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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - God Calling Edition

The two call stories in this week's lectionary readings - the call of Isaiah and the call of the fishers - are very different in many ways. Isaiah's call comes in the form of a mystical vision in the temple, complete with seraphim. (What ARE seraphim anyway? My Bible dictionary is no help here. I think it says something like: "Heavenly creatures, of unknown description. See angels.") The call of the fishers, on the other hand, could hardly be more prosaic, coming as it does plop in the middle of Peter, James and John's work day.

But, the stories do have a similar trajectory, which might make it fun to weave them together in a sermon. Both start in a very particular time and place, in both stories the Divine speaks words that beckon, and both feature protagonists who declare their unworthiness before God but follow anyway.

If, on the other hand, you're taking your sermon in an evangelism direction, rather than a call direction, you might want to consider Ann Svennungsen's words, as quoted by Kate Huey: "The calling is not to hook people and drag them in," Svennungsen writes: "It is rather to cast the net of God's love all around--open to all the world--and then wait with patience for the Spirit's work and to see if any are caught by God's vision and grace."

Are you preaching on psalms instead? Continuing your series on Corinthians? Or veering off the lectionary course altogether? (By the way, if you are considering moving off lectionary, this new discussion over at Working Preacher has just come to my attention).

Let us know in the comments. We look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Juniper, Thanks for that quote from Anne Svennungsen. I like that. And I think I can use it this week. One of our young folk is updating us on his mission trip to Peru with The Vine Trust, and his plans for another trip this year, so the whole notion of calling and responding will fit very well.Look forward, as ever, to catching the Spirit as she weaves her way in and around the texts and the week's preparation.

  2. the call to the fishermen is an echo of a prophetic promise that the Lord would find and "fish up" all his dispersed and lost and hidden people in exile in order to return them to the land of the promise. It was a great relief to find that the "fishing" envisaged was not fly-fishing, dry fly-fishing, gaffing, or even netting, but something much more like "tickling."
    I'm sorry I don't have the reference immediately at hand...possibly Jeremiah 16:16?

  3. I've got supervision with my minister today - she's going to be getting the Svennungsen quote. Thanks folks.
    I'm still trying to work out why it was that it felt like swimming through treacle conducting worship on Sunday! Never experienced that before.
    If I was on preaching duty this week I suspect I'd be focusing on Isaiah - we've done 2 solid weeks of 'word': hearing, going out and doing/ telling, being rejected because of....
    Think the Is. passage goes back to source, in a sense - God: the reason why we go off and do the stuff. We go because we're called, but we respond because it's also in reaction to our experience of meeting God, glimpsing God's glory... and in the knowledge that ultimately, God has our back.

  4. I am going with Isaiah and Jeremiah for call stories with the sermon title "Why Me?". I will likely tell the Luke story during children's time

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  6. I am using the Luke passage as well. Focusing on "what kind of boat are you?" which will draw on Margaret Silf's book "At Sea with God". How do our "boats" hinder and/or help us in living the message in Luke...or at least that is the early thoughts.

  7. It's 1 Corinthians for me this week. As I sat in the dentist's chair reading FOTW yesterday afternoon, the refrain "On Christ the solid rock I stand" kept going through my head. So I'll be preaching Christ crucified and resurrected as the foundation of our faith. Naturally, I had no paper with me so I don't exactly remember how this was working itself out in my head. Rereading and further reading are on the agenda for today and then I'll begin to clack something out on the keyboard.
    I wonder if I can get an Amen? :-)

  8. I'm preaching Luke and my title is "Lord of the Broken Nets." I'm captivated by the image of the nets being so full that they were beginning to break, and I'm thinking about how much more God wants to do in our lives, and esp. in the life of our church, then we are prepared for. I'm probably going to be preaching this sermon towards the life of the church (as opposed to more individual applications, though there may be some of that). I'm excited about this text!

  9. I'm heading for Isaiah and Luke...and all I know so far is that the choir is going to sing Here I Am, Lord during communion, and we're going to open with Holy Holy Holy (cuz we never get to sing that!)....and someone else is doing the children's message, so I have to come up with a direction so he can follow it as well. That's all I've got.

    Well, that and it's Souper Bowl Sunday and also the Bible Bowl...yeah.

    I think I'm going to need to think/pray/read a little more this week! :-)

  10. Margaret - I've got an Amen for you (also, a "no wonder you thought of suffering/crucifixion while in the dentist chair!")

    Nik - I'm pretty new to leading worship full time, but in just a coule of years I've noticed a trend at this time of year at my place- Christmas decoratiions down, Lent not yet begun, people all have little colds, attendance goes down and energy does too. I guess there's a reason they call it "ordinary time"

    Do others experience this situation? If so, wonder how our preaching might address it?

    Great ideas so far - children are leading worship this week, using this teaching eucharist as a spring board. I'm working on the other prayers and things - probably around the theme of call, and great things God calls us to, no matter how unworthy/small we feel. I'm not exactly preaching, though, as kiddos will be working on a skit for during preaching time.

    Goodness, this is sounding like a lot to get ready all of a sudden! I'm off...

  11. I just preached the call story from Luke a couple of months ago as part of our stewardship series, so I decided to go with Isaiah. Once I did that I remembered I preached one I really like on Isaiah last time through the lectionary. That doesn't happen to me often since I was still an associate pastor and preaching infrequently the last time through the lectionary.

    SO! For a rare event, I'm pulling out an old one from my last call, and preaching that one! Woo hoo! I'll actually need to shorten it up quite a bit, since we've got a lot going on in worship this week. But I'm thrilled to have it mostly done!!!

    My title on this one is "Cleansing and Calling" and the general idea is that we're never ready when we're called. We're never perfect enough for the job, but God calls anyway, and makes us clean and ready to serve. Or something like that. I'll actually post the old version sometime shortly.

  12. Got back to the texts after a few conversations along the way. And, for now, the Isaiah passage is calling me. Meditating on signs of hope

  13. Juniper,
    thank you for posting that teaching eucharist - it's wonderful! I've wanted to do something like that for a long time. Pondering if this is the week to do it...

  14. This Sunday we have a Baptism and Communion. I’m going with Corinthians and Luke. The thing that stood out for me in the Corinthians passage is handing on what we have received, just as in the Institution Narrative also from Corinthians. What have we received? What do we hand on to the child being baptised, and the children in our congregation and community? Luke reminded me that sometimes we can work really hard, like the disciples had the previous night, without a catch. And we still need to respond when Jesus calls us to act. Not sure they will connect together, maybe the Luke part is for me:)

  15. The Rev. Dr. Wil GafneyFebruary 2, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    I'm going to focus on the interaction between mortality and immortality in the texts.
    PS: Hebrew has a fairly rigid taxonomy for heavenly creatures, they are not interchangeable. Seraphim are winged and made out of fire, malakim (messengers translated as angeloi in Greek) can appear human and have no wings, i.e. Jacob's ladder. The same work (malak, singular) is also used for anyone human or divine who carries a message so it is very difficult to tell when there is a divine messenger in the text. Angel is usually a terrible translation.
    I'll probably add the stuff on angels from my Michael & All Angels sermon.

  16. Wow. Superb quote. I may jsut change my direction a bit.
    I am mainly preaching on Isaiah, but loved the idea of weaving in the gospel. Crazy week with lots to do and an eye infection that keeps me out of contacts until Sundya.
    Looking forward to hearing from you all on thougths on the texts.
    Lost premires in T- 8 minutes!

  17. thanks Wil for the translation, not sure I can actually picture it any better, but a being of fire sure maeks the whole scene even more dynamic!

  18. I've just arrived back in Florida from a trip to Minnesota with my sweetheart. Although we did make some comment on the timing of Floridians going to Minnesota in midwinter, it was beautiful there--a splendid change of scenery, and warm hospitality. The timing of the trip was occasioned by one of the events we were invited to lead--a celebration of the Feast of St. Brigid, which falls on February 1. This beloved Irish saint, who was born in the fifth century and did much to shape the landscape of the early church in Ireland, was renowned for her generosity and hospitality. Her "habit of the wildest bounty," as one writer has put it, ties in wonderfully with the gospel lection this week, so St. Brigid weaves through my reflection on the net-breaking, boat-sinking abundance that the disciples encounter in this passage from Luke. More at The Painted Prayerbook.

    Many blessings of wildest bounty to everyone this week!

  19. Juniper, I think of seraphim as described in "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence":

    At His feet the six wing├Ęd seraph,
    Cherubim with sleepless eye,
    Veil their faces to the presence,
    As with ceaseless voice they cry:
    Alleluia, Alleluia
    Alleluia, Lord Most High!

    you can go to Google images for seraphim and get some visuals...

  20. I'm preaching on Luke primarily, and talking about the way God calls us out of our comfort zone to do God's work. How that stepping out of the comfort zone may result in surprising abundance. How God provides what we need to do the work, even when we think we are incapable. How, sometimes, we just need to drop the boats by the waterline and follow, even if we don't know where it will lead.


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