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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Unforgettable Fire Edition

Lessons for the coming Sunday can be found here .

What do the Holy Spirit and a charcoal grill have in common?

I thought about that yesterday as we made Memorial Day dinner on a park grill; I watched the initial rush of flame shoot into the air as we lit our charcoal; then the rhythmic dance of flickering "tongues"; finally the warm orange glow illuminating the whitened coals.

On Pentecost we celebrate that first dramatic rush of the Holy Spirit onto the infant Christian community. But in our other lessons we hear about the other, quieter ways in which the Spirit moves.

How will you help your faith community "catch the fire" this Sunday? Please share your insights as you plan, pray and write your way toward Sunday.

(Artwork from Episcopal Cafe' -- check out the art blog!)


  1. Okay, not exactly off-topic, but maybe off-lectionary: if you need a bit of amusement to get your intellectual juices going, try this!(Cakewrecks just did a feature on cakes that attempt to look like grills, with uncertain results!)

    And then there's the story of Saint Lawrence. According to a truly awful children's book in my collection, he teaches us that saints "can have a sense of humour" because, as he was being martyred on a grill, he is said to have joked, "turn me over; I think I'm done on this side."

    Um... sorry. I suspect neither of these items really contribute to this week's conversation. I'll stop now before I further ember-ous anyone, burn myself out, or get knocked out coaled.

  2. ugh, grilled Saint.

    We're having a combined service of the 3 congregations that use our building. We'll have parts of the service in Spanish, Cambodian, and English. Each preacher gets 5 minutes on the Acts 2 passage. I'm the 'clean-up batter'. We're also having lots of music by congregation and out choirs. Then we'll stuff ourselves with picnic and ethnic foods. What a Pentecost Celebration to really bring the church together!
    Now if the Stewards will just let the other congregations have a sign - or is it the county?

  3. Hey! We have big celebration plans with kids involved.
    I am preaching the Dry Bones text! Trying to be different. Is anybody else using Ezek?

  4. I love it, MaineCelt! Humor is rarely off-topic in my book.

    LC, this was an interesting take on things. Of course, the best cooking fire is the warm, steady bed of coals - the initial flames don't cook nearly as well, though they look spectacular. Methinks this is going to be an ongoing thought for the week.

  5. We've got confirmation this Sunday, so one of the students is preaching...this should be interesting! I get to hear her practice it on Wednesday, and do some appropriate editing (she was disappointed that she couldn't just talk about the wacky confirmation memories, and has to also actually address the topic of Pentecost). I'm so glad scheduling worked out, so that we can have confirmation on Pentecost - come Holy Spirit!

  6. I'm in Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones also 1-4. It's confirmation Sunday here, so I'll be tying into that and hope to end with the two confirmands reading their joint statement of faith.

  7. OK but the only thing the tongues (mouth-meat) had in common with fire in the text is that they were "divided." Think split or forked, like a snake's. Now that's something to preach on!

  8. Back to Saint Lawrence: he was my seminary football team's patron saint (yes, we had a football team, to play other equally challenged seminaries) because he was...roasted on the gridiron :-D

    Need to figure out what to do with kids and families for Pentecost that I haven't done before. No ideas yet.

  9. I have no idea where I am going with the texts this Sunday - but, we are celebrating as if it were a birthday party (think birthday of the Church) with hot dogs, chips, and birthday cake and the youth are washing cars. Maybe birthday parties and forked tongues and grills will lead to something?

    sigh. But thanks for the humor!

  10. First time post-er, here goes nothing...
    Initial questions on Acts 2,
    What is the church supposed to look like? A hodge podge of randomness. Ethnic diversity, young, old, male, female, slave all prophesying, challenging the status quo. What does Pentecost mean when our congregation looks pretty much the same? What spirit-filled activity in the church would make our eyes pop?

  11. We have a 'coming together of congregations' too: 7 churches of 2 different denominations, who are exploring how to work together across 5 villages. After all that complicated maths, I want to preach on unity in diversity - many tongues, many different people and different walks of life (and in Ezekiel many bones come together in one army) BUT - one Church, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Spirit...

    And to spice it all up a bit - lots of lusty singing, children with streamers as the Acts reading is read, and a walk of witness to one of the other churches, followed by fizzy wine.

    Now I'd better go and organise that lot!
    Thanks for the sharing, which helped me get enthused.

  12. Hmmm...ok, I realize that not all thoughts need to be expressed but this just came to me...

    Acts 2 as Birthday celebration - as children, we love birthdays and all that goes with them. But many adults, especially as they get older, don't want to be reminded that they are aging...they try to minimize birthday celebrations.

    Has the church/body become closed off to the Holy Spirit in this way? Do we sneer as though they are drunk? Do we care more about maintaining an image of control than about receiving and using the power of God's Spirit in our lives?

    Have I just not had enough coffee yet? lol

  13. mainecelt - that IS horrible, but in a funny way.

    Hi Sunrise and welcome and thanks for the comment.

    and revsis, I love thinking about birthdays in this way.

    and...I still got nothing, but I'm trusting in the Spirit on this one!!

  14. Great questions Sunrise!!!
    Any answers yet? Actually, the questiosn themself would be a great sermon and then perhaps have a story to illustrate true pentecost

  15. I'm doing the "Dry Bones" text-- maybe calling the sermon "Left for Dead?" My idea right now is to talk about the ways that God refuses to leave us for dead, but rather brings us up to newness of life.
    I also (and I'm still working this out) want to have some sort of "light the fire" ceremony--where people recognize the ways they have become dried out, dusty old bones, and then dare to dream about the ways that God might be bringing them, as well as our church, to newness of life. I'm also wrestling with the idea of making Pentecost a season (advent, Christmas, and Lent are all season...why not Pentecost?!?) I'm tempted to start a prayer campaign, and ask people to make earnest attempts at praying daily for the Holy Spirit to reawaken us--and see if they will help me hold Pentecost through at least June.
    There's still a lot of fleshing out to do, but I've definitely seen the work of the HS in our church lately, and I'd like for people to spend some time with that thought.

  16. In our first manse the gas furnace was often acting up. One morning it was cold and so I opened up the door where it was and looked to see if the pilot light was on. It was in with one huge flame it came out toward me.
    I was scared but not burned. We had to turn it off and have it fixed as that was not good.
    I looked in the mirror a few hours later. My eyelash and part of my eyelashes were burned.
    Confronted with the fire... I pray it is the Spirit..

  17. Response to RevSis is the church too closed off to the spirit.
    No... as long as the spirit is finished with us before 12 and we can beat the other church folk to lunch... ha

  18. Bobbie, I love your comment about beating the other church folk to lunch! Are we closed off to the Holy Spirit because we'll just suffer through that hour of worship so that we can have social time with our friends, too? I sometimes think that we're all too busy being "nice and good" to be open to the Holy Spirit moving in and around us.

  19. I remember hearing that, in the medieval Church, they would send little choirboys way up into the nosebleed section of the top of the cathedral on Pentecost, have them set pieces of straw on fire and drop them. The idea was that the congregation would look up and see tongues of flame descending...and hopefully they burned out before they reached the faithful assembly! I love the idea, however impractical.

    Things I HAVE seen and heard, in the way of delightful Pentecost fun: hand out all kinds of different bells for people to ring and/or have the youngest children process through the church with a tall ribbon-bedecked pole. The ribbons should be fire-colours and they look wonderful as they dance and swoop and flutter about.

  20. Praise God for Sunrise's first post! I was drawing a BLANK on Pentecost, but you got me going. Thank you! My question that comes from yours - - - what would make 'em think we're drunk?

    I sort of wish I was in campus ministry so I feel like I could get away with asking the question just like that in worship, but I'll figure out how to do what I'm thinking.

    Essentially, though, the crowds thought they were off their rockers because of everything that was going on, what they were saying, or the language they were saying it in. What would it take for us to shock the world around us so much they wouldn't know what to think about it? I read an article from the newspaper that a member gave me a couple of months ago. Never got around to reading it until today. It's nothing too new for those of us who read such things. Basically, many in the general population are becoming disillusioned with the church from all the in-fighting, bickering, and publicized hypocrisy. So if that's what they're expecting from us, what could we say, what language could we speak that would be a sign of the Spirit moving among? It would take something they'd never even imagine we can do based on what they're used to seeing or at least wht they expect.

    Anyway, that's the general idea of the question. The answer? I'll dig through the texts to see what our response should be. Inclusivity seems to be a direction to go. I'll play around a little more tomorrow to see where I end up. Basically, the opposite of the messages the world is sending. It's my start!

    Thanks Sunrise! Come back lots!!!! :)

  21. RevSis - - I do think you can go somewhere with the birthday stuff. I like it a lot!!!!

  22. Have just returned from a momentous General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. It was a difficult, sad, disturbing and encouraging week(which actually I can't tell you about - officially urged not to speak about it) but the most wonderful glorious moment came when Archbishop Desmond Tutu addressed the Assembly on Wednesday morning. As I approach this Pentecost I have in mind all that he said about what it means to be the Church, "We are family...we only call one person Father...all are welcome, all...and God says to us each one 'I need you...Help me'. I am not too good at bloggin or commenting yet but I am trying to give the link for Archbishop Tutu's words, if it doesnt work it can be found on the Church of Scotland site. <“”> like underthesteeple I think I will go with the dry bones, and the renewal of the whole church. The GA could have been likened to a valley of dry bones until wednesday morning when Desmond Tutu called us to rise up to find new life and understanding, and to be in truth and in action the church of our Lord.

  23. Obviously didn't do this right - can anyone tell me how to include links?

  24. I'm an old lady preacher who's preaching for the first time since moving to Asia in January... and to a congregation of mostly women who work as domestic helpers here. I am musing about 1) language learning and how d. difficult it is (but these women speak at a minimum two and most of them three languages everyday)So anyway, the miracle of Acts is really vivid to me, as I am humbled twice a week by my Cantonese classes...
    and 2) I'm thinking about talking about the "love language" thing, you know, some people respond to gifts, others to words, touch, practical help... when you think about it Jesus did a pretty good job of doing ALL of them, but who's going to be doing them now that he's taken off in the Ascension? The Spirit-filled Church! So we get to do all those things, but also receive them from one another. OK be honest, what do you think???

  25. whoops, I didn't mean to be anonymous

  26. I too have been thinking about the 'ascension = body of Christ is gone' and then Pentecost = shock news - body of Christ is HERE - in all of us! ' moment. Thanks marathonangel.


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