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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Lectionary Leanings - Incomprehensible Edition

This week, of course, is the one when preachers everywhere try hard to book a visiting preacher....
The week when the Athanasian Creed, with its proclamation of
"The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible..." seems to be crying out for the rider
"the whole darned thing incomprehensible"
And yet...And yet..
Trinity Sunday.
God in relationship...inviting us in.
So, where to go?
The texts themselves are here
I shall be at the ordination of priests in our Cathedral on Saturday afternoon, so have a strong inclination to look at call, response and readiness ("woe is me") in the light of Isaiah 6.......and maybe, just maybe, to try and recover some sense of the enormity of the God whom we love and serve. I work so hard to help people lose their fear of God that I wonder sometimes if we're in danger of losing sight of the awe and majesty Isaiah describes so wonderfully...

But against that we have, of course, dear Nicodemus - a closet Christian and, like many, given to doing his best thinking at night. I'm certain he had been tossing and turning for a while before reaching the conclusion that drove him from his bed like some theological Archimedes leaping from the bath
"Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God"
It would be tempting to rehabilitate the concept of being "born again", which here in the UK at least has such strong associations with a particular theology that it's hard to use it in mainstream try and reconsider the radical disjunction there should be between lives lived in Christ and life without Him.
Here, the Spirit is the midwife of new birth...but poor Nicodemus remains baffled...
"how can these things be"
We're back to the incomprehensible once more!
What a blessing, then, that we have that rock of a verse to offer our congregations - the one to cling to when theology defeats us, when old sins seem determined to halt new birth.
Perhaps, on Trinity Sunday that message of the Father's love seen in the mission of the Son will carry the clearest message
"For God so loved the world...."
Not the church, mind you...nor "people like us"...the world
Goodness, I almost wish I were preaching!
How 'bout you?


  1. I am not dealing with the Trinity. I am leaping off from Nicodemus' question about rebirth to ask what re-birth the SPirit might have in hand for us. I plan to refer back to Ezekiel in teh valley from last week and teh question "can these bones live?" (I will be telling the Ezekiel story for Children's Time so if anyone has an easy way to tell that story to 6 and unders...)

    My early thoughts can be found here

  2. haha, book a visiting pastor - that's what I'm doing. We have our Synod Assembly this weekend.

    What I WOULD have focused on is what the Trinity says about community. Even God doesn't want to be alone.

  3. After being inspired by Adam Hamilton at Festival of Homies, I am beginning a 4 week sermon series. Side note: I have NEVER done a sermon series because I do not like them.
    So, over the month of June I will be looking at the Gospel text each week alongside a news story from the week.Barth said we should have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Going with that premies, we will take a different story each week which will be presented by a "live" news anchor. One congrgant is a former radio DJ and will do this quite well.
    So, this week it is Nicodemus.
    Great opening thoughts from across the pond!

  4. Thanks Kathryn for those thoughts - wonderful! And for the rest of you as well, stirring my homiletical juices...
    I, though, with encouragement from Walter Brueggemann, also from a talk he gave at the Festical, am spending the month of June with the Psalms - I've never preached a series, either, 1-4, or restricted myself to a particular text, especially a Psalm, but we'll see how it goes. 1-4, your idea sounds fantastic! I want to be there to hear it!

  5. For Festical read Festival, as in Festival of Homies...sorry!

  6. Whined a little about Trinity Sunday over at my place. Definitely nothing profound, but just needed to get that off my chest. Not a fan of this one in the liturgical year since it makes for weird preaching in my book.

    I plan to ignore Trinity Sunday for the most part, as Gord also said, and run with Nicodemus, rebirth, baptism, something. Not sure at all yet. Baptism might bring me back to Trinity in my own head, but I don't want to feel obligated to get there. We'll see.

    LOVE the series idea 1-4, especially the news anchor reading/interp of scripture. Will you write that for the reader or will he/she write that for himself/herself? I guess I was assuming that the Bible story would also be presented news anchor style, not just the news-news story. You've given me a fun idea to tuck away, that's for sure!

  7. My prayers are with you, MumPriest, on the Psalms. I did the Psalms in Lent last year which was a challenge, but a good one. It DEFINITELY helps to make up an original audience to go with them, sort of who was singing this in the first place.

  8. I am dealing with the Trinity only tangentially. I'm riffing off the hymn "Holy, Holy Holy" which is one of the hymns listed in our hymnal for Trinity Sunday, but doesn't really say much about the mysterious concept of trinity.

    I'm planning to talk about living a life of holiness--what does that really mean? People sometimes do very bad things in the name of "holiness"--even murder in the name of holiness.

  9. Cheese- wow, you will be speaking from the heart this week. Not that you normally don't, but think it will be more so.
    And thanks to you girls (and guys)! Had not thougth of the scripture being a news story too. But that would be way cool!
    I'm meeting the news anchor for dinner tonight (japanesse restaurant on the lake here!)
    Anyhow, taking all my texts and such to her to play with.

  10. Thanks SheRev - that is a very good point...I am off to the NIB now to determine just that!

  11. John 3 16 it seems too often used as a you 'belong' to and at the same time one you are 'outside' of... and then there's the club as it is used to beat up all others who don't belong like we all do..

    or do we
    My sermon title is "life savers"
    Jesus is the rock of my salvation... his banner over me is love.
    So then let nothing hold you back.

  12. I like the news story idea also, thanks for the future use that I will make of it.
    We have communion this sunday which isn't an every week thing for us so I'm going to work with trinity and our experiences of God that are not and cannot be limited to the mind but must go to the heart and body to really experience the Holy One. Dunno exactly how it will come out but we'll see.

  13. Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty has been one of my favorite songs since I was in high school. Can't remember why but have very vivid memories of turning to #1 in the old red Presbyterian hymnal.

    I'm going with Isaiah and the trinity theme. Three-fold response to the presence of God. Awe, Humility, Service.

  14. Gord, last week I was toying with using the Ezekiel passage with our kids and families. In the end, I didn't, but the idea that came to me in a vague way was borrowing my son's small (10"?) plastic glow in the dark skeleton and having it in pieces, then getting the kids to help me put it together while considering how the bones are all different and have different roles. Wondering with them that all those unique parts go together to make something as amazing as a body. Maybe an idea there for you?

  15. I've got a guest preacher! Hurrah! That gives me one more year before attempting to tackle Trinity Sunday. I am preaching in the evening, starting a series (5-6 sermons) on the book of Jonah. Ah, how I love that crazy nutter. If God could use him. . .well, it ought to be a comfort to preachers everywhere!

  16. Having been the visiting preacher for the last three years, I decreed I was not available for this Sunday, this year.

  17. Even on Thursday, I'm struggling with all the lessons, but had to choose the one with the, for me, hardest message. My struggles with Romans are here

    Comments are most welcome.

  18. My initial thoughts - on the gospel - are here. Hopefully, dodging the Trinity.


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