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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Deep End of the Pool" Edition

Sunday's lectionary texts can be found here .

In our corner of Christendom the coming Sunday is considered a "teachable moment" in which worship planners and preachers can review the significance of Holy Baptism according to our tradition. And that may be the direction you're going in your sermons and special worship elements.

On the other hand, there are other intriguing themes in our lessons: the surprising action of the Holy Spirit; the contrast between John the Baptist's anticipated Messiah and the one who actually shows up to be baptized by John; what it means for Jesus to be a "Beloved Son" in whom God is "well pleased."

Or you may be preaching on something else entirely.

As always, you are invited to jump into the discussion here -- the water is fine -- with your thoughts as you ponder your preaching and other worship planning this week.


  1. I'm going to work with the Acts passage. Not too much of a clear direction yet, but I was struck by Samaria not yet receiving the Holy Spirit; that they "had only been baptized." It calls to mind a debate I often hear particularly in more conservative circles about the necessity of baptism for salvation, or for receiving the Holy Spirit.

    I was thinking of exploring the connection (or disconnect?) between water and Spirit. I won't really want to touch on the above debate, but I would like to explore why water and spirit are associated so much. But so far, that's all the further I've gotten.

  2. I'm leaning towards the Isaiah 43 passage with a little of Luke thrown in, too.

    The general plan at this point is to talk about "the gospel" as good news...and to note how sometimes you find the gospel overflowing in texts outside "the gospelS." This selection from Isaiah is certainly one of those!

    I'll focus on the good news in Isaiah - that God names us, claims us, redeems us. I'm going to use a great little story by Robert Fulghum...the one where the kids are playing hide and seek and he yells out, "Get found, kid!" Getting found is good news.

    Thanks to those sneaky lectionary folks, that is also the good news of the Luke passage (for me, at least). Baptism is one of the many ways we "get found" as children of God.

    I hope to encourage people to reflect on their own baptisms, but also to reflect on the ways they are at ministry in the world helping find others (how do you help people know they are holy and beloved by God)?

    We'll close by giving people the opportunity to come up and dip their hands in a bowl of water, taking a clear glass drop with them. We did this last year and people found it meaningful.

    And...we're going to do all that in 15 minutes or less. HAH! We'll see what gets dropped as I write. :-)

    This Sunday is a special one for me because I'm getting ordained on Sunday afternoon - yippee!

  3. Congrats Caela!

    My sermon title is "SPirited Water of Life". Using Acts and Isaiah, not reading Luke at all (in a discussion with a person newer to the church at a regional event last fall she mentioned that she found hearing all those Bible passages confusing when they weren't talked about so I am going to start only reading the passage or two I am using as reference along with the Psalm for the day since the Sunday School is using those).

    Other than that I am not sure where I am going. I hope to get some early thoughts this morning and then focus on the funeral for one of our charter members tomorrow.

  4. Congratulations, Caela! Certainly you could include your imminent ordination in your thoughts about being "found" by God. I, too, am using the Isaiah passage: how cannot you not preach about God's ever-present message of love for God's people? It is just begging to be celebrated!

  5. I have often read, but never posted... but a new year is here! I am also planning on a full Sunday with reaffirmation of baptismal covenant and communion relying on Luke and Isaiah with the "resolutions we should make" to fear no more! I want to touch on washing away fear (baptism) and remembering the assurance of presence and hope (eucharist).

  6. I have a guest preacher this week--hallelujah! He is doing John's baptism passage....not really sure where he's going with it, but I love the liturgy and hymns he's chosen, so it should be a great day! For an opening hymn he picked "Creating God Your Fingers Trace." nice!

  7. Caela - congrats! And your service sounds lovely and in fact very close to what I'm aiming for -

    remember your baptism with Isaiah as the main passage, ending with calling people forward to pick up a glass stone from the baptismal font.

    I'll have to reread that Robert Fulghum story and see if that'll work for me as well.

    Teri - so glad you have a guest preacher! How are things going on the new pastor front?

  8. OK, I got my opening thoughts together.

    You can read them here

  9. This is bringing back memories of this time last year of our baptism service when we all went forward to place our hand in the font to remind ourselves we were special to God,called and commissioned. Folk loved it.
    I'm going to store away the glass stones idea for next year because this Sunday the Church of Scotland is suggesting a Souper Sunday when we find out about and contribute to the HIV/AIDS project. The service is led by elders and then we have a soup and bread lunch together, so easy time for preachers.Caela, what a wonderful day to be ordained with the message of God's unconditional love ringing in your ears. Blessings.

  10. Happy New Year, RevGals! I hope that somewhere between Christmas Day and Epiphany you have found a few moments to breathe deeply...

    The Luke passage has had me thinking about perhaps the most powerful story I've ever heard about baptism, and what it means to be named by God and claimed by a community. It's told by Rev. Janet Wolf, who describes baptism as “this holy moment when we are named by God’s grace with such power it won’t come undone.” I've included Janet's story at The Painted Prayerbook this week. Would love for you to stop by!

    Caela, congratulations and blessings as you and your community celebrate your ordination! And O Pastor!--good to hear from you--thanks for posting.

    Blessings and much peace to all, and a Merry Epiphany!

  11. Gord, I love it. Uisge beatha, whisky, 4 times distilled - water of life. Real spirit indeed! Especially if it comes from Islay.

  12. At present I'm looking at the lectionary texts and, as usual, pondering the context and wondering why the whole story seems ignored. The Acts passage is two verses culled from the larger story of Simon Magus, while the gospel text ignores the two verses talking about the consequences John faced for his rebuke of Herod. What I'm wondering is if a sermon reflecting on "the whole story" will work, emphasizing that baptism is an all-encompassing act of God, not the spiritual inoculation we've allowed it to become. Thoughts? Am I stretching too far?

  13. Yay Calea!!!!
    Hope your years in ministry have and will be as meaningful as many ofthe RGBPs.
    Although it is far from easy, it has not been something i regreted doing.
    I am on JtheB as well. I ahve used the clear glass thinys too.
    I will have a fountain turned on during worship tomorrow

  14. I was just reading at Working Preacher about how Luke sets up the theme about expectations...and it got me thinking--what do we expect when we have our children baptized? What do we expect from our own baptisms? What do we expect from God?

    Not sure if I'll go with that when the time comes to finally right, but that is where my thinking is now.

    We will reaffirm our baptismal covenant, and I will be sprinkling the congregation ("asperging")-- I saved the baptismal water from last week's baptism just for that.

  15. Caela...congratulations. Celebrate!!!

    I am using Luke and Isaiah. This congregation needs to hear they are God's beloved.

    Will be using this someplace in the service. Also it is a communion Sunday for us.

    May look up some Henry Nouwen images from his book about being beloved children of God.

  16. I sort of built up the baptism of Jesus and baptism in our tradition in a newsletter article since we have a baptism on Sunday, but well, I have no idea what I will do. I've been planning on going with Luke, but not feeling much of a leading yet. I also haven't spent too much time trying so I guess I shouldn't complain yet.

    With these festivals/stories that appear in multiple gospels I try to find my point for preaching in the place that is unique to the gospel. I figure the writer told it a little different for a reason, so the reason must be in there. I haven't looked comparatively at the baptism accounts yet, so that might be part of my hold-up.

    I'm seeing one thing here that might be important - the heaven opened, the dove came down, and the voice spoke all while Jesus was praying as opposed to when he was coming up out of the water. There might be something there.

    Not sure yet. Ho hum. Need to spend some time in prayer and reading.

  17. Caela - - your ideas go REALLY well as a second step from mine last week. I think I need to think on your thoughts a little and see if that direction might be a good "Step 2" from last week. I worked with belonging to God, finding out identity in God through the adolescent Jesus story in Luke 2. It felt very baptismal, but I didn't have a baptism. We do this week (as well as Jesus') so your next step my help me make that connection. I hae always LOVED the naming piece of that Isaiah passage. I planned to use that passage in the baptismal liturgy, but maybe I should put it into the sermon focus, too.

  18. On the expectations piece, a theme I've heard in my preaching a LOT lately, is that God doesn't promises to take the icky stuff away, but God promises to bring us through it - - a la Isaiah and the waters, the rivers, the fire, and even the children that leave or are taken away? Maybe?

    What did they expect? Geez, it almost seems like to go that direction I need to go back further into the chapter to get to what John was talking about. Hmmmm...

    OK. I need to have some of my own thoughts now and then come back. Thanks for the food to chew on everybody!

  19. Congratulations Caela.

    When I read the lectionary for this week I was struck by the ‘voice of God’. it is in the Psalm, and Luke, and Isaiah starts with “thus says the Lord”. Looking at how we hear God speak to us today. That will include baptism [God tells us we are loved – like the Isaiah passage], also Eucharist [which will be celebrated this Sunday] , scripture etc.
    Wondering about the including something on recollection of Baptism – see how the service pans out over the next few days.

  20. Hi Sisters, I just love the line from Isaiah " I have called you by name, You are MINE."
    I am going to suggest that everyone repeat this once a day for the next week and see what changes in their lives.

  21. Congrats Caela and welcome to O Pastor!!

    I'm going with the baptism theme. I'm going with the idea that baptism, while our denomination no longer believes it is no longer about "washing away sin" (but rather about knowing and naming oneself as part of God's realm) - is nonetheless a life-altering element of being church.

    I've got some good sized (ie non-choking size) river rocks that I'm going to immerse in a tub of fine sand. Then I'll invite people to come up, dig out a rock and reflect for a moment before dipping it in the font, leaving behind the sand and taking the clean stone away with them.

    In other words - baptism does change us. When Jesus came up out of the water, he was renewed and transformed. What is it about our own baptism that can remind us again that we don't need to carry burdens around with us - we can lighten the load we're carrying by remembering that we too - as the baptized and baptizing church in the world, can leave our burdens at the bottom of the "river" and move forward in faith.

  22. I'm working with Isaiah with a Luke backup. I'm candidating, so the message "you are called by name, you are loved" was a good one to preach. I'm tying Luke in to Isaiah's good new as we are called by God's name in our baptismal identity.

    Congratulations, Caela, if all goes well on Sunday, I'll be ordained in 4 weeks...

  23. Hey there all,
    I am planning a service for healing/remembrance of baptism, borrowing from James a passage I did not get to preach on in Sept. Not sure what else, yet, but no one needs it more than me this week - I'm a Saturday sermon write, so I'll see you at the party this week.

    I'm thinking of having the kids act out the baptism story for the chidlrens time. thoughts?

  24. Sherev,
    I like your idea of finding the different point in the gospel accounts.
    And I can see my Synopsis of the Gospels from where I sit. :0

  25. Caela,

    Thank you for Robert Fulghum's story suggestion. I played Sardines for the first time in college. I plan to preach from Luke with some Isaiah.

    Incorporating the divine affirmation from Luke, God's promise in Isaiah, and the Sardines game.

    The point of Sardines is to get found. Sardines emphasizes community instead of isolation and promotes the gathering people who want to get found. In “getting found” we come forward to the water like those line with Jesus to be baptized and receive God’s love and grace into our lives. Or getting found again like those who have been away or hiding to come forward and reaffirm what God has been doing in their life and to hear again “You are my child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” as God embraces them.

    I think the church at its best plays Sardines. Just as Jesus was in line and thus in the midst of broken people, Emmanuel, God with us; We who have been named, claimed, and redeemed go out and seek those who are hiding and join them in midst of their chaotic life. When the church, the body of Christ, goes out as the hands and feet of Christ to seek the lost, those who are hiding; the church does not leave them in isolation. Instead the church invites those who are hiding to receive the same love, joy, hope, peace, and strength that we received which empowers us to be found and to live into our identity as named, claimed, redeemed children of God.

    Congrats on your upcoming ordination!

    Pastor from the TX coast


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