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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - A Light Shines in the Darkness Edition

One great thing about the lectionary this time of year is that it provides so many possible different directions in which to go - all of them rich with possibility.

This week is no exception.

Maybe you have chosen Christmas 2 texts - in which case you can work with John's wonderful poetry. I remember that my least mystical, most intellectual seminary prof challenged us one time, saying something like, " 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God.' How do you explain those in a sermon? You can't. You could say those words every day for your whole life and still not understand them." What do you think? Is John 1 explainable and understandable? Or understanding not really the point with this text?

On the other hand, if you are a church like mine that doesn't celebrate Epiphany on its own day, maybe this Sunday you will choose the Epiphany texts instead. In which case, the story of the Wise Ones will lead you once again to the manger in Bethlehem.

Or, maybe you are doing something totally different. In either case, consider this question in the New Year. Do you make preaching resolutions? If so, what are yours in 2010?

You can find links for the texts for this week here. Art found here and here. See you in the comments!


  1. I am doing the Epiphany text, but not sure what I am doing yet.
    However, since I have to have my bulletin stuff in by Wednesday(due to holiday)so I have a title:
    Three Wisemen and a Toddler

    And yes ,I know there were proably not three, but had to have fun.
    I am thinking of several ideas, but want to see what others have in mind too.

  2. We have a service on Wednesdays so Epiphany will wait until then. Our lectionary has Jesus the 12 year old as an option and I'm going to take that one. Did some initial research yesterday and found several possible approaches.
    Also looking at the psalm (84). I don't preach psalms often and might try to tie it to Jesus having found his place. Not sure yet.

  3. I am doing Epiphany --sort of. I grow tired of preaching on MAtthew's story (and accidentally used the exact same title the last 2 years). So this year MAtthew gets told during Children's time and I am preaching on ISaiah. I had to do up the bulletin several weeks ago and the title I came up with was Why Pay Homage?.

    Not entirely sure what I meant by that but my first stab at it is up on the church blog

  4. I am preaching the John text which is pretty unexplainable. However, we are focusing on this Sunday the part that a light shines in the darkness. It is going to be pretty interesting to put together because the Sr. Pastor chose the text and theme, which fits into a whole series he put together. But since he can't be in two places at once I am preaching in one service and he in the other.

    I have not resolutions for preaching just yet. But we will see. I would rather preach on the wisemen, I like that story.

  5. revabi, maybe you can work in the wise men anyway ... those who recognized and followed the light and all that.

    For those of you talking about the light, btw, this little thing I wrote for our local community newspaper last month might or might not be of interest.

    1-4: Love the title! And so what about whether there was REALLY 3 or not? Maybe 3 is just a way of saying "the exact right amount."

  6. the Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D.December 29, 2009 at 11:37 AM

    I preached this last Sunday. The text is up on my faculty blog. I was clearly influenced by Gandolf the Gray of LOTR falling into shadow:
    In the beginning was the word, the logos, in the Gospel. In the beginning was the Aramaic Memra in the mystical tradition of Judaism on which Yochannan whom you know as John is drawing. In the beginning was the d'var, the Hebrew word for word. In the beginning was the word, the divine word, the holy word, the spoken but not yet written word, perhaps a word whispered in a still small voice.

    That word was light and life; it was more than alive; it was life itself. The word was the God of life and the life of God. This eternal living light cannot be extinguished and shines forever as God lives forever. This living light has been infused into and through creation and we - and the whole of creation - are suffused with it. But that light coexists with darkness.

  7. I'll be preaching this week at St. Casserole's church, my fourth visit to them, but the first that is not on the Sunday right after Christmas. My thought at the moment is to use Ephesians 1:3-14 and John 1, talking about how we remember and tell (or misremember and tell) family stories, including this one. Each gospel gives us something different, some unique way to approach the incarnation.
    Or something like that!

  8. Songbird. Glad you will be continuing your New Year tradition! I just preached a sermon called family stories so let me know if you want to see it.

    Word verf =. Ungitly which makes me giggle for some reason:)

  9. I would love to see it!
    I heard a great piece on NPR this morning about a production of Romeo and Juliet based only on people's recollections of the plot and dialogue. Here's a link to the story:
    Romeo and Juliet: Just as You Misremembered It. It sums up what I feel about family stories. As we collectively concluded in my lectionary group this morning, if you get a group together, one remembers the clothes and another what was said and yet another what it all meant. That's John's part, to put the whole story into a deeper perspective.

  10. Way back when I planned to do Epiphany this Sunday because I haven't really done the wise men in a long time, or at least it seems that way.

    However, that was before I realized that the Sunday after Christmas was Jesus in the temple which is one of my FAVORITE stories. So, Epiphany will be lost again on my crowd, and I have no problem skipping over John 1 (not because I dislike it or anything, but because I find preaching on it VERY difficult and really I tackled it on Christmas Eve anyway). I'm heading back to Jesus the teenager.

    Probably the best sermon I ever heard. The single sermon that has stuck with me, really, the only one, was on this text. It was at the Princeton Youth Forum in April 2004, preached by Reginald Bount. In fact, he did a series on the same text, preaching on it 3 or 4 times in the week, but my favorite was "Longing for Identity" on April 26. For months I listened to that sermon daily after my CDs arrived from the conference. Then for probably a couple of years I listened to it maybe weekly. (OK, so maybe that's why it has stuck with me.) I don't pull it out as often now, but you can imagine it's pretty ingrained in my brain.

    Anyway, I know I won't preach his sermon word for word, but I know mine will be fully informed by that one. I don't care. It rocks. It piggy-backed on one of the ideas of the week in youth ministry that our youth are longing for someone in whom they can put their identity. "MY Father's house" But really, I think the words "our youth" can be replaced with "all people" pretty easily.

    Anyway, back to Luke for me. I wonder if it will write itself pretty easily since I've wanted to preach it for so long, but I have a funny feeling that it will be harder because of my need to get it just right. We'll see!

    (My word verification sounds like some kind of late night prescription ad if you know what I mean - flastrin)

  11. Oooh! Margaret! Thanks for reminding me that Epiphany actually falls on our usual Wednesday night service, too. I'll pass that on to the music director who plans and leads that service. I'm sure she'll love having the image and story and "feast" to play with in her planning.

  12. Songbird - - I love your direction with John 1. I need to tuck that idea away for another year. Maybe next year's Christmas Eve sermon when I will probably finally need to write a new one.

  13. Juiper found your article, great thoughts.
    This was helpful today. I am getting a clearer focus for sunday, thanks you all and see you Saturday at the Preacher's party.

  14. More trauma with the church music this week. Honestly, do they not take a break????
    My word verf is "swariver" makes me think of Swanee River and while in Brazil one of the "invitation songs" (it was a Baptist Church) was to that tune, but with Portuguesse words.

  15. Happy New Year and Merry Epiphany to the RevGals! I'm so grateful for Epiphany...I think for so many of us for whom Advent is such an intense season, it's a great comfort to know that Christmas lasts not for just one day but actually for twelve. Time yet to savor Christmas before it disappears for another year.

    In pondering and reading about Epiphany this year, I was intrigued to come across a ritual that some folks practice, and that I've never encountered as a Methodist: an Epiphany blessing and chalking of the home. More at The Painted Prayerbook.

    A blessing upon your home and upon your new year! And, Juniper, thanks so much for your article.


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