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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Fox in the Henhouse Edition

Our prayer this week might be that Jesus gather our thoughts like the mother hen gathers her chicks. I don't know about you, but the more times I read this week's lectionary readings, the less sense I can make of them as a unit.

There is Genesis and God's promise to Abram. There is a psalm which is looking with one eye at the work of evil-doers and enemies, while with the other at the glory of God. There are words of exhortation from the letter to the Philippians. And there is Jesus, too hard at work on the road to Jerusalem to be bothered by threats of a dictator.

Could it be that the scattered thoughts I bring to this day are just right for the second Sunday of Lent? We are, after all, each on a unique place as we journey toward the cross. How do we journey? With a little testiness, like Abram? With mingled fear and praise, like the psalmist? With firmness, like Paul? Or, like the crowd around Jesus, distracted and poised for violence?

I long to see how you are gathering yourself this week. See you in the comments!

Texts for this week found here. Photo borrowed from here.


  1. I am not much help since I'm off lectionary. I'm working with the theme of hospitality and preaching from Luke 14:7-14, parables about banquets and invitations, where to sit when you get there and who to invite when you have your own. That's about all I've got. Fantastic.

    Part of the reason I went off-lectionary this Lent was because of the texts this year. Just call me a cheater! They were tough at first glance, and I had a direction I needed to go for other reasons, so I didn't look too long or hard to try to see if they would work!


  2. I'm planning to go with the psalm - thinking about verse 4. In the NRSV: One thing I ased of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in hi temple.

    The phrase 'to behold the beauty of the Lord' is bouncing about my cold-befuddled mind... thinking we might go a little along the awe and wonder track about the God that we worship... what is it to behold the beauty of the Lord? How do we worship in a way that enables us to behold the beauty of the Lord?
    I'm reminded of that great story about of Prince Vlad of Rus and the envoys he sent all around the known would, to look for a religion for his new land. They eventually arrive in Constantinople and go to worship in the Hagia Sophia... and report back to Vlad: 'We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty'
    So God, God's beauty, worshipping and beholding God's beauty... hmmm! Is this possible for Presbyterians?? *grins*

  3. Also going with psalm this week and including anointing and prayers for healing and wholeness in the service.

    Thinking about the tension of the psalm - between faith and fear, doubt and trust.

    Trying to think of a good tension illustration to use ...

  4. y'know the picture that immediately sprang to mind was a tight-rope walker: in particular the chap that walked between the Twin Towers... if the tension of the rope had been wrong, it wouldn't have happened/ or he would have fallen... and now the interesting tension since the towers themselves have 'fallen' and how the world has been in a heightened state of tension since then...?

  5. Okay, so I am dealing with the mother hen text. I decided to do all Gospel text for Lent some time ago.
    I am still reading stuff for sermon, but would love a good childrens' message. Read the duck story for sermons4kids, but was not wild about it.
    Thought about getting a long shawl or piece of material and acting out how the hen protects her brood with the children.

    any ideas?

  6. Thought-gathering, or at least thought-pruning definitely required by me!
    My (much too long!) sermon (which is
    includes this wonderful reflection from Barbara Brown Taylor:

    "If you have ever loved someone you could not protect, then you understand the depth of Jesus' lament. All you can do is open your arms. You cannot make anyone walk into them. Meanwhile, this is the most vulnerable posture in the world --wings spread, breast exposed --but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand. … Jesus won't be king of the jungle in this or any other story. What he will be is a mother hen, who stands between the chicks and those who mean to do them harm. She has no fangs, no claws, no rippling muscles. All she has is her willingness to shield her babies with her own body. If the fox wants them, he will have to kill her first; which he does, as it turns out. He slides up on her one night in the yard while all the babies are asleep. When her cry wakens them, they scatter.
    She dies the next day where both foxes and chickens can see her -- wings spread, breast exposed -- without a single chick beneath her feathers. It breaks her heart . . . but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand."

  7. I am popping in to say that I am at the fabulous Juniper's house, sitting at her kitchen table, drinking coffee, while we parallel play on our laptops.

    Have a great week, preachers of the Word! I know I will!

    (formerly CH)

  8. ah, Ruth, breathtaking. Thanks for the quote.

    nik - good thoughts. thanks!

    sherev - truthfully, I'm wishing I would have gone off lec this week too. But, sometimes that feeling is a good challenge to get going on something.

    1-4 - I'm also looking for a childrens time. Maybe take it one more step? bring a big blanket and a flashlight, everybody get under it, and talk about how cozy/safe it feels to read under the covers, and that's how we feel with Jesus all the time, amen? Another partially fleshed-out idea: OUr Bible study leader this week asked about everyone's favorite city, so I was also thinking of Jerusalem - showing pictures of the city, maybe, talking about how Jerus is called "home" by many people, just like our city is, but they dont always agree about what that means.... ??? Hmm, not sure where to go with that one either.

  9. hehehe, having become a citizen of the UK a couple of weeks ago, and having been given a certificate and medal of citizenship, can ya guess where I might be going with the kiddies address??!! :)
    You know you've been in church too long when, at important life moment ceremonies, in which you are given something, your immediate thought is 'oooh something for a childrens address!'
    My supervising minister confessed that she's pretty much gone through everything in the manse now...

  10. Good stuff Juniper! Keep those ideas flowing. I love the blanket idea. Take good care of Jules. We loves her too!
    Congrats Nik!
    I am on the sofa for lunch and hooked on the curling.
    Must.Get. Going!

  11. The Mama-hen scripture has me flashing back to an old church camp song:

    "If God can love turkeys
    God can love you.
    You are a turkey,
    but I am one too..."

  12. I'm going with the gospel this week. The mother hen picture just calls out to me. Our son (16) was attacked recently. Thankfully he's OK. But I am still being surprised by the ferocity of my feelings for the perpetrators. I have to confess that forgiveness just doesn't feature for me - not yet anyway. I want to share something of that desire to protect versus need to let go/be vulnerable without getting too personal. We'll see how it goes.

  13. I am in a series on prayer. With our congregation, taking on a deeper commitment to prayer this Lent, I have been talking about prayer. This week, using the OT Lesson, talking about how prayer expects God to keep GOd's promises like Abraham expected God to keep God's promise to him. Do we really expect God to be faithful, do we really expect to find God at the other end of our prayers?

  14. I'll admit to being quite taken aback by the account of Abram's deep sleep and terrifying darkness. This is scary stuff, especially during Lent when we often confront questions of theodicy.

    My initial reflection is here.

    Love and blessings,
    Sr. Hedwyg

  15. I just had a request from someone for more information about the photo on this post, so I went back to the page where I found it to look it up again and found this awesome story that goes with it. Not sure what it has to do with your preparation, if anything, but I enjoyed it anyway and thought you might, too:

    "The photo below shows one of the most amazing things I've ever seen chickens do. In the spring of 2007 we had two mothers get carried away by varmints. Their chicks suddenly had no mother. Normally a hen will not accept another hen's chicks, because it's all she can do to take care of her own. But to my amazement one of our hens, who already had 16 chicks of her own, accepted the little cheepers of the two other hens. This gave her a total of 42 chicks!

    This led to amusing sights like her running over somewhere to scratch, followed by a streaming hoard of little feather balls. And then, when she stood still, when they were still small they would ALL try to get under her for protection. There of course was not enough room, so the photo shows what frequently happened. Some got the entrepreneurial spirit and climbed on her back! I must say I admire that sort of thing."

  16. Trying to think of a family sermon to go with the Abram lesson...descendants as numerous as the stars. God doing what seems impossible, and not just by a little bit, but to an outrageous degree. I have zero ideas at this point, so if anything, even a little tidbit, springs to mind, please share!

  17. From this week's Christian Century Living by the Word, Kae Evensen is the author, speaking about Genesis and Luke:
    There is something heartbreaking about both of these stories. On one hand there is Abram, who wonders if God will fulfill a promise despite discouragement and against all odds. On the other hand there is God, who in fulfilling that promise laments that the people have never fully trusted that promise. Woven through the biblical narrative is this tension between God's faithfulness and our doubt, God's unimaginable love for us and our inability to let go of ourselves to live fully in that love or trust that, despite appearances, God will not leave us or fail us.

    I haven't been able to read FOTW this week but that's next on my list, right after the closing on the university ministry house and a meeting about how we will manage it. Also prep for tonight's service and a talk with my organist. Dreading that last one.

  18. At lectionary group, we talked about how the sacrifice God told A. to make was a fully realized version of what kids say: "Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. . . " - a promise to be true, or to die trying. Which ties in with what Jesus is about to do when he makes his speech in Luke . . .
    I'd never made that connection before. (Did I make it clear this time?)

  19. I just have bits and pieces which in no ways add up to a sermon....sigh.....but I am struck that Abram heasr "fear not", has the cojones to argue with God- that seesm to be part of faith and "righteousness" Jesus does not have fear, and in fact, barks back at the Pahrisees about Herod- you KNOW they are going to run and tattle on him- and the gruesome "cutting a covenant" ceremony in which it is YHWH who walks thru all the dismembered bodies......and Jesus, is setting his face to go to Jerusalem, where he will be killed...if we hadnt sung What Wondrous Love a few weeks ago for communion, Id use it this week- be well- Nancy


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