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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Lectionary Leanings: What!?

Good Wednesday Morning!

I'm a little off schedulewith this feature. Because there wasn't a Lectionary Leanings post yesterday, and there haven't been any nominations for today's Wednesday Festival, I've elected to "transfer" LL to today. :) Perhaps some of you have already established your sermon directions and can share them with us in the comments. Please do!

The lectionary texts for this week, Epiphany 3C, can be found here. They point to the importance of unity in the body of Christ and the necessity of each part of that body acting together and in harmony.

In an article at The Christian Century, John Stendahl points to the Nehemiah passage as "a great national liturgy," the sort that we do not often see in modern days (perhaps properly so). I wonder how our world's riveted attention to Haiti for the past week, and the many efforts to assist her people in large and small ways, might fit in with this?

Psalm 19's beautiful and singing words are described in context of this lectionary by Howard Wallace of the Theological Hall of the Uniting Church, Melbourne, Australia: In the way this psalm is used we see an illustration of the very thing today’s reading from Nehemiah indicates, that God’s word is open to new and different contexts and speaks to them in life-giving ways.

The First Corinthans reading reminds that we are all part of one body...which could be taken in so many directions. We are all part of the human family and of supplying to others that which we have and they do not; that which they need and do not have. And there are a variety of gifts ... but the same Spirit.

And, in Luke's Gospel, Jesus reads the words of Isaiah to the synagogue at Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” This is a conversation stopper; all eyes are fixed on him. "Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Has that scripture still been fulfilled, is it being fulfilled, in our hearing, in the hearing of our people? How? I look forward to reading about how you will bring it!


  1. MB - love the cartoon! Great post and intro to our readings, thank you...

    I have a rare (at least these days) opportunity to preach on Sunday and am pondering this "and all who could hear with understanding." Not sure I'm going to focus on that but it's where I am at this early stage...

    of course the body parts/whole is always a draw for me, a former massage therapist and student of the body/mind/spirit wholeness -holiness relationship...

    I wonder what the Spirit will stir up in me...

  2. My I wish I had that cartoon last week when I used all of 1 Cor 12. This week I am focussing on Nehemiah and asking if the Law is a burden or a blessing. (I think I'll end up on the blessing side but time will tell ;) )

    My opening thoughts can be found on the church blog below the letter from the UCCan Moderator on Copenhagen. OF course feel free to read Mardi's letter as well

  3. I looking to continue on from last weeks gifts being given for the building up of community and move to the parts of the body. I'm also looking at how the Spirit comes upon Jesus, annoints him and sends him. This happens for us too! Just beginning these sermon thoughts, hopefully I won't be finishing up late on Saturday night this week!

  4. I will be preaching on the gospel text. Right now I think I'll be focusing on how Jesus revealed his identity and what that means for us in our lives of service today. I'm thinking of course, of the people of Haiti and how responding to their needs in a tangible way is how we can proclaim God's justice.

  5. Happy Lectionary Leanings on Wednesday! Thanks, Mary Beth, for this invitation. Perhaps it's the inveterate reader/writer in me--endlessly fascinated by words and the Word--but I often find myself intrigued by the ways that Jesus draws from and engages the words of the Hebrew scriptures in which he's grounded. This Sunday's gospel lection is a particularly powerful example of how the ancient words of hope, articulated by Isaiah, come to life in Christ the Word in stunning fullness. It challenges me to ask--how do we, who are part of the body of Christ, allow these words, and this Word, to be visible in our lives, to find its fulfillment in us?

    More noodlings on that at The Painted Prayerbook, plus the story of an astounding pair of Victorian sister-scholar-adventurers who helped get me thinking about how we bear the Word in our lives.

    Blessings to everyone!

  6. I am following the thread of interpretation as an essential part of worship through Nehemiah and Luke, and talking about faithful life as interpretation. Any insights on that would be appreciated!

  7. I'm using the text and theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, so I'm off lectionary this week. I'm also not going to do a sermon-sermon. The recommendation is to read the entire resurrection (and post-resurrection) chapter of Luke, 24. I'm definitely doing the Emmaus portion, but I'd also like to read the rest. The whole theme is about being witnesses. Each of the days of the week are supposed to focus on different forms of "witnessing." We're going to do a liturgy based on all that tonight at the Wednesday service. I think on Sunday instead of a traditional sermon I'm going to have the passage read by multiple voices, and then invite discussion from the congregation about what kinds of witnesses do they find in the text and what kind of witnesses have been important in their lives. The next piece could then be what kind of witnesses are we called to be (individually or as a congregation).

  8. I'm thinking of the idea that things are not always as they seem. Jesus, a pious Jew, gets up and reads the text. All normal activity for someone like him at that time. But things aren't always as they seem - his next statement is unimaginable. "Today this scripture has been fulfilled." All of this brings to mind recent events of the week - the devastating earthquake, the awful comments by Pat Robertson - and then this intriquing letter "from Satan to Pat Robertson" that appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune. Things just aren't always what they seem.... lots to contemplate.

  9. During Epiphany I've been loosely working on the theme of Jesus being revealed; in this week's gospel it feels like his mission statement is being revealed. That works for me b/c it is our annual meeting and I want us to think about the upcoming year,and what our mission in the world is.

  10. Here this weekend is almost a long weekend, Tuesday [26th] is a public holiday for Australia Day, so some will take Monday off as well. Then the summer holidays are over and school starts for the year. My original plan was looking at the psalm, and how we creation praises God – and singing some uniquely Australian songs about creation. But the gospel and epistle are both beckoning me. I like the part in UCC SAMUEL, which talks of the restoration that Jesus refers to being of the community rather than individuals. I wonder what that says to us here about our treatment of the indigenous people of this country. Only Thursday, a few more days to mull this over and see where it all ends up.

  11. Cool! - people are working in lots of different directions this week.

    As for me, I'll be preaching Psalm 19, one of my faves. I'll be looking at the reality of God's Word behind creation and behind Torah, and finally, for us, behind Christ. My title is "The Core Reality," referring to the reality behind all three of these, that God's Word is only Love and Love and more Love.


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