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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lectionary Leanings - spoiled for choice

This Sunday we'll be keeping St Luke in both my parishes, - and my splendid curate, whose secular work is as a mental health professional, will be preaching on healing in its widest sense of wholeness and restoration for communities as well as individuals, in preparation for a quiet healing service in the evening. If I were standing in the pulpit myself, I'd want to link that in with the theme of the evangelist as the bringer of peace to communities (and maybe ask myself a few hard questions about when is the time to shake the dust)...

However, you may well be looking at Trinity 19,, a quite different set of readings. If I were preaching these, I might want to consider our need to be recognised as special, represented by the "me first" clamour of James and John, and I would probably have told the stories of one or two quiet saints I've known, who washed, unnoticed, the feet of everyone whom they encountered. I'd invite the congregations to consider those who minister like that among us, and to ask themselves what sort of ministry they are called to. I'd pick up the theme of kenosis, of God's self emptying, that we find in the Hebrews passage and I hope we would sing the Servant Song, which reminds us of how very hard it can be to accept ministry too
"Brother, sister, let me serve you
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant too"

That's where I am this morning - as I rush off to the first of this week's funerals...What about you...Evagelism? healing? kenosis?....or a different direction entirely?........


  1. Going with James and John here. I think the "Me first" attitude is so much a part of our culture that it needs to be addressed. In a stewardship sermon no less. My early thoughts are here

    But looking ahead at the week I don't know when they will be expanded on...

  2. I'm doing James and John...and we are singing the servant song! We also have a skit (which I basically had to make up, as I couldn't find anything like this out there) about the "vending machine" idea of God. Someone will come up to a vending machine but instead of getting what they want--a coke or twix or whatever--they'll get a call to service. They'll keep trying and trying and trying but keep getting things like "the CROP walk needs walkers and donors" or "The Food Pantry is out of tomato sauce again" or "There are 50 people sleeping at the PADS shelter tonight, and 50 more sleeping out in the cold--help." The last thing will be the chorus to "You can't always get what you want" playing over the sound system. (LOL--Rolling Stones in church!)

    I don't quite know where the sermon is going, but probably somewhere in the same vein--we ask God for what we want, but God asks us for things that NEED to be done to bring in the kingdom. Or something.

  3. Pondering James and John for an installation service this weekend. Excited to get away for the weekend and see seminary classmates and take part in their special service, but need to get thinking.

    The skit sounds great Teri!

    Children's sermon went well on Sunday - thanks again Gord for the candy idea!

  4. Love the RS in church skit!!

    First time to preach at new church this weekend - hoping to finish the sermon today on James & John. Will post when done...

  5. hurray, the bishop is preaching for us on Sunday!

  6. please pray for me as I struggle to balance sermon prep and a baptism with my mums funeral on Thursday- travelling tomorrow and back on Saturday.

    We thought it would all be done by now- a 3 week wait for the coroners report has meant a clash of stuff.

    Praise God I have the next week off...

  7. ack!!! thank you Sally - you just reminded me i have a Baptism this Sunday to prepare for...

  8. Oh gosh Sally, tough tough stuff - prayers will be ascending!

    We're going with celebrating Luke but if we weren't, I'd be thinking about Mark's account of Jim and Joe Zebedee pretty much giving Jesus his orders.... and in a small dark corner of my mind, I can hear 'so minister, we want you to do exactly what we're telling you' that comes at times in the form of 'if you change that service, get rid of the pews... we shall leave/ withold our contribution, hold the church to ransom in some way'... forgetting that the Son came to give his life as ransom for many. [tho' not very strongly holding STA here].
    Were James and John really interested in the broader communal picture or more self-interested 'what will I get out of this and how can I manipulate the situation to ensure I get the biggest slice, most attention, get it the way I want it?'
    This all arises from a long discussion with my supervisor today about power dynamics and the church [not my placement church, just generally, I hasten to add!!]

    If we think of the power context... there's creeping power of consumerism / cult of the individual into the church where it's not unusual to have folks church hopping and saying 'oh that church I don't get anything from there'... to which I'm so tempted to say 'and what did you put into it?'

    We all have some kind of power. How do we use it? Where/ on whom do we focus it? Is real power found in the context of kenosis - self-giving... real power found when it doesn't control you and when you are able to let it go?
    Oop sorry for the long post!

  9. oh Sally.. i didn't catch the mum's funeral the first time around! prayers for you...

  10. I'll be doing the "Sons of Thunder" the first Motorcycle gang who became power hungry. Just kidding. I am focusing on the power they wanted, but beyond that, not quite sure. Help. Ideas anyone?

  11. oh Sally, so sorry. holding you in the light in this crazy time.

  12. So sorry, Sally...prayers surrounding you as you move through the chaos and emotions of the week.

    Feeling like the lone ranger here as I'm still with Job for this week and next.

    Love the Servant Song! Have done this before during prayer time by pausing between verses for specific prayers (saw this done at UMC Gen Conf 2008)...

    Teri, your skit sounds great and I love adding in the Stones!

    Nik, a few of my folks have left or withheld funds too in an attempt to get me moved. I'm hoping to gently help us to stand alongside Job as we listen to God's questioning and perhaps realize that our power/knowledge/understanding is pretty pitiful in comparison!

  13. Oh, textweek has a great link to an MLK sermon on the Mark text...might spur some thoughts!

  14. It's Job for me this week, though I may work in a bit of James and John bickering.

    While reading the Job passage, what immediately came to me was the number of times my kids catch me on a bad day and complain that I've asked them to do one small task. My response--now generally perfected to "Do you really want to go there?"--tends to be, "So, then, who earned the money to buy the food, and thought up the meal, and did the grocery shopping, and made sure there were clean dishes [extend as desired]?...and you're going on about my asking you to set the table?"

    On a very different scale, I could so hear this "voice" and even frustration in God's words to Job. I am not thinking about Job and his suffering at all here--that's another sermon--I'm interested in what God is saying and how God is saying it. God is operating on a really different scale and is pointing that out. I am among those who think that the primary point of the Book of Job is along the lines of "I'm God and you're not."

    There's a song I love called "Where were you?" on a CD entitled "Why Not Sea Monsters?" that keeps running through my head; it's not of any particular use in my sermon, but at least it adds a sound track to the reading for me :-)

  15. I've got to figure out a way to do James and John without making it a repeat of my last sermon (on Sept. 18th) about first and last. This is complicated!

  16. Songbird, I don't know if this helps, but it seems to me that James & John (and in a different way, Job) are asking the wrong questions. They aren't even in the right ballpark, except that it's the same one most of the rest of the crowd is in too. The real players, though, are off somewhere else (oh, my, it appears the Dodger wins are infiltrating my thinking and I have b'ball on the brain!). Anyway, I wonder about how we get distracted by the wrong questions and concerns, and how we ever get a clue about that.

  17. Thanks, Betsy. That's sort of the direction I was headed. I had the lyric, "Your arm's too short to box with God," in my head, but realized the poem is about the Prodigal Son, so I'm not sure I want to use that this week.

  18. Pondering power as it relates to Job and to James and John...power that is not simply "I make you do what I want" Job's case, not simply "You are faithful, therefore I will reward you" and in James and John's case, not simply "You asked for it, so I will give you what you want". Both God and Jesus are talking about a different sort of power, a self-limited power, a power that does not just reward the powerful, a power that is nowhere near as simple as we would like to make it...

    ...those are my beginning thoughts, rambling though they might be!

  19. I'm going with Job. And trying to balance getting over the flu, getting caught up at my day job, getting ready for 2 midterms (Hebrew & Doctrine), and doing the family thing.

    This will be the first time I get to preach back-to-back at the same church, so I'm a little excited about the prospect of some continuity.

    If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then God's sure setting up Job to succeed.

    I'm playing with storms and questions... the flood, the storm that rocked Jonah's world, the storm that tossed the disciples around, the storms that toss us about.

    Those storms each raised questions, but usually directed Godward. This time the questions are directed at us... Where were you? Who are you?

    How Job responds is the beginning of Job's restoration... Who am I? Not God.

  20. Songbird & Betsy... That baseball exchange made me think of the Who's on First sketch. Or an exchange a friend of mine had with her 6-yr old. Alex is learning to read and asked What does w-h-a-t spell? Mom: What. Alex repeats the question, thinking mom didn't hear it. Mom: What. Alex: rrrrr. Mom, what does it spell??? Mom to other son: Tell Alex what w-h-a-t spells Benjamin: What. Alex: RRRRRR... Mom & Benjamin fall over laughing. It took her another 3 tries to get him to understand she was giving him the answer!

  21. It will be the sons of thunder for me--for once I am seeing them in a not altogether negative light. At least the guys had some ambition, some initiative---and admittedly a sense of entitlement. Jesus is extraordinarily patient with this guys---perhaps he can redirect that ambition to a more positive end...he did with that rascal Paul (nee Saul), maybe he can even do it with us?

  22. I am loving the skit idea Teri and may use it in a slight modificaiton form for the kids sermon.

  23. Oh I am preaching the J and J text and drawing from the MLKjr. sermon called Drum Major Instinct.
    fits nicely with a congregation as we are about to elect our nominating committee and thus leading to election of elders for next year.
    I could preach a whole sermon on the evil of slackness among church leaders. I spent part of this week taking care of things that others had let go of....a whole otehr post.
    So happy I get tomorrow off


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