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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "We're All Bozos On This Bus" Edition

Lectionary readings for the coming Sunday can be found here .

One of my pastor's favorite observations -- particularly on one of those Sundays where the worship choreography doesn't go quite as planned -- is that "We're all bozos on this bus."

That's also an apt, if inelegant, way to understand the concept of justification by faith: We're all bozos who can't always get it right, who can't save ourselves by the dint of our own acts or knowledge. Jew or Gentile; renowned spiritual athlete, average Jane or Joe in the pew or notorious "sinner over there"; in the end we're all in the clown car together, dependent on God's grace to steer us and keep us on the road leading into God's Reign.

How will we use this week's lessons to communicate the message of grace? Or are you going off the lectionary map? Here's your opportunity to "moodle" and share.


  1. Cultural note of dubious interest before the lectionarians get started: the captain of THAT bus wasn't Bozo, he was named Wavy Gravy.

    Y'all have a good day, now.

  2. teehee, from one Bozo to the other ones.

    I am preaching on the Matthew text. Not sure how I will do it just yet. I have preached it several times before. This Sunday is United Methodist Women sunday, and I am tying it in with that somehow or another. Wish I could use your statement. Didn't BBT have a sermon on this, that we all get to be on the bus?

    By the way just who is Wavy Gravy?

  3. Even after preaching on anxiety this past Sunday, I find the little panic bubble beginning to grow! I decided several weeks back to sit in Genesis for June and July -- or rather to spend time with Abram and family. My plans have me advancing the lectionary a bit so that Abram's call starts this Sunday.

    In the background of these readings, I am hoping to cast a vision of community beyond our walls.

    My biggest struggle right now is naming the theme in terms that are interesting. What would you call a series that spans from the call of Abram to the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau?

    I welcome (yes, even covet!) any suggestions you can offer.

  4. I get to weigh in here as I am preaching this week as part of a call process. Because I have a very busy week ahead, I was able to get a draft done on the holiday. It's posted here. Of course, I'll rework it a hundred times between now and then!

    What struck me was the text from Deuteronomy (optional) "You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul..." The text from Matthew goes in that direction, too. It's not just saying the words or hearing them--it's doing them--living out the words of God in our daily lives.

  5. Imngrace: I'm not preaching or praying front and center this Sunday, but I think that's good grist for a sermon -- the segue from "saved" to "saved for what?"

  6. It's the Deuteronomy passage that's caught my ear today. Not sure where it might go-- tho it's my tattoos (both done in honor of my ordinations) and praying the daily offce that come to mind. Things we do that remind us of who we are and whose we are...

    Last week, I ended up actually pulling the homily together at about 5 am on Sunday; somehow (thanks be to God) it was really good so now I'm feeling tempted to put it off again!!! Get behind me, satan!!!

  7. I'm in Romans 3: 21-25 this week, linking it to the Prayer of Confession and pardon that are part of our Communion Liturgy. The teacher in me hates that we never hear why we do the things we do in church, so when I get a pulpit on Communion Sunday I sometimes take the liturgy into the sermon. I have a few thoughts on being in right relationship with God involving understanding the who we are before to God - acknowledging our need for God. The Message has a great sentence (don't have it with me) about us humans having proved through history and in our personal lives that we can't get it right on our own. That's about the sum of it so far.

    See you at the 11th hour party!

  8. imngrace - you summarized the gist of the discussion today at my lectionary study group.

    I'm also drawn to the Deuteronomy passage, but the blessing and curse part. Passages like that bother me because they enforce the image so many have of the OT vengeful God. I'm working with the idea that the curse is that when we don't obey God's commandments - not just in the sense of the big ten but in the sense of the entirety of the law and its purpose - we miss out on the abundance of God's promises. Perhaps I'll quote Uncle Walter's "God of exuberant mercy and inexhaustible well-being." Obviously still trying to flesh this out, but that's what I'm thinking today.

  9. I want to bring Deut and Matt together in this sermon. It has to do with foundations--the fundamentals of faith.

    Sharon+, I have been so tempted to have "Yahweh" in Hebrew tatooed into the palm of my hand but I have to admit I am a wuss!

  10. I'm thinking about foundations too: as well Matthew and Deuteronomy. The romans passage as well speaks of foundations, but I think two scriptures might be enough!

    Might start by referencing that old old essay "everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten" to start talking about foundations.

  11. Another Bozo checking in here. I'm going with the Matthew passage, but like Abi, not sure exactly where I'm going yet. The title is "Foundations," so I assume I was thinking something about the building on sand part. And maybe what we do once we have a foundation--not just sit there. Eh. I'd better get to work.

  12. For those of you thinking about tattoos, there is a great part in the Toy Story movie, where Woody knows whose he is because Andy (the little boy) has written his name on Woody's foot. My memory is a little sketchy, but I think it could work.

  13. Here's more info about the bus pictured:

    And here's Wavy Gravy, though Neal Cassady, and not he, was "Furthur's" driver on the canonical cross-country trip:

    And finally, the origin of the phrase Lutheranchik's pastor uses, which is not related to "Furthur":

  14. I am reworking a dramatic reading I wrote three years ago that uses the Genesis and Matthew texts in conversation with Psalm 46 and a contemporary woman. I posted it on my blog a few weeks ago, and you may find it here.
    If it's of any use to you, let me know; I'm happy to share.

  15. The teacher in me wants to use both Deut. and Matthew to show the continuity of God in both testaments. This NT reading doesn't sound like unconditional grace. I don't know who the reference to "Uncle Walter" is but if its Brueggemann (sp) he's the one who highlighted for my D.Min class that there is a tension throughout the entire Bible. The tension is between a royal, Davidic, unconditional covenant and the Sinai covenant given to Moses which was conditional. WB's thesis, as I understand it, is that as a society we have taken on the attitude of "chosen" which leads us easily into idolatry. This chosenness comes from leaning too hard on the Davidic covenant.

    How I'll use that -- who knows?

    Glad it's only Tuesday

  16. I, too, loved the Deuteronomy reading this week, especially how it seemed to be an extension and a response to last week's Isaiah reading. Last week, God reminded us that we are inscribed on the palms of God's hands, and this week we are inscribing God's words on our hands and homes and bodies. And there's something there, JUST eluding me, about Jesus being the Word and the wounds inscribed on his body, that links it all together. But it remains just out of my reach. Ah well.

    I reflected on the passages from Genesis and the Psalm and Matthew on my blog here, and am going to ponder some more about Jesus being the deep well and source of the waters, because that sings to me more than a boring old foundation. Of course, that's just me, and I'm so glad we have such a big tent. :-)

    Peace be with y'all!
    hedwyg / warriormare

  17. God's word written on our hearts seems the next progression from hands and body. but I picked the topic for children's sunday this week and skipped the lectionary. Oh well, "Praise the Lord" should preach.
    meanwhile, here's a quote from the Washington Post on God's Will and politics. Any takers on the subject of people/politicians being held accountable for what WE SAY?

    The AP quotes an expert who says:

    "This is the new terrain of religious politics," said David Domke, a University of Washington communications professor and co-author of "The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America." "Politicians have been getting a pass on this for some time, using support from a minister or pastor for their political advantage and not having to answer for what that pastor has said."

  18. After seeing the moving Evan Almighty, and having horrendous storms come through our state on Sunday evening (7 killed by tornadoes and whole communities leveled) I've been thinking a lot about God's response to destructive forces - and how we prepare for them.

    In Evan Almighty, Evan is instructed to build the ark, NOT because God was judging and destroying the world, but because God knew a disaster was coming and wanted to save his people.

    So many people in my congregation are fearful right now because of the earthquake in China and the cyclone in SE Asia and now this spring full of storms in our own backyards. So, we read Psalm 46: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea."

    I haven't figured out if I'm just going to ignore the Matthew passage, read it as part of our daily readings but preach on the others, or somehow try to tie it in. I think that there is something there about having faith that God will provide and will take care of us - trusting that though the storms come (and they will - that's why we have to build on rock) God will uphold us through them. But how do I use that message when families homes HAVE been destroyed by winds and rain?

  19. There were two major themes in my text study group this week.

    We talked a lot about building on rock vs. sand. Is rock always better? Some say that sand packed firm is even more stable. What happens when a building is constructed on "bad fill"? Is it a matter of choice (decision/works) where we build our houses, or is our hope (in Anna Carter Florence's words) that "Jesus is the rock despite my choice"?

    The other themes from my text study group is that there are ditches on both sides of the road: those who hear the words but do not do them go into one ditch, and those who do and say all he right things ("not everyone who says Lord, Lord...") but do not "put these words in your heart and soul" fall into the other ditch. It is only by grace that we reach our destination.

    I'm not entirely sure how these scattered thoughts will weave themselves into a sermon, though.

  20. I am looking at Matthew and thinking about the folks who are so adament about having the 10 commandments posted in public and yet do they have them on their walls at home?

  21. Better yet, Kathryn, do they have them on their hearts? We talked about being written on God's palms last weekend. Maybe part of this week's message is that we have to write God's on ours - although maybe not a real tattoo as I just can't go there!
    The key lines for me are Romans' "The one who is righteous will live by faith" and Jesus' "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord'...." I may have to become an evangelical for a week.
    And now to the Wednesday evening service lessons.

  22. Kathryn and Margaret - good thought provokers. thank you.

  23. Lectionary Leanings & Sermon Seeds

    Right now I can see my sermon going a couple directions. At first I wanted to do something with Noah because the reading is seriously chopped up and leaves out the *covenant*, hello?! So thought of maybe some sort of retelling/teaching/first person narrative thing. Not try to repeat the Bill Cosby thing, but maybe reflect on what it was like to be one of those people who got to get on the boat... or what of all the ones who didn't... what did they see?

    Our lectionary discussion group also talked a lot about where do you build your house, how easily sandcastles wash away and houses built on cliffs in california wash away in mudslides. What it takes to build a good house with solid foundation versus contractors who cut corners.

    Lastly, my sister has a good friend who just found out this week she has stage 4 lung cancer and doctors estimate it's progressing so fast and is so far along that she may have a week to live. I can't imagine getting this news so suddenly or being the spouse. So that has me thinking about the unpredictableness of life, that storms will come, potentially deadly and devastating storms. Having built our dwelling on a strong foundation, having told the story and written all these things on doorposts and in our heart we may ultimately "be still and know that I am God." Sure in our day to day lives we are called to be still and know, that's part of how we build the house on rock. But as we lay dying, as we all will, we may rest in God, and truly know that God is God, who cared for flowers and birds last week, the God of covenant.

    Wow... where'd all that come from? I planned a brief post. Better go paste this somewhere to work from. :)

  24. bythesea,

    Your comments about dying reminded me of a piece from Annie Dillard in "Tickets for a Prayer Wheel"

    I think that the dying
    pray at the last
    not "please"
    but "thank you"
    as a guest thanks his host at the door.
    Falling from mountains
    the people are crying
    thank you,
    thank you,
    all down the air;
    and the cold carriages
    draw up for them on the rocks.

    I found this quotation in a book by John Shea. He also quotes Huston Smith reflecting on his daughter's 8 and one half month battle with cancer:

    "But I want to spell out how she and her immediate family rose to the showdown. . . Even when her condition had her at the breaking point, her farewells to us, her parents, in our last two visits were "I have no complaints" and "I am at peace." her last words to her husband and children wre "I see the sea. I smell the sea. It is because it is so near." She always loved the sea. I think it symbolized life for her." from The Way Things Are

    These are great examples of dying with our firm foundations.


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