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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Spring Cleaning Edition

Lectionary texts for this coming Sunday can be found here .

Are you suffering from the heartbreak of Schmutz and clutter in your soul? Hard to find God in the middle of all that? Our lessons provide, in their own ways, some "Scrub...rinse...repeat."

Our Old Testament lesson gives us some basic housekeeping rules for maintaining a decent, balanced life -- for loving God and loving our neighbor. So easy -- yet so hard. the Law a good thing or a bad thing? Anyone planning on tackling that topic on Sunday?

Our Psalm extols the virtues of the Law, putting it on par with the rest of the created order. Again -- especially for those of us who grew up with a mostly negatively skewed concept of "uses of the Law" -- what does this say to us?

In our epistle lesson, Paul is doing some housekeeping of his own, scrubbing at human expectations of how God should be operating in the world, and instead pointing to the folly, the ridiculousness, of the Cross as the ultimate wisdom of God.

And of course in our Gospels Jesus sweeps out the Temple, where the originally pious act of moneychanging -- ensuring that the faithful's gifts were ritually clean -- had developed a life of its own, one that created barriers to true worship. Are there any areas of Christian life today that need this kind of extreme makeover because they're messing up our house and making it hard for us to be good hosts and guides for people being led into a new or renewed relationship with God?

The fact that I'm writing this in between scrubbing down my bathroom and carpet-cleaning the "front parlor" may be playing into my own thematic framework for our lessons. Maybe you're going in a whole 'nother direction. Wherever you feel you're headed with the texts, let us know what you're thinking as you prepare for Sunday!


  1. i've been reading the commentary from Feasting on the Word (love it!) and resonate with the idea of Gospel of paradox. the reversals of the gospel lead us directly to our churches and how they might need to be "cleaned out".

    a good friend of mine says greatness or success (sorry, i'm stretching for his exact word here) is underwhelming.

    for example, Marcia McFee is an amazing worship leader, designer, theologian, etc. and yet her church only has 25 people. how often do we expect something fantabulous out of a person or place that we've respected or idolized only to find them small like us?

    this part about human wisdom and goals being folly has gotten me thinking about how we in the church too often define success. i'm sick and tired of hearing how to grow a megachurch. yes, i want to share the gospel with as many folks as possible but i also hope to be there as they struggle and grow in it, rather than shoving them off to some small group.

    now i'm ranting--sorry. i definately need to get my thoughts streamlined, but that's where i'm at right this minute.

    peace and blessings

  2. hey LC! Thnaks. Now I have a sermon title and a springboard to go from.
    Extrem Makeover: Bible Edition.
    Or maybe Christian Edition...
    Hmmm. Oh, now I am not sure.
    Byt, love the idea of proposign idea of our own needs to clean up areas of our own life.
    Very good work!

  3. Oh and since a church lady is coming over to do facials on a couple of us fridya, I need to do soem clenaign of my own. Ugh

  4. I'm structuring worship around the psalm.
    The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God; The Teaching of the Lord is perfect; The Fear of the Lord is pure; The lord is our rock and redeemer. My meditation will be in the teaching section called "Sweeter Than Honey" and prayer will be in the "Fear" section and an affirmation from WCC resources at the end "Rock" section.
    Not sure where I'm going w/honey but sure it will be 'sweet'. (groan)

  5. oh we are didactic this week... working on those 10 commandments... yikes. the sermon is looooong... there will be much tweakage needed.

  6. uh part of the tweakign is scrapping my intro - too long and i think it's a story i've used before... anyhoo i'm using yours LC and saying something like, a friend of mine in ministry wrote this...

    some days i just don't have the intro-mojo.

  7. I've just come from a day of a gathering of clergy in our diocese who are in new, or relatively new calls. We spent some amazingly fruitful time on a "critical incident" presented by one of our colleagues, and it made me extremely mindful of how much human need and agenda, conscious or otherwise, is running just below the surface. That, in turn, has me thinking about the nature of parish ministry in a new light.

    In the midst of so much upheaval and change in the world, the local and global experience looks a lot like the chaos that follows Jesus turning over the table in the temple. Tables are being turned all around us by forces beyond our control and understanding. How can we see this as opportunity rather than threat?

    My congregation needs to spend some time looking at the underside of its own table, and depending on what it learns, get the table back up in an intentional setting with a fresh understanding of its purpose. At least that is what I am mulling over for Sunday.

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  9. I don't know yet where I'm going on Sunday, but I sure appreciate the thoughts shared here; they have my mind bouncing in productive directions, as opposed to something more resembling an echo chamber!

    As a parent who has lost her cool plenty of times, I now react to Jesus in the temple with a sense of "Boy, do I know that feeling!" Doesn't God get totally fed up with us sometimes? But we are still loved and get another (and another and another and another...) chance to start again and try to do a bit better in the next round.

  10. This week I plan to tell the congregation that we are part of a sick society.

    I think we all have consumption, no not TB but the a dis-ease where we believe we need to have/consume more and more. After all, remember at the beginning of the war on terror when USans were told by their PResident that the best thing they could do for the war effort was get out there and buy buy buy? Even now the supposed cure for the recession is to get people out there buying new houses/cars/consumer goods to kick start the economy.

    This serves as a transition week in my stewardship series. Week 1 was on creation, week 3 will be on cash as tool or scorecard. This week links the two. Check out my early thoughts here.

  11. I taught deacons school yesterday afternoon, the Reformation this month. Luther and Calvin both got tied in knots about Law, kinds of law, uses of law, etc. I think I'll talk about the law as freeing us rather than tying us down. And I think Luther's response to the peasants' revolt just might play into the gospel for me but I'm not sure how.

  12. Thanks Hot Cup Lutheran for your phrase 'intro mojo': it often leaves me, too, but I didn't know what to call it before! Often write a sermon & then have to go back to 'where to start?' - now I'll pray for intro mojo!!

    I'm thinking along the lines of barriers to God: the law, meant as a way into relationship with God, can become a barrier when we fall into the 'earning God's love' trap; the temple precincts, meant as the court of the gentiles, is over-run with people wanting to turn a profit; Jesus comes to remove barriers & restore relationship. So what blocks us from God? and how can Jesus help us?

    Not sure how to answer my last questions, though!

  13. I'm focusing on the epistle lesson and the foolishness of the cross. Will give me a chance to explore some atonement theology with the congregation, especially since they don't do a Good Friday service.

    (too hard to get people out for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, so the cross gets cut in favor of the agape meal)

  14. This is actually my first Sunday preaching this Lent since I was on a youth mission trip for the last two weeks. Back in February I declared our Lent theme to be "Giving in to God" with no real plan of how that would play out except that we would go without paper bulletins during worship. I also hoped to get to a few creative things during worship, including maybe introducing some different prayer practices (maybe breath prayers or finger labyrinths, esp since we will be constructing one this spring/summer).

    Anyway, in the end I decided to play around with the lectionary a bit, using it some weeks, but not others and using it a little looser than I might usually. Mostly, I want to talk each week about a different spiritual discipline that can/should be a part of "giving in to God."

    Springing slightly off of the 10 Commandments reading this week I plan to talk about Sabbath-keeping. This not being one of my better spiritual practices myself, we'll see how it goes. I imagine this will be more teaching than preaching, but I think I'll be OK with that.

    Next week I'm going to go back to I Sam. 3 that was in the lectionary a few weeks ago and do an interactive listening "experiment"/meditation that I designed a few weeks ago for worship that I led at a conference then did again with the youth on the mission trip last week. We'll talking about listening for God's call, being attentive to the Spirit.

    The next week I hope to have some of the youth from out ecumenical youth ministry to help me preach about serving others.

    I think Palm Sunday will be about corporate worship.

    Our Lent Small Groups are working with materials I've written based on Bonhoeffer's Life Together. Sort of giving in to God by giving yourself over to life in Christian community.

    That's the basic idea. Any previous sermons/thoughs on Sabbath-keeping would be greatly appreciated as I go forward this week. This is the one I'm most unsure of, but we'll see where I go with it!

  15. Love the thoughts about redefining success revcrystalk. I was drawn to this text, too, this week, and might use it as supplemental to my talk about Sabbath keeping - - God's plans for the use of our time certainly sound like folly compared to the world's ideas!!!

  16. SheRev, there is a place that does work on spirituality and sabbath, including a sermon contest. I didn't have time to find everything you would probably want, but you can start looking here and see if they have anything that might be useful. Good luck!


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