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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Rough Places Made Plain Edition

Links to this week's readings can be found here.

Friends, it's the second week of Advent, and if you're like me you're already humming that bit of Handel's Messiah about the crooked ways being made straight and the rough places being made plain.

This week's scriptures promise that with the coming of God's realm will come cataclysmic changes. Maybe you'll turn to the prophets - Malachi, Baruch or John. These are joyful and energetic texts, yes, but the tools of the promised changes - fire and bulldozers (if not of the actual, at least of the spiritual variety) - are bound to make us, and those with whom we minister, feel just a little uncomfortable. What will you do about that? Dwell in the discomfort? Or move beyond it?

Speaking of moving, you might notice the importance that Luke places on locating John in his time and place. Maybe you'll want to talk with the
folks in the time and place where you
find yourself now. How might they be singing a song of hope like Zechariah? Or overflowing with love like the people of Philippi?

Maybe you are preaching and/or presiding at at World AIDS Day service this week. If so, we'd love to hear about that.

And, if you're jumping the lectionary entirely and trying something completely different, tell us about that too.

(BTW, this is my first Lectionary Leanings, so thanks to all those who have made the rough places plain on this feature until now. And see you next week - same Lectionary time, same Lectionary station.)


  1. Woo-whoo. First to post.
    But, I have no ideas yet. Fresh out of ideas, but Juniper GREAT job on your first TLL. I love the images.
    This week I am continuing with my What Child Is This. focus is on the word CHILD.
    Not sure of much else.
    It really hurts sermon time when we have all the Xmas shows(old and new) to watch.
    Also, have Advent Vespers service on Wednesdays.Not much to plan as it is a reflection service with quotes, silence and music. I think I could use some of all of that

  2. Thanks, Juniper! I love this picture of John. Evocative.

  3. I also love teh JtB picture.

    Years ago at choir we were singing through the hymns and one was "There's a Voice in the Wilderness Crying" and one member (who is very ecologically sensitive) almost had a fit when she read the earth-scaping words. As luck would have it she was reading scripture that Sunday too!

    Anyway, this week my theme is Birth Means RE-Evaluating Priorities and my early thoughts are here

  4. 1-4 - Must be some kind of way to tie together "child" and "frosty the snowman," I'm thinking. So all that TV watching could be called "research" :)

    Gord - it IS hard not to take those images literally. In Bible study yesterday, everyone kept talking about taking off mountain tops and earthquakes. I kept saying "yes but METAPHORICALLY...." but it's hard not to think of times when the earth really DID move!

  5. Oh, and cannot find the bulldozer photo now, but the JBap pic is from here (it's Cananda, Gord :) )

  6. great beginning, Jennifer! I am looking at Luke, really have very embryonic thoughts, though. I'm also very attracted to Malachi's thoughts about the refiner's fire and the fuller's soap. I had a sermon with the title once: 99 5/8% pure (or something like that)(which was an Ivory soap line.

    So, there's some hard stuff going on at the church, though, so that is going on in my brain, too....

  7. Thanks for this--I've been coming here for quite a while to read others' reflections and have never posted...but I came across this quote from Bonhoeffer and it has me thinking about my sermon for Sunday:
    "It is very remarkable that we face the thought that God is coming, so calmly, whereas previously peoples trembled at the day of God . . . . We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God's coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God's coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for every one who has a conscience.

    Only when we have felt the terror of the matter, can we recognize the incomparable kindness. God comes into the very midst of evil and of death, and judges the evil in us and in the world. And by judging us, God cleanses and sanctifies us, comes to us with grace and love."

  8. Ooh, Emily, what a great quote! Thanks for sharing it!

    I'm preaching Luke but don't relaly know quite what I'll do with it yet (working title: Prepared - yeah! that's inspired!). I have a song stuck in my head from Scar, in The Lion King, "Be Prepared." It's quite ominous (but catchy). Wishing I could find a way to run with it...

  9. "prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" anyone ever see a Roman road? " but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us? Peace!" and the word of God bypassed all that for the wilderness :) makes me itchy...

  10. I'm jumping the lectionary, but only a bit. Instead of the psalm reading this week, we have the Song of Zechariah (which I love), so I'm going to do something with that. But, I also think it's important to hear the story in its entirety, so I'll also read some from the previous verses on Zechariah & Elizabeth and develop that a bit. With being in Luke, I can't resist the opportunity to focus on Zechariah's song and then in a couple of weeks Mary's Song. Next week, I'll expand the Luke reading to include this week's verses.

    But other than that plan, I don't have much. And since I knew there wouldn't be many in worship last Sunday b/c of Thanksgiving, I feel like I have to lift up the simple/sacred/still aspects of Advent. So I'll be looking for some way to tie that in, too.

  11. emily - LOVE that quote - it's definately going in.

    earthchick - i know what you mean about sermon titles. lately ive just been taking a short phrase from the scripture for my title. so often changes between bulletin day and sunday, anyway.

    revl - hey, life of brian! right on!

  12. I too am a frequent reader (and infrequent writer) of comments and thoughts here--I too appreciate the Bonhoffer quote. I am going with the Luke text too--sermon title Promise and Warning, but not sure where I am going yet. When is a promise also a warning and vice versa? How do we prepare our hearts on this "Peace" Sunday while in the midst of war and anxiety? Blessings on our preparations for sermons and seasons.

  13. Diane, I think I'll work with Malachi too. I was on Wikipedia looking up Fullers soap and refining fire, etc. Since it's 2nd Advent, my theme is supposed to be Peace. Unfortunately I also have to work in the Grinch movie, no kidding, need to show a clip. So I think I might work with this notion of refinement. In a sense, the little girl in the Grinch movie wants to purify Christmas (I might use that brief clip: Girl: What is Christmas really about? Response: Presents. Girl: I was afraid you would say that) What would Christmas be if we refined it? Thinking that peace and gold both need to be refined which might be a little more painful than anticipated. Obviously I am jibberjabbering at this point. I ought to delete this comment, but am feeling a little cantankerous and will just go ahead and post it!

  14. Oh, and thanks for Bonhoeffer. It's perfect.

  15. wow, the grinch. I'm sorry about that. I hope its the classic cartoon, at least, and not the recent monstrosity.

    and I'm thinking and thinking of that question of being Peace People in a time of war. no answers, but it's a good question to ask.

    thanks all - great food for thought here.

  16. I can't help it but that picture of John in the river? Reminds me of Hagrid.

    Sorry. Back on topic now.

  17. ah, no wonder we feel so warm and fuzzy about him, RevDrMom.

    The photo is actually of a guy who does historical reenactments of figures from the Bible, and Canadian history. But who knows? Maybe he will add Harry Potter and Co to his repetoir (spelling?)

  18. For the Grinch preacher - have you read Peacebang's sermon for last sunday? It was something like "What the Grinch got right" and it is really good.

  19. I'm doing Baruch this week, I think, but I haven't done much studying yet. I'm fringing a prayer shawl for my organist, starting another one for an elderly parishioner, answering emails, writing here. Basically procrastinating any way I can. I do need to practice some chanting for SAturday's ordination at a nearby church.

    We are doing Lessons & Carols at 10:30 so I only have to preach at 8:00. Short will be okay then.

    I like the Bonhoeffer quote. Last Sunday's sermon was about how we don't look for the second coming any more and some of the reasons why not. This week, I'm thinking I'll preach about hope, how hoping that God will act means actually letting God act. And that usually means changes have to happen.

  20. Great first Lectionary Leaning, Juniper!

    Mine is about preparing. I expect I'll talk about my "nesting behavior" when I was hugely pregnant with my son, 26 years ago this time of year, about how getting ready for a child is necessary, but nothing can actually prepare us for the experience itself. And sometimes the preparation is not warm and fuzzy, but rather painful. Threads of Malachi and Luke woven together.At least that's where it feels like it's going now. By Sunday, it will be somewhere else, I'd wager.

  21. I'm staying on lectionary, but jumping around with the traditional "hope, peace, joy, love" order and using love this week - tough love. The theme "What do we want for Christmas?" leads me to answer we want constant affirmation from God, to be told that everything we're doing is just fine. What we get from God is refinement, correction even, tough love, but ultimately what that also means is a second chance, a chance to repent, turn around, and prepare in a better way.

    I'll use mostly Malachi, but pull in Luke 3, too, I'm sure. I really like the allusion to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that, I think, David Lose gave on Sermon Brainwave this week. I spent most of my morning trying to find it in the movie so I could show the clip only to discover it's dialogue that only happens in the book. Got to watch the movie again, though! Anyway, the dialogue is when the kids are learning about who and what (a lion) Aslan is. Susan is the first to ask if it's safe to go see him. Lucy echos the question. Mr. Beaver answers, essentially, "He's not safe, but he's good."

    We get THAT for Christmas - - Jesus who may not be safe for the status quo of our lives, but he is good.

    Hoping to actually write this one Thursday or Friday night so I can watch the football games Saturday and actually go to bed when they are over. I'm feeling a lot of pressure from my husband to change my late night writing habits, and therefore very little Saturday night sleep, now that I'm pregnant again. I should be better about staying rested and healthy, and it probably won't hurt for when I'm up a bunch at night feeding the little one when he/she comes. I remember that makes completing Saturday night/Sunday morning sermons really hard. And the last two times I was only doing it occasionally. Who knows how I'll survive when I'm doing it weekly?


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