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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "It's Good to Be King" Edition

Sunday's lectionary readings are here .

"It's good to be king," the saying goes. But in human history it hasn't always been good to be a subject.

What does it mean to be a subject of a good king -- the greatest, best King of all?

Bonus question: Where's the grace in Sunday's Gospel lesson?

As always, share your ponderings with us here, whether you're preaching on the RCL or not. And if you're preaching a Thanksgiving sermon, tell us where you think you'll be going with that.


  1. What?!? I'm first? That's amazing. In less than two hours the area pastors will be gathering at one of the churches I serve for text study. I'm hoping the Holy
    Spirit visits us with much inspiration! In my parsih we're in a stewardship theme right now, so pondering how/if that fits with sheep and goats. There's a part of me that always shies away from the harsh tone of judgement in these parables, yet its there. Much pondering, not much conclusion yet! Hopefully I will have better to offer post-text study.

  2. I reread my sermon from three years ago this morning. What I focused on was that both sheep and goats were surprised to hear what they had done/not done.
    Going on from there, it seems to me that the life Jesus calls us to is one where feeding/visiting, etc. is so natural that we really wouldn't notice. We are getting there when we move toward being more generous with/to others but I am imagining what life would be like if all those things happened without our giving them much thought, if being generous were second nature. Now, we generally plan these events to death.
    For instance, I love cooking and serving lunch at the Salvation Army but there are months when it is still a chore and not an opportunity to share God's grace. Does that make sense?
    The same is true for stewardship. It ought to be a simple matter of making our pledge - it's up to you, p.s., whether to stress tithing or giving generously - and then gladly paying it.

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  4. Second time's a charm:
    I do not preach on Christ the King, it is a service led by the women of our congregation every year. That said, I think part of the power and gospel of this SUnday is the contrasting of the images of CHrist's kingship with the images of power in the world.

    E.g., in the story of the sheep and the goats, power = serving. In the world, power = being served. What an amazing image of the sort of king we serve, and the kingdom for which we are destined! Similarly, I think there is gospel in the idea that "our king is the least of these." Every year, I kind of wish I was preaching this Sunday, because there is so much there.

  5. thanksgiving service here. i'm going with the text from Ezekiel about God as the shepherd. thinking i might lift up gratefulness to God for who God is. we'll see how it all pans out. i'll definitely be back on saturday because it's a busy week!

  6. I am reasonably certain that we are sheats, or possibly goep.

    I am going with the idea that it is one thing to be told how we should live and act. THe real question is How then Shall We Live?

    If we are living in and into the Reign of Christ (Now and Not Yet) then how will we let/make that shape our lives? What is the look of Kin-dom living?

  7. These readings are both very comforting - God will take care of us - and very challenging - how well am I doing at taking care of others (gulp!)? I posted my initial reflection here for this week... and am so glad to be back in the lectionary-reflecting saddle after several weeks off.

    Margaret, I like what you have to say about the sheep and goats both being surprised. That's a neat thought.


  8. Good thougths Margret.
    I have never approached the text withthe idea of being suprised because it is jsut soemthig nyou do.Great idea

  9. thanks to Gord I think I may have a title!

  10. I'm wearying of these judgment/end of days texts. And there's more to come in Advent, of course.

    Having said that, I chose the Ezekiel text, but (as usual) am not sure where I'm going with it. The shepherd image is comforting. And the line about judging between "sheep and sheep" is intriguing.

    Lots of work to do yet.

  11. hedwyg, i love the way you tie the ezekiel text to the gospel lesson. too bad i already turned the bulletin in because i'm out of town for the end of the week ...

  12. pastor david, I am doing what you mention -- looking at the notion of "king" in terms of world power and in terms of Jesus and the least. Calling it "The Least King" Not sure what I'll use from the recent political scene -- don't want to paint Obama as a Christ figure (tempting as it is) so will have to be thoughtful about that.

  13. Looking for thoughtful ideas and direction.

    Am preaching a stewardship sermon on the Matt. passage, possibly going with the theme of stewardship being sacramental, that is, making it visible by serving.

    I also like what Margaret said about serving/being generous without much thought, that it could flow from us naturally.

  14. I'm looking at "walks of faith." It's time for us to bring forward our pledge cards. We'll see if I can make it work. I have posted my reflections here. I'm interested in a commentary that suggests that the "least of these" are not the poor or needy but are actually Jesus' disciples. This is how those who do not follow Christ are judged: by how they treat the followers of Christ. Interesting stuff.

  15. Margaret's thoughts from her previous sermon are a lot like my minimal thoughts have been - the surprise and the way our values (or lack of) are less about what we TRY to do, and more about what we do without noticing (good and bad). Judgement isn't based on the list of good deeds we have attempted. In the passage anyway, it's about what we have internalized so much we don't even see how we externalize it. If that makes sense.

    Looking at this in parable terms I like looking for the twist and trying to see what that twist tells us about the Reign of Christ from God's perspective over and against our more predictable perspective.

    The other "twist" I was thinking about was the king who is "least".

    I am so excited to be talking to my favorite sermon-prep friend in 15 minutes who is calling long distance (international) from Scotland. She's there on her husband's engineering sabbatical and has the chance to preach for the first time in months at another pastor-friend's church in Hungary. We have done sermon prep together in way too long. Woo hoo!


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