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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Roll Away the Stone" Edition

This Sunday's lessons are here .

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Well...not yet, liturgically speaking; not until Sunday.

How will you preach on this central mystery of the Christian faith in a way that re-engages the mind and spirit of your congregation? And then there's the perennial issue of the twice-a-year worshippers -- what's the "word" for them?

As always, post your ponderings and insights here.

Bonus points for sharing your Holy Week sermon themes here as well.

Artwork: "Women Arriving at the Tomb," He Qi


  1. I'm using the John text, and talking about how Mary's world basically fell apart when Jesus died, and then reappeared when she recognized Jesus. But her world reappears with the added hope and joy of the possibility of resurrection.

    I'll talk about covering my brother's face with a blanket and watching him freak out, and learning much later that he freaked out because from his perspective, his world disappeared. I'll tie that into Mary's experience, as well as ours.

    I'll also tie it to our church sign's message last Easter, which read, "Christ is Risen, Alleluia," but without any exclamation points.

    For someone whose world has disappeared and then has been given new joy and meaning through resurrection, they can't help but add the exclamation points.

    Something like that.

  2. I'm using the Matthew alternative offered by the lectionary, but right now I really don't have a clue.

    I'm in full panic mode. I have 2 services on Easter (0ne is at a retirement health care unit). Then, Because I'm going to be on vacation I have to finish the newsletter, do next week's bulletin and make sure everything is ready to go for the week I'm gone. Plus I'm involved in planning the regional clergy gathering that begins on the last day of my vacation. And I have to collect all the money and walk forms from the CROP walk.

    To make matters worse, we were going to show a dvd of our general minister preaching while I'm gone but the sound system is acting up and the other laptop doesn't play dvds. I need mine so I don't know what to do about that. AGGHH!

    Please, God, send a sermon idea sometime this week. Sisters and brothers, I'm counting on you for inspiration.

  3. I'm also using the Matthew text - but not sure what exactly I'm doing just yet. Wow, Maria, my heart is pounding for you! You are in my prayers.

    I'm wondering how many of you are celebrating communion on Easter Sunday. Tradition in this setting is communion on First Sundays - but I was thinking of offering this means of grace to the many who don't often receive it.

  4. I'm working on a 5-6 minute reflection on the words "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" for our shared Good Friday service. All the UCCan congregations are taking part, so the service is nicely shared between clergy ang lay from each congregation. It will be a good service, and certainly easy on my head.

    As for Sunday - oy. Sunrise service, then communion service at 11:00. No. Clue. What to Preach.

    How do I make the story fresh for the people who only hear Easter sermons??? For the people who are here each week?? For me???

    It's true that we preach an Easter sermon (technically) every week, but let's face it - this week is different from all the others. No pressure though :)

    Last year I did a monologue, so that's out for this year. I like the idea of the exclamation points coffeepastor!

  5. RevMaria - that is certainly a busy week! I hope it all comes together so you can go away and not have to think about anything at the church while you're gone.

  6. I'm using Matthew's gospel, but don't know yet what I'm preaching. I am doing a daily Holy Week meditation on my blog, as a spiritual discipline. Getting all the bulletins done and practial preparations done for all the Holy Week & Easter services has been demanding & draining. I needed something to center myself. This seems to be working.

  7. Easter Sermon?!?! I still need to finish my Maundy Thursday sermon! Fortunately I have a meditation ready to go for Good Friday that goes along with the series we did for Lent, so that's taken care of. For Thursday, I have been inspired by Dylan's words from her blog Such wonderful thoughts and images in her entry for Maundy Thursday (found it through

    And Easter, you ask? I think I might do something on "Signs of Life." Focus on all the ways we see and experience new life in Christ and in our world. We have so many wonderful symbols at Eastertime, that all point to new life, so I think I'll actually use them. We're surrounded by them at this time of year, but I don't think people necessarily know WHY they are symbols for Easter.

    Well, those are my random thoughts, anyway!

  8. I love He Qi's work. Last year in seminary I did one paper on Christian art - or actually using art to portray the Christian message and found a great one of his works which I used in a PP presentation to show the Way.

    seeing it here really brightened up my morning. Thanks

  9. AIYA! Is it Tuesday already?!?!?!?!?

    Good Friday will be a meditation called THe Powers of Death. Basically talking about why it is importnt to name the powers of death in the world before we can truly experience resurrection (I think). Opening thoughts are up on the Church blog

    EAster SUnday I am cheating a bit by using an Easter message from the UCCan Moderator. ALso giving a short meditation called This IS God's Day but that's all I have for that thus far. Then communion as well so my meditation can be REALLY short.


  10. I am new to this blog. I've been lurking for a couple of months and throughly enjoying it. Thought I'd "step out in faith" this week and share my thoughts (Haha!)

    I'm using the Matthew text to emphasize the importance of witness to the Easter story. It's all fine and good to know the story for ourselves, but who will we tell it to? I see the Colossians text fitting into this in verse 1...if you're serious about the resurrection, then stay focused on God.

  11. P.S., I love you! (Isn't that a beatles song title?)

    Signs of life sounds perfect for my shrinking, frightened congregation about to embark on a Transformation process, and also for the women in the health unit at the retirement community.

    I knew I could count on the RevGalBlogPals!

    Thanks, all, for your prayers. Isn't it terrible that at this most holy season all I look forward is how happy I will be when it's over? (hmm - maybe that'll preach too.)

    Can't help with the Communion question, Templeamma. We Disciples share communion every Sunday.

  12. I just finished a meditation on Lent for myself.

    I am really sick--I have the cold, stomach, runs, all of the above flu--and %*^&( it all I got a flu shot!

    But my dr's magic rx seems to be doing the trick. Doesn't give me any ideas on what I need to do for Maundy Thurs.Good Friday much less Easter. I just want to be able to sit up and take nourishment.

    I have an ecumenical Seven Last words sermon on "Today you will be with me in Paridise" which is really hanging over my head. It is my first ecumenical sermon in the town.

    I will check back in after a nap

  13. I'm not preaching this week. It will be my last Easter celebration with my home congregation and I am looking forward to hearing my pastor proclaim the good news of Christ's resurrection. I do hope that some of your sermons are posted because there seems to be a lot of good insight here.


  14. I'm not preaching easter, either. I've got a short meditation to do for Holy Saturday. The intern used to always do it.

    Maundy thursday is a two part sermon: Why wash feet?, with a foot washing service in the middle.

  15. Beckie, I too have been "lurking" the past couple of months and have felt my spirit soar many times as I have read from this site.

    Your Colossians reference brought to mind the UMC General Rules: 1) Do no harm. 2) Do all the good you can. 3) Attend to the ordinances of God, which Bishop Jobe translates as "Stay in love with God."

    How well we do these affects how vibrant our witness is to the world. Thanks for the insight.

  16. midweek evening prayer service with soup supper and video and discussion, but luckily NO SERMON.

    Maundy Thursday...not a single clue for the sermon yet, but it's my favorite day of the liturgical year, so I'm betting on that fact to get me something to say.

    Good Friday...fortunately we are doing a modified Stations of the Cross thingy with candles getting put out and NO SERMON. Whew.

    Holy Saturday...we have no service, but I've been asked to speak at a Celebration of Life. And then I'm attending an Easter Vigil service at the Catholic church. only inkling of an idea so far (I'm using Matthew) has to do with the women being filled with fear and great joy. I love that combination and intertwining of fear and joy...isn't that what fills our hearts too when we hear the good news? But that doesn't give us permission to sit still. Jesus is waiting to greet us on the road.

    Or something like that. We'll see!

  17. Fortunately I am participating in but not preaching for a Good Friday Service, because I just (almost) finished the service for Maundy Thursday. Easter, you say? Oh me oh my...I need inspiration!

  18. I almost finished one of my four sermons when my sister called and told me about this video. I will change my sermons as a result - check it out at


  19. A canon theologian once made the point that the story of Mary and Jesus in the garden is the new creation story. It was long enough ago that I have forgotten the fine points.

    I have four sermons in the next four days and Tenebrae chanting tonight. I'm thinking that the point of washing each other's feet is humility, setting aside our egos long enough to let someone touch our feet and to do that for someone else, that we cannot take on the commandment to love one another until we can be humble. Friday's sermon, preached twice, will likely be about betrayal. Saturday, I usually talk about paying attention to the fact that Jesus is dead but that even in death, Jesus is still offering redemption and grace, this time to the dead. And Sunday's sermon is too far away to even consider. Maybe something about how nice it would be if Jesus had done something like stroll into the Temple or drop in on Pilate rather than just appearing to the disciples and how our ways really aren't God's. ;-)

    I love Holy Week.

  20. I wrote my Easter sermon about a month ago...before the BIG MOVE. But the last I looked at it I thought that it needed some serious help. I hope to look at it again today, after all the meetings and funerals are over...

    Otherwise I am not preaching again this week, I have a deacon who will preach at the funeral today and at the Maundy Thu service and a retired assistant priest who will preach the Great Vigil. Good Friday has a dramatic reflection following the shortened version of the Passion reading.

    But, as the Easter sermon is only my second sermon in new church it needs to be the best I make it. Better go take another look....

    Blessings all!

  21. well mompriest you can pull out one of your best hits for the new place...

    MT sermon done. yahoo
    GF no sermon.
    Easter... haven't begun.
    Homebound Calls... ALL today...

    pot of coffee... on. help yourself it's strong so beware...

  22. Here's a draft of my Holy Thursday sermon -

  23. Glad to see this thread is still alive today. I didn't get here yesterday. I was pushing to get all my bulletins complete. I got through Maundy Thursday last week, did Good Friday Monday, and then Easter on Tuesday. I only have to preach Easter. We have a woman who leads drama in our church for MT, and in our joint services with the Baptists for GF it's our turn to host, not my turn to preach. (Whew!)

    So that just leaves Sunday for me. We don't do anything on Saturday.

    I am drawn to John for Sunday and will go with that. After my horrible experience with the newspaper interview last week I sort of want to preach what I was trying to say - - the resurrection comforts us and it commissions us. I will use John next week for the commissioning part (particularly when Jesus breathes on the disciples), with also a nod toward testimony (vv. 30-31) as a way to carry out our commission.

    So this week is more about the "comfort" of the resurrection - - how it is a promise that if God can pull Jesus from death, then God can pull us out of our darkness (this is the only gospel account that starts before daybreak). The resurrected Jesus comes to Mary in her total sadness and loss, when she is overcome with grief and overwhelmed with the weight of what has happened. My hope is that this one will touch not only our most faithful members, but also the folks who just stop in for Easter - - it's good news that in the dark corners, the shadows of the garden the risen Lord is lurking. He doesn't burst on the scene like in Matthew, but just strolls up, speaking Mary's name. Christ calls to us, and promises that his new life is our new life because his God and Father is our God and Father (and mother!). No matter how dark our lives may be, the voice of Jesus is calling our names and giving us new life to live, even now.

    I like that this understanding doesn't take the reality of bad times away, but offers resurrection hope in the midst of the darkness and as the light that will shine in that darkness to conquer it.

    That's sort of my starting point. I need to get it in more order and more concrete terms, but I'm just glad I know where I'm going this week for the first time in a few weeks!

  24. A little late, but here is my blog of sermon prep. It duplicates some of my thoughts here in the comments section, but it helped me to type again.

  25. Hey, all.

    It's Spring Break, so my Holy Week in a slumbering campus ministry center feels just a wee bit weird this year. I've nothing to do but prepare for the remainder of the semester and get ready for Sunday.

    We allow a local congregation to worship and use our space while they look to the future, and their pastor and I are tag-teaming on Sunday. I think we're going to do short reflections on words or phrases from the readings. Here are the ones that jump out at me thus far:

    "O virgin Israel" from the Jeremiah 31 reading (apparently, God can re-virginate faithless Israel - and I'm reading that in a non-gendered fashion, just so we're clear).

    "Greetings!" from the Matthew text. The Greek is "Xairete!" which really means "Rejoice!" (Philippians uses this word a lot). The resurrection is indeed a cause for rejoicing.

    "Come and see - go quickly" from Matthew. When Jesus is risen, there's no time to linger - and the same is true for us today. We're called to see, believe and GO, people!

    Hope this is helpful to some - I find that when there's big stuff going on, focusing on one or two little things can 'prime the pump,' so to speak. Blessings!

  26. Hey all, you all make me feel better. I am struggling all the sermons and services that you all are. It just is overwhelming. I don't have a clue about anything. I have been praying and not yet. Dadgumit.

    Maybe we will just hunt Easter eggs.

  27. Thursday night I am talking about ugly feet, and how we have no imperfection that is so imperfect as to keep Christ from loving us - and challenging us to love the same way.

    Friday I am talking about the struggles between three brothers, and how we often in our fueding did not see the consequences of our actions; then turning to how Good Friday is the day that we come face to face with the consequences of all our thoughts and actions, and how often those thoughts and actions shout out "Crucify him!"

    SUnday ... I haven't figured out yet.

  28. This is the first I've been able to make it over here this week - nutty times, y'all. In addition to the usual grueling pace of Holy Week, we are in a search process for a new admin. asst. and have had interviews stacked up all week. My mind feels mushy.

    DH is doing Maundy Thursday sermon tonight and we share Good Friday meditations for Tenebrae, but those are all written (we have two sets that we've done in years past and we alternate them each year). Easter sermon is on me, and if this were any other week of the year I would feel fine about where I am. But there is just so much non-church-related Easter stuff I want/need/intend to do in the next two days that I'm tired thinking about it. My son has been begging me to decorate for Easter but I haven't had a chance. Have planned Easter brunch but not shopped for it (we're having a friend over). Have bought eggs but they are neither boiled nor dyed. Am sewing my Easter dress and two bunnies for the boys' baskets. Yes, I may have (once again) taken on too much. I swore I was going to get more done in advance this year.

    Oh yeah, Easter sermon. Anyway, I'm doing Matthew, loosely, and focusing on how the resurrection creates a whole new world. It is not the expected natural outcome (a la caterpillar to butterly, winter to spring), but a radical disjuncture with what has already been. I've been pondering a speech that I heard in the movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age, in which Sir Walter Raleigh talks to Queen Elizabeth about sailing for the New World, and how endless the ocean is and how it finally looks when it comes into view. [rented the movie this morning so I can replay it and see if it is at all use-able] My title (for now) is "Off the Map." Am considering what the implications for our lives are - that we follow one who takes us off the map, to a new world, and how we might look for him and the life he brings in unexpected places. For when we look in all the old death-dealing places, "he is not here! He has been raised!"

  29. Because many people move from Palms to Resurrection with no stop at Cross I like to give a "story thus far" at the beginning of the Easter service.

    This year's edition is posted here


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