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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Grace Division

Readings for next Sunday can be found here .

How do we show grace to those who do us, and/or in our perception do God, wrong? Do we extend grace to them? That seems to be the theme of our lessons this coming week: Joseph forgiving Brothers Behaving Badly (who, one notes, have a hard time owning their responsibility); Paul tackling the issue of how Christians whose Christian consciences take them in different directions can get along within the faith community; Peter asking Jesus how many times he can be reasonably expected to forgive, mebbe two or three times? (And what about the alternate Exodus reading, where Pharaoh's charioteers wind up "sleepin' wid da fishes" on earth does that fit into Sunday's big picture?)

Some of you may be planning an observance of a Creation Sunday. Or Holy Cross Day. Or something completely different. (Did I mention that Pentecost is a really, reeeally looooooong season?)

What are you thinking/praying/preaching about this week? Tell us!


  1. Nothing on paper yet but I'm going with Joseph's brothers and then the gospel. It struck me how those brothers were still trying to cover their backs and not really showing remorse - just fear.If we try to be saintly like Jesus urges, do folk mistrust us too? and perversely, if we are gracious isn't it just like rubbing salt in folks wounds. Can we feel good about that? mmm. lots to work through before I can preach.

  2. Some of the Lutheran folks will be celebrating the festival of Holy Cross. The readings for Holy Cross Sunday are here.

    I think I'm going to preach from the Numbers text... where the people sin, God sends serpents among them, they admit their sinful ways, and God tells Moses to create and set a serpent on a pole... so that everyone who looks at it will live.

    Sounds to me like living means admitting we are sinners... and then looking to God for wisdom... healing... eternal life... help in figuring out what it means to be disciples. Death then... means ignoring what God thinks about what we are doing... and ignoring that God is always willing to pour out grace gifts for us.

    For some strange reason... and I think it's faulty reasoning... we seem to think... that living our everyday lives it easier trying to avoid the snipping snakes... than it is to 'fess up that we are who we are... sinners.... and then try to live into repentance.

    Like Liz... lots to work through on this concept... before I preach.

  3. also doing Holy Cross Day - the foolishness of the cross to thsoe who are pershing... but the power of God to those being saved. have no idea where the preaching is headed...

    and John chapter 3... how many times do we preach on that? aayeeee.... i need coffee before any coherence will come.

  4. we are semi-continuous lectionary people so we're on Exodus. I'm using the actual story (chapter 14) for the children's time, though I'm not sure how just yet...and then 15 in the sermon. Thankfully I got a guest preacher for this week...and just as thankfully, a guest preacher willing to take direction from a staff that planned worship 8 weeks ago not knowing who would be preaching. SO he will focus on singing and dancing for the Lord. We'll be in Exodus all month, so our chancel has been transformed into the Sinai via brown paper, cardboard, and spray paint. The communion table will become water this week--awesome!

    in case anyone's looking for song suggestions, here's what's on over here (Presbytery and other meetings this week so had to get bulletin done early...): O Sing to the Lord/Cantad al Senor, When in our Music God is Glorified, and For the Music of Creation are the traditional service hymns. The choir will sing Wade In The Water and Every Time I Feel The Spirit. At the contemporary service we'll be singing "Who Is Like Our God?" and "You Are" and "Glorious" and "Undignified" and "Step By Step." Just thought I'd share....

  5. I'm doing Matthew. I'm reading Amish Forgiveness, hoping to use the book as a basis for the sermon. The question the authors raise (I don't think they are theologians) is whether we are forgiven because we forgive. The Amish cite the Lord's Prayer and the parable from this week's text for their belief that they must forgive in order to receive God's forgiveness. If the sermon is decent, I'll post. So far, the book is fascinating.

  6. I can't help it -- the Exodus lesson brings to mind the kids' camp song "Pharoah, Pharoah," sung to the tune of "Louie, Louie": "Pharaoh, Pharoah/oh, baby/let my people go/HUH/yah, yah, yah, yah..." Our camp kids have a good time with this one.

  7. I am the sily girl tackling the Exodus i have never done that before...
    Anyhow, sermon title is Passage way.
    Thinking in terms of God's word being to the Israelites and the promise to guide and protect them.
    Nice line in my Lectionary Worship Aids book by Brauninger, "you cut a path through the sea of our chaos."
    I still have trouble with all the drowned horses. The Ten Commandments upset me as a child.
    Although, say, "Moses" and most folks immediatly think,Charlton Heston
    and then there are those of us who see,
    Mel Brroks!

  8. LC,
    Many adults also love that song...guess soem of us will forever be "Kids at Camp!"

  9. LC, at my church we sing that song every year at the Easter Vigil. We tell the stories of our faith through those camp songs. We also sing "Dem Bones" and "Rise and shine" (aka "Arky Arky"). The participation you get from 100 adults is just amazing. I think you should sing it on Sunday! ;)

  10. I am venturing off the lectionary this week and going with Matthew 25:31-46 - judgment, sheep and goats. I'm taking on this text because we are in a continuous struggle in our church on the handling of money - do we continue to put it into our FAT checking account or our FAT money market account, or do we actually DO something with it. I have never been in a church that deals with money quite like this one...have actually had people say that they don't want "THEIR" money going outside the to missions! So, I'm planning to sock it to them. The sermon is almost writing itself and it is rare when that happens.

  11. I am going with the horror story of Exodus.

    There is an old midrash on the story that has God weeping as Pharaoh's army drowns. God weeps while Miriam leads the people in singing and dancing.

    THe sermon title? Rejoicing in Vengeance and Death? THe link takes you to my early, somewhat unfocused thoughts.

  12. LC,
    I know that song by heart. Maybe I will sing it with the kids.

    Chilly Fingers,
    Good luck with that, it sounds like a challenge (to you in preaching and to the congregation in hearing).

    Oh and for those who are stuck for liturgy pieces here are some I wrote yesterday

  13. Chilly Fingers,
    So sorry you are haivng such a tough time with money horders.Dang1 Do they not read their Bibles????
    The childrens' message could be spent separating the sheep and goats.
    Hot cup,
    Is Holy Cross Day a Lutheran thing?
    Educate me, please.
    LC and Mrie,
    i now have songs stuck in my head!
    Good stuff as always, Gord!

  14. I'm going off lectionary this week to focus on congregational care. It seems like a good time in the life of our church to talk about how we can care for one another - and to think about launching some prayer/visitation ministries.

    I'm using James 5 for my primary text this week.

    I'm also thinking about incorporating a time of healing and prayer into the service - very reflective time is planned so far!

  15. Thanks for the link.

    our cell group take the lectionary readings for the Sunday to follow to study (so as not to fall into the trap of discecting or trying to remember what the preacher said last Sunday)

    so we had a very interesting look at the wine and wine skins passage tonight

    one thing that we did discuss -because of the use of the word bridegroom- was what the pratice at weddings might have been in that day (e.g. did the groom's guest celebrate separately from the bride's - and if so how does reading it through western eyes (when we party together and after the ceremony) affect how we look at this.

    might have been a red herring but it was an interesting discussion

  16. teri - this

    We'll be in Exodus all month, so our chancel has been transformed into the Sinai via brown paper, cardboard, and spray paint. The communion table will become water this week--

    sounds wonderful

  17. I'm getting ahead of myself and taking the Exodus passage from next week, manna/quail from heaven. That's about all I know, but maybe I'll have some wisdom to share next Tuesday.

  18. Hey, y'all~
    I am going with Joseph, but probably reading the gospel, too. I think it will work as a follow-up to this past Sunday's "take no prisoners" sermon about accountability. I hope so, anyway. Unfortunately, the people who will be most open to hearing the words are not the ones who need to become accountable!!! Aargh!!
    Anyway, Joseph appeals to me. I can tell more of the story, and a story from my church past as a layperson that I think will show I'm as human as they are in terms of being hurt and having to deal with anger and resentment, and the struggle to be as "big" as Joseph was.

  19. Matthew and Romans again this week. I'm toying with suggesting that these readings may have something to say to us about the elections but don't know if I'll have the nerve.
    I am going to update my sermon from three years ago. I talked about someone having "done me wrong" many years ago and how I always think I have forgiven him but hadn't really until recently. Now three years later, when I read that again, I find that I can't even remember what the issue/event was. Maybe we really can forgive and forget.
    At the same time, I find that I have a need to forgive in my own life and am having trouble with that. Good thing this is pastoral counseling week!

  20. Week two of the lectionary study group, and it's really helping me focus. 11 people besides me in a church with membership of 36! I couldn't be more pleased!

    I'm going with Matthew. Whether it's 77 times or 490 (7x70), it's still more times than we can count using all our fingers and toes several times over. What good is keeping score?

    Also how failing to forgive hurts only the carrier of the grudge. The subject may not even know there was something to forgive (see last week about confronting the person who sins against you).

    Finally, with the parable, the extreme difference in the size of the debts. The King (God) forgave the huge debt of humanity's sin through the payment of Christ's death on the cross. Surely we should forgive the tiny denari sized debts of others, or we're rejecting the gift of our debt being forgiven.

    That's what I've got so far.

  21. 1-4 Grace... you asked about Holy Cross Day. It's September 14th.

    Holy Cross Day... is usually not observed unless it falls on a Sunday. The festival originated in the 4th century... and celebrates the triumph of the cross. Paul reminds us that Christ crucified is the power and wisdom of God. As Moses put a serpent on a pole to be a source of healing... we lift high the cross as the sign of our health and salvaion. Each time we make the sign of the cross... we remember our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ.

    From a Roman Catholic perspective... The feast commemorates the finding of the True Cross in 325 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I (venerated in the Eastern Church as Saint Constantine) during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross placed inside it. In 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. The cross was returned to the church the following year after initially having been taken to Constantinople by Heraclius.

    The date used for the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. This was a two-day festival: although the actual Consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it.

  22. As I think about it I may be able to work the Gospel on forgiving in to my thoughts about vengeance and victory...

  23. BW,
    Thanks for the history/religion info. Totally fascinating. I wish our denomination did more in the line of special days (feast days), but we are limited andthen some of the folks in these parts have trouble with doing anything "catholic" in nature.
    Oh my!
    The whole idea of forgiving seems so tough, althugh I have not forgotten what some have "done to me" and then there are other thigns mroe fresh and recent.
    If we could get to the point of helping others know how good it feels to be righted in a relationship, it can be powerful.
    We all need to be a "big as Jospeh"! Thanks, SB!

  24. I'm doing Exodus, too, but will have to go look at it all again tomorrow to think about preaching more from 15 instead of 14. Interesting. Not sure. What I thought I would do when I skimmed these passages a couple of months ago doesn't really go with the text, so I'm going to have to regroup a little. I don't know what I was thinking.

    I'm also teaching adult ed this week about why it's important for us to also learn about other religions and maybe a little into to some of them. Probably less of the second and more of the first. Guess I better figure that out!!!

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  26. Hi all,

    I am a long-time lurker and first-time commenter. I am a solo pastor of 200-member PCUSA church in South Florida (breathing a big sigh of relief after Ike passed us by, but praying for friends and family in Texas and for all our sisters and brothers in Cuba, Bahamas, and Hispanola).

    We are doing a full-court press on Exodus for the next several weeks. We are using Seasons of the Spirit in our CE (pre-K through adult), and it just seems like a good time to really make use of the semi-continuous strain of the lectionary and dive into these foundational texts.

    We had a guest preacher last week who gave the "we need to take back America for Christ" pep rally speech (and I think he referenced the text maybe twice in 32 minutes) and so I am thinking about pushing back a little on that with Exodus 14 and God's command to the people to "not be afraid," to "stand firm" and to "stand still" when they are caught between the sea and the Egyptians.

  27. Gord, I'm right with you on vengeance, forgiveness, and God weeping when we hurt each other like that. My reflection this week went in pretty much that direction. The Cantemus Domino - ugh, I HATE singing it every Thursday morning! Hate hate HATE it! But we have to. Dangit.


  28. OK. So I'm still kind of stuck. I've been looking at this whole Exodus string of readings as the story of the formation or solidification of the community of God's people. The exodus is the foundational story of the people of God (a little Brueggeman in my background, you think?) so I'm trying to see what this particular episode tells us about the Israelites were bound together and to God.

    A possible idea - - after they experienced this hugely important salvation experience, they immediately worshipped God. "The family that prays together, stays together" or maybe "The family that is saved together, prays together." Then my sermon is about the utter importance of worship at the center of our congregational life (a little bit of preaching to the choir when talking to the folks who are there). I think that might be the direction I go. It's working for me right now.

  29. Looks like a lot of you are doing Exodus. I couldn't really bear it this week so I'm sticking with Matthew, not that that's particularly easy either. I'm using L. Gregory Jone's concept of "emodying forgiveness" to hopefully start to shift peoples' paradigms into one that focuses on the interconnectedness of all life as we live into the kingdom.

    A quote from him: "Most fundamentally, then, forgiveness is not so much a word spoken, an action performed, or a feeling felt as it is an embodied way of life in an ever-deepening friendship with the Triune God and with others" (Jones, Gregory. Embodying Forgivness 1995, p xii).

    I'm using an illustration from my own life about spider webs and how embodying forgiveness will weave into every aspect of life.

  30. I know this is two days later, but I hope not a dollar short. I am doing the forgiveness theme in our Contemporary service. I found a good video to use. We got some good music. No sermon yet, but thoughts abound on this subject.

    Forgiving others,
    Forgiving ourselves,
    because we are forgiven.

    Thanks for all your thoughts on the lectionary.

  31. Question: how does the anniversary of the WTC & Pentagon attacks play into the themes of forgiveness so many of you are working on this week? I'm debating updating my own sermon from three years ago, when September 11th was the actual Sunday date. Thoughts?


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