation this week, which I never ever have before. Anyone else tackling this passage?

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  22. Elbee - what is the Holy Hilarity model? That sounds like a lot of fun....

    On the whole Thomas thing... it *especially* annoys me about how he gets treated as the doubter because he didn't believe the other disciples.. yet, the Gospel accounts tell us that the disciples didn't believe the women who told them about the empty tomb in the first place! I heard a sermon once wondering about why good news is so hard for us to buy into... it was an interesting take without the usual Thomas-bashing.

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  23. At small rural church we are celebrating Joy Sunday (Holy Hilarity in other circles0.
    We have a skit on church life, people are asked to bring a clean, funny joke or short story to tell, and to wear bright clothes. Balloons and bright cloth will decorate the communion table and every bulletin will have googly-eyed plastic "Smile, Jesus Loves You" bookmark - maybe they'll read their Bible more often using this bookmark!!!
    This is our third year doing a Joy Sunday - celebrating the joy of Christ's resurrection. Everyone leaves feeling good with lots of endorphins from enjoying a good laugh and knowing its ok to laugh in church and with God.
    For more about Holy Humor Sunday go to www.joyfulnoiseletter.com
    There are some very talented congregations out there. Ours is not so.
    Also, Will Smama thanks for some bulletin ideas from your April 1st fake bulletin!

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  24. Mother Laura, you might find something to say about this through the Imus and Rutger's issue in the media these days. I am particularly pondering the idea that some of the leaders of the AA community are saying that forgiveness is not possible...

    I do not want to presume that I know what they ought to feel or do. I am not AA.

    But as a Christian, and a priest, it has got me thinking about forgiveness and sin...

    Barabara Brown Taylor's book, "Speaking of Sin" gives a good break down on this topic. As I recall she describes sin as broken relationship in all its forms, broken with God, broken with others, broken with self (the antithesis of the shema, to love God, love neighbor, love self).

    And of course, God loves us and forgives us in all our brokeness. We are called to do the same. The process of trying to forgive and love can be transformatinal for us humans...and that is important. We are not left the same. Even as the sins remain in us, we are changed...

    Don't know if that helps....but my thoughts of the top of my head...

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  25. Well, I'm breaking ranks completely. Neither Thomas nor Holy Hilarity (though I've done both).

    This Sunday is Yom Ha Shoah--Holocaust Remembrance. I did a great deal of work in seminary on anti-Semitism and Christian theology (a la Rosemary Radford Reuther), so this is near and dear to my heart.

    However, the focus is usually on the 6 million Jews...we can too easily forget the others who were also interned and killed in the camps--the Seventh Day Adventists, the Roma, the gay men...those are the ones I'm going to remind us of. We in the GLBT community don't usually grow up with our history, as ethnic and racial groups do, so I try to remind us of it when I can.

    I'm using Leviticus 19, on justice (which will help in reclaiming Leviticus for the congregation, as it is better known to them for the "clobber" passages), Psalm 77, and Mark 2:28 - 34 (the scribe asking Jesus about the greatest of the commandments).

    I have an order of worship together--we will be lighting memorial candles and saying some special prayers, but that's as far as I've gotten.

    I'm hoping to get a draft of the sermon done tonight or tomorrow, so that I can enjoy Friday and Saturday off, however. So perhaps I will have something to post in the next couple of days.

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  26. Anyone else having a problem w/blogger? I can't post on my site nor leave a post on others, although I have been able to here...

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  27. Thanks for the suggestion, Mompriest--I had not been aware of the IMUS-Rutgers situation.

    When you speak of AA members saying forgiveness might not be possible, do you mean in regard to this situation, or another specific one, or just in general? I didn't see any AA references in that story, and I haven't heard much talk like that (quite the opposite, in fact) in the 12 Step meetings I've been around, though this doesn't add up to a lot.

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  28. oops, let me clarify. I mean African Americans, not AA...as in recovery issues...certain African American leaders are saying that they cannot forgive. And I guess this has caused me to ponder what forgiveness means in the Christian community, some of these folks are also Christian leaders...

    so I've begun to think that maybe its not just about forgiveness or apologies, because those can each be blythely given, with little intention of change. What's important is how we might be transformed by our actions in seeking forgiveness and in being forgiven and in forgiving...

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  29. Hye.
    Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking AA menat Alcoholics Anynomous too! I was way confussed, doesn't take much these days!
    Having all sorts of Blogger issues lately...
    and the word identificaitons have been awfully long!

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  30. The other AA, got it!

    If there are any especially interesting posts from that community you could point me to I'd appreciate it--I'll keep searching but haven't found anything yet. I think it would be useful to see exactly how they're defining forgiving and retaining sins here--that he should lose the job or ???

    I will probably also mention the San Diego RC diocese, which was just threatened with being cited for contempt as it is seeking bankruptcy to avoid/limit payments to abuse survivors and has apparently been transferring/hiding assets in the middle of that process.

    BTW, LutheranChik had a nice post today pointing out the irony of a headline saying "Imus Contrite: I'm a Good Person."

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  31. Laura I tend to think that confession ( repentance) and forgiveness are intertwined- we cannot seperate one from the other- though confession may not be formalised in the Protestant traditions it certainly plays a significant part if we take discipleship seriously...
    as far as forgiving others goes, we have to make that choice to set them free from our bonds of unforgiveness whether or not they have confessed- not to do so means hindering ourselves!

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  32. Rainbow Pastor- thank you for the info- I hope you'll be posting some thoughts.

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  33. Amazing verse for Ps. 150. Last week, I was visiting a friend and her 5 week old just stopped breathing. She spent the week in the hospital, and now all is well. It reminded me that we must breathe in deep the very life of God. It is my sermon on Sunday, and you all have provided the perfect Scripture.

    Sorry I have been out for a while, but now I have a new blog. It's www.thelittleworldofcaroline.typepad.com\adayfullofdaisies\

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  34. I wish I had an associate minister. I have an organist. Maybe he can preach.

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  35. it's Youth Sunday here. They're using Psalm 150 and exploring different aspects of praise and how we praise not just in church, not just with words, but with a variety of means and in a variety of situations. We'll see how it goes...

    Too bad Youth Sunday is in no way a day off for me! It's more work than if I was preaching! Luckily, vacation beckons on Monday morning....

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  36. What, nobody's picking up the gauntlet and preaching the Revelation passage from the lectionary?

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  37. I am rehashing the first Easter sermon I ever did here which told about me growing up with the song 'Every Morning is Easter Morning from now On'. We incorporate it into our Easter worship now, but last Sunday I realized a good 2/3's of the congregation would have no idea why we do that - why do we sing such a silly, 70's, Broadway-type song at the end of an otherwise normal and beautiful Easter Sunday service - although with trumpets EVERYTHING sounds goods.

    St. Inuksuk I know churches who do that Holy Humor Sunday but I will have to do more research on it before I can pull it off here and I am just stunned - STUNNED - that anything from that April Fool's bulletin would make it into a real worship service.

    I'm tempted to come worship!

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  38. just wanted you all toknow I love reading these comments- your thoughts about what to preach

    RP your holocaust memorial sounds great. I went to Autswitz with my class a few years ago. I had no idea how many local Poles were exterminated just to get land to build the camp - and then how many were interred after having helped build it.

    There was a story (among so many) of a man who escaped - all his local family were gathered and hung - men women and young children - to ensure they couldn't harbour him.

    Broke my heart.

    It all did. There was also a holocaust survivor (a jew) leading around a group of young American jews. They sang at one spot and the tears just rolled.

    We must never forget what was done. We must ensure that it never happens again ... and stand up against injustice and discrimination. Never again should the church just stand by and watch. Never!

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  39. Lorna--
    Yes, exactly. All the memorials say, "never again," but of course, genocide has not stopped.

    Samantha Powers has written a great book on genocid--"A Fine Hell."

    I visited Poland in 2001--May, just before international air travel went haywire--on a study tour from my seminary. We visited Auschwitz, Birkenau and Treblinka, staying in Krakow and Warsaw. Our guide in Auschwitz was also a survivor, a Pole who had been part of the Resistance movement, and was a witness at the Nuremburg trials.

    I really should post some of my reflection paper for Yom Ha Shoah...

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  40. RP - I would love to see some of that reflection paper, and your sermon idea sounds great.

    Mother Laura: Luther almost included Confession as a third sacrament during the Reformation, and he always maintained that direct, personal confession is good for the care of souls. (the problem came from the baggage attached to it, as in "If you don't have any sins to confess you're probably lying.") We Lutherans have, unfortunately, lost the ability to confess personally because we begin most of our worship services with a rite for corporate confession and forgiveness. As one who has experienced the joy of personal confession in a time of great crisis, I can say that Jesus was definitely right: the work of the Spirit in confession and forgiveness does definitely free us from our sins. This is most certainly true!

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  41. Will Smama you are welcome anytime!!!
    I've been a fool for Christ all my life, why should it be any different now in middle-age?!!?
    I'm not sure our "Not-Ready-for-Sunday-Morning-Players" would be up to your standards, but, hey, we have fun!
    Basically, I just used your participants in worship and gave them nicknames like L"fast-fingered" Hill - organist.
    Our hearing devices are the people sitting next to you who loudly repeat all that's been said in worship!
    So, thanks again. See you sometime!

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  42. Since "Thomas Sunday" and Yom HaShoah come on the same day this week - I am looking at our inability to look on the wounds of Christ in the world - substituting "reality TV" for the real thing. See my Blog

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