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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lectionary leanings - storm tossed edition

The texts this week are here
I'm emulating a headless chicken today, with meetings and appointments pretty well non stop, so apologies for a skeletal offering.

"Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt
Fightings and fears within, without
O Lamb of God, I come"

This week is all about huge questions, left unanswered til the time was right....questions about the majestic power of God in creation...questions before which we, like Job, can only stand silent.
But then the answer arrives, in the shape of Jesus...and seems to leave us with even more questions.
As we watch the storms of life hit our friends and families hard, as we watch helplessly reports of natural disasters and tragedies in many corners of the world, I guess there are many of us who would want to shout at God
And perhaps Jesus's answer is not a huge help...but it is the same one that was offered to Job centuries before.
Everything IS under control. We may be battered and bruised, we may be fast running out of faith, but there is a small, solid pebble of reality in which we can trust
"He said not 'Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased'; but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome." (Julian of Norwich)

That's the way my thoughts are leading least, in these few hurried moments. Over to you, to wonder and ponder...


  1. I'm not preaching this week, but I'm butting in to say that I cannot wait to read everyone's offerings. This is one of my all-time favorite stories. I remember being sustained through a very rough period-- with joy, even-- my spending a lot of time by the ocean, remembering this scene.

  2. Thank you for that Julian of Norwich quote!

  3. I've found some wonderful insight by Boring and Craddock in People's NT Commentary. (similar themes elsewhere tho) about relationship of disciples cry for help to PS. 44:23-44, 35:23, 59:4.
    The Greek indicates they expect a positive response, eg Jesus DOES care. I also may play w-the idea that B&C mention; "Why are you afraid" is God's challenge to humanity. (again and again) maybe a worship that alternates between the cry and assurance.

  4. I am going with the storm on the lake and trust and faith. And I may work in DAvid and GOliath too (trust and faith again).

    In the midst of life's storms (of which there seem to be many fierce ones recently) what is our response? What is God's response?

    You can find my early thoughts here

  5. Longtime lurker posting a comment here for the first time. My denomination is, like many others, on the cusp of working through the issue of same gender unions and ordination of homosexuals. Talk about a storm abrewin'! I like Rev. Nancy's idea of questioning "why are we afraid?" I'm also considering exploring what role we each might have in the coming storm: whipper upper (inciter)? calm-er (mediator)? ostrich (hider)?

  6. Be not perplexed be not afraid everything passes God does not change. Catherine of Sienna

    Once when I was in transition between jobs I had a conversation with Jesus about this and him in the boat and for true I felt I was drowning... Jesus kindly told me... I invited you into the boat I am with you in the boat You are safe do not fear...

  7. I'm working with the David and Goliath text mostly, but the theme is similar to Gord's - trust and faith. I'm leaning toward something that says God doesn't see ANY of us as the "little guy" (ie David) - and that none of us is as helpless and lost in the storms of life as we may feel. It's all a matter of perspective, which is, admittedly, difficult to see when the storm is whipping up around us.

    The other angle I was looking at is that faith itself is an act of courage. David, for all his quirks and human faults, put on that suit of armor and faced off with the greatest monster of them all, knowing that God was with him. That strikes me as either really foolish or really courageous. I think courageous will preach better, yes?

  8. the girl who has the worst time with titles came up with a cheesey one for this week--don't worry be faithful. i know--boohiss, it's terrible!

    "feasting on the word" had some helpful commentary about Jesus not telling them there is nothing to be afraid of, but rather be not afraid--I am with you. the commentator made a great comparison to mom's telling their kids there isn't a monster under the bed/closest/whatever. Jesus does not dismiss our fears, they are real and valid but we are not alone and God is with us. that's where i'm going with the sermon this week.

  9. I'm totally torn about what to preach. My lectionary group won't meet until Thursday, so I still have time to gather my thoughts. I love the story of David and Goliath, but I mostly love building the arc of the David cycle, and that won't be in the cards for me this year. I think it might be wiser to focus on the gospel instead.

  10. I too liked the Feasting on the Word bit about be not afraid vs. there is nothing to be afraid of.

    I'm leading with David and Goliath and thinking about the question, what does it mean to have strength, where does strength come from?

  11. There's an article in a recent New Yorker that talks about the David/Goliath "phenomenon" aka the full-court press against a superior force. Lots of preachable lessons about how we deal with the things that scare us, like conflict, antagonism, hostility. This week' sermon may also lean on Ed Friedman (may he rest in peace) and his book "A Failure of Nerve".
    The moral is, don't fight the big guy by the big guy's rules.

  12. Well, nobody showed up for text study today - I think the summer laid back vibe has hit - and so no great thoughts were shared today. I'm starting a series on faith practices, and the one for this Sunday is Encouragement & Christian Relationships. How we all can be supported and lifted by God through our brothers and sisters in faith (and how we do the supporting). I think Jesus in the boat will speak well to this. AT least I'm optimistic at this point, early in the week! (We'll see if desperation and despair hit later)

  13. Sue, courage to trust IS foolish- to the world.

  14. Hmm. David and Goliath. Father's Day and the book I'm reading, "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow. Can I put these together with some help of the HS?

  15. I'm going with David and Goliath. Saul's need to control the battle - here, use my armor - even after David has made it clear that God is all the armor he needs, is a telling point for *my* life so I'm guessing there are others who know what that's like, too. And I do think the disciples' reaction to Jesus' napping is in the same vein. It sounds, then, as if several of us are on the same track this week. And this is more than a little comforting.
    Julie, it seems to me my denomination has been sitting on that cusp for years now. Your question is a good one. Why are we afraid to trust God and get off the fence?

  16. Crimson Rambler,
    Please tell us which issue of the New Yorker. I'm also going w/ David & Goliath. Thanks.

  17. Thanks for all your thoughts - which helped me get started when I was feeling very blank!

    Here in the UK it is father's day: my thinking at the moment is 'what sort of father is God?'.
    Not the sort that wraps us in cotton wool and keep us safe, it seems. Poor Job (if you're reading that strand) - in response to all his suffering God's answer is 'where were you when I made the hippopotamus?'.
    This is NOT an adequate answer!!
    We want to shout (with Jesus' disciples) 'don't you CARE?'.

    But Jesus shows us that he does care, that he is Lord, that the Father's love never leaves us, however bad it gets. In the end we are saved - but not in our way & our timescale, but in a more profound way, rooted in the foundations of time.

    I think this is brain-numbing but important to think about - I hope I find time to do it justice...

  18. Wow, I'm loving these ideas and wishing I might have gone with D and G, but I'm totally into Job this time around. Maybe another summer I'll do The David Chronicles, but this year I'm feeling led in another direction.

    So, weaving it with the gospels, something abou the seeming chaos actually being the firm foundation is where I'm starting.

    Ooo! Oooo! I really liked Why Men Hate Going to Church. Has that ever been a book club book?

  19. take away the interrogatives in the Job reading. It becomes a humanized tale of creation...a broader perspective than Job's. Humans have spent all our history trying to answer the questions God poses. That quest is why, "Some went down to the sea in ships, plying their trade in deep waters. They beheld the works of the Lord, God's wonderful works in the deep."(psalm107:23-24)
    and if those verses sound familiar, and if you're more recently scarred by Melville and the Whale than I am...please send me a literary concordance of that phrase (down to the sea in ships).

    Chapt 14, about Nantucketeers...but there's more music and power in that drive than I'm reading even in that example of courage beyond catastrophic loss (of a child to the the case of the chapter). I'll just stagger and reel like a drunkard and all my skill will be of no avail (107:27)...

    dramamine anyone?

  20. Anybody going with the epistle? I'm thinking there's got to be a sermon in "we urge you also not to accept the grace of god in vain", and the passage ending with "open wide your hearts." I'm thinking not accepting the grace of god in vain means "DO SOMETHING WITH IT." Why do we think that God is the only one who's capable of extending grace?

  21. Miscott, I'm going with the epistle and glad to see someone else is, too. I'm taken by the first 2 verses and think they are key. I think I'll focus on kairos and am doing a little more research because the second use of "acceptable" in the Greek is a little different than the first time it's used. So, lots of theory but no practicality in my head yet.


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