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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Trust Me" Edition

Lessons for this coming Sunday can be found here

"Trust me." How do you feel when you hear that assurance?

This Sunday's lessons hinge on the concept of trust. God shows up in Abraham's life and promises this elderly man and his childless wife, disappointed by life in many ways, a special covenant; a legacy of countless descendants; a place at the table of the nations. "Trust me." And, it says in Genesis, Abraham did. Paul expands on this trust relationship in our Epistle lesson, expanding that covenantal relationship to all people who trust in God's saving power.

In Psalm 22 the Psalmist clings to trust in God against all odds.

In our Gospel lesson Peter seems to have "rock-solid" faith in Jesus as the Messiah -- but as Peter starts objecting to Jesus' sobering predictions of what will happen to him in Jerusalem, Jesus' rebuke suggests that Peter's faith is grounded in his own expectations of the Messiah, not in Jesus. What are the limits of our trust?

What are your thoughts on the lessons, as you study, pray, plan and write your way into worship this week?


  1. I have been thinking about the end of the gospel reading, giving up life etc. I found some wonderful stories of people who have deliberately made the decision to step down the ladder of success and dedicate their lives and resources to those who don't even know there is a ladder - Scott Neeson, Jean Vanier and Rajiv Vinnakota (all from The Life of Meaning by Bob Abernathy). Their stories are inspiring but I am struggling with the fact that before they gave up their lives, they lived really wealthy lives! Still trying to figure out if this speaks to my congregation, none of whom are or will be wealthy most likely.

  2. I am preaching this Sunday at my teaching parish, using the gospel text. Thank you.

  3. I am continuing talk of covenant and staying in Genesis.
    I had silly giggles last night as I read Texts for Preaching B.
    Writing on the Genesis text, Brueggeman makes reference to the "inital ejaculation."
    This is funny since we are talking about a 99 yr old man who is gonna get his 90 yrd old wife knocked up!
    Inital ejaculation!!!!
    yes, I am twelve years old today (even during Lent!)!

  4. I'm going with the gospel again this week. The exchange of "rebukes" between Peter and Jesus has intrigued me. I don't know where that will take me, but it's my starting place.

  5. Thanks LutheranChik - a new take that I hadn't thought of. Trust.

    I have had the song by Switchfoot "This is Your Life" in my head since I read the readings last night, not sure why. I have been thinking about names, and what names mean, and how our lives/our names are no longer our own when we give them up to God, as Jesus asks us to do in the gospel. It isn't really our life anymore, then...

    Very unformed, but there are my thoughts!

  6. As my congregation and I are journeying together with Jesus to the cross, this week we're taking step 3: anticipate self-denial.

    I will be making a case for self-denial as the essence of faithful christian discipleship ... and how in losing our lives they are ultimately saved.

    Thanks, Margaret for those examples. I also thought of St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi ... of course, they were initially wealthy too.

    FWIW, Wealth, like poverty, is a relative thing. The issue is not our wealth or our poverty, but how we cling to one or the other instead of what we're supposed to be clinging to. I think I have read somewhere that, even in religious communities where a vow of poverty is required, people have to fight their own tendancy to hoard little things like pencils.

    Of course, another trap to avoid in this topic is how self-denial is expected of some people, but not others, and how that lends itself to some nasty power dynamics ...

    But I'm still in the very beginnings of my prep, soooo ... who knows what will happen.

  7. BTW, if you aren't familiar with The Global Rich list website, you may find it useful someday.

    I plugged in my PT salary of 26K and discovered that I am among the wealthiest %10 in the entire world ... DH and I together are in the wealthiest 1%.

    It also reminds us of how expensive it is to live in the US as compared to some other places.

  8. At my lectionary group this morning, we talked about the whole divine vs. worldly things idea, and a colleague mentioned that in times of economic crisis, church attendance goes DOWN. In other kinds of crisis, such as after 9/11, it goes UP. I wondered about this: if you fear for your life, you go to church; if you fear for your lifestyle, you don't? Chewing on that.

  9. Hi, I lurk here a lot ... first time posting.

    If you want other examples of folks who weren't wealthy, Greg Mortenson ("Three Cups of Tea") lived out of his car when he began trying to build a school in Nepal. The entire village of Le Chambon in France during WWII saved thousands of Jews. Clarence Jordan founded Koinonia Farm in Georgia ...

  10. Margaret and Kit, these may be just what I need to fill out my sermon. I gave the bare bones version this morning in a very impromptu way - deny,cross, follow. Thanks for your help!

  11. I'm working with the gospel reading and a title (Journey to the Cross: Humble Steps)...not sure where I thought I was headed with that.

    I'm torn between emphasizing the divine vs worldly (I like your insight on that, Songbird) or sticking with deny, cross, follow.

    I guess what I mean is, my leanings this Tuesday are barely perceptible!

    Blessings on your preparations, all!

  12. Don't forget that it's also the switch to daylight savings time!

    We are using that as a jumping off point and our whole worship service is going to be energetic - I'm not letting anyone have an excuse that they are too tired to come!

    I was trying to figure out how to balance the very difficult calling from our gospel and finally figured out that the theme for our service will be "double dog dares." God dared Abraham, even at the age of 99 to walk with him and be BLAMELESS, Paul dares his followers to have faith, and Jesus dares us to take up our crosses and follow.

    We are closing with the dare to dance... as in Lord of the Dance.. and my hope is we will get the whole congregation up and moving!

    I'm still stuck on children's ideas.

  13. Wow, Songbird - that's an interesting observation on fearing for your life vs. your lifestyle. I am going to run with the ideas in the Christian Century about this text - that "Get behind me, Satan" is something you could only say to a good friend!

  14. I'm going with both Gen and gospel - and talking something about the significance of names. When we enter into relationship with God, how are we changed by it? Not much so far - I'm alwasy so impressed by you folk who are working with a full outline at this time of the week.

    KZ: thanks for the reminder about DST - eeek, so early!

    A little off topic: Thinking about Palm Sunday Communion and would like it to honor the Passover (I know some churches do this on Thursday night, but that is not our tradition here). Anyone have a good communion liturgy for Palm/ Passion Sunday that you would like to share? Thanks!

  15. Thanks for the reminder katie! It is in our newsletter, but I need to remind folks by e-mail and phone calls. we take no prisoners and we take no excuses!

  16. Songbird, that is an interesting thing to chew on --when we fear for our lives, we go to church; when we fear for our lifestyles we don't ...

    Maybe when we fear fo our lifestyles, we go to work instead?

    Kit, I appreciate those additional examples you provided ... and thanks all for such good thoughts.

  17. I love the fear for your life/lifestyle thing, SB, thanks for that! Though I do also wonder if people don't go to church in an economic crisis out of guilt? they can't/don't want to give $$ but churches stereotypically ask for it...or they don't feel they can let the offering plate go by...or something like that? protecting their $$....which fits in the same theme, really. So I guess that wasn't a "but"!

  18. I'm preaching to one of my congregations who are mainly 70 years plus, but who have had to cope with one of our most active members having a big op & two of our younger members (ONLY in their 40s!) leaving soon. Suddenly everyone is taking on new work - and this morning I've visited a lady of 80 ish (I don't ask too closely) who is getting over a knee replacement herself, who has agreed to become an elder.
    Abraham wasn't the only one asked to do a new thing at an advanced age - isn't it exciting that God is still doing that!
    I want to link this to the gospel with trusting means we don't always know what the whole deal is (Peter hadn't got it yet, had he, but he continued to follow).

    If we have children there (unlikely but they like to catch me out!) I'll tell them that you can stand on a box of 6 eggs without breaking them if you ise a board to spread the pressure. Then invite one of them to do it - and ask them how they feel (pretty apprehensive I should think). It should work: it may not - it certainly demonstrates trust: and for the doubters they can choose on of the eggs afterwards & crack it to show they are NOT hard-boiled! Scrambled egg for preacher's lunch!

  19. Does anyone else have to figure out a way to incorporate Girl Scout Sunday into this mix? I'm new in my congregation, they sponsor 9 troops but have never interacted with the scouts they host. So the girls from the troops will be leading all the liturgy with me.
    But for the sermon...I've switched out Genesis for the Isaiah 58 'is this not the fast that I choose--to feed the hungry, etc.' text and am also working with the gospel. Can't skip that story--but it's hard to preach 'get behind me Satan' to daisy scouts.
    I'm thinking about connecting the call to take up our cross with Isaiah's description of a new kind of fasting with the girl scout law and a way of living that's so counter to mass media messages of what girlhood/womanhood ought to be. I'd like to say that the key to discipleship living is to deny the self--and that's a gift, b/c a 'self-centered' life leads to such feelings of unworthiness for all people--but esp. girls/women. An the Isaiah fast gives us a recipe for cross bearing--and that if our lives were truly cross-centered as opposed to self-centered...then they'd be pretty well recession-proof wouldn't they?


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