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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings- Context Please edition

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary:
Genesis 12:1-9

Psalm 33:1-12

Romans 4:13-25

Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

In today’s texts, we have some Abraham action, a Psalm of jubilation, and Jesus is getting busy- calling a tax collector, raising a girl from the dead, and healing a woman without even intending to heal a woman.

In my mind, it’s a wonderful Sunday to talk about context.

We see Abraham from two very different viewpoints- Genesis and Paul.
The Psalm is one of many Psalms- and the Psalms are wildly diverse.
And in Matthew we see Jesus performing/sharing some miracles.

Taken on their own, we see things one way, but placed in context we gain a different view. Did Jesus like miracles or were they simply a means to the end, to get people to pay attention to what God had to say?

How do we tell the story of Abraham, as Christians, in a way that is honest about who we are without denigrating the fact that the Abraham story also stands on its own?

Are we comfortable with diversity in scripture?
This is my favorite Psalms quote of all time:
The generations of Jews that assembled the Psalter were comfortable with opposing voices in scripture. They understood how it is possible one day to affirm that the wicked will die, but on another day to admit ruefully that the wicked prosper. One moment a psalm may reawaken an experience of God as angry, and we are reminded of the need to have proper reverence for God; but in another moment, another experience, we know God as tender and full of mercy. We moderns sometimes resist these opposing voices. We call it inconsistency. We think we want consistency, resolution, certainty. But what the Bible gives us is another voice, another chance to see God as God is -- not a static entity, but a vast, dynamic reality whom we can only comprehend indirectly, in mystery, poetry, and paradox.”

Melissa Tidwell in introduction to the July/August 2003 edition of Alive Now.

So, I am a context kind of person, but maybe you are off in another direction?


  1. I am on Study LEave this week. Which yesterday meant prepping for a trustee meeting and a board meeting (both last night) and for a funeral this morning.

    On the up side, on Sunday I did get sermon titles up until the end of July and hymns chosen for most of those Sundays. Tomorrow I head to a Woship Event. Sunday's sermon is a report from said event.

  2. Love the quote. The joy of being lay liturgist is I have a month to think about how to approach the relevant lection. This is relevant to approaching the June 29 story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac.

  3. I'm thinking about belief, and belief as trust/reliance on someone ("I believe in you!") rather than intellectual assent - faith as action. Abraham belief is active, and ours should be as well.

    I'm also wondering about eating with tax collectors & sinners, and how this can be true friendship rather than superficial interaction - and true friendship involves openness to change.

  4. I love the quote, too, although context wasn't the direction I was heading, I may need to think on this a bit. I was thinking about the call of Matthew, to start with, how Jesus speaks and things start happening.

    I like what parodie says about belief as trust, and not intellectual assent.

  5. Well, my reaction upon moodling over the texts (at our place the OT reading is the Hosea alternative) was...a chorus of The Four Tops' "I'll Be There." To me the texts all speak to God patiently and persistently [i]reaching[/i] out -- to a nomad in an insignificant tribe; to a people who respond in fickle, non-committal ways to steadfast divine love; to the sick, the marginalized, the "least of these"; to all of us, in our alienation and estrangement from and resentment toward God.

  6. Smiling at LutheranChick...I thought of that too. I kinda wish I was preaching the lecitonary text this week, but I'm preaching from Joel. I did love that quote!

  7. I'm running with the idea that Jana Childers had in "Lectionary Homiletics." Jesus saw the hero in Matthew - who he really was, not what he did for a living. And, I thought I could tie in that Barbara Brown Taylor story of how she sat by the pool at a church pool party. When the adults starting throwing each other in, they stayed away from her because of what she did for a living....until somebody through her in and she was a real person just like everybody else...ok, so it's not eloquent yet. I'm working on it!

  8. I am drawn to the rejection of sacrifice passage. Having been throughly influenced by my catholic (both RC and Episc.) backgrounds, I want to engage what it means to embrace the loving God not from the place of sacrifice but from the place of gratitude.

    This is what God has always wanted from those who follow Christ. I want to address Law and Gospel from the place of "get to's" rather than "have to's"

    It is where healing really happens-And it is when we have experienced God's healing, then nothing can be a "have to" again.

  9. I'm looking at faith and what it asks of us...and what it can accomplish. I've just started ruminating on all this, so I may be completely somewhere else in six hours. Who knows.

    Here's a quotation from Taize for you that has been haunting my mind since reading the Matthew passage:

    Jesus our joy, when we realize that you love us, something in us is soothed and even transformed. We ask you: what do you want from me? And by the Holy Spirit you reply: let nothing trouble you, I am praying in you, dare to give your life.

  10. Like Lutheranchik, the Matthew reading made me break out in song...albeit a little different tunes. Carole King's "Where You Lead" and John Denvers' Follow Me"...
    God's mercy is so abundant that Christ can either follow or lead...he lead Matthew but was led by the synagogue's leader. With Christ's merciful compassion, steadfast love - we are asked to follow and lead...
    Still a little fuzzy on how this will connect, but need to do my sermon outline notes for bulletin printing & artwork and will choose a clip art piece showing the woman touching (following) Christ's cloak while being led by another (male) figure.
    Sorry for the stream of consciousness writing!

  11. LMM,

    I love the idea of being led as a merciful action. Wonderful. Thank you.

  12. I'm looking at the eating with tax collectors and sinners piece. Thanks, parodie, for articulating what I was thinking--how can that be real friendship, something authentic rather that "something we ought to do" that we can just check off the list of things we should do because we're Christians. Still needs some work, but there is a glimmer this week. Title is "The Company We Keep"

  13. I should also have mentioned that I'm cutting the Matthew reading to just 9-13, leaving the woman with the bleeding for some other time...too much there to work with!

  14. Anyone visit the Homiletical Hotub at "Lectionary Homiletics" - the folks that put on the Festival of Homiletics? Apparently a guest blogger on the readings each week and others can post in response like here. Just in case you're looking for other musings on the readings in your sermon prep. If you go to the main page there's a link to the hot tub. I'll also try to post the direct link.

    Lectionary Homiletics Page

    Homiletcial Hot Tub Link

  15. There is something about the girl on the brink of womanhood who is dead and the older woman whose bleeding cannot be stopped. Both are unclean but Jesus plunges in - does not move away from the women and their issues

  16. I don't know if I'll go anywhere with this, but something stood out to me today as I read over the text. Jesus saw Matthew, saw him & called him to follow. Jesus sees the woman who reached out for healing. What does it mean to be seen? What is Jesus seeing in Matthew and in the woman? The same thing? Different things? Seems to see something different or something more than what the Pharisees see in these folks. What does Jesus see in us? Are we willing to be seen? Willing to be seen if it can lead to healing? What if being seen means we're called to follow - are we willing to be seen then?

    Chilly: I saw part of that discussion in Lectionary Homiletics this evening too about there being more to us than our profession.

  17. p.s. I rambled/elaborated/stream of consciousness wrote more on my thoughts on Jesus seeing Matthew and the woman and our unwillingness to see here.

    Sermon Seeds

  18. I'll be preaching on the Matthew text using the "Where's Jesus" motif -- here we find him hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. Today, where would we find Jesus in the crowd?

  19. The Genesis reading made me think of saying no and saying yes and how we have to hold the two together. Abram said no to a lot to embrace the "Yes, Lord!" of setting out to a totally unknown destination. Without yeses our noes are dead ends. Without noes our yeses get too crowded and choke new life. No and yes both must come from that same deep place. In the Matthew text Jesus is also saying no - to convention, among other things - to say yes to grace and connection.


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