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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "It's the End of the World As We Know It" Edition

Lectionary readings for this coming Sunday can be found here .

Wow. Reading our lessons for Sunday, I momentarily thought I'd been time-transported a few weeks ahead to Advent and its attention to the end of all things.

What are you thinking about as you pray, plan and/or prepare to preach this Sunday? Are you going with the Mark text, or one of the others? How do you think the lessons "read" to congregations who are experiencing high anxiety these days because of the economy, the war and other stressors?

As always, please share your thoughts here. And, as you ponder, some musical accompaniment courtesy of REM: "That's great/It starts with an earthquake...



  1. I am going with issues around birth and pain and expectation. Largely going with HAnnah's prayer and song but likely touching on the birthpangs of the new world mentioned in MArk.

  2. Yeah, could we put off the eschaton for a few more weeks?

    Like it or not, I feel like I have to try to make some sense of Mark, but I'm not at all sure how just yet.

    Gord, I like your ideas about birthpangs. Something to think about.

  3. We call it Tay-Oh-Ta-Waw-Kee:

    My hope is that every week is TEOTWAWKI week. :)

  4. Ha! Just yesterday my hubby suggested he play REM's "End Of the World As We Know It" as a prelude this Sunday. It would be fun...

    I'm really not sure where I'm going this week. I'll be working on Mark, though part of me would like to skip the end of days, and work out of the Psalm!

  5. i read Mark and opted to tell Hannah's story instead. i know that is really chicken#$@! but she is also a prelude to Mary's Magnificat so it's fitting. hopefully i can come back later today with some insights to share, for now i'm still reading and processing.

  6. I am always drawn to Hannah's story, having lived through infertility hell myself. I like your take on it, Gord.
    There is a deep vulnerability about her position. Yet, she defends herself against Eli's accusation with strength.
    Having said that, I will likely preach on Mark with a reference or two to Hannah. At this point, I don't know where it is going but then it's a rare Tuesday that finds me with the sermon fully bloomed. I'm just glad to have a bud!

  7. I heard a phenomenal sermon on Mark 13 when I was in seminary. With a little snooping on the internets, I believe I have found it for y'all:

    Check it out

    See what you think. I think it capitalizes on many of the themes already suggested out here.

  8. as i consider the folks in my congregation, i am reminded of those whose cries for a child have gone without fulfillment.

    we have several women in the congregation who have struggled with infertility and gone through some excruciating treatments and yet remain barren.

    what does/can Hannah offer to them?

  9. ha... well done on the REM ref. - a definite sign of taste and discernment there.... :)
    I've cut 'n pasted my meanderings from yesterday as I began to 'compost' the readings...

    Ps 16
    Hebrews 10: 19-25
    Mark 13: 1-8

    ‘The end of the world as we know it… and I feel fine’

    Essentially think this is going down the ‘change is going to come – but don’t be afraid’ track.
    We are sometimes overwhelmed – following up a little on tearing down but building up, from last week –
    but we are called to be builders/ transformers. We are doing a new thing: called to break the cycles of violence/ death and demonstrate Christ’s new and living way… in knowledge that God is our refuge, is faithful, and that this is not the end, it is the beginning – there’s an echo of - behold I make all things new in all of this perhaps.

    Mark –
    destruction of temple foretold… all will be thrown down…
    ‘Many will come in my name…
    Wars and rumours of wars…
    Nation rise against nation, earthquakes, famines…
    the beginning of the BIRTH pangs’…
    Although all will be thrown down there’s also an allusion to new life here.

    Hebrews gives a helpful reason why not to fear:
    confidence to come before God – confidence = not being afraid – approach God with assurance, with a true heart
    holding fast to hope without wavering
    Our other response: to encourage one another to love, to do good, to meet with one another, …
    This is about a new and living way…
    It’s about being transformed, /having hope in our hearts/ it’s about restoration and healing of old hurts – reconciliation

    Psalm 16- :
    a refuge - protects
    Gives good counsel
    Is at right hand – faithful/ doesn’t give up on us
    Makes heart glad and soul rejoice
    Shows the path of life

    Possible hymns –
    Poss hymn after sermon – All my hope on God is founded

    Other poss hymns during service:
    Tell out my soul
    Great is thy faithfulness
    And can it be

    Call to worship – to reflect the protection/ refuge / path of life stuff from Psalm 16

  10. Love the REM - but also this British offering:

    "It's Good News week"

    I think for me the readings (Mark & possibly Daniel)are about a mental preparation for the Advent of the kingdom - what sort of kingdom, what sort of king...?

    I want to tie in with issues of security (financial, political, personal) & looking to God as the ground of all hope.
    Still lots of thinking to do...
    But tonight a kind of late All Souls service - our annual memorial service for those bereaved in the last year.

  11. Meg - who preached that sermon? It is really good and gave me a bunch of ideas - but I want to give the person credit! Thank you so much for sharing it.

    I am struggling with NOT preaching about my own issues with infertility and Hannah - it seems like a one-note story for me at this point, and is part of my history, but is becoming more history than my story right now. I want to do a new thing. So I am trying to see Hannah in a new light, and preach on Mark's birthpangs...I love what the preacher in Meg's link says "the birth pangs begin when the baby is planted in the womb"

  12. Thanks for these wonderful reflections and links, everyone. Sounds like there will be some powerful preaching this week.

    Revhipchick, I love your compassion and honoring of the women in your congregation who have struggled with infertility as part of reading Hannah's story. One small suggestion: the biblical term barren is often experienced as a hurtful way of describing infertility so you might want to choose a different word.

    You might even consider taking on directly the judgmental overtones the term can carry and the way that then as now women often bear the weight of the grief and blame for a couple's infertility--and in practical terms now the painful medical procedures that sometimes bring the desired result and sometimes don't. One thing that breaks my heart is when healthy women undergo the ordeal of IVF treatment not for their own but for their partner's infertility....It is used in cases where women are fully or near-fully fertile but their men have very few sperm, which could be treated way more successfully and cheaply and painlessly for the woman by artificial insemination with donor sperm. Not all women are comfortable with the latter, of course, but many would be except that their partner is threatened by having a child not biologically his. Jan Raymond's work on the gender dynamics of fertility treatment is over the top in some places but right on target in others IMHO.

  13. Okay, back on topic with my own sermon, and I do hope I wasn't too bossy or, er, preachy in my last comment.

    As I mentioned at Preacher Party I have lost my shared pulpit, including this week's assignment to celebrate and preach at high mass, for whistleblowing the harboring of a convicted pedophile priest. So in between my calls to legal authorities this week I will be drafting a sermon that will be sent out to all the clergy in the jurisdiction with other supporting documentation and an explanation of why it isn't being preached in liturgy. Our first reading is Daniel and the focus on judgment and truth speaking as freedom and salvation for the oppressed, feared only by the guilty, in that and the Gospel--as well as the emphasis in Hebrews that Christ is the true Priest and source of our salvation--is right on target in a situation which feels to many like the sky and stars are falling.

    Right now it's back to teaching work though.

  14. I think I'm going with worthlessness/worth with Hannah...overdone, I know, but fitting in my context right now, I think.

    In other news: please pray for us, as our congregation is in a firestorm. Let there be healing. please.

  15. LOL... thanks for the earworm. I now can not get that song out of my head!

    I am actually going to be using the Hebrews text with Isaiah to talk about the "3 ridges" in prophetic writing.
    1) the author's context (persecution for 1st generation Christians/imminent Babylon)
    2) the prophetic reality that they can see
    3) the eschatological promise yet to be fulfilled

    The idea is to think of this as 3 mountain ridges, one you are standing on (and can look back and see how God has led you), one that is immediate and you have some understanding, and the one in the distance, obscured by clouds, yet there in the future.

    Dunno if that makes sense, but that's the image I'm using. I'm introducing it with a story about hiking the Appalachian Trail.


  16. Hi all I have been in the hospital for thirteen days just got home yesterday. Tired and sore weak and trying to get bsck into the swing of things. Just wanted to pop in sand check in. Not sure what I am going to do for Sunday yet. Blessings all

  17. Hi all I have been in the hospital for thirteen days just got home yesterday. Tired and sore weak and trying to get bsck into the swing of things. Just wanted to pop in sand check in. Not sure what I am going to do for Sunday yet. Blessings all

  18. I'm linking Hannah giving birth and the difficulty and joy of her birthpangs with the birthpangs in Mark 13. We have to work and wait and watch for that which we seek...takes time, patience, and is not without pain, but the end result is wonderful. For my little mission parish, wondering what will come next is a constant subtext, and they might hope that it would come easier, but it isn't meant to.

  19. hey there, checking a few days late. I'm ducking Mark all together, and going with Hannah.

    revhipchick- love your question and I think it gets to the heart of the matter. What about taking a Job-ish sort of tack on this one? Hannah's "friends" (co-wife, husband, priest) all get it wrong in their response, but she can go directly to God.

    And going directly to God doesnt assure the answer you hope for (although sometimes it does, as in this case) but it does assure a new worldview and that's where the Song comes from.

    i'm thinking of going with an in-character monologue kind of thing along this theme - what is prayer? why do we it? what can we expect as the result? what kinds of prayers are resonant enough to echo thru the generations? etc...

  20. Prayers for you Sophia and Teri dealing with difficult situations. I'm going with Hannah's story. I've always been struck by the chronology of the story. She goes to the temple, berates Eli, he listens to her, and she leaves and her "countenance is sad no longer." THEN she discovers she's with child. It reminds me that often what people who are suffering need just as much as an end to their suffering, is validation for their suffering and having someone listen to them, as Eli did for her. For Hannah, apparently just having Eli say he will pray for her request too, lifts her spirits, after her husband so thoughtlessly says "aren't I enough for you?" and Penninah keeps flaunting her own fertilityin Hannah's face. Finally having someone validate her suffering must have been so refreshing.

    But since it's stewardship sunday, I'm also talking about how she offers up her blessing for God to bless again so others would benefit from her son, too. Two separate sermons, but I'll shortchange them both and squish it into one.

  21. Prayers for Sophia and Teri and revie and of course, all my revgalblogpals struggling with differing degrees of church ballistics.
    Reading the texts for this week this phrasejumped out at me. Wow! Why have I never noticed it before? Too clouded by experience?


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