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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Traveling Light Edition

In the gospel reading for this week's lectionary we find Jesus sending out the 70 (or is it 72?) to carry out the mission, and giving them authority such that they could walk on snakes and scorpions and emerge unscathed.

There is a catch: they are to travel light, to pronounce peace upon each household, and if they are rejected, they are to leave, shaking the dust of the town from their feet. Those are harsh words for modern-day ministry, and even just for living the Christian life together.

I'm thinking this week about the balance of authority and the dependence we all have on each other, and how this relates to those in the pew. Passages like this are often easily interpreted to be part of the 'ministry manual' for us church professionals, but what deep meaning is there for those who minister as members of the "priesthood of all believers"?

If this is not where the Spirit is leading you, how about the fun story of Naaman the leper who is asked to dip himself in the dirty old mud of the Jordan to be healed of his skin lesions? I remember preaching this text last time it was year C with the title "Getting Down and Dirty". Miraculously, they did not ask me to leave on the spot! I think this is when they started to figure out my sense of humor.

What are you pondering this week?


  1. I believe I'll go with Naaman, that person of dignity and prominence who had such a precise idea of what his position would entitle him to receive, and who instead got the mudbath my dog would love so much.
    (I really need my vacation. I am not kidding. It starts after church on Sunday.)
    The only question is whether I'll also read the gospel and weave that in somehow. Fortunately I don't have to decide just yet. But soon.
    (Did you know it's only five days until Sunday?)

  2. "Getting Down and Dirty"--hahaha. I love it. My sermon title this week was going to be "The House in Haunted" and I'll let you take it from there...but I realized that it is the big parade Sunday and parade line up is not to be missed (youth group has an entry) so church will be verrry short, as will my sermon. I might have to shamelessly steal your title and preach about Naaman...but it is a 10 minute sermon. Dunno.

  3. not "in" haunted. "is" and it was about the people of God (corporately, not individually) being the dwelling place of the Spirit....some other week...

  4. I'm preaching the Naaman passage. I may steal your "Down and Dirty" title (not steal...borrow!).

    I have been playing with the passage and the "baptism" of Naaman, and I have come to the conclusion that it is an evangelistic text. The Jews read this during exile. They were surrounded by the "Naamans" (gentiles) of their day. They would have been attracted to that little girl of Naaman's wife who was taken from her homeland. And yet here is the story of a gentile convert.

    So I'm ending up with a rather circular message: Yes, it is a story about humbling and being cleansed; yes, it is a story about baptism (one of the best in the OT); but it will also have the ultimate focus that it is our job to tell others the gospel. With those 3 things, I do not think it is difficult to get my 20 minutes--more likely I will be editing by Saturday.

  5. Cheesehead, I'm trying to leave a comment on your blog and it won't let me. :-( I'm trying to tell ya that when my hard drive crashed a while back I lost your contact info and email addy, but when I get back from short trip to Minnesota I'll get in touch and we WILL pick a date, place and time to meet up? Email me at Okay?

  6. No. oh no. I don't want to think about a sermon again already.

    I don't get my vacation until August. So. I have to muster up the stamina and inspiration for four more Sundays.

    Thankfully I have you all to help along the way.

    Now. I guess I better go read the texts...(slumps away reluctantly)

  7. 3 weeks until vacation here. And I think it is unfair of others to be so excited about starting theirs this week ;) (OK so I might be a little anxious for mine too)

    I am struck by Jesus' travel instructions. How many of us plan a trip that way (Hospitality COde or no Hospitality Code)?

    I think there is wisdom there though, so I am going with Travelling Light

  8. So... packing it is. What are packing to head out into the world? Might use lots of "props"... seriously. If I'm headed outdoors what do I pack? If I'm headed to do fix it upper work what do I pack? if I head out my door to share of Jesus... what do I pack and take with me? oh uh gee pastor we dunno.... the Bible? uh the church newsletter? why don't we stay home pastor & uh you go out there for us? (hee hee...NO!)

    How about "McGyverish things"... how can we share about Jesus with a piece of gum, duct tape, and a radiator cap? much too early in the week...I'm getting silly already.

  9. 4 weeks to go for me- and I'm feeling all sermoned out- with a Junior Church talk and then a sermon I'll probably go for Naaman forst and then the 72- it is a tough passage but one this particular congregation perhaps needs to explore....

  10. btw Cheesehead- I love sermon title....

  11. I may use the Gospel reading and speak about journeying. I may use the poem by Mary Oliver called The Journey as a way into the text. You can find it at my blog here

    It is after all vacation time...

  12. ok, I'm stuck. I love this text (Luke) about the 70, and traveling light. The problem is the ghost of sermons past. A few years a go I preached on "traveling light". Came in with a large backpack filled with "stuff" and took everything out, one by one, deciding I didn't need it. At the end all I had was my "baptismal certificate" -- my identity as a child of God. (rejoice that your names are written in the book of life.)

    People still remember it. I asked. So I need another take on this, or I'll switch gears suddenly and go with Naaman, another favorite theme (our dignity, God's humility).

  13. Dear all- my sermon title is "packing list"- but the point is that jesus gives the 70 sort of an anti- packing list- no purse, no bags, no extra sandals- so, lots of talk about all the things we do to be prepared- and then, we are sent out "as lambs before wolves"- which I think is the description of the Christian life- that's my take on it, anyway.... be well N

  14. Love the comments. I just came across this blog last week. I have not gotten into the blogging age much yet, but I might have to look into it.

    Anyway, I don't have the Naaman text in our Lutheran lectionary. Instead we have Isaiah 66:10-14. I am pondering putting this text side by side with the Gospel. Specifically, putting "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you." alongside "Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves." What does this say about who our God is?

  15. Diane, I like what you did a few years back. May I borrow it? I have vacation time on my mind...and I'm doing a baptism on Sat. which I never do. I always baptize in the context of Sunday worship and community. But, well. It's a long story. Anyway, I could use thoughts from Sunday for a short meditation on Sat.

    As always, thanks to you all, some ideas are pulling together.

  16. I'm not sure I should preach on shaking the dust off of my feet when I'm leaving them in 2 weeks! So, Naaman it is.

  17. Hot Cup: I just read this piece in John Shea's "The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers: (Year C) and thought of your recent post about antiques:

    in a reflection on shifting to lay leadership and ministry he says, "The contemporary situation is so different from this first-century text...both are focused on the same existential situation that arises with the reality of living in time. How do we pass on what is valuable to the next generation in a way that they will take on the responsiblity of passing it on to the generation after them?"

    Isn't this the real question of meaningful minstry and leadership and, even, Christianity, today?

    he goes on to give an example of being relational with the past, present, and future, a "holding of hands." Our historical connections become a part of who we are now.

    and, the disciples return with joy, a joy that comes from connectedness with God, with Jesus, with others, with self.

    Don't know if this reflection helps anyone, but it's pushing me a bit...

  18. Well, Sr. Pastor is on vacation this week, so the new youth director (me) is doing the preaching on Sunday.

    Diane--I love your idea too? May I borrow it as well? Except instead of my baptismal certificate, I have a faded piece of cardstock with the words "Baptizatus Sum" on it that my mentor in campus ministry gave me as part of a sermon illustration some years ago.

    Hmmmm....maybe the congregation needs little cards of their own to take with them...

    Though I've certainly read and written the phrase, and know its meaning, I admit it's one I've never said out loud in the original Latin. As a point of does one pronounce "Baptizatus Sum?" I'd hate to use it as a sermon lynchpin and go about mispronouncing it! =)

    Thanks in advance--I don't preach often, but when I do, I know this site is such a great repository of ideas.

  19. Hi friends, I'm grateful for the wonderful give and take of ideas here.

    I've been a little re-routed in my attention today by some friends who are in distress and need of prayer, so if you don't see me around much that might be why.

    You could pray, too. Let's just remember all who are hurting.

  20. We're struggling with a serious "theology of scarcity" problem round here. Its coloring every decision we makes. IF I were preaching (the congregation is probably very happy I am not) I'd be juxtaposing that sort of thinking against Jesus' instructions to the 70 he sends out.

  21. Hey Hey... there are some good ideas here! Mompriest- thanks for the thoughts it's pushing me too. I just wrapped up writing a funeral sermon - so now I can switch gears and hopefully concentrate a bit more fully.

    LutheranHusker - so the mascot story could be a cozy down home opening to your sermon cuz a fuzzy mascot shoulda been like a lamb but he was a wolf!

  22. Tom--thanks! I had the "soom" down, but wasn't sure of the right syllable to accent on "bapteezatoos". =) appreciate the help!

    HotCup--LOL...good one! Which reminds me, I still need to write my letter to the Omaha Royals...grrrrr...

  23. Incidentally, here's a wonderful post I discovered on "baptizatus sum":

  24. I am being Lutheran too and the Isaiah passage doesn't thrill me even tho it is full of female imagery. I would love to preach on Namaan but the congregation really needs to hear about discipleship during an interim.

    I have kicked the dust off too many times to not know the damage of that on the bystanders. I am not willing to address that. But I think that it is time to talk about the intentionality and inclusion that are part of discipleship.

    I want to talk about the 72 being represetative of the "nations" in the time of Jesus, that Christianity is about proselytizing and including those from different ways of life to know the peace of God-- Unlike the Jews of Jerusalem who wanted those who were welcome in the Temple to be only those who were Jewish in the strictest sense.

    The other issue is what does it mean to be missionaries in the world today? What does it mean for someone in a Muslim country or a country in Africa where there is competition between Islam and Christianity, to be a Christian as opposed to being a Muslim?

    The issue sort of develops as to what are real faith differences and what is cultural differences that keep us from cherishing the faith of Islam or other Christians even?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that I may get into trouble with this tactic.

  25. Hi Friends,

    I am with those who are preaching on the 2 Kings passage today. I preached on it the last time the lectionary cycled 'round, but I feel a new take coming on. A key piece: it is a slave who brings the crucial information to Naaman. Another key piece: Naaman is healed even though he is not one of the "chosen." So... it's shaping up to be all about the "least of these," the unexpected, God's big tent.

    At least that's how I'm thinking today. Also, want to bring in the Psalm... just such a beautiful expression of gratitude.

    Peace and Blessings,


  26. The beauty I see here is in Jesus' instructions. When they come to a town, they aren't to go about converting...they are to proclaim "peace". Shalom. Wholeness, healing, restoration, community...everything that wonderful word entails. Then they are to PRACTICE shalom. Eating and drinking with those of the town. Community. Healing the sick. Wholeness. Restoration.

    Only THEN are they to proclaim the nearness of the kingdom of God.

    Let them see the kingdom in action, then when they're wondering what's going on, let them know who you're following and who you're serving.

    I think I'm going to have the congregation listen to Ken Medema's song "The Call" from his "Start Something" album.

    The lyrics can be found here (you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page.

  27. ohhh, Husker! That's what brings everything together. Thanks!

  28. We are doing Naaman here...taking what I would call the "traditional" approach: people with positions of power are blinded to what God is doing, while the lowly are the ones who know where true power is to be found. Sometimes we can only find healing by allowing our sense of power to be broken. I have a feeling SP might try to say something about this relating not just to individuals but to systems and nations, etc.
    Good times at RCLPC...

  29. I'm not preaching but decided to open pulpit again on the blog and share some thoughts. But then I looked at the lectionary.

    I'm so out of practice ....

  30. Mompriest -- go ahead and use whatever you like! At the time I was working on preaching with notes instead of a manuscript so I thought having props would help. I recall I got quite a chuckle when I took out some extremely heavy theological books. Also cans of soup (depend on the hospitality of others...)

    there's a fair amount of extraneous mat'l re: my own missionary experience, but my three points of mission ended up being

    1. listening (i.e. sharing a meal and receiving others' hospitality and learning from them)
    2. healing -- the power of the gospel w/out words, in actions
    3. proclaiming, "the kingdom has drawn near," .. the last thing we do is say something

  31. diane, I like your three points. especially that take on healing, let the gospel speak for itself, is that what you're saying? 'cuz I get that....

  32. yes, that's what I mean, and "healing" is a short-hand for whatever that is...

  33. Wow, great stuff here. This is my last Sunday before vacation as well (I leave next Wed) and so I like the connection between that and packing light (which I am never wont to do anyway).

    Plus I have a wedding Friday and a funeral Saturday, so any help I can get for Sunday is extremely welcome.

  34. In my lectionary discussion group yesterday, I talked about my own tendency to "travel light" emotionally. I tend to be very wary of forming deep bonds, lest I need to make a quick getaway.

    This seems to be the opposite of what Jesus is asking the 70 to do. He is asking them to stay in one place long enough to get to know the ones showing hospitality.


  35. oh boy do you all rock! i'm hoping to write my sermon this morning as we have lots of prep to do for a mission trip next week followed by four weeks of vacation/study leave and my sister is coming in town to visit. lots of packing to do!

    i briefly thought about the "packing light" angle when studying monday... and i think it might be just the thing. diane i love your idea... but as i will be literally packing several bags for several different purposes, I don't know about packing a bag for preaching purposes too, but maybe...

    i find the urgency in the gospel text also fascinating- the "talk to no one" bit- i may bring that in.

    is it legitimate to not touch "I saw Satan fall like lightning" ? Though perhaps on a week of fireworks that would be a missed opportunity.

  36. umm... holy cow... i just read the featured article on textweek... and then i read it again out loud to my husband- total chills- twice. somehow i don't want to write a sermon after that... i just want to preach that... but it's probably not right for my context, still...

  37. Holy Cow ... reading twice ... chills ... indeed! thank you for sharing this MC!

  38. You're right. WOW. I need to read it again.

  39. am literally stopped in my tracks, more cows than people. Thank you for sending to that post by Sarah.

  40. Such good ideas -- I like the idea of traveling light. I don't remember if I read this or thought this or what -- but what struck me was that Jesus told them not to carry things that run out (Money) or wear out (shoes) but the one thing we have that will not run out or wear out -- the Word of God. We are to proclaim Peace and Kingdom -- You can't wear peace out and the Kingdom of God is something that is really eternal.

    And I'm thinking of the people in the pews who are going "I can't do that! I can't go evangelize/participate in mission." It's important to affirm ministries that don't seem like "ministries" -- like the man who is always checking up on the church light bulbs or the woman who makes sure that the food pantry stays organized. Even those actions are proclaiming the Kingdom and speaking Peace.


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