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Monday, October 06, 2008

Lectionary Leanings- Peace vs. Weddings Edition

For Sunday, October 12

Exodus 32:1-14

Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23

Philippians 4:1-9

Matthew 22:1-14

For this week, it's hard not to love the Philippians passage.  

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.


How do we practice (rehearse) our faith?  How do we “keep on doing the things that you have learned and received?” 

It is a beautiful passage, but I'm not sure I'd want to build a sermon there.

I do think, however, that this might be a week to talk about the "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding."

The wedding story, on the other hand, is a dicey tale that seems to cry out for a careful reading.  What about those guests?  Why don’t the original guests go?  Are they taking a stand?  Are they too busy?


And maybe it’s a little bit of isogesis, but are we too busy to go to the banquet?


        “Busy, well meaning Christians often complain about how hard it is to balance church activities with everything else.  We want to do it all rather than select certain activities as top priority and let other activities go.  We do not want to sacrifice ‘alone time,’ family time, travel time, or shopping time for corporate worship.  So we forgo worship.  We give God the balance left over when everything else has been accomplished.  God however, does not belong on an equal par with work or recreation. God deserves to take first place in our lives.  This may involve sacrifice, a seemingly harsh word that comfort-loving, convenience seeking people do not like.

            My nine year old daughter was invited to a Saturday afternoon birthday party which was to end at 4 P.M..  Then plans changed, and the party was set to extend through Sunday morning.  ‘The girls won’t sleep all night, of course,’ the mother told me.  My husband and I were left with a dilemma.  Should we let our daughter spend the night, knowing we would need to pick her up before worship and she would be in a foul mood from lack of sleep?  Should we let her spend the night and skip worship just this once?  Or should we risk her displeasure with us and interrupt the fun by picking her up just before bedtime?  In the end we decided to pick her up before bedtime. Ours wasn’t a monumental decision, yet our lives consist of small choices like these, choices that add up over time….

          When we place our schedules in God’s hands, however, we are given one day in seven to hold as holy.  How liberating it is to be able to say, ‘No, we can’t attend.  We’ll be at church.’"

Judith Johnson-Siebold in “The Christian Century.”  October 4, 2005, page 19.


Of course, this tale has a rather rough ending.  How does that communicate?  Do we talk about God’s judgment?




Or…given the goings on of this week, are you considering journeying outside of the lectionary?


What are your thoughts?



  1. Oooh, can't believe I'm first. I'm going with the Matthew text and maybe Colossians 3:12-17...I don't have the sermon yet, but the title came to me this morning...The Fashion of the Christ.

  2. THanksgiving up here in Canada so I get to avoid Wedding Banquet altogether. All I can say about it is that we sang a song about the story at camp.

    ANyway, for THanksgiving celebrations I have written verses to Dayeinu. You can check them out here

  3. The song I referenced above is here IT was done by the Medical Mission Sisters.

    A favourite rewrite for pre-teen boys was to exchange "bought" and "married" in the chorus--we all hought we were very funny

  4. I have a title for Exodus: "The Baal-out". Now if I am courageous enough to use it!

  5. I had planned to go with Phillipians because I just had no idea what to do about the guy with no wedding robe. It felt so cruel and unJesus like. I just read the commentary in the Christian Century and the writer says the wedding robe is really the baptismal robe. I've listened to Rita Nakishima Brock last week several times talking about Paradise as the central motif in early Christianity, but pointing out that getting to baptism was difficult. She said it was like applying to and finishing college while training for the olympics while doing spiritual exercises. So, I think I'm going there. I'll have to rethink my hymns, perhaps.

  6. I'm wandering off the lectionary. I preached on family from Phil 4:1-4 because we've been experiencing some minor conflict in our UMW. The conflict needs to be resoved...but we need to remember we are all one body/family in Christ, even as we're not getting along.
    I'm going to MAtt 25 and recycling an oldie this week, as I'm in NJ for school.

  7. Sometimes in the chaos of the world around us we fall into fear. What a beautiful scripture to come. Rejoice in the lord always.
    Our Great Aunt Belle was a missionary in India and in her journals she would write to God and often after telling God what the children she cared for needed, food, clothing she would end rejoicing that it was God who provided and who loved them and in that she could rejoice.
    With the economic worries all around we should have the congregation read this aloud. Humm not to late to change the bulletin.
    Blessings Sister

  8. I'm using the alternative text from Isaiah 25, particularly vs. 6-8 where God sets out a feast while at the same time destroying a shroud, presumably of death. So God is creating blessing for all people while destroying curse for all people. Working title: "Tablecloth and Shroud."

  9. I'm mixing lectionary and alt. lectionary this week in order to connect last week and next week into a topical mini-series on social justice/witness. We did the Ten Commandments and how they call us to live in community with others and communion with God last week. Next week is Children's Sabbath, and I'm working with Matthew. So this week I'm working with Philippians, but not the 4 ff part, the 1-3 part, particularly being of the same mind - - overcoming differences in order to follow the Lord. I'm using Isaiah 25 (an alternate passage)then as the way to get into the mind of the Lord - - the vision Euodia and Syntyche are supposed to buy into together.

    I got a comment left in my mailbox that last week I was too idealistic and didn't have enough "Soup for the Soul" stories to humanize my sermon. It's amazing how one critique in a sea of compliments is all that my mind can dwell on. The critique was right in one sense - - I didn't have any illustration stories that made it all feel good. But is that wrong? One sermon out of 9 months of weekly preaching in this congregation didn't have a story. It was a different style than I usually preach, and a cutesy story didn't fit I didn't think. Also, if I don't have something that connects, I don't just throw something in and make it work. I need to just stick that little piece of paper into the recycle bin and remember the other folks who asked for a copy. I can admit it may not have been my strongest sermon. I was surprised by the positive, non-generic feedback - - like people really listened. This wasn't a lay it out, tell the story, and tie it all up with a bow sermon. It was a food for thought kind of sermon, one presenting a new way of thinking and understanding the role of the Ten Commandments, and the goal wasn't to present and argument or a moral, but to spur individuals to ponder for themselves.

    OK. I'll stop. No need to defend myself here and no sense, I don't think, to defend myself to the critic. Recycle it, move on. The end. (Thanks for the space to vent.)

  10. she rev --- arrghh I know how that one in a sea of compliments can weigh on the heart and mind. You were right in your choice not to add a cutesy story - my homiletics professor, Peter Gomes, always called those "stories in search of a sermon!" Stand firm against that temptation.

  11. sherev,
    I hve heard a variety of people over the years say that "soup for the soul" stories should be totally banned from sermons.

    ANd no, we can't make it all end up feeling good. That is called being unrealistic, idealistic, and unfaithful

  12. "stories in search of a sermon" That's great! And so often the temptation.

    She rev, I wouldn't stick the note in the recycle bin, I'd stick it in your file of examples that you are being faithful in your preaching of the gospel. Your words clearly hit him where he lives in some way. I'd guess you challenged him in a way that made him uncomfortable. Good work!

  13. I have been journeying through the Exodus passages fro several weeks and am staying the path, but adding the Phill passage in as an additional reaading...we are also singing Psalm 106 from Michael Morgan's Psalter for Xian Worship...if you don't ahve it, go buy it...
    Anyhow, not so sure where I am going with the Idol talk yet, I am thinking of Israeli Idol or discussion of our own idolization in americia...people, stuff, money, prominence...
    uh, still not sure.
    Church yard sale is this saturday and I have been helping sort (and pickign out my own stuff too>
    Oh, wow, Cheese, your title rocks the big boom daddy!!!! I may LOVINGLY steal it if i get brave

  14. Sherev,
    There are times that cutesy stories and feel good, jsut doesn't fit.
    In previous call, i was criticized for not using more jokes...uh, excuse me...if you want jokes watch Leno or letterman.
    Anyhow, there are times that it just isn't appropriate to do.
    Anyhow, I think sermons need to challenge more and soemtiems jsut call us all out in our own wrongdoing...of course we can lead to hope in Christ and faith/ values assem. But soemtimes ya call a spade a spade.
    YOu go girl!!! if you are making them uncomfortable, then you msut be doing something right.

  15. Consider me another echoing support for you, She Rev. William Willimon tells a great story about a woman who told him she didn't like being hurt by something in one of his sermons. His response? "What made you think that a sermon would never hurt?" Something along those lines, at least.

    You could always become Rev. Lovejoy from the Simpsons and just hand out inspirational tracts from Art Linklater, right? :-)

    I'm going with Matthew and Philippians this week. We had a great text study discussion about Matthew today. The parables lately have been hitting us pretty hard on the nature of the kingdom of heaven, and we spent a lot of time discussing the implications: who's in, who's out, who makes that call (the answer is God, BTW), etc. The conversation was so good, in fact, that we didn't get to Philippians. I now wish we had.

    Jesus' parable is a cautionary tale, obviously, but without the "moral of the story" many modern parables include. That's why it's so uncomfortable: we have no simple practice to adopt in order to avoid the unfortunate consequences the parable describes. But I think we have an answer in the Philippians passage: rejoice. Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise - those are the things to think about. And Jesus promises that this is how the "God of peace" remains with us.

    I'm reminded of "Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience." Maybe this is the wedding robe the King asks us to wear?

    Wow, that's a lot of stuff from me, too. Sorry.

    *stepping off the soapbox*

  16. She Rev, when you figure out how to grow that tough skin, please send me the directions. You are so right on with you style. keep it!
    Phill. here, tying v. 1 and 9 into our workcamp sunday. stay firm and do what you're supposed to do. Gee that sounds horrible when I say it like that, duh.

  17. Yah. Count me in on wishing God gave my heart a rhino hide... but then I would not be able to show compassion and mercy... and that's a big minus.

    I actually take comfort in printing, shredding and deleting comments like that.

    Just saying.

  18. I have a baptism this Sunday...that and I can't really change the lectionary readings because well, because it's not done...sigh..I'm sure I can figure something out assuming I have any energy to put toward the sermon...

  19. mompriest, I think Philippians is fabulous for a Baptism! Because the congregation and parents and godparents make promises for the child, this reminder to keep our minds on higher things and to work through our differences is a very positive way to approach what it means to support a child who has been baptized.
    I wish I were preaching this week; I'll be away for Parents Weekend at my son's school.

  20. Oh, I am a glutton for punishment. I'm on the parables this season.

    So, Matthew it is. Sermon title: What Not to Wear.

  21. I'm going with Matthew and Dan Berrigan. This is a tale about comparison as difference. The "kingdom" is not like this. It is the powerful and those with the power of death over life who abuse their power for personal reasons, who want full tables at their banquets but can't remember why! Irony and may be even sarcasm is found here. compare this with Matthew 25 and I can't help but wonder which parable is serious!

  22. i'm talking politics and going with philippians. i love the idea of rejoicing and claiming a way out of empire. i kinda like my sermon too ... which surprise me ... because let's face it, it's paul.

  23. I'm following up the Big Ten with the golden calf story. Talking about how we hang on to things that aren't God b/c they make us feel safe. Or something like that. I'm sure that Wall Street will make some sort of appearance.

  24. Enjoy your time with son, Songbird!
    I think I am gonna go with thoughts on our tendency to make money our idol and to look to l'ship from political powers.
    Our only worship should be of God and our only hope is found in Christ...
    I am stepping out on a slightly thin limb here!

  25. Oi! It's Thursday and I'm changing things up. Not too much. Just a little. Same Scriptures, Isaiah and Philippians, but I'm just not feeling my former plan, and I haven't done much to address financial uncertainty, fears, etc. Probably because I don't feel it too much - - we're FAR from retirement, and don't have a whole heck of a lot invested for other things anyway. Kids' college funds have plenty of time to recover. Anyway, Philippians seems the way to go this time around after all, but preaching Paul always freaks me out. So hard to make it connect, I think, not so theoretical and more applicable. Can't help by have that on my mind even mor ethan the usual Paul weeks after the comment I got about "idealistic" sermons and needing them "humanized" with "soup for the soul stories." Ugh.

    Anyway, I have discovered great podcasts at the Luther Seminary website. LOVED the bits for this week about Philippians. Gonna go listen to it one more time before I finish the bulletin for the secretary to publish.

  26. I'm late in writing my reflection this week, though I've been looking (and wtfing) at the readings since Monday. I finally ended up hanging on words in the Collect for the week that we'll use in the Episcopal Church, and weaving them into the Phillipians reading and the alternate psalm.

    Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

    Lots of good thoughts here this week - peace to you all, and great preaching!


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