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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Oh no, not MORE bread...

The Lectionary is nothing if not insistent...

Here, for the 3rd week running, we find ourselves offered a diet of solid carbohydrate, if you've failed to engage with it so far. Or perhaps you'd prefer to work with the uncomfortable contradiction of Jesus's words
"No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father..." - which seem at first glance to gainsay "When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw ALL MEN to myself".
"No one" versus "all". What's going on here?
But then a second look, and of course God's will is to draw all of us to Jesus, so that we can all share in the final resurrection.
I'm inclined to dig about here a bit, I try and explore images of drawing...maybe like a fish being caught? or a broken-down car relying on another for a tow?
I might invite the congregation to consider what drew them to church (recognising that this isn't the same as drawing them to God by any means, but can be a stage on the journey)...and, as we're beginning a period of preparation for Back to Church Sunday, I might ask them to think about the ways in which our lives and our welcome can be attractional, drawing others to explore faith for themselves.
At that point, of course, it would make sense to refer to the template of perfection that Paul offers for the Christian community in Ephesus. If our churches really exuded even the faintest scent of the divine fragrance of Christ, then surely
we would draw others to see for themselves...

Or perhaps, if you're feeling weary and wondering when that lengendary "quieter month" might actually arrive, you'd like to work with Elijah - clearly suffering burn out and wonderfully restored by the God who gives him space to sleep, and refreshment for his ministry...As we contemplate new directions, new terms, new initiatives,that need to pause and be fed seems very real too.

That's where I am today. How about you?


  1. Noooooooooo, no, no, no! I can't stand all these carbs! It's too much! Take the bread away already - arrrgh!
    Ah, that's better.
    So this week we're going to focus on the Ehesians text. Sermon title: 'The imitation of Christ.' Looking at what a community would look like if it did this... or something. If Jesus was a mirror what would we see reflected back? The all-age slot will be wantonly pillaging from Seasons of the Spirit: we'll be using heart-shaped post-its and will be writing down what love in action/ random acts of kindness might look like. They'll all be collected in a basket to be put on the communion table and I'll light some incense behind the basket [hopefully not setting off any alarms] and we'll imagine all our acts of kindess blowing like the smoke through our community... sort of an image of a loving community. Sort of. Maybe. Just. no. more. bread. please.

  2. I have to rush off to work but I suspect I will continue to reflect on the saga of David, and his relationship with himself and God. I have considered how David is so very human and reveals to us qualities of ourselves that require self-examination - of ourselves and our relationship to God. I have brought in Ephesians and Jesus feeding others as ways to turn and return to God.

    Not sure that is where I am going this week, but maybe.

  3. I did David the first bread week, bread last week and I'm focusing on Ephesians this week. What I'll say, of course, is still unknown but I think it will be something about either anger or kindness or maybe both. I, too, like the idea of reflecting Jesus. Lots to ponder in this passage and none of it is about bread. ;-)

  4. I was at a meeting of ministers today where we were all bemoaning being stuck with 'I am the bread of life' - but maybe we have to keep coming back to this as the central point of believing in Jesus.

    'Nice thing with the loaves and fish jesus'
    - yes, but I am the bread of life

    'You like Moses, then, giving us manna?'
    - no, I am the bread of life

    'But aren't you just Jesus - son of Mary & Joseph?'
    - more than that - I am the bread of life.


  5. I used to always back away from Bread of Life and go to other texts after a week or so but I think there's a reason we are supposed to dwell on and gnaw on the bread of life so I will drive myself and my folks to dig deeper into what it means to "eat the bread of life and live forever"

  6. Eureka! Ruth, you're an inspiration. Thanks for your post. You're dialogue's just provided a sermon seed or baguette, or roll...
    So, maybe some small carb. content in amidst the Ephesians...the more we feed on the bread of life, the more we reflect the bread of life... ways in which we reflect and share the bread of life with each other, the wider community, the world...through being a community of love etc.
    Sorry, for the random stream of consciousness!! :)

    By the by, someone had said she thought she might make bread whilst doing her sermon - did you? How'd it go/ how'd it work?? Inquiring minds want to know :D

  7. this is the first day in a long time that i've actually done "real" sermon prep and it felt great! unfortunately i'm still not sure where i'll be going from here.

    i love Ruth's point about continually digging deeper and deeper.

    the heart shaped post-it notes are pretty cool as well, thanks for sharing your great idea Nik!

    hopefully i'll be back later with something to actually share with all of you.

  8. this morning's posting from inward/outward is a great passage from Ron Rolheiser, on eating, transubstantiation, the Word etc.

    Here it is:

    When Israel’s great prophets are called, God initiates them through an interesting ritual. They are asked to physically eat the scroll of the law, to eat their scriptures. What powerful symbolism! The idea is that they should digest the word and turn it into their own flesh so that people will be able to see the word of God in a living body rather than on a dead parchment. The task of taking God to others is not that of handing somebody a Bible or some religious literature, but of transubstantiating God, the way we do with the food we eat. We have to digest something and turn it, physically, into the flesh of our own bodies so it becomes part of what we look like. If we would do this with the word of God, others would not have to read the Bible to see what God is like, they would need only to look at our faces and our lives to see God.

  9. I'm preaching the Epistle, paired with the alternate Psalm (34:1-8), and headed in the direction of teaching and remembering the basics of what it means to live in community. We're getting ready to do the Open and Affirming process; it's on my mind that we don't always know how to talk to each other when we disagree. Can we be respectful without compromising our principles? We may have learned the essentials when we were young (or young in faith), but we need to keep re-membering them, making them part of who we are and how we speak and how we treat one another. I picked a title that has something to do with learning to drive, and I will no doubt play with that metaphor, especially since my 18-year-old, who has never yet learned to drive, is arriving home Friday with that as one of his goals.

  10. Haven't even looked at the lectionary passages for these weeks. I've been ignoring John after our battle with each other during Easter.

    OK. So that's only partly true. I've been out of town, so I rearranged things to keep with Mark during July, and free up the next 3 weeks for a sermon series about sustainability issues.

    I'm very out of my element here. I can say I agree to the idea of making sustainable decisions in life and ministry, but I have to admit I have no idea what that means in real life and practice. I know it's more than recycling and light bulbs, but it hasn't been my big area of interest or knowledge. One of our members is VERY involved in the sustainability movement and is asking our session to intentionally move toward a sustainable framework and I sort of understand the idea of this, but not in depth.

    As the session is considering it all they asked me to preach/teach on the faith-basis of these ideas. I think they are ALL OVER scripture, but now I have to find a way to organize it all. The framework we're looking at talks about concentric circles of economy, environment, and community, so I'm taking one of each for a 3 weeks series and see what Scripture and faith have to say to the church about our role in sustainable living in those areas. Again it's all over Scripture, I'm just going to need to find a way to preach it.

    I think we'll also use the New Social Creed the National Council of Churches wrote and our denom approved, too.

    Guess I should check out the lectionary first to see if I am led that direction. If not, it's also Homelessness/Affordable Housing Sunday in PC(USA) so those resources looked like they might be helpful to me.

  11. I didn't make bread on the altar last week as one other person indicated they would be doing but I did make homeade bread and had it baking before worship (actually finished 1/3 of the way thru worship). Walked the congregation through an explanation of our communion practices and tied it back to Jesus as the bread of life. Hopefully they were as hungry for the bread as they were for the grace!

    And now another week of bread...textweek/working preacher offered a great slant on how this week differs from last week:

    "In last Sunday's text, the center of attention was upon Jesus as the gift from the Father for the life of the world. Building on that claim, this Sunday's text focuses on Jesus as the center of faith to which the Father draws people."

    I'm also intrigued with the way the people "know" -- they know Jesus' parents and they claim to know God yet their knowledge is obviously limited. What do we claim to "know" about God and what aspects of our knowing deserve more scrutiny? Is it wrong to wear hats in church (not ladies, ball caps)...or does it matter? And yeah, believe it or not, its an issue for some...oy!

    We are a first-Sunday-of-the-month communion church but will be having it weekly this month. Maybe even make it weekly from now on...

    Still kneading on all of this...

  12. I'll be preaching (at a different church) about David's dysfunctional family. I'll talk about how confession and absolution does not remove consequences. David's sons Amnon and Absalom followed in his rapacious footsteps. His negligent parenting led to his children destroying each other with incest to which he was completely indifferent and fratricide for which he was forgiving. He is impotent when his nephew kills another son and tells him to stop crying about it. It will be a sermon about surviving one's family of origin and making better choices. And it will be about grief, grieving loss and grieving failure.

  13. I'm preaching on the non-alternate Psalm, tying it in with where we are with David this week (tried to avoid him the past two weeks, but think I'm going to summarize what's been happening and brought us to the passage for this Sunday.)

    Since it's my third Sunday, I'm still feeling my way through what to preach to these folks, and want to use the opportunity of "Out of the Depths I Call" from the Psalm to talk about suffering and sort of communicate a message of pastoral care within the sermon....

    We'll see how it goes when I start putting everything together!

  14. I'm thinking: and what about a gluten-free diet?

    oh, well.

    actually, we're preaching on Ephesians here, have been for a few weeks.

    So it's: "Think globally. Forgive locally" for me.

  15. SheRev, be sure to check out the Green Bible--there's some useful stuff in there. Also, the Northwest Earth Institute has great courses (they come in booklets full of articles with discussion questions and "do it" challenges) that I highly recommend. I took one called Choices for Sustainable Living. Their website is

  16. Diane, This gluten-free preacher preached on the bread last week, and even used the phrase "you are what you eat" when talking becoming more like Jesus.

    Anyway, this week I'm doing the psalm (130) and Elijah, as I go through the valley time of looking for a (first) call. Until then, pulpit supply at a different church each time means no continuing threads from Sunday to Sunday.

  17. John is a challenge, for sure, but my aim this week is to focus on the "life" part of Jesus' self-identity and what it brings up for us as we re-image life today. Not just being alive, not survival, not eternity as a matter of time, but rather the quality of life as imitators of Jesus, perhaps as peacemakers, troublemakers, and whole-makers. Or perhaps as breadmakers?

  18. darn! i thought "you are what you eat" was my idea! oh well, i'm going to use it anyway... :)

  19. Praise Jeebus!
    I finally haz a sermon title. And still have about 8 hrs to spare before my Fantastic Office Admin calls to see what it is I come up with. This is so she can get the bulletin printed before the Mother of All Little Church Ladies shows up to "help fold" Trans= to get in on more church gossip by hanging around and seeing what is taking place.
    I'll be looking for you dearies on Saturday(bright early).

  20. We have the same "help fold" group. LOL! It about did them in this week when we had a community service volunteer who did "their job" this week.

    I'm preaching from Ephesians this week. My title is "All We Need to Know." I thought I would reference the Fulghum book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" and focus on the basis for living in community via Ephesians.

    Still, feels a bit "dry" to me, but I've got to get this done before I pick up my daughter from camp tomorrow and then get packed for a clergy retreat beginning Sunday evening. Woo hoo!


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