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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Edition

Perusing this week's lectionary texts : What does the Reign of God look like? Whether you use the Habakkuk or Isaiah lesson, you know what it doesn't look like -- a society based on injustice, where people haven't "learned to do good"; a society that gives lip service to God but whose spirituality is purely superficial; a society teetering on self-destruction.

But when the Reign of God breaks does so in a surprising way: Not God "kicking butts and taking names"; not God patting the backs of the holy folks for jobs well done; but Jesus, God With Us, audaciously inviting himself to dinner at the home of one of the most notorious and despised characters in the community -- a man as small in the virtue department as he is in the stature department.

And -- bonus points for those brave souls willing to tackle the 2 Thessalonians reading, whose visions of vengeance against "evil others" seem at odds both with its own salutation of "grace and peace" and with the Gospel lesson. Perhaps an illustration of the tension, where we live, between the "now" and "not yet"?

What will you be preaching about/praying about this coming Sunday? And is anyone putting the thematic focus of your worship on All Saints' Sunday? Discuss!


  1. Yeah, I'm first! I'm going with Habakkuk -Title "Write it BIG!" Last week I began opening the visioning process and I was intrigued this week by the passage in H: "Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it."

    That's my starting point. Don't know where it will go from there. Charge conference tonight and District interview Thursday. You'll see me Saturday at the eleventh hour preacher party! Blessed week, all!

  2. Yeah, I'm second! This is terrific.

    I'm guest preaching for a sister congregation's New Consecration Sunday service. I'm focusing on the gospel.

    Zacchaeus had all the money in the world,but it was an encounter with Christ that transformed him and gave him the courage to give it up!

  3. I'm doing Zacchaeus too---something about hospitality and Jesus being the guest but actually the host or something. It's communion Sunday so that will all come together somehow....

    I hope the vagueness I feel about it right now doesn't continue until Saturday!!

  4. I don't know yet. I go to my pericope study group in just a few mins. I love the comments everyone shares--it gives me such good ideas. Now that the sturm und drang of Reformation and Installation is over, I can settle down to the lectionary.

  5. I still need to read the scripture readings for this, read them and pray about them.

    But I will also bring in All Saints' Day. It is a feast day in our denomination, a day we renew our baptismal covenant.

    I will also bring in All Souls...(yeesh). We do this combo service remembering the Saints of the Church (the BIG Saints) and those who have died from our family and friends. People are invited to bring photos of their loved ones and place them around the altar. Then we bring up votive candles (instead of the brass candles) and place those on the altar with a prayer. A long list is read in the Prayers of the People remember all those who have died in the last year or so. I will probably be preaching on the texts for All Saints' but I have to get our pre-printed insert and see what's there...

  6. I am filling a pulpit at a nearby church, which has lost it's commissioned lay pastor. I am going with Zacchaeus. I found this to be where I am headed.

  7. I think my direction could best be summed up in the closing lines of my opening thoughts on the church blog:

    When the Christ invites himself to our homes and hearts what do we do? WHat happens if we are as moved as Zaccheus?

    If you are strapped for liturgy I put some pieces up at my place


  8. Thanks for posting the link to "Dylan's blog. It was interesting reading with some thought sparking insights.

    I've never preached on this gospel passage and am looking foward to emploring Zaccheaus further.

    Off to ROTARY (UGH!) mtg now.

  9. yeah, we are on "All Saints sunday" with special emphasis every year on the saints who have died from our own commununity. So we'll be using those lessons.

    I remember seeing a book by a Jesuit Priest, James Martin, last year, called "My Life With the Saints." I think it would be a terrific sermon title. Also, considering "SAints Triumphant," as two of the lessons come from that perspective, and the third, from Luke, from right now.

    Mompriest, I've always been curious about All Souls. I've heard of it, but don't quite get it.

    Also, would love to do votice candles, if someone has a good idea for that.

    In our church, we have those who are remembering someone come up to the baptismal font during the prayers. I'll always remember the day the whole choir came up, because one of their members, an older gentleman, had died during the last year.

  10. Diane, at our place in past years we've set up a table at the front of the sanctuary where people can place photos of their beloved dead. We have white votive candles there on the table already, with one people come through the Communion line, they can pause at the table and light a candle, using an already-lit candle. This worked quite well, although we did give people several weeks' notice about bringing a picture to church, and we also spent some time after the sermon and before the Eucharist explaining the "why" of All Saints' Day.

  11. technically speaking (for us "high church folk) All Saints' Day is to remember those officially "sainted" by the Church - so, St. Paul, St. Simon, St. Hildegard...and All Soul's Day is to remember the "ordinary" people in our lives and church.

    All Saints' Day is Nov. 1 and All Soul's day is Nov. I just transfer the whole thing to the Sunday following...(not very "high church" of me....)

    similar to Lutheranchick, I have a table at the altar rail with votives. Next to the table is the lit Paschal Candle. On the altar are photos. I invite people to come forward just before we begin the Liturgy of the Table (Eucharistic prayers). They pick up a votive, it is lit from the Paschal Candle (a symbol of our Baptism and the light of Christ in the world). I use a candle lighter to "transport" the flame from the PC to the votive. Then people take the votive and place it on the altar. They are invited to say a short prayer. We take our time, but it doesn't take too long. Soft music is played during this time.

  12. And once again I am reminded of the value of planning ahead...I love the idea of the photos on the altar! Or a table near it...

    I'm doing all Saints as well. No idea where I'm going with it, exactly. I've always been bothered by the seeming assumption in the Beatitudes that happy people are always happy (and thus will weep later) and so on. People aren't that one-dimensional.

    Also, there are good godly people are wealthy, happy, etc. I have difficulty explaining how it is that they will be empty, weep, etc.

    Just first thoughts, with our annual meeting also coming up in two weeks and trying to get all that paperwork together and out to the congregation!

  13. I'm using the All Saints' texts as liturgical material, but the Communion Meditation will be about Bob, a saint of my previous church who, like Zacchaeus, was on the fringes of his community until a "come to Jesus" moment in his life. Bob died almost three years ago and is a very special "saint" in my life, with a story that will, I hope, illuminate the gospel and set us up to go to the table together.
    In my previous church, we rang the bell after reading each name of those who had died in the previous year. I'm still working on figuring out if that will be appreciated where I am now and where to put it in the worship service.

  14. I have a study weekend, but would go for the All Saints readings if I were preaching- prayers for all who are

  15. I'm not on deck this weekend in any way -- I'm going on retreat with Fellow Traveler -- but I think I'd go for the All Saints' Day spin as well. Sadly, one of our most active parishoners, who's also been a real good friend to FT and me, has been diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma, with a not-so-great prognosis, so it's hard not to feel a discomforting sadness in considering that one of the saints among us now may well be one of the saints in glory next year.

  16. thanks for the all saints/all souls distinction, mompriest! Now I know why we don't do all souls. I guess we don't make a distinction between official and unofficial saints :). but it's good to know.

    thanks for the info on votive candles, too. I don't think the pictures will work for us this year.

    but I'll save the info for next year.

    I get the blessed are you who weep/woe to you who laugh trouble. however, I did get together a pretty good sermon on this a few years ago, not for all saints, though.

    maybe the poor, weeping, etc are blessed simply because they need a blessing. they have room.

    I thought Eugene Peterson's translation of the Beatitudes in Matthew was helpful. I'll have to check him out for Luke.

  17. I'm using the 2 Thessalonians text, but am incorporating All Saints. I only have to write a more brief reflection than a full-out sermon, as I incorporate remembrances that I've asked surviving family members or friends to write about departed members. I smoosh this all together with lighting candles.

    And I've moved things around so that I can use Zacchaeus next week.

  18. Songbird, I love the idea of ringing a bell after the name of those read...huummm, need to find a bell (and not the Sanctus Bells, that would be too much bell)...

    and, well, although I am going with All Saints' Day and All Souls we are using the readings for Proper 26 - because that's what our preprinted inserts offer us.. Luckily no one will know the difference...but I will somehow preach thematically on saints and Zacchaeus or maybe I'll tackle 2 oh my what kind of mess have I gotten myself into?

  19. I'll be using the All Saints texts as well. I've been to All Saints services before...but never done one. It's a big deal here though, so hopefully I won't screw it up too badly!

    We do pictures and candles as well. Found it helpful to send letters out telling people about the service and suggesting they bring pictures. We sent them out to anyone who has had someone pass away in the past 2 years, as I found when I lost a loved one that the second year was really a lot harder for me than the first.
    Blessings on your week!

  20. All Saints' here. We have two visual cues for the day: as they walk in, everyone receives a stick (about 18 inches) with a white ribbon on the end. As they prepare for worship they are invited to write the names of 'saints' in their lives on the ribbon. During the opening hymn (usually "For All the Saints") everyone walks up and puts the ribbon stick in a vase near the altar. All the saints!

    We also put a floating white candle in the baptismal font for each church member who has died in the past year. I like the connection between baptism and sainthood. Very Lutheran. :)

  21. Shalom, I like your way of doing it! I'm very visual & that appeals greatly.

    We are so high church, you almost can't see us. So we have separate services on All Saints' Day AND All Souls' Day.

    In preparation for All Souls' we've been invited to write the names of loved ones who have gone ahead, to be read at the altar. It can take a while. But it is lovely.

  22. MB, that's how I've celebrated these feast days in the other "higher" churches I've served...All Souls can be a wonderful service (if people come...)

    Shalom, love the idea of candles in the font. My font is too small for all of them, but it could hold a few...humm, more good ideas...

  23. Oooh...I too like the floating candles in the baptismal font idea! We are doing All Saints and drastically changing up the prayers from the canned type to something a bit more spontaneous, including the list of our own saints. We're interspersing it with verses of commendation (like you would sing at a funeral) to the tune of Amazing Grace.

    As for preaching...I'm not sure how much I'll use the Sermon on the Plain, but I am pondering the massive amount of memorial worship furnishings both St. Larger and St. Smaller have. The saints' names are literally all around us as we worship. Maybe I'll bring in descriptions of the churches I went to when visiting the UK this summer...also with the saints' names remembered all around the worship space. (I'm assuming those were not just plaques, but actual crypts?)

    Another idea, which I borrowed from seminary...give people blank nametags and ask them to write the names of their saints on the tag and wear it during worship. It was a great way to silently bear witness to those names.

  24. I'm doing Habbakuk this Sunday - I think it's just such a perfectly appropriate text for the times we live in. It speaks so deeply to me. I have no idea what I will say, not even a title yet, but I'm hoping something comes soon.

    For All Saints' Day, we name our honored dead in the prayer, including inviting congregants to call out the names of any they wish to remember. We aren't doing much for All Saints' otherwise, which I'm really regretting right now (love singing those All Saints' hymns), but the Habbakuk text seemed to call me to put it front and center this time.


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