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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Get A Head Edition"

Readings for the coming Sunday can be found here .

(My apologies for the late posting -- my day began at 4:30 a.m. when we dropped off our kids at Detroit Metro, then continued to the VA hospital in downtown Detroit for Fellow Traveler's earlybird appointment. After we finally got home my first agenda item was a serious meeting with a pillow.)

Talk about thematic whiplash this week -- we begin with the story of a somewhat reluctant prophet -- "Hey, I'm just a small-town dresser of sycamore trees; God's really the one telling you this" -- getting a less-than-enthusiastic reception from the Powers That Be; we abruptly move into a soaring description of God's love and care for the people of God, chosen from the beginning as part of God's glorious plan for the eventual gathering up of all creation into Godsself; then we careen into the story of John the Baptist, another prophet found perplexing by someone large and in charge, who winds up losing his head -- literally -- for his dedication to God's truth.

So is being chosen by God a good thing or a bad thing? Yikes.

So how will that preach on Sunday? Or will you be preaching on other texts/themes? As always, please share your thoughts here.


  1. I'm struggling... got excited about the story of David heading out, setting up those tents, and dancing "with all his might."

    I thought it would be a great set-up for talking about the weighty albatross of our church building, and how freeing it might be for God's people to set their focus outside of the temple.

    Then I found out our soloist will be singing about "there are still more temples to build..." (The singer is an enthusiastic deacon who can't read music, and she's very proud of this week's musical offering. I just wish we could have sorted this out elsewise.

    *sigh* And as much as the sycamore tree thing appeals to me, I already preached a sermon about orchards and the care of saplings. Hmmmmmmm. Looking forward to others' thoughts!

  2. I am using the alternative texts of Amos and Psalm 85. Interesting that the lectionary leaves out the middle part of the psalm. One commentary said, we get the past and the future and refuse to deal with the present. Thinking along those lines...right now.

  3. I haven't posted in a long while... still reading and blessed by this blog!!

    I am preaching the David text... preached this once before and danced up the center aisle after reading the text from the back. This time I am considering getting others to dance with me! Kids will, I'm sure... Adults... probably not.

    There is a nice "reader's theater" piece at I am thinking of using.

    Hymns are tough... I am wondering what others think about singing "Lord of the Dance"?

  4. I am going with the riskiness of accepting the call to be a truth-teller. ANd hopefully that will lead nicely into asking what truths we are unwilling to hear or say...

    My opening thoughts are here

  5. Mainecelt,
    LOL over your paradox of song and word. :)
    Purple, I too have looked at Amos and Psalm. Good thoughts. I am playing with the plumbline idea!
    Temple, wishing I could dance! But I love, love that hymn!!!
    Cool stuff Gord!

  6. I'm looking at the plumbline in Amos and thinking about Jesus, the plumbline among us.

    Love that song temple!!

  7. This Presbyterian, perhaps foolishly, is tackling the Ephesians passage on the weekend of John Calvin's 500th birthday. We'll see, we'll see...

  8. I'm going with a dance theme. In the gospel dance is entertainment, alliances, power plays. In 2 Samuel it is worship, exuberance, for God to delight in. Do we live for what we can get out of it, or to delight God. Singing, so far ‘teach me to dance to the beat of your heart’ and ‘in the presence of your people’ look like making the short list. But it is only Tuesday, and anything is possible by Sunday!

  9. Iris, I'm with you in Ephesians. Today, in my group, one of the others counted the "in Christ"s and came up with 5. I'm thinking there could be more or less depending on how many points I want in the sermon :)

  10. LC,
    I was a little bit slow on "getting" your title this week!
    Now, I am LMAO!

  11. I'm usually MUCH farther along by now, but I spent the past two days playing with my dear friend and our combined offspring - 6 little girls! She leaves to go home tomorrow, and I have to get going on this week! I appreciate your ideas, anonymous, and have been struck with the idea of dancing this week as well - how different Herodias' daughter's dance was from David's dance...I hope something will strike me soon! Thanks for getting me started, LutheranChik, I am actually thinking of Amos AND Samuel somehow. Obviously, I have a long way to go. And I LOVE your title, made me laugh out loud (I guess I have a gruesome sense of humor)

  12. For the David text: Someone in my study group shared a with me a song by David Crowder Band "Undignified"... "And I'll become even more undignified than this..."

    MUMPASTOR: Kudos to you for playing with your friend - and being a wonderful example to all the little girls (and us) of never being too old to play with your friends.

  13. I am pondering the connections between Amos and the gospel. The danger of the Word of God--those in power don't want to hear it and those who speak it often end up dead. The power of God's word is mighty and it is contrary to the power of the world. I hope it brings me around to what the power of God's word speaks against today, who it angers, who it puts at risk.

  14. MamaS-- yes, it seems very much to be a "speak truth to power" reading.

    Is anyone else troubled by the role of women in the "David's dance" passage and the Mark reading? In both of these passages, I see a woman struggling with the behavior and reputation of her politically powerful husband. In each of the stories, the woman's actions result in her portrayal/treatment as "The Bad One."

    I'm disturbed enough by the complex feminist issues in each of these texts that I'm not feeling equal to the task of preaching on them.

    The men are the "stars" of these stories, but the women are included for specific reasons, and I'm not sure I fully understand--or can reconcile myself with--those reasons. Were they placeholders for cultural mores and norms? Were they the tabloid stars of their respective days?

    Hmmm. Maybe I'll just lean toward Amos, the Psalm, and Ephesians. They lack the layered images and thematic connections of Sammy and Mark, and I can't use all the cool "dance" imagery, but... hmmm!

  15. MaineCelt, I am with you on releasing people from the 'albatross' (great term!) of buildings.
    Could you use the 'still more temples' solo to underline the idea that God does not want literal temples, but the temple of our worship and devotion - which can lead to rejection & even beheading, but can glorify God more than the finest building?? Just a thought.

    And don't worry too much about the feminist issues in the David story - most people think Michal is a man's name : )

  16. Hi folks
    I'll be focusing primarily on the Samuel passage with a wee nod to Ephesians. Some early thoughts here.

    In the early part of the service, there'll be 4 'worship action stations' where folks will be invited to worship/play/explore.

    Station 1 focuses on the many names of God: who is God to you? Basically, we'll be doing a graffitti poster and I've suggested if folks get stuck they could use the 'I AM's' as a way in to naming God.

    Station 2 'make a joyful noise' involves using party blowers - which they can unroll and write above words... and later use if they want in the hymns

    Station 3 'joined up prayers' - writing word/phrase prayers on paper strips and forming them all into a giant chain.

    Station 4 'thank you God!' - where they can reflect on something in the week they would like to give thanks for, and then, on a pennant write thank you God!

    For those who are not as mobile there'll be a powerpoint slide show on a loop, reflecting the four different stations.

    The whole thing should take about 20 minutes [I hope!!] and then we'll have the offering. The names of God poster and the intercessions will come down to the communion table with the offering. Poster in front of communion table so that through rest of worship we have a visual reminder of who we worship... and prayers on communion table with the offerings of money... offering up our prayers. The thank you pennants will be stretched across the church from one side of the upper gallery to the other. We'll do the dedication and then sing 'Jubilate Everybody'.

    Sermon slot will be about 8-10 minutes due to this round of activities.

    opening: Come all you people
    all-age bit: Jubilate everybody
    pre-intercessions: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
    closing: Lord of the dance.

    FWIW we're finishing with Lord of the Dance

    When it's all done 'n dusted, I will be finding a quiet, darkened room to collapse in :)

  17. I haven't posted here in forever, but I am preaching on the Mark text and linking up to the prior week- the joy and challenges of discipleship, and about crossing boundaries created by others and the ones we create. Since our youth are preparing to leave for a servant event, I have a social justice theme-There is more to discipleship than just the rush of excitement when it all goes well.There is the challenge of the gospel message that speaks truth to power, and the struggle we experience when choosing between speaking and acting and silence. MamaS, I am on the same wavelength. My sermon is preached on my last Sunday in my home parish before I begin as vicar for my internship year, so it will be a very bittersweet time. Meanwhile over at my blog, I posted some reflections on God's messengers as I looked at this week's texts.

  18. MaineCelt, I think you can play with those ideas and ought to go where you felt led. Temples are not just structures; they are places of worship and encounter. Go for it!

  19. MaineCelt,
    I am going with the building thing next week when David is told not to worry about building a temple. I would be interested to hear what you come up with

  20. Meanwhile, I'll be over the river from MaineCelt preaching on the epistle, with our Mary Beth in the congregation, after which we will be hurrying to hear MaineCelt give her sermon at a slightly later hour! Just wish I had a better sense of where I'm headed.
    I'm focused on these verses:

    1:5 (God) destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,

    1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

    I wrote a piece for our second RevGals book about the epistle, and that's what I have listed as the text for the day. I believe I told my adoption story in some form the last time I preached this, and that's certainly appropriately auto-biographical for a congregation that does not know me very well yet (only my third sermon for them). I'm also thinking about identity and relationship and definitions--one side of my family had no trouble accepting me as "theirs" while the other side was a bit odd about it. And there is a whole lot of interesting stuff to be said about what adoption meant in that first century world, what it meant to the Roman-dominated culture as a means for elevating one's child to greater advantages as opposed to our view of either placing so-called "unwanted" children or fulfilling a desire for people who cannot have biological children of their own. There is a lot of freight attached to adoption!

  21. Thanks, y'all, for feedback... I've decided to preach from 2 Sam and Ephesians, with a brief nod towards the Mark story somewhere in the muddle.

    Songbird-- I love the "adoption" imagery too, having grown up with three adopted siblings. It's powerful stuff for me.

    So far, I've been weaving something together about different characters' perceptions of the dance, and the beliefs and feelings and pressures that keep us from stepping out/taking part in the Cosmic Dance of Creation. Are we, like Michal, standing at some small window, unable to see the celebration except through the lens of our own anxiety and frustration? Are we like the Israelite soldiers, present by obligation? What would it take to dance with all our might, to whirl wildly in the midst of the throng?

    Also, can we see that the Ark is rolling along with us, or do we try to assign it a static location?

  22. Hello, all. I haven't posted in forever, but I read every week. Thanks for all the wonderful thoughts from you wonderful preachers!

    Karen Marie Yust's article in Feasting on the Word got me thinking along these lines.

    I think Mark paints a much more nuanced picture of Herod here than Matthew or Luke do.

    Matthew says that Herod wanted John put to death, but he didn't execute him because the people held John to be a prophet.

    However, Mark says that Herod's wife wanted John put to death, but Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and imprisoned him to keep him safe.

    Matthew says nothing about Herod's reaction to John's preaching (other than implied anger), but Mark says that Herod was much perplexed, but he liked to listen to him.

    Matthew says that he was "sorry," but because of his oaths and his guests, he ordered the execution. I read Herod here saying, "Oh well, that sucks."

    Mark says that Herod was "exceedingly" sorry when it came time for the execution. I read Herod here being truly grieved about the situation.

    I'm reading Mark's version of Herod as someone who deep down wanted to hear the truth of the gospel that John was preaching, who wanted to know about repentance and baptism and forgiveness of sins, but who was trapped by his station in life. He was captive to the powers of his office, the powers of his rotten familial relationships, the powers of his responsibilities, the powers of his need to save face, and so he executed John the Baptist, and was exceedingly sorry about it.

    And how often do we face the same pressures? We live in complex relationships that place many demands upon us. Somewhere deep down, we want to hear more about repentance and baptism and forgiveness of sins, but how often do we choose to follow what we think others want us to do, rather than listening to the gospel proclaimed by the voice of the prophet preacher?

    Anyway, that's where I'm headed this week. We'll see what comes by Sunday. Got a wedding vow renewal service, bible study on Job, and funeral to get through before then!

  23. we are doing David here, complete with two of our fabulous liturgical dancers (they're teenage/college age dancers who consent to dance during the liturgy!). they are dancing to David Crowder's Undignified as the end of the sermon. They are also dancing during a piece of the liturgy--it was originally a call-and-response litany, but we are making it simply two voices (one from each side of the chancel) with some simple drumming (mmm, love the djembe!) and the two dancers. We are calling that "invitation to the dance" and following it with scripture and sermon and then Undignified/dance. it should be very good.

    And then, yes, we're closing with Lord of the Dance.

    I'm thinking that for the children's time we might do the hokey pokey and talk about how just your right hand or left foot or head alone aren't enough, God wants us to put our whole selves in--to worship, to life, to prayer, to everything.

  24. Oh, Teri-- your service sounds wonderful!!! I am trying to imagine my staid little New England congregation rockin' to some serious hand drums. Some of them would love it, some would *not approve,* and I think the rest would just feel vaguely uncomfortable while ever-so-slightly tapping their feet. ;-)


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