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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Take My Life" Edition

Lectionary texts for Sunday can be found here .

Our church blog features music videos every Tuesday,"Tuneful Tuesday," and today we're playing a contemporary version of the venerable hymn "Take My Life and Let It Be." That seems to be the overarching theme of Sunday: radical trust in God's providence. We see it in both alternative Old Testament lessons and in our Gospel lesson. And our epistle lesson and Psalm choices answer the question why we put our trust in God's saving power.

What text(s) are speaking to you as you pray, plan worship and/or prepare to preach and teach this coming Sunday?  (Is anyone going with the rather spicy story of Ruth's risky initiative?) Are you, like many of us, in the midst of the stewardship season -- and how do you integrate that message into Sunday's theme without inadvertantly making "Give us more money!" the only thing that your people hear? For those of you in places where Sunday is Veterans/Remembrance Day -- how will you be observing that in your church? As always, please share your thoughts here


  1. I have been really struggling over which text to preach. The plans I turned in to our staff at staff meeting yesterday indicated I'd be preaching Mark. But I have really mixed feelings about that text and how it's usually been used. In some ways, I think Jesus may have been pointing out the widow as an indictment of those who allowed her to sink into such poverty, and then sat back while she gave the little that she had to a corrupt system.

    Not exactly a happy little stewardship sermon, eh? (not that I'm expected to preach a stewardship sermon on Sunday, though we are entering that season)

    I've preached the text a couple of times before but am never really happy with where I end up. Possibly b/c nothing I've ever preached (or ever read by anyone else) can ever measure up to BBT's remarkable sermon "The One to Watch" in The Preaching Life!

    All of this is a very circuitous way of saying that I'm still on the fence about which text I'm preaching, but I think I'm going to go with Ruth with a sermon title of "The Harvest of Kindness." Maybe that's a cop-out. Maybe I should make myself go with the text I feel more ambivalent about. But I lovelovelove the story of Ruth and haven't preached it before at my current church.

  2. I am working with the risk that both Ruth and the widow in Mark take. But the struggle for me is then what about the risks that we take and God isn't there to catch us if we fall?

  3. This is a bit off topic, but it's here that I first became acquainted with the idea of a "Blue Christmas" observance. I am meeting tonight with a parish member who heard about this service right around the same time; we want to explore possibilities. Do any of you have resources or links you could send me? They can go to mobetsy [at] hotmail [dot] com . Thanks!

  4. i will be using the Mark text. earthchick--the idea of the woman as an indictment of the corrupt system makes a lot of sense, i'm totally with you.

    emile townes has suggested in Feasting on the Word, that we ask people to see themselves as the two coins, their lives as what we give to God.

    i'd like to use both of these ideas on Sunday, it's a matter of pulling them together well.

    that's all i've got so far.

  5. I think it is going to be Ruth for me. HAving spent most of today looking at a house for the nearby campus ministry, I'm not really in sermon mode even though it is Tuesday. Earthchick, thanks for the BBT reminder. You never know whether my desire to preach Ruth turns into a need to preach Mark.

  6. The Rev. Dr. Wil GafneyNovember 3, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    I'm preaching an installation for a former student in the afternoon. The lessons include:
    Gen 29 Rachel came with the sheep of her father, for she was a shepherd...
    Ps 68 The Sovereign gives the command;
    the women who proclaim the good news are a great force.
    Is 40 Woman, go up to a high mountain, you who proclaim good news to Zion. Woman, raise your woman’s voice with power – proclaiming good news to Jerusalem. Raise it woman, do not fear woman...
    (all in the RGT, naturally)
    In other news, the translation book is coming along, slowly, as long as I keep preaching.

  7. Oh, Earthchick! and others struggling with Mark - do you have Feasting on the Word? Emilie Townes commentary this week is EXCELLENT.

    I am trying to go with Mark but a realizing its harder than I thought becuase of all the nuance in this seemingly simple passage. And evidently, all my usual resources thought the same, as they are all going with Ruth. Sometimes just laying out that complexity for the congregation can be helpful, so I might be going that route.

    Luckily, I have some time in the sermon as for once we arent doing anything weird/exra in worship!

    Betsy, email coming your way! I LOVE Blue Christmas!

  8. thanks for the tips, i haven't opened Feasting yet. We have commitment sunday so I want to use the gospel but want to use the text along with the earlier verses on the priority of loving the Lord our God. Also ps. 146 since we have an anthem along with it. Oh I need to be reading.

  9. For once I'm organised. We have Remembrance this weekend. Starts off with bagpiper heralding two minute silence as Act of Remembrance. Preaching on passage from Luke 1 - John the Baptist heralding in new era of peace and justice etc, coupled with Micah 4. Our home but not forgotten saint this week is a WW2 veteran. I love November.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. sorry, Gals, that deleted comment was me. Managed to post twice - oops! I've reflected a bit on my Remembrance Sunday anxiety here

  12. I have two remembrance day services to prepare for and am considering the aptness of the account of the Widow from Mark 12- how she gave everything...

    I personally struggle with remembrance as there is a tendency toward romanticism, but I am happy to struggle with it ...

  13. I am preaching on Ruth 4 text.
    I skipped the wild scene on the threshing floor.
    I seem to remember one of my profs calling it the thrashing floor!
    Anyhow, focus on the r'ship with Boaz and the gift of the child for Naomi. Good stuff.
    Thanks to all.

  14. The Rev. Dr. Wil GafneyNovember 4, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    Ruth-ers, you may find my introduction to and comments on Ruth in the Peoples' Bible useful. I'll be using these texts in the sem's Wednesday Eucharist during which I'll also celebrate Veteran's Day.

  15. I am going with Mark and I suppose I'm doing a rather simplified (but hopefully not unfaithful) interpretation of the text. My father (yep, I'm a PK) has my Feasting, so I haven't had a chance to check it out, but I'm basically just going to allow the members to see themselves in a parallel sense with the widow, rather than the rich folks (even if they're more like them--some are, some aren't.) We've doing a little bit of a visual/hands on approach and having two round pieces of paper (two "small" coins) for each person to receive with their bulletin when they come in the door. Then they'll be asked to keep them, put them in a place in their home where they notice them often, and pray about what they can commit to doing differently/more of/continuing in their stewardship life right now. We'll make a receptacle for people to deposit their coins in (doing this anonymously since people here are nutty about pledging and I've just been in this church 4 months) in future weeks. Hopefully will provoke some good thought about stewardship as a spiritual practice.

  16. Ooh, Sarah, I really like that!

    Juniper, thanks for the Feasting reminder. Would you believe I don't own any volumes yet? Which is esp. ridic given that I'm one of the authors in two of the volumes (ones that haven't come out yet). I will have to rectify that ASAP!

  17. I'm stressing about Sunday a bit this week since it's Thursday, and I don't feel like I've had 2 minutes to think about worship. The secretary submitted her 2 weeks' notice last week while I was out of town, so this week has been a tad stressful as we've tried to do some cleaning up and learning and passing on information and celebration/sending lunches all while trying to figure out how we're going to proceed looking for a replacement, etc. On top of that there's been quite a controversy with a broken antique church bell, some VERY bruised feelings over the plans to repair it, and an H1N1 death in the community. The decesased's mother is one of my members.

    So, now it's late Thursday afternoon and I have NO thoughts, plans, or anything for worship. It was supposed to be our pledge dedication day, but that got delayed by the Stewardship Committee I found out yesterday, so any leanings toward a stewardship emphasis may or may not be as appropriate as they would have.

    I'm thinking this might be a totally legitimate "re-purposing" week. I've got to be able to take my day off tomorrow. I need it and don't want to be working on worship and preaching. I need a day to not think about any of this.

    Since I've been off lectionary for a few weeks and won't be here the week after, I feel no ties to stay on lectionary. I'm thinking I will pull out my first stewardship sermon ever from like 8 years ago based on Joshua 24 and just rework it for this Sunday, pointing to the fact that they will be asked to consider their pledges in the coming weeks, not that we are collecting them now. Fine by me.

    So, not my favorite thing to do, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I was getting kinda excited about working with Ruth (the whole story, not just this week's lection) and even had a little idea of where to go with it in a stewardship direction, but at this hour I just don't think I can pull it together enough to do it.

  18. SheRev, so sorry there's so much draining stuff going on for you. But glad to hear that you will "re-purpose" a sermon. Given what you have ahead, your day off becomes even more important. Thankfully the Spirit factors in all these deals and winds her beautiful work just the same. So prayers and blessings for you and yours.

  19. yikes, sherev, what a week (she waits til you're out of town to give notice? hmmmmm.) Well, I will see you at the preacher party SAturday, as I am also no further than I was when I wrote those encouraging words days and days ago, and I am also taking a Whole Day Off tomorrow.

    Sarah - LOVE your idea of coins, though! Thinking of copying! Also a PK!

    Everyone - get your Feasting, whether you are in there or not (congrats Earthchick - it's lots to be proud of!)

  20. I'm going with a Mark/Ruth/1 Kings combo....focusing on the theme of the widow in each. Talking about how "widow" is Biblespeak for the least, the marginalized, the forgotten, the unseen.

    We are one week before pledge Sunday, so I'm going to use this sermon as an opportunity to think aloud about "stewardship" in a larger sense than our own stewardship campaign - more of a focus on how we are entrusted to be stewards everywhere we go.

    Then I'm going to open up/explore some of my own personal/family struggles with choosing how to use my resources in a world that is still filled with systems that make it all-too-easy to abuse and ignore today's "widows."

    The good news piece is that even though we may choose not to see the marginalized, God never goes without seeing. Sermon title is "out of sight does not equal out of God's mind."

    And now that I'm done writing it, I'm going to read BBT's sermon and feel jealous of her amazing skills. :-)

    Peace to all of you...

  21. Love love love your coin idea Sarah! I'm preaching Mark this week, had to do a switch because the stewardship committee wasn't ready yet.

    I'm passing out leaves and asking people to write down what they're thankful for on it. Their thanks will be an offering along with their pledges.