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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Messy Church" Edition

Lessons for Sunday can be found here.

Some of us are acquainted with the hands-on, all-ages program called "Messy Church"...well, this Sunday our lessons point to a different kind of "messy Church": namely, us, the called, gathered and sent people of God, sometimes at our best, sometimes at our worst.

Our first lesson portrays a young Church on the move in the world, empowered by the Holy Spirit to set captives free, whether that be a possessed slave girl, the Apostles themselves or the jailer and his household. That's good news; right? But yet we find a peevish Paul who seems more interested in shutting up the annoying slave than someone demonstrating compassion toward an exploited young girl. (And we never do find out what happens to her in the end -- perhaps telling in itself.) Our Revelation text contains a beautiful, hope-inspiring promise of final victory and life everlasting for Christ's people -- but pairs that with vituperative condemnation not only of "those bad people over there" but of anyone who tampers with this particular text; more ammunition for a contemporary readership convinced that Christians are intolerant "haters." And yet our Gospel lesson takes us back to Jesus' High Priestly prayer, in which he lovingly prays for the entire body of believers -- as imperfect, as messy, as improbable a group to live his message into the world as there could be.

And then there's that thing about Ascension Day, this Thursday, an increasingly forgotten holiday in much of the anyone going to move those lessons to Sunday, or otherwise incorporate that theme into Sunday?

So...what might your sermon be about this Sunday? As always, share your ideas and insights with us as you pray and plan your way there.


  1. I haven't decided what I am doing with it yet but I have put the whole of John 17 as the reading. GOing somewhere with the prayer of JEsus....

  2. we have the 30 hour famine this weekend, and the youth choir is presenting Godspell at 2 of the 3 services, so we're going off lectionary and reading the feeding of the 5000 from John 6. I have to come up with something for the first service, but it doesn't have to be long as we have a little extra music this week. :-) It'll be about sharing our resources...since that's the Famine theme and all that.

  3. I'm doing the Ascension readings over here...not sure where they are taking me yet, up I hope! Not finding as many resources, but that's ok...lots of praying and thinking to do today. I think I am headed in the direction of the church as Christ embodied on earth, seeing the world through Jesus' eyes.

  4. I'm doing John 17. The first part of this prayer came up in the lectionary 2 years ago, and I preached it then, but I'm going to go ahead and do it again anyway. I love the notion of Jesus praying for us. I really like what Gail O'Day has to say about this text in the New Interpreter's Bible commentary.

  5. I think maybe, were I preaching, it would be on us'n'them thinking in the church...

  6. I am in jail with Paul doing the Jailhouse Rock.
    Still not too sure where to go from here.
    Good thoughts on the slave girl. She might could have used a littl compassion.
    Kate Huey has some good stuff on this text at the UCC link on textweek.

  7. I've recently moseyed back to my blog after being mostly absent for a wild and wondrous stretch of weeks in which I've been traveling and getting married and moving. I've thought of the RevGals and look forward to being more connected as I ease back into cyberspace.

    The upcoming Ascension and Pentecost readings, along with the changes and transitions unfolding in my own life, have me thinking about new beginnings. I've recently posted a reflection at The Painted Prayerbook about how these days invite us to discern how God might be calling us to reimagine our lives and begin anew, both individually and in community. Would love for you to stop by!

    Many blessings to you--

  8. I too will be doing the jailhouse rock. We also have graduate recognition this Sunday. My initial thoughts are to tie in a theme of "whatever you do, do it for the glory of God," with Paul and Silas singing in prison and then the jailer immediately giving glory to God. But that's just an initial thought... By Friday morning it might be something completely different! :)

  9. Not sure exactly where I am headed this Sunday but it'll most likely involve the idea of unity. I'm thinking along the line of one-ness in a relational sense. Jesus and the Father are one and that is what he prays for his followers to join. What might that look like for us? How do we remain one while still being individuals? It could get tricky though because this is like trying to explain the Trinity.

  10. I want to preach on Paul and Silas in jail...focus on the fact that imprisonment/fear/threats/injustice couldn't deter them from praising God. Their mission was to glorify God and they remained determined to do so--in the square/in the jail. didn't matter to them. seems that we are so focused on getting what we think we deserve--and when we are dealt an unfair blow, all bets are off in terms of living out our witness. That's so different from Paul and Silas' choice--such a gap between their practice as disciples and my own. No whining, no excuses--just glorifying God--period. seems like this text could be sort of a spiritual gauntlet for us as a church and a very good way to get people yearning for Pentecost--recognizing that we NEED the spirit in order to attain this level of discipleship.

  11. I like what Quinn wrote, I'm with Chaplain Carol on the theme and will re-read Gail O'Day thanks to Earthchick. I have a sermon to recycle, I'll confess I planned it this way as I'm going to a friends graduation on Friday and doing a wedding on Saturday. I've got the tail end of a cold that is really knocking me back this week so this is a good one to re-do.

    Here's a question for anyone still listening, I had a sermon title from an old Green Day song, "Are we, we are" Do I change it or keep it since it's out of date, or will anyone even notice?

  12. Welcome back Jan! Congrats and nice to see you again.
    Nancy, I say you should go for it.
    I think it is fun to use "old" songs and titles that make reference ot old tv shows, etc.
    Some people will surprise you.
    I made reference to Gilligan's Island and some got it

  13. We are going with week four of monologues, this week the cripple by the pool. Also a Baptism. I have very little voice due to a cold, so have a retired Minister on standby for Sunday for the baptism. I am told the Lay preacher who stood in at the last minute last Sunday did really well. Some congregations are a blessing!
    Hoping to get some work done on Pentecost while I am not able to do much else, as next week is really busy with meetings and a friend's birthday party.

    Sorry Nancy, I don't recognise the song title at all - but if you aren't referring to the song it doesn't matter if people get it or not.

  14. I am going with Ascension this week and here is my confession - it's simply because I have a sermon already written that I can "repurpose". Been inundated with funerals recently and fighting a cold so I'm giving myself a break! Would like, however to be jailhouse rocking but just don't have it in me right now.

  15. Well, I was going to go with the Easter 7 stuff and was REALLY thrilled to find my initial notes from a sermon from 6 years ago. However, I have not been able to find that sermon. This being my last Sunday in the pulpit before my leave and having already been asked to keep things very short so we can start a congregational financial discussion early, I have NO MOTIVATION to prepare a new sermon.

    However, I can't find that old sermon. I DID find my Ascension sermon from 3 years ago, so that has one the lucky honor of being repreached this Sunday. I need to shave a good 800 words off of it, though. I've take care of about 300 so far.

    My title is "The Promise and the Call." It was my last sermon in my previous call and I talked about the anxiety of change in the community and what Christ promised and called the community to do in the face of that anxiety. It will work well here in this context now since our meeting after worship is one about serious budget shortfalls - - lots of anxiety. I find myself quoting the senior pastor I last worked with (and had a hard time liking) who kept saying during a similar budget crisis "We can't cut our way out of this problem. We have to commit our way out." As we finish up a month-long part of our larger visioning/discernment that has focused on committing to ministries about which each person has passion, I think that sound byte will probably make its way into the sermon or at least my comments at the meeting. The promise is that we will (have) receive(d) the Spirit. The call is to be witnesses because of that. Even (and especially) in anxious time, we can't go huddle in a room, wringing our hands about what we should do. We need to go and do what God has placed us and equipped us with the Spirit to be a part of.

  16. Thank you for that comment, SheRev. I am preaching on Ascension tomorrow morning (Thursday), and I haven't finished yet. Came over in search of any last bits of inspiration. My sermon is going to be on transitions, on waiting, on liminality, on the power of the Holy Spirit promised to us. I'm trying not to stand around looking up into the sky! (-:

  17. In reflecting over the day yesterday I ended up writing this post. Time to start the preparations for good-bye I think

  18. I hope someone is still reading this. I have come across an interesting paradox of sorts in my study of Acts.
    In Xian Century, Hansen makes statement that the slavegirl was "not harmed."
    However, in Women's Bible Commentary, Gail O'day points out that Paul silences the slavegirl and then she is "forgotten" and possibly sold to someone else.
    O'day says that she is merely a prop to show the "power of God at work in Paul."
    So, what do you RGBPs say?
    Was the unnamed slave girl harmed or freed? We, of course, do not know what happened to her. How have you heard or what ideas do you have about her in Acts?
    I am really confussed


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