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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lectionary Leanings Lent 1B - a personal take.

RCL Texts here

I had been pondering a suitable Lenten discipline for a few days when, woomph, Sunday happened and I find myself saddled with one that will test not only patience, but my ability to let go and allow others to do the ministering...
So if I were preaching (or as I preach to myself) I guess my focus would be on the need to give up the need to be in control, the need to be relentlessly busy.

As I waited in A&E, I was completely helpless (trying to move was quite painful enough to put off the idea conclusively) & around me were so many others with no power to help themselves in any way.
I had become the object of verbs and not the subject, relying on the care and gentleness of others.

When I baptise, I love to share the Marcan account of the baptism of Christ that we are set for Sunday. I point out always that when Jesus appears on stage here, he has done nothing to earn God's love. The teaching, the healing, the utter obedience unto death all lie in the future
- but still God looks down and speaks the unconditional love that is always being poured on each of his children.
For relentless activists like me, learning to sit and allow God to love me through family, friends & congregation will be discipline enough as I travel, confined for my own safety, like Noah and his passengers through the six long weeks of Lent. That's where I am today (and probably for some time to come). And you?


  1. I love this, "becoming the object of a verb rather than the subject," and your thoughts about Jesus' baptism struck me as well. Thanks!

  2. I also was struck by the same phrase as Auntie Knickers, and am still praying for your healing and for patience for you while things are being knit back together.

    I am focusing on the covenants we find in these Lenten texts, so will actually be focusing primarily on the OT passages.

    When last we left Noah and crew,(in the lectionary) it was after the destruction of the earth, but before the promise. Now we hear the other part of the story--the hope and redemption.

    I am also struck that God repeats "covenant" seven times in this short text. Perhaps we do not hear it/understand it the first six!

  3. I'm also doing Noah, and we're also spending Lent in the OT, with covenant and "god is doing a new thing" as the overarching themes. this week is "new creation" ...I'm currently pondering your closing lines about Noah being confined for his own good during the 40 days of rain...what do you do when you can't do anything, when God is making a new thing happen entirely without your help?

  4. So sorry about the arm! As you are young and healthy, we will pray for a speedy knitting up of the bones.
    I'm going to do the gospel, I think. I like the juxtaposition of God's "covenanting" with Jesus at the river and then sending him into the wilderness right away.

  5. add another "amen" to your thoughts about Jesus' baptism and God's unconditional love--beautiful!

    at this point i'm planning on focusing on Mark--specifically about Jesus going into the wilderness and how we are invited to join him there for these next 40 days.

    hopefully, the next 5 Sundays will take on some element of becoming wild in/with God, being shaken up by God and being wild enough to follow God.

    i do worry about coming to the scriptures with a theme in hand rather than being formed by what i'm reading. i've read ahead but am still concerned about shaping the text around what "i" want to say.

    any thoughts or suggestions about being true to the text while wanting to cover a theme?

    i'd really appreciate them!

  6. Just when we are the busiest, God intervenes to make us pull up short and take notice! I am so sorry about your arm Kathryn!! Your Lenten discipline appears to be all laid our for you! About the theme seems to me that the lectionary lays out a theme simply in the chosen passages. In this Sunday's case, it is certainly covenant and what it means to be in one. God covenants with Noah and all the creatures of the earth never again to destroy the earth through flood. Then, also with the use of water, God explains who Jesus is..the personification of God's covenant. I think that will preach!

  7. I am going with Genesis mostly. Focusing on the covenant as entirely an act/gift of God. That connects to Mark for me as Jesus comes as one of us (tempted) entirely as a gift from God to create a new covenant of love with humanity. We'll see what happens when I actually try to write something down . . .

  8. indeed, the object...rings all kinds of bells for me too.

  9. Kathryn, so sorry about your arm. May your healing be swift and uneventful.

    I, too, was struck with your thoughts on God's unconditional love for one who has not yet done anything to "deserve" God's love. I am sure it will be my focus, although it IS only Tuesday. Who knows what will happen between now and then?

  10. "learning to sit and allow God to love me (us)"....there seems to be such a deep and profound lesson here that I think it could be a whole Lenten theme. So sorry about your arm, dear one. You are ever in my prayers.

  11. I am so glad soembody else is doing the Noah text and the covennat.
    I thought i was the only one in the whole world!!!!!!!

  12. Hmmm, perhaps it is because we were influenced by most of the same seminary professors, but Teri and I are doing a remarkably similar Lenten theme. Covenant and wilderness are where we're headed. As in God gives us covenants when we are in our deepest, darkest wildernesses. I will certainly pull from both Gen. and Mark this first week of Lent, but will mainly stick with the OT for the rest of the time since that is where the covenants are.
    We also talked in my lectionary group about God being self-limiting by saying "never again" in Genesis and how that is a model for Lenten self-limiting disciplines. God does not give up God's own power or sovereignty by limiting God's own self.

  13. I'm still contemplating the idea of "the devil you know," the things that tempt us being things from inside us as much as on the outside. I wish we had Mark throughout Lent, because I like working with this gospel. But I'm bringing the OT and NT texts together, at least for the next four Sundays. I'm at a phase in the interim where there are many important things to say, which in some ways makes it harder to focus on an overarching theme, as I prefer to do in Lent.

  14. This week I begin my sermon series The C's of Stewardship and in reflecting on the plan yesterday I realized that in none of the 5 sermons will I preach the "why you should give money to the church" sermon. I think that is a good thing (the idea will come out in other ways but the focus of the series is really on choices).

    Anyway, this week's focus is Creation - Care and Choices Follow the link to my early thoughts.

    ANd now I wonder how often I am the object and when I am the subject. Unfortunately my grammar ackground is so bad I have trouble remembering which is which ;)

  15. Prayers for a gentle healing, Kathryn.

    Revcrystalk, I'm struggling with the whole theme/text challenge as well. I feel strongly that my congregation is hungering for some spiritual depth and have finally decided to plunge in with a theme for Lent. The overarching theme is "Journey to the Cross" and each week we will look at a specific attribute/virtue that characterizes discipleship (courage, humility, wisdom, compassion trust, and obedience).

    For this Sunday, I'm going with the gospel (though pulling from the Matt/Luke temptation account for more detail!) and will lift up our need for God to be our center in order to have the courage to respond to the challenges of living as disciples. At least those are my initial thoughts...

    Now back to Ash Wednesday...yikes, it's tomorrow!

  16. I'm so impressed with all of you doing Lenten themes. Every time I try to do a theme, or a series, I get bored with it partway through! Bored preacher equals boring sermons, at least for me.

    In any case, I'm going with the Mark for this week, focusing on the wilderness. I may bring in Noah, too. And the idea that Lent can be our own wilderness, a difficult place where we nevertheless have a strong encounter with God.

    We'll see how it all shakes out.

  17. I'm off on Sunday the next two weeks because I'm going to Mexico with our ecumenical youth ministry. I am however still working on Ash Wednesday for tomorrow night. I am hoping to lead the congregation in a guided meditation appropriate for the theme, but I'm having a bit of writers'/preachers' block.

    I feel like I've had the vocation sucked right out of me after learning today how I completely failed a grieving couple. Thankfully they came to tell me themselves, and I greatly appreciate that, but at the same time I am devastated that I let such an obvious pastoral need go unaddressed with personal contact.

    Suddenly feeling very inadequate in my ministry.

  18. She Rev: if they came and told you, then you are still their pastor and they are ready to forgive you - so all will be well. It's when the pastoral relationship is so broken that they have to tell everyone else in the church except you , that it's hard to rebuild. God grant you peace.

    And thank you everyone for these posts: I came to this feeling really wrung out & uninspired - but I think the comment about unconditional love and God saying covenant 7 times really got me listening. 7 times, eh - once for each day of creation - taking us back to God's initiative - after all, Noah & his family had only obeyed God's instructions - God did the hard bits! When we're all so taken up with stuff to do, God sends us a rainbow - a sign that he is in charge & we are just the hired help. Even Jesus had to be obedient - putting God the Father in charge.
    I think my message for start of Lent if 'rest in the Lord'.

    Thanks, sisters!

  19. Very true, Ruth, which was what I kept thinking as I thanked them and apologized during the conversation. Although my gut was screaming for me to make excuses (which is all they would have been) I am proud after the fact that I resisted that. I know the wife wanted answers, but I didn't have any good enough so I apologized. The husband came to the Ash Wednesday service last night. I hadn't arranged for anyone to "ash" me, so when he came through the line I asked if he would do mine right then. He accepted, saying, "Your sins are forgiven" as he made the cross on my forehead. I could hardly continue with the rest of the line after that moment.

    After the service we shared a hug and he thanked me for that opportunity. I leave tomorrow evening for the trip to Mexico, but I will try to call his wife to touch base. It's going to take a little longer for us to be reconciled I believe, but I will at least reach out again. I don't want to beg her for something I want, but she might not be ready to give, though

  20. Wow! And since I only had 6 people at the Ash Wednesday service I was wondering if it was worth it - what a wonderful thing to do: renews your faith in liturgy!
    Hope your trip is really invigorating and renews your soul, too.

  21. Well, it's Saturday and I'm clamoring to figure out what I'm going to say tomorrow. I feel a need to focus in on discipline as we enter Lent together. I like the thought of the covenant calling us into discipline. I am taking a different perspective -- 1 Peter it is. I am struck by the beauty of entering into Lent with a need to focus on what I can "do" in response to God's love while also acknowledging that everything has already been done.


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