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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: School's Out Edition

Schools in Snow Belt are ending the year this week. That means that church attendance takes a noticeable dip, as families spend weekends in their summer homes "up north". Although my administrative schedule doesn't really slow down in summer, with the big, labor-intensive activities that happen then, worship does take on a different feel. I feel more like preaching obscure texts, or spending more time in the Old Testament, or trying different things.

This Sunday's Old Testament saga might end up some day on a list of "Stories that Tick Me Off." Honestly, Elijah's got some nerve asking a poor widow with a sick son to give him her last morsel of food. I've half a mind to start with all the details of this text that really bother me, and see where that takes me.

Maybe this is the start of a sermon series for me: God's Audacity.

What are you preaching this week?


  1. Good morning. I like that story about Elijah, but I imagine that's because I look forward to the happily ever after ending, when the widow ends up with an inexhaustible supply of oil and flour.

    I'm not preaching this week as we are celebrating our organist who is moving to Hawaii with music and testimonials. But I am looking for a scripture reading that celebrates musicians. Anyone know a good one?

  2. Rev Maria.
    In the Presbyterian "Blue Hymnal"
    there is one called "When in our Music God is Glorified"
    Page 264. Text is by Fred Pratt Green ( a true master in hymnody) and the tuen is Engelberg.
    2nd verse--- How often, making music, we have found A new dimension in the world of sound, as worship moved us to a more profound. Alleluia
    Quite beautiful and great tune

  3. Opps.. I am sorry. I misread and gave you hymn and not scripture. My bad!

  4. 1-4 Grace, thanks anyway, I was going to use that hymn bu then I found an amazing hymn by Brian Wren in his book "Praying Twice" that specifically lifts up music makers. It's titled "Give THanks for Music Making Art" I received permission from Dr. Wren and his publisher just this morning to use it. whooppee!

    wonder if the story of Miriam singing and dancing and playing tamborine would work to celebrate music making?

  5. I'm hanging out with Elijah too, probably for the next several weeks. I'm sticking with the oil and flour part of the text, not the raising the son part. Something about God supplying what we need, in abundance, sharing, non-scarcity...something like that. But I do see cheesehead's point.

  6. We have the same sort of trend of people going off to their "camps" (Maine code for summer cottages). I'm going with Galatians and Paul's side trip to Arabia. What is Arabia for us? How do we order our time and find places of respite, renewal, reflection? Is the summer an escape from what matters or a sabbatical journey to find it? I love that Saul didn't suddenly proceed into full-blown Paul-iness but had to go away first. That's my general notion at the moment, and the title is "Going to Arabia."

  7. here we are working with the Elijah story...the woman showing the ultimate risky faith, taking a fateful/risky step. I have no idea where that's going...and, as usual, I'm on Children's Sermon duty with few ideas. Good times.

  8. I'm sticking with Luke - Jesus raising the son of the widow of Nain... and the fear Jesus' work among them resulted in. We ought to have holy fear when Jesus is moving among us no? And then there's the fear of "what if I miss what Jesus is up to?" and the fears of how when God is truly up to something amazing... oh who knows... but between being near death's door - to being raised up to life - yeah that's where some of our churches are at. What will it take until the Spirit pushes them over the threshold... from dying to dreaming, from fearing to following, from laziness to living?

  9. Good morning all- We are the place where all your snowbirds flock to... the worship life is heating up (as is the sanctuary on Sunday mornings)

    I always wrestle with the 1 kings and Luke story of raising from the dead. Especially when I know so many who have lost children. I am constantly seeking the good news here... what about all the others in the grieving crowd whose sons were not raised from death?

  10. Wow, I had planned to work ahead but got behind with other things. I like the idea of abundance in Elijah. But I hate not to deal with the son's raising, particularly since it does raise pastoral care issues RE: who doesn't get raised. and why.

  11. I am mostly with backwoods rev on the struggle to proclaim good news about healing when so many are not healed in this way...

    Especially because I am baptising a 28 year old woman this Sunday who just found out she has breast cancer. The plan at this point is a double mastectomy and total hysterectomy since the cancer appears to be estrogen driven....and it runs in her family...

    so. I think I will preach on baptism and Psalm 30: When I felt secure, I said, "I shall never be disturbed. You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains." Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear. I cried to you, O Lord, I pleaded with the Lord, saying, "What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness? Hear O Lord, and have mercy upon me, O Lord, be my helper." You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have put off my sack cloth and clothed me with joy...

    With an emphasis on: Some days all we have is our trust and faith in God's steadfastness.

    How does that sound for a basic approach to this baptism?

  12. Hey Songbird, we call summer cottages "camps" in our part of the world too. Go figure!

    I'm not preaching this week. The five United Churches in the North end of our fair city are having a combined Church Picnic in the park, complete with worship and.....

    ...wait for it...


    I hate clowns. Or, more truthfully, I'm fearful of clowns.

    However, I do not have to prepare a sermon this week, so who am I to complain? I just hope the freakin' clown stays away from me...

  13. Sue, good luck with the clowns. So many people have that fear. Would it help to remember that Francis of Assisi thought of himself as "a clown for Christ"?

  14. Are we really doing our people any favors if we skip over the tougher passages of scripture? I think it is good & appropriate to ask "Why this guy? Why is this man raised to life? Why not my son or her son? Why was it that child in 1Kings and not my child?"

    Is the story in Luke one of healing? or is it one of power? or of fulfillment? or is it a foreshadowing of the raising to life that comes much later in the good news narrative?

  15. Chessehead, we have the same problem. Half the church and often more is "up north" on any given Sunday. Up north, even though I'm north of you, doesn't mean they stop here. ;-)

    I have learned to cancel many things for the summer and to start nothing new. Period. This galls me, but it is how it is.

    As for sermons, I'm pondering Elijah along with you usual lectionary folks. Not sure if I'm sticking with him or not, but I'd love to hear your series on "God's Audacity."

  16. Hum...let me clarify my thinking...It isn't about skipping over them, it's about finding the good news when you are dealing with folks for whom the news is not so good.

    All of the readings speak about healing. I really don't want to talk, this time, about the various kinds of healing we find through God. Nor do I want to address those who are healed and those who are not. It's just too raw right now.

    I want to speak about how easy it is to trust in God when life is good...but when we are thrown a curve ball, what then...? So, I want to talk about God being with us in a way that holds up and sustains us, even if we sometimes think God has abandoned us. I want to speak about God being there even when we are not the Psalm...

  17. I am considering looking at both OT and gospel in light of the raising of the widows' sons. I like what Backwoods Rev and others said about the difficulty of these texts too, and I'll probably play with that a bit. I think I'll look at this with an Easter spin--resurrection and the miracle of life (or life continued a little longer) as a foretaste of the future under the power of God.

  18. Hi! I'm male, hope that's ok. I am planning on going with the Gospel and the Kings passage. What do we say to people who still suffer and die, and watch loved ones suffer and die? This is the whole Good Friday/Easter message. In the midst of suffering and death, we hope and yearn for resolution, for answers. Hope is all that people who suffer and die have left. In the midst of war, disease, Darfur, and the hell we do to one another, we must remember that God sufferes and die along side us but ultimately defeats death and hell. That's my two cents worth.

    I really enjoy this blog.

  19. Hey Chuck, Welcome! And yup. I concur with the point you make.

  20. Chuck, you are more than welcome. Where would we be without our Pals?

  21. Welcome Chuck.

    Now I wish I was preaching this week. There's a lot of good stuff today. :-)

  22. and Songbird

    I love that Saul didn't suddenly proceed into full-blown Paul-iness but had to go away first.

    That spoke right into my life. Thank you Rev :)

  23. Rev. Maria: Miriam leading the dance and song sounds great to me for honoring a church musician. Do you know the children's storybook "Miriam's Cup"? My kids love it and so do I--great art and stories about her from both Exodus and the midrash.

    Chuck: Welcome indeed! We love our Pals...

    Cheeshead: God's Audacity, what a great concept.

    Mompriest: your baptism plan sounds like a solid and sensitive approach to a really difficult situation. Are you comfortable sharing her first name (maybe on PrayerPals, or by email lauraATgrimesDOTws) so that I can pray and offer the Eucharist for her?

    I am preaching on Corpus Christi which is a whole other set of readings--weaving together all the meanings of Christ's Body: in communion, in the Christian community, and in all who suffer. Will post after it is preached since a couple of my readers will be in the congregation, but the Hebrew Bible readings and people's comments here inspired me to post an archived homily:

    The Widow's Mites.

    Blessings to all breaking open the Word this week.

  24. Sorry, Cheese, name typo. And Songbird, forgot to say how much I like the Arabian retreat concept for Paul as well.

  25. Okay I'll try posting again...

    Mompriest I do understand the sensitivity & compassion required in this case. And yep I agree it is about bringing the good news over and above the bad news folks are living in and living through. I am home after a long, l-o-n-g day & have just discovered 3 parish folks diagnosed with cancer in our tiny, family church. I am so tired I want to go to bed and skip tonight's meetings.

    So I will struggle finding the good news to lift up - but will stay with Luke. Although honestly I'm thinking "damn this sermon just got harder."

  26. I think I've almost settled on Luke for the morning service. In the evening service my hubby and I are doing a series on Galatians. This Sunday night is his turn :)

  27. just wanted to add how insightful I find Tuesday's lectionary leanings - for me it's a picture of the body of Christ at work, with the stones of the wall setting in place.

    A few of you bemoan the 'north' exodus in your churches - guess what? it happens here in finland too -if not North (though that too) to summer places.

    Most of the UMC churches CLOSE for July !!!!!!!!! Ours doesn't (at least this year) but our pastor will be away for 5 consecutive Sundays - so a variety of services and no HOly Communion for two months. Which makes those who are in town even less inclined to come. Sigh.

    Many churches in the conference also move their Sunday morning worship to Sunday evening so that people can come back to church from their summer places. Seems to work for them which is great :)

    Not that this has anything to do with the lectionary at all you understand :)

  28. Reading the Gospel -this occurred to me:

    The Son of Life meets a son of death --
    there is something about Jesus that sucks the death out of people.

    Whether I live or die, rejoice or suffer, Jesus takes the "death" out of life for me.

  29. Jesus sucks the death out of people - that is absolutely fantastic. After a session meeting that include most uncharacteristically shouting and stomping out, I have thing or two to think about folks and meetings that suck the life out of people. How wonderful to understand the working of the Holy Spirit as sucking the death out of that which sucks the life out of us. Blessings to you all for making my day!

  30. Notwithstanding the discussion here, which has been good to follow. I'm sticking with the oil and flour. Wondering if anyone else hears echoes of feeding the 5000 or is it just me?

  31. Ann,
    That is wonderful! Sucking the death out of people. Indeed, as pastorines said, there are so many life-sucking activities out there-

    Often I'll speak of life giving instead of life taking- but death taking, death sucking out- that does take it up a notch doesn't it? This is indeed, serious stuff.

  32. Thanks to all of you and your suggestions/comments and welcome Chuck (male is ok, honest). This is a great blog---and I appreciate the love, humor and "community" of it all. Going with Elijah, love "God's audacity" and Jesus sucking death out of helps to have some ideas prior to Sunday...shalom Gail in California

  33. It occurs to me that Jesus raises the woman's only son not for the man's sake, but for her sake. He has compassion for her -- and raises her son. There's both a social justice component to this and also an emotional component/the human loneliness of grieving.

    also, God raises the Son not for his sake, but for our sake.

    And lastly, in all three lessons, there is a testimony...1 Kings, the woman testifies "Now I know that you are a man of God," in Gal, the people "give glory to God because of Paul," and in Luke, the people say, "God has shown favor to us," because of Jesus' action. When is it that we can say... "now I know... that your word is truth? Now I know that God has shown favor to me?" Even in the midst of cancer? of death? What do we have to hang on to?

  34. Oh Ann... how great a phrase that Jesus sucks the death out of people. How true - that is the story of so many lives!

    Oh Diane...I like the questions, about when can we say, when can we testify...

    Good discussion this week - thank you I needed it!


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