Visit our new site at

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Eagles wings edition : 3rd Sunday before Lent

This week's readings are here
I've had two weeks off preaching at the main services, but this week it's back to the job with a vengeance as both my ministerial colleagues are elsewhere. Over the past fortnight I've been busy busy – and in the run-up to Lent things don't look a lot calmer, so I wondered if there'd be any space for the readings to speak to me this morning..and what did I find but one of my favourite bits of Isaiah...those wonderful eagles' wings.

I've never seen an eagle in flight, but I'll never forget reading someone else's account of watching one from above, while standing on a high cliff top. The eagle rose effortlessly, not seeming to move its wings at all, riding the thermals that bore it aloft.I'm told that without at least some level of wind or air current they can barely fly at all – certainly, they're not designed to flap and flutter. So in waiting on the Lord, we are carried ourselves...lifted in a way that our own frantic flapping can never achieve (speaking entirely personally here, I'm sure...nobody else runs around chasing their own tail quite as manically as I do, surely?). Instead of wearying ourselves and those around us, Isaiah's words encourage us to look at the evidence of God's care in creation and know that our own struggles are noted by the one who counts each star and checks that they are all in the proper place. That's not down to us...Isn't that wonderful? Creation can get along just fine without our running ourselves into the ground to take care of it!

In the Gospel, we have Jesus engaged in frantic activity...Look at all those “ands” in verses 33/'s like a child coming in from an exciting day out“and then we did this...and then...and then...” It's exhausting. And then it all stops. That busyness ceases just as surely as life in the UK ground to a halt in yesterdays snow storms. It stopped not because Jesus was dis-abled, but because he was enabling his own ministry.

Jesus gets up early to pray...

It is his turn to wait upon his Father and renew his own strength.

I'm struck too by the fact that Peter's m-i-l actually lives out the Isaiah passage in reverse. She regains her strength and rises from her bed to wait upon Jesus...I'm wondering if that's what our healing should be all about – we are healed and strengthened to serve. That's what happens to Paul as well...Healed by his encounter, he dedicates himself to serving God through preaching the gospel. As the hymn puts it

“Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands That holy things have taken”

And what could be more healing than an encounter with the Living God in the bread and wine of Eucharist?We wait upon the Lord as we gather for worship.We meet him and our strength is renewed.

That's where the eagles wings are carrying me this morning. What about you?


  1. I've actually seen bald eagles! a pair of them... I will try and find my pictures and post them.

    peace to all

  2. I preached on the Eagle's Wings last week ( and am preaching on auhority/power this week). My sermon was an elaboration of this column that appeared in yesterday's paper.

  3. I'm preaching on the eagles' wings this week and will be tying it into the ordination and installation of our new elders and deacons.

    Reminding the newly called and all in the congregation that it will not be by our own might that we will "accomplish" things. It will be through God.

  4. Thanks Kathryn! I love that image of how the eagle flies lifted by the wind, the Spirit. I don't think I'm going with that reading, but will definitely tuck that tidbit away for future reflection - - unless I can get a way to get it in this time. Don't want to push it, though, because it has huge potential on it's own.

    I think I'm going with Mark. I've been on a roll with him, and have LOVED my preaching the last few weeks. Is that horrible to say?

    I might bring this one in a little more personal than some have been, though, to balance what I've been doing and to address one of those requests of "This should come from the pulpit." I totally cringe when I hear that - sometimes out of pride (You don't think what I've been saying has been important? It's MY call speak that word and I'm doing the best I can to discern what it should be.) and sometime out of disagreement over what the pulpit should be used for. At least I can admit when it's pride!!!

    Anyway, this one is about the economic situation and has stemmed from some members who are putting together basically a resource pool of information and people that can help folks who are "on the verge." It isn't necessarily a funding source, since right now there aren't funds, but a way to help people navigate the system who don't have a clue where to start and what's available.

    We have 2 needs in this endeavor - - people who can help with the mentoring/guiding peace and people who are in need or "on the verge" to feel comfortable asking for help. We know folks in our congregation are just about in crisis, but they think others are worse off or they don't want people to know they need help or whatever else....

    So the "from the pulpit" request was to let folks know it's OK to ask for help (easier said the done, but important) and on the flip side, if we aren't the ones currently in need there are things we can do to be a part of the "solution." This economic situation shouldn't just be about - "Gee those folks in need should be more responsible about their purchases, maybe I can help a little, but thank goodness it's not me." I should be about all of us tightening up so that those in need can work on (with the community) making ends meet and those who are still comfortable can free up some resources to help the community.

    When someone mentioned that, it certainly hit home to me. We aren't feeling too much of a pinch in my family, being far from retirement and responsible with our finances and debt situations regularly. However, we could be doing more to help others if we cut back some, too.

    Anyway, all that said, I'm not a very good "issue" or topical preacher, but I think Mark gives me an in with this healing of Simon's mother-in-law. Sometimes we're the ones in need of healing, sometimes we're the ones bringing others to the source. When we're not one we should be the other. As soon as Simon's mother-in-law is back on her feet she's in their serving Jesus.

    (On a side note - I just walked down to the sewing ladies to deliver coffee cake I made for them. A women who has been in hospitals and nursing homes since I arrived here at year ago was at sewing for the first time. Her leg was amputated several months ago and she and her husband have had to move into assisted living from their own home. Along the way she received one of our first prayer shawls. She was in there knitting away. Love it!)

    Sorry for the long post. I'm thinking "out loud" here!

  5. Kathryn, thank you for this. I've been preaching the gospels this season...focussing on "what did we hear Jesus say before?" and "what's he saying NOW?" and trying to tease some meaning out of the sequence Christmas/epiphany/and, DV, Lent.

  6. Great stuff K! Thanks. Helps a lot to think of the eagles in fligth with the wind.

  7. i don't know what i'm doing this week. it's our first "boyscout sunday" i wish i had the manuscript i used when i preached on a boyscout sunday at our old church.

    i'm pretty distracted this week as one of our saints is dying. thankfully they were able to bring her home but it's been very difficult for me, more so than i expected.

    anyway, i'm at a loss. any suggestions for a scout sunday?

  8. I am off lectionary this week where the gospels are concerned. I wanted to look at some other Markan texts that we wouldn't otherwise get to this year. This Sunday I have chosen Mark 2:18-3:6 --the new wine needs new wineskins and one new wineskin is remembering that the Sabbath was created for humans, not humans for the Sabbath. Next Sunday, I'll be looking at the Gerasene Demoniac --what is it that keeps us bound up in places of death and how our faith can free us from that.
    But I bet I can tie a new understanding of Sabbath to be when God lifts us up as on the wings of an eagle, not oppressing us with an empty effort to keep an empty rule ...

  9. I'm not on deck this week...but I'm thinking about being carried on eagles' wings as I'm processing lots of medical bad news at work and among our parish family...and on a more mundane vocational level, as I contemplate voluntarily (in a depression yet) parting from my current workplace, about feeling the fear of soaring up there with the ground so far down below, but letting myself be carried anyway.

  10. wow, thanks Kathryn! I hadn't thought of a way to tie the Mark passage to Isaiah, but I really like your take.

    Blessings everyone as you prepare to preach.

  11. Thanks, Kathryn for your insights on the Isaiah passage. I had planned to go with Mark this week but am now pondering pulling this one in as well.

    We are recognizing all Scouting Ministries this Sunday, Boys and Girls, but I had not planned to preach on this. I have invited them to participate in worship (usher, acolyte, readings) and will bring them up front for a blessing. I'm sure I'll tie it into my sermon but it won't be my focus.

    My focus is...well, it's a bit blurry right now. I'm torn between wanting to fuss at them for their superficial approach to discipleship and exegeting this Markan passage for us. Ok, I'm just a bit ticked that I asked them to read the Gospel of Mark last week and NO ONE read it. And, I'm a little tired of hearing "we should be..." (fill in the blank), as though they are really saying, "You should be doing...".

    Maybe I'm just a wee bit edgy today and shouldn't attempt to nail down that sermon just yet...

    Thanks for listening. Little Mary Sunshine here is going to go for a walk now!

  12. Can't resist sharing this great song with you all...

  13. I'm going with Isaiah, too. Thanks for all of the ponderings so far. I'm not really sure where I'm going exactly, but somewhere. I guess wherever the Spirit floats me!

  14. Thanks Kathryn for your eagles' wings thoughts. I just love this reminds me that it's OK to float on the wings of the Spirit and just 'be" rather having to be constantly "doing." revcrystalk and revsis: I will keep you in my prayers. Our parishes expect a lot from us: that we reflect what everyone is feeling, that we do what everyone "should" be doing, that we say exactly the right thing at the right time. There are times when it's hard to just feel what we, individually, are feeling in any situation, especailly when facing death.

  15. Our local text study was intrigued by two things this week.

    1. The disciples "hunted" for Jesus - and apparently the Greek really does mean "hunted." Why hunt? What does that mean about how the disciples saw Jesus? Were they hunting him to possess? To consume? To bring him back on a leash? All figurative understandings, of course, but we wandered through a lot of ways to interpret that one word.

    2. What was it like in Cana after Jesus left? Many were healed, but not all, and certainly others became sick after that. What was it like in that town after Jesus moved on? What did they say/think/do about him, especially when they heard he'd been crucified in Jerusalem?

    To further illustrate the second point, which is likely where I'm being led this week, I'm drawing on the Michael Card song, "The Gentle Healer." Here's a link:

    It's mostly cheesy Sunday School pics of Jesus, but the music is there and worth considering.

    Blessings, everyone!


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.