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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - (hasty) Shine a Light edition

Elijah and Elisha by Michael D. O’Brien

RCL Readings for the week are here

In my tradition, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration on 6th August so I'm always slightly perplexed when the lectionary offers us these luninous readings just before Lent begins.
This Lent in my parishes we are going back to basics, with a sermon series and study groups considering just what it means for us to be "Church" in these communities, so if I were preaching I'd want to say something about the moment when we each of us catch the vision, when we definitively recognise God as God in our own lives...I'd maybe talk about reflected glory transforming our lives...about gifts given and received....

But this morning I'm off to sing at a funeral, for a member of the chamber choir I joined last year to ensure that my own life wasn't completely confined within parish boundaries. So perhaps there's something to be said too about separation - the grief that this brings and also about those who've handed on their faith to us, those who generous spirit has inspired us.

Got to run now, this is a manic day - but will pop in later if I can to see where your discussions take you


  1. I am using the lectionary this week to address the spiritual life of the congregation, corporately and individually. I have been with them for three months, following a drought of attentive clergy leadership. The energy of this community has been focused on survival and stability, and they are just now able to turn that energy to more effective gospel use. I'm not exactly sure how I am going to address this, but the timing is right, and I think the transfiguration offers an opportunity to engage one's faith with gospel encouragement.

  2. Our pastor and his wife are planning to travel out of town this Sunday, so I am preaching/presiding. (Yay!) I want to tell, in some easily accessible way, Plato's story of the Allegory of the Cave, and use that as a talking point -- that what we experience on a day-to-day basis isn't the sum total of reality. I want to point to the Transfiguration as a symbol of hope -- the "rest of the story" behind the stories of our lives and of history. I know in our faith community, hard hit by the recession and by serious illnesses of various kinds, keeping hope alive is something we need to do.

  3. I'm going with a variation on the somewhat common Transfiguration preaching theme that we don't spend all our time on the mountaintop; that we're meant to spend most of our time down at the bottom, fueled by and aware of those mountaintop experiences that we've had.

    Except that I want to make it more gritty and less simplistic than that, even to say that we can have God-experiences without going up the mountain, as the disciples have by this point in Mark through healings and exorcisms.

    Something like that.

  4. I plan to give a nod to the Transfiguration, but not run with it too much. That's partly because as one of those routine token-associate pastor Sundays, I feel sort of Tfig preached out. For those of you who have done all the Sundays for many years, I don't know how you do it. I've just finished my first year of weekly preaching and I already worry about those annual days.

    Anyway, we'll read the Transfiguration passage early in the service to lift it up as a "hinge" Sunday into Lent (love that term I heard on the Sermon Brainwave podcast), but I'm going to preach 2 Kings.

    Not too sure where that's going yet. I hope to have a better idea by this afternoon. My initial thoughts are the idea of picking up the mantle - - the responsibility we all have for carrying on the ministry that our successors in faith have begun and how that can't be done without keeping our eyes and our ministry focused on the whirlwind of God's presence.

    I've done a lot of preaching to the community, talking about what "the church," our church should be about as the Body of Christ. I think it's time for me to get back a little bit to the reminder that "we are individually members of it." I tend to lean away from the individualistic aspects sort of in reaction to a trend that I see too strong in the other direction (it's all about "me and Jesus"). Anyway, I think I need to do some individual energizing, give some of the responsibility to some of the you-singulars that make up the you-plural. It's too easy to hear the you-plural and assume someone else will take the lead and take care of "our" responsibility for "me."

    I digress...Anyway, I'm going 2 Kings and hope to have more complete thoughts a little later today.

  5. I finally got a clue about T-fig and got a guest speaker to come and talk to us about the situation in Zimbabwe (and our synod's connection to the church there). YAY! I will have to do a brief reflection though...something to link T-fig and the speaker. Something about mountaintop experiences inspiring our everyday existence...that would work.

    Just watch, I'll be writing it in the wee hours of Sunday, just like I would with a full sermon...heh!

  6. She Rev, I wonder the same thing. I'm half a year into the solo pastor thing and I wonder what I'll say each year for Tfig, Trinity, Pentecost, etc. those Sundays I got handed as an intern.

    I'm going with Mark this year and thinking about the question "What do you see?" What did the disciples see on the mtntop? What do we see in this story?

  7. I am thinking similarly to She Rev utilizing the Transfiguration as a sort of "hinge" between Epiphany and Lent.

    I am counting Transfiguration as the 1st step into our Lenten journey with Jesus to the Cross. For Jesus and for us, the transfiguration as our 1st step is Remembering --remembering who we are and why we are doing this. I will play on the way the transfiguration resonates back to Jesus' baptism, and enables him to set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem and the cross that awaits him there.

    BTW, The other steps, keyed to the gospel readings throughout Lent, are,
    Step 2 Expect to be tempted
    Step 3 Anticipate Self-denial
    Step 4 Prepare for challenges
    Step 5 Seek Light Instead of Shadow
    Step 6 Live Prepared To Die
    Step 7 [Palm Sunday] Beware Popularity

  8. and I can say with totally unnatural tranquillity, that my Bishop is preaching here on Sunday (both services)...sigh!!

  9. After preaching many a Transf., I too am at a bit of a loss at how to approach it in a fresh way. Instead of recycling an old sermon from my last call (soooo tempting!) I've been thinking about God encounters, those experiences of the holy, how they can be transformative. And how they can lead us to new life and ministry. (the little, sometimes humble "on the mountaintop, then into the valley" experiences)

    I received word yesterday that a woman from my last call who made it to age 99, has died. She was such a role model to me, and such a gift. Her confidence in the Lord, and her simple loving joyful ways have impacted sooooo many people. I think I'm going to talk about her a bit in my sermon. About how so many experienced the holy through her service, and how we were changed for the better by it.

    Man, I wish I could go to her funeral! But I'll be a good pastor and respect boundaries. Sigh.

  10. dear altar ego, I think it IS "drought", actually! as in "not any, and really dry"

  11. Like most of you, I always struggle with these yearly recurring themes. Don't get me started on Doubting Thomas the week after Easter. Six years as an Associate...Anyway. I don't have much in mind for T-fig either. I'm caught, as usual, by Peter's impulsiveness. I may go somewhere with that this year, instead of fighting the urge.

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  13. I don't know yet where I'll go with the lessons. But one of the thoughts drifting around in my mind is those times when we have been transformed--by loss, by a birth, by a retreat, by a new relationship--and we feel like a totally different person...and the rest of the world goes on just the same, as if nothing had happened. How do we live in our new self within an old/business as usual world?

  14. One of the benefits of having PResbytery this weekend (ALL weekend) is that I don't have to preach or lead worship on Sunday.

    OTOH it also means I have a meeting to chair, a discussion about the health of the PResbytery to facilitate, a presentation about GEneral COuncil to help with (and run the election of commissioner nominees), a theological reflection/chair's address to give...

  15. I have been at our local gathering for my denomination in the area.
    I come away tired, discouraged, and uplifted all at the same time.
    More tomorrow on my blog about this.
    But, I am planning on using the
    2 Kings and the gospel passages.
    Great reflections with reference to Lord of the Rings in Xian Century.
    Not sure what else I am doing, but it will hoepfully come together soon.

  16. Well I'm a procrastinator when it comes to the sermon - if I go to bed Saturday night with my sermon done...I feel pretty good so this is awfully early in the week ...

    But I think I'm going to go with the OT text...something along the lines of saying good bye...carrying on the task - like Elisha had to do for Elijah...And I think the transfiguration was a glipse of glory for the disciples to face the gory days ahead when they would have to deal with his death, resurrection but then leaving them again when he ascended...

  17. I'm struck by the words "only Jesus" at the end of verse 8. What does it mean that, after all that glory and light, the Jesus who descended from the mountain was the teacher and friend they'd come to know? Could you ever go back to seeing Jesus as that guy after the Transfiguration? We all know relationships that change when we see a glimpse of people at their best - how does our relationship with Jesus change once we see him in all his glory?

    Just my Thursday thoughts as I sit here at the coffee house pondering the sermon.


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