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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Taking up the Mantle, etc.

He Qi: Elijah is taken up to Heaven (at Vanderbilt Digital Library)

Elijah ascends in a whirlwind, while Elisha, hoping to inherit a double measure of his mentor's spirit, watches...and picks up the mantle. I am thinking much this week of how we pick up the mantle of those who have gone before, and also make it our own, reframing it and making it new for the world in which we live.

In the epistle, Paul reminds us of the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit: "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." This may sound easier than it is!

And the Gospel has the hard, hard teaching about two people who offer to follow Jesus, but who really can't leave just needs to bury a dead father, the other needs to go home and say goodbye. Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

What direction will you take? We look forward to reading and praying with you over your study this week, and the sermons as they are birthed. Please share in the comments. I have coffee on!


  1. No idea where I'm going. We use the alternate first lesson/psalm; I think I like the whirlwind better. We have pre-printed lesson inserts though, so switching is more confusing.

    I'm in a new setting where laypersons do the children's sermons; I'm used to doing them. Up this week is a high school student who warned me that the lessons were tough! I told him that for the kids focusing on the fruits of the spirit would be the way to go!

    Maybe I should take my own advice and focus on those! I'm away at continuing ed all next week, so I was hoping to get a good start on my sermon for the 4th too.

    Hoping to find brilliant insights here when I return later!

  2. This is the last Sunday I am here. So the sermon is about that. I am using the Elijah story along with a couple of other readings. But really the sermon is saying goodbye.

    Oh and I am baptising my daughter! (The other three we had other folks baptise, I am doing this one)

    Mey erly thoughts are here

    And how does one say good bye????

  3. I'm doing a word play with "mantle and mantel." Many folks place items of value (their "legacy" items" on the mantel (the shelf above the fireplace) to pass on to others. In this case, Elijah passes on his mantel (a cloak, symbol of authority) to Elisha. So: "What's on your mantle? What are you passing on?" is the focus of the sermon.

  4. Sometime last week, I decided that there must be five Sundays this month and that it would be a great idea to offer the deacon a second preaching Sunday in June. Well, of course, I was dead wrong but I can't tell you how glad I am that he is preaching.
    First of all, a beloved parishioner died Sunday morning and I have been preparing for that sermon tomorrow as well as my usual Wednesday night sermon.
    And now I have checked in here and realized that I just don't want to preach any of those lessons! So thanks to whatever angel/saint is watching over me! Good luck to the rest of you.
    Gordon, saying goodbye is so hard! But the gospel might have something to say about that. We are called to follow where the Spirit takes us - your new call - and that means we can't/shouldn't linger over goodbyes. When I left my last church, I think I spent the sermon telling them how much I loved them, had cherished our time walking together and that I knew they were going to be fine. Baptizing your child with them is an indication of how much you trust and care for them.

  5. I've been preaching on Elijah this whole month and feel the need to finish off with him caught up in the whirlwind to heaven.
    Love Vicar's idea with Mantel and Mantle.
    I have a "goodbye" coming in about a month (and a few days). So not looking forward to it. I have come to dearly loved these people!

  6. We have been thinking about the Elijah readings, so I am planning on doing that, but had no idea where to start - but I do like your idea vicar and mary beth - what gets passed on to us and what do we pass onto others. Here there is a roster for children's talk, and this week is my turn, and the Sunday School material uses the Elijah reading - must ask the teacher how they handle this with children.
    any ideas appreciated

  7. This is a big Sunday for me, as a very interested search committee is coming to hear me preach, and there's an outside chance a second committee will also send representatives. I have a second interview with the definitely coming church after worship.
    Meanwhile, I'm home early from a mission trip after an allergic reaction to black fly bites. I spent today icing the bites that form a charming ring around the sides and back of my neck and cool compressing the bites on my face (one on a cheek, the other under an eye).
    All of which is to say, I'm a bit anxious about Sunday and wasn't really in the right frame of mind to use today's found time to work on a sermon.
    My idea is to talk about the ways God is with us when we're afraid to take the next step. I'm using Nan C. Merrill's version of Psalm 77 along with the Luke reading. Title is "No Turning Back." Of course I am totally guilty of hedging and dallying myself, so I understand the conditional living of the man who wanted to bury his father, of anyone who has just one more thing to do before taking off after Jesus. It seems this search (which has attracted so much attention from out of state and thus means a move is highly likely) is coming down to a test of my willingness to start pushing the plow without looking back. Which will make a great sermon illustration next time, but not so much this time.

  8. SB, hope the fly bites heal quickly, and sending lots of good vibes for Sunday. But you've also given me an idea with your title and idea about taking the next step....which in many ways is what I'm trying to help my congregation do right now. So thanks!!

  9. SB, will totally be thinking of you on Sunday! So sorry about the fly bites. They sound awful. Hope the ice helps

  10. I'm doing 2 adult (OK, one is 15 but the other is over 30) baptisms, so I'm doing the Galatians and talking about new life in Christ and how it's supposed to be different. It's also Sunday after VBS, so we'll probably start with the children, so this had best be a shorter sermon... Also the last sermon before a bit of continuing education at Presbyterian Mecca...

  11. Songbird, the idea of dueling search committees in church is intriguing! Your sermon ideas sound good, though, and I'm sure they will all be wowed.
    Sorry about the bites, tho. You are in my prayers.

  12. I'm finding further inspiration in a Wendell Berry poem posted over at Jan's place, "Every Day." And a further thought I hope will prove reassuring in the face of Jesus' tough talk is that God calls us based on our gifts and graces, to work we can actually do. That doesn't guarantee that launching into it won't be challenging or risky, but ultimately we have what it takes.

  13. I will be taking on the Gospel head on. Something I read earlier has stuck with me. The father isn't dead, yet. In order to fulfill the commandment to honor his parents, the son is compelled to find someone to take care of his father/parents.

    Jesus' comment to let the dead bury the dead seems to me an injunction on the rest of us. We the community should be able to see the need of an elderly couple and we should automatically step in and help.

    I am preparing to march in Cleveland's Gay Pride parade this weekend -- the Gospel and Galatians seem to tie them together quite well for me. But, it's still early (for me) and I may end up going a completely different way.

  14. Guest preaching to a congregation that has recently started a relationship with a new pastor. I'm thinking Luke provides a good way to think about the time to come when the new wears off.

  15. I just picked up a pulpit supply for this Sunday (the pastor slipped and had emergency knee surgery and can't stand long enough to lead worship). So I go from a relaxing non-preaching week to frantic Friday sermon prep.

    I am preaching Luke. A couple of thing strike me: first, Jesus's demands are impossible! But maybe that is the point: we do not follow on our own, we follow knowing that we can't measure up, that we are inadequate, but God is faithful to supply what we need.

    The second: my initial reaction to the text was, I can't beleive Jesus REALLY said to..." Doesn't that echo a conversation in a garden where someone said "Did God really say..."

    No idea where I'm going with this yet. Just pondering.


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