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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Back to Reality Edition

Vacay was wonderful, but now it's time for me to roll up my sleeves and get back to work! Many thanks toReverend Mommy for filling in right before her medical episode! Having been on the nursemaid end of that drama only seven weeks ago, I understand how frightening it can be. Speedy recovery, Reverend Mommy!

I usually take my first peeks at the Lectionary here. Sometimes I find a text that does not appear in most RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) lists. This week was one of those times. I am concentrating this week on theIsaiah 65: 1-9 text. When I read the text, the phrase "wine in the cluster" is what "shimmered" (to use a $3 seminary word).

Wine in the cluster speaks of great potential, great hope, to me. When God could give up on us, God does not, for God sees the wine that is still waiting, still growing in the cluster of grapes. God sees what we are yet to be, even when we feel as if we are dying on the vine.

I'm also thinking of the amazing story of Paul Potts (not to be confused with Pol Pot) this week. If you do not know this story, you can see it at Quotidian Grace's place here and here. Even if this story does not make it into my sermon--and who knows, it's only Tuesday--it makes me smile.

What about you? Any shimmering going on out there this summery day?


  1. Good Tuesday Morning!
    I am going with the Galatians text this week. I've always loved the whole concept of "no longer Greek or Jew, male or female, slave or free." It screams of welcoming diversity, working and worshipping together regardless of how the world perceives us, leaving all those labels and categories behind.

    Because I'll be preaching on this text twice Sunday - the second time at a retirement community where I'm filling in for the Chaplain - I can't give in to my desire to preach on what ought to happen at the congregational meeting following worship this Sunday. :-)

    Instead I will be preaching toward the hymn my chaplain friend chose to follow the sermon "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." I may be using St Patrick's Breastplate in the sermon (or not) to illustrate clothing oneself in Christ.

    But who knows - it's only Tuesday.

  2. Well Cheesehead "the shimmering" I am doing has to do with Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniac, the Gerasenes reaction, and then Jesus response to that.

    I have a title but my thoughts are not as concise as rev maria's yet. "The Shimmering" is happening.

    And welcome back from your vacation.

  3. This weeks readings--the traditional list and the not-so-traditional one I am using--seem to offer up lots of good stuff! Seems like it is either feast or famine in the summer with some lectionary weeks, doesn't it?

  4. Anyone going with John the Baptist this week?

  5. pretty quiet so far today. welcome back, cheesehead!

    i'm sticking with luke until i leave on vacation because i have lots of resources at my fingertips. but these are challenging texts- this week and next anyhow.

    when i read the markan version of this story with the first confirmation class i taught, they were horrified "THOSE POOR PIGS!" I don't recall learning this story as I was growing up, but I honestly don't think my urban childhood would have produced that response. Those confirmands are with me as I study.

    i'm thinking about the fact that following Jesus takes us to some very uncomfortable places, and that sometimes the ministry of Christ is even distressing. i'm fascinated by the fact that the though the disciples were on the boat with Jesus, and THEY arrive at the other side- they are otherwise invisible in the reading. Do we make ourselves scarce when Jesus is about this uncomfortable work?

    These thoughts intersect with anxiety which seems widespread in our congregation at the moment which is leading some folks to make themselves scarce- in all respects. These are my first thoughts. I'm a day behind in my prep and have a crazy week ahead. Ah... such is life. At least it's a rich story.

    May we all find shimmering this week!

  6. this week is probably the best week in the lectionary! Too bad the passages are hard to put together.

    We're working here on Elijah and the still small voice/sound of sheer silence. I'm writing a guided meditation including silence and the Taize song "Wait for the Lord" for our early alternative service, we're doing Taize at the middle service, and a traditional 11.00 service for which I have to actually write a spite of the fact that preaching about listening for God in the silence seems a little bit oxymoronic.


  7. I remember learing in college what a good laugh the Jewish listeners would have had at the Luke story: the demons heading into unclean animals like pigs!

    We are actually celebrating "Christmas in June" this next Sunday- since it is 6 months until Christmas eve- I know it's usually in July, but...

    Trying to see if there is a theme of Christmas-y stuff in all these texts... Perhaps the extraordinary from the ordinary... tying it into the lovey opera voice from the UK?

  8. I'm preaching this Sunday on the sound of sheer silence. And like Teri, I have been wrestling with how to talk about silence. Might be a shorter sermon with a period of silence at the end. We'll see.

  9. Love the $3 shimmering!
    I could use that phrase all the time!

  10. THE sheer silence story is one of my faves so I have to preach on it ANd we will be out at the lake to boot!

    Not sure where I am going yet but the fact taht there is always noise in the background in today's life is a big part of it. ANd yes, i think some time to sit in silence and listen to the wind and nature is called for. Oh and I may sing part of the SOund of Silence.

  11. Hey Scott - with ya on the nativity of John the Baptist... which is no accident being 6 mo. out from Christmas... preparing the way all that jazz.

    No real work done yet as in pen to paper - just text study. but if I land something good I'll let ya know!

  12. Lots of pondering and noodling here and study going on. But. No. Ideas. Well, one. I'm thinking of beginning with an illustration from the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" where the host, Mike Rowe, spends a day working on a pig farm...what a dirty job. Using that to help our suburban folk grasp a bit of how it might have been heard by first century folk...

    but other than that...I'm always drawn to the Galatians reading, but I've preached on it a maybe not this year.

    Or perhaps Isaiah: The Lord spoke: I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here I am, here I am," to a nation that did not call my name....

    some very rich material there as well. Good thing it's only Tuesday.

  13. Gord, how cool that you will be outdoors and speaking of silence.

    I grew up on a small farm in the country. When big city cousins came to stay for a week in the summer they always complained they couldn't sleep for all the noise - crickets and early birds and nightingales, etc. :-)

    Country folks know that the only time there is silence in nature is when something unusual is happening. Likewise, there is only silence within us when there is something unusual happening.

    If I weren't already locked in to the Galatians passage, this could be fun.

  14. I'm drawn to the Galatians and the "begone, you labels" too,but am leaning to the Gerasene demoniac story... there'so so much there... I'll be interested in what More Cows is thinking, (as well as others)...

    always found it odd that the people are afraid when they see the man clothed and in his right mind, rather than when he is running around naked in the tombs...THEN they want him to leave.. and he does... but he leaves the man behind as a witness... we can't get rid of Jesus so easily...

    so I'll be looking at these things... yeah, the demons in the pigs, the unclean animals... I like your idea for beginning, Mompriest...

  15. rev maria--I love the reminder that silence in nature is usually only when something unusual is happening. I grew up in the country and I had forgotten that.

    I am struggling to find hymns for this theme too...Presbyterians have hymns for talking/praying/doing, not so much for listening or silence. oh dear.

  16. I'm going with Galatians. This is Stonewall Sunday, the remembrance of the riots at the Stonewall Inn (New York City) over a series of arrests at the gay bar. It's usually considered the beginning of the GLBT civil rights movement in the US.

    So, of course I'm using Galatians!

  17. It is hard to find songs that reference silence and stillness. I scoured our two hymnals (PCUSA and African American Heritage Hymnal) and was only able to come up with one song: "Blessed Quietness" from the AAHH.

    The music minister is really excited about a piece that talks about the creatures all being silent before God. I don't know the name of it, but am glad that at least that will also tie in. For the other music slots, it will have to be some good ol' standbys.

  18. How about the one that goes
    "Be still for the presence of the Lord, the holy one is here" I'm nowhere near a hymnal so I can't find a title for you. I am humming it now, though.

  19. Of course you are, RP. :-)

    Teri, does your hymnal have "Come and Find the Quiet Center" Publisher is Hope publishing company, lyrics Shirley Erena Murray, traditional American melody. It's the only "quiet' hymn I could find in the Chalice. Maybe hymnwriters think the whole concept of singing about silence is an oxymoron? (aplogies to Simon and Garfunkle, who sang about silence very well indeed.)

  20. I've got Come and Find the Quiet Center plugged in as the opening hymn, Taize Wait for the Lord after the sermon (thus connecting the 11.00 with the other two services too), and am now searching for a closing hymn.

    I wanted to use Be Still for the presence of the Lord actually, but we don't know it, the tune is a little unusual, and we have no choir this week for backup/support, so that's a no go, sadly. It's beautiful and perfect....

    So...any good closing ideas? If all else fails I'll plug in the PCUSA hymnal setting of psalm 62 or Be Thou My Vision (our standard "nothing works with the theme" favorite hymn...).

  21. What about the hymn: Now the silence, Now the peace, now the empty hands uplifted Now the kneeling now the plea Now the fathers arms in welcome Now the hearing Now the power Now the vessel brimmed for pouring Now the the Body Now the Blood Now the joyful celebration Now the wedding Now the songs, Now the heart forgiving leaping Now the Spirits visitation Now the Son's epiphany Now the Father's blessing, Now Now Now...

    Words By Jaroslav J. Vajda (b.1919); music by Calr Flenge Schalk (b. 1929) Hope Publishing, 1969.

    And. I'll look some more.

  22. I'm wrapping up my Christian Formation in the 21st Century series with the topic of Disciplines. How convenient, then, that Galatians speaks of us as no longer having a disciplinarian. Our salvation is in Christ, then, not in our practices, but our disciplines come in response to him. Something like that. (I'm glad this is the last week; it's been tough inventing this out of nothing but a list of 8 points from a lecture by John Westerhoff.)

  23. Sb, I like what you've done. I rarely do a sermon series given how the ECUSA follows the lectionary so carefully. But I've appreciated the 8 points from Westerhoff and how you've unpacked them. I'm thinking of doing something in the fall as we prepare for stewardship, inspired loosely by what you've done and from grace-thing's post on "I Believe." well. we'll see.

  24. Hymns celebrating Silence:
    "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind"
    "Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"
    "Teach Me to Stop And Listen"--which is relatively new by Ken medema


  25. Looks like there are lots more Quiet hymns than I thought. That'll teach me to judge a hymn by it's title.

  26. I'm so, so glad to have some company in 1 Kings this week. I love the "sound of silence" passage, so I'm going with that. I always find it most difficult to preach on the passages I love the most, so we'll see where this week takes me.

    Seems like silence is a preparation for something...thinking about the silence in nature that happens right before a storm...hmm...just thinking. Thanks for all the good thoughts swirling around here this week.

    And for those of you with the pigs, have fun. Our Presbytery's youth council has discarded that passage 4 or 5 years in a row as a theme passage for our retreats!

  27. I also like this quote from Thomas Merton:
    "If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything, will never become anything, and in the end, because we have said everything before we had anything to say we shall be left speechless at the moment of our greatest decision." (from Thoughts on Solitude)
    That said; this quiet Quaker is preaching Luke :)

  28. And you hymnal professionals are great! Thanks for whoever asked the question, as well as all the good ideas.

  29. QP, great quote. I'm not preaching or using the 1 Kings passage, but oh if I were...lots of good stuff here today. No. I'm with the pigs... :-)

  30. Dear Lord (etc) keeps coming up...I'm trying to figure out if it's easy enough that we can use it even if it is new (to this church)...and then whether it will work as a closing hymn or not? I'm undecided as to whether it's sufficiently "sending"-like.

    QP: I'm glad you chimed in because I was just in senior pastor's office saying "don't the quakers have any songs about this??" :-)

  31. Teri, The Quakers actually have a great hymnal called "Worship in Song" available at Friends General Conference's bookstore (yes online)
    Many Yearly Meetings have their Faith and Practices (Book of Disciplines) on websites which includes all sorts of groovy statements about the theology and practice of silence. For instance mine at:
    I would also be glad to answer any questions about doing or thinking about silence and worship.

  32. Just dropped in after a busy day- I'll be going with the Galatians passage.
    QP I love that Merton quote...
    off to bed now I'll read more in the morning!

  33. My co-pastor hubby will be going to camp Sunday so I get to preach twice, once morning, once evening. So, that means two sermons, two services. I'm going for Luke in the am and part 4 of our Galatians series in the pm. I also am leading a wed night bible study on Women in the Bible. This will be an intro class with hopes of expanding into a full course in the fall. Oh, and My mom's coming on Tues of next week to help with the munchkin while hubby is up to his elbows in campers!

  34. cpclergymama, glad your mom is coming to help. I always preach twice, but the same sermon both times. I like preaching it twice. It's always different. Sometimes it really works well in one but not the other. Other times it works ok in both. What a mystery preaching can be.

  35. I am thinking about the demoniac and how he is a victim of the Legion (think Roman army) - and how when he comes into his right mind the others are afraid -- afraid because a person who will stand up to oppression is abou to disturb the status quo. Sort of like systems theory too - if one person is non-anxious and clear - the system goes nuts for awhile

  36. My opening thoughts are finally up at teh church blog.

    QP, I would love to follow up on the Quzker use of silence. FOr so many of us silence is something to be feared and filled, not experienced. I think that is a problem.

  37. Ann, my sermon is going in a similar direction using family systems theory ideas of homeostasis (organisms seek restoration of what is "normal") and the idea of the identified patient - that one person in a family or "system" will bear the anxiety or illness of the entire system. Of course the task is to keep the sermon interesting and not too theoretical while still considering these elements. All that and still beginning with the Dirty Jobs, Pig Farmer episode...

  38. You all I forgot to mention earlier that I am titling my sermon, "But what about the pigs?"

    However, I am not using quiet hymns. Good discussion very informative. This is what I selected for the two hymns from the UMC Hymnal: Songs 1. 525. We'll Understand It Better By and By

    Song 2 130. God Will Take Care of You

    I had thought I might use the title "My name is Legion"

  39. When God could give up on us, God does not,

    Thank you for this.

    I don't think you need more in your sermon personally :) cos this spoke volumes to me

  40. ... several hours later ... as for shimmering. Well I just got in from a long walk with the dogs and the sun was shimmering on the lake. wonderful. Almost time of the midnight sun here in Finland. We celebrate midsummer Friday night this week.

  41. Just a thought for you folks doing silence: NOOMA video #5, "Noise" deals with silence. It's ten minutes of no noise whatsoever, from what Beloved tells me - just images and text about all the voices and noises around us. I haven't seen it yet but knowing Rob Bell & the NOOMA folks, it might be worth a look.

  42. Studio City CA PastorJune 20, 2007 at 8:25 PM

    I'm going also with the Gal. passage. I think I might make a twist on it and go with children and parents; the band is going to sing for their anthem, "Teach your Children" by Crosby Stills and Nash - showing that not only can parents teach us about equality, love and justice, children of faith also do the same. not sure how exegetical this is, but it will work, especially for a congregation that is gearing up for a congregational meeting! An all generational inclusive gospel community!

  43. I just had a perverse thought that maybe I should call my sermon "left behind II" because the man wants to go with Jesus but is left behind in the city to tell what Jesus has done for him. But I think that might just be a little too much "left behind" for everyone. The systems theory stuff is good, but maybe a little too theoretical in my brain right now.

    Basically in my bible study today everybody got why people were afraid of the man in his right mind. Everybody hates CHANGE. We are comfortable with the status quo, even if it is an unhealthy status quo.

    A couple of people also told poignant stories of people they knew who were "touched" ... both, ironically, WWII vets... one had his seasons mixed up, and dressed for winter in the summer. the other went around saluting everyone.


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