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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Ask, Seek, Knock" Edition

Texts for Sunday can be found here .

It seems like such an easy, hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark sermon text, our Gospel for Sunday: God, the radically loving, generous Parent, is always ready to give us what we need, if only we trust in that love and generosity. But is it that simple? What is the good news for you and your congregation, where you're at right now, in this text? Any new "ahas" as you prayerfully, thoughtfully engage Jesus' counsel to believers?

Of course, you may also choose to preach on one of the other texts, or on another of your choosing.

As always, share your insights on the lessons and plans for worship with us here.


  1. What? A person on PST the first to leave a comment? I hope that's because all of you are enjoying fabulous summer days!

    I'm liking the thought that the gospel is about shameless, more than persistent, approach to God in prayer. Our minds are filled with a longing for explanations about how prayer works, or doesn't, when maybe for many of us we need to go back a few steps to the why, and the foundational idea that God longs for us to pray, to ask, to seek, to be in relationship

  2. I am going with the Hosea text, after decidign that saying," You are not my people" would be okay on my last Sunday.

  3. I'm attracted to developing something along the lines of "What If Your Child Asks For A Snake?" but I'm a bit worried I've become too parent-centered in my preaching of late. I'd actually appreciate any thoughts the RGBP community has on the issue over at my place. Thanks, all!

  4. I am leaning toward seeing this as a very personal and practical approach to God. I like what you said about it, Betsy. My similar take on it: God invites us (commands us?) to approach without masks, before we "get right with God" and about the very real, very human, very physical things of life.

    That's where it is so far ...

  5. I think preaching on prayer is one of the toughest things we might be called to do--but maybe that is just me, and my own ambivalence about prayer. Ambivalence in that I totally believe that we are called to pray, that God desires and perhaps even needs our prayers, but I am not at all sure what our prayers do -- other than keep us in relationship with God.

    I just pulled up a reflection I wrote about prayer for CPE, 7 years ago. The whole question of prayer--how it works, whether it is reasonable to ask for things, what about unanswered prayer--weighed heavily on me that summer. The reflection is heavily influenced by process theology, and I still resonate with what it says, and I may draw on it.

    David Lose at Working Preacher has some good things to say about this, too.

    This is my last sermon before vacation. I'll be in church Aug. 1 but not preaching. I hope that doesn't make me lazy, but rather spurs me on!

  6. I'm not preaching this week, but I've been pondering the practice of prayer myself in the wake of dealing with SO many people I know or know of facing life-threatening illness and the big questions that swirl around that.

    In the meantime, while waiting at the VA for Fellow Traveler the other morning, I got to reading an old Discovery magazine article about the nature of time, and whether future events affect the past and present, and all sorts of other equally mind-bending speculations from the world of physics that seem to have a relationship somehow to the act of prayer.

  7. we are oddly enough doing a christmas in july service... so i am shamelessly asking if anyone has a short story type sermon i can borrow for the ocassion?

    it's summer and the sermon mo-jo is on vacay... and well, *ahem* a friend's daughter gets married this weekend, so there's a chance hotcup might be leading worship on little sleep... and legs tired from dancing. (hee hee)

  8. Thank you, RevDrMom for saying what so many of us are thinking. I once told a friend that she was very much in my prayers but that I had no idea what that would lead to. She wasn't comforted needless to say but it was a rough night and the honesty came out unpolished by platitude.
    As many of you have said, prayer is more about being in deep conversation and relationship. So I will likely be working on how this overly well known prayer can take us there. How do we transform the words we can say while thinking of almost anything else into words that compel our complete attention and physical presence?
    I do like the Hosea reading and would love to do something with that but this is one of those times when the gospel overwhelms everything else for me.

  9. what Lutheranchik said.

    today I was at the hospital saying prayers for a family who just delivered a stillborn baby.

    last week we buried a woman who died of Creutzfield Jacob disease.

    pondering the power of God, and the meaning of pray in these instances.

  10. That Working Preacher article was the one that got me really thinking along these lines for preaching.

    I also want to remind people that prayer is not one size fits all (people, times, issues); just because your friend at church thinks centering prayer or whatever is the greatest doesn't mean you will too. I think folks need to hear that, as those in a congregation who are confident in whatever is their preferred form of prayer can be, unintentionally, intimidating to those who are searching. We each need to find our own style(s) and know that nothing pleases God more!

  11. This will be my last Sunday at my interim, and I'm going to focus on "What We Leave Behind." Jesus left behind this prayer and these sayings; what will be our legacy to the next generation of Christians in this place? Can we cut them some slack if their interpretation varies from ours? Something like that.

  12. The congregation that I have been supply preaching at most of the summer is four Sundays away from the second (and final) vote to leave our denomination. Over this summer, I have been focusing on how God calls us to mission and discerning God's mission for the congregation. Prayer is a big part of that discernment process.

    So this week's text is timely. I think I might do something about how we often say we'll pray for someone, or "all that I can do is pray" as if prayer is a weak thing that we do as a last resort when we can't do anything else. While sometimes we need to get to that place to truly understand the power and importance of prayer, I bugs me that as Christians we dismiss prayer so easily. Why is prayer a last resort when it should be our fist line 'go to' for everything.

    Anyway, that's my initial ponderings.

  13. I'm going to use this as an opportunity to do some teaching about our liturgy (Episcopal) and why we say "the prayer that Jesus taught us" every week. Why the seemingly (to some) rote fashion of prayer book worship is important, how it can serve to remind us who we are, and to whom we belong. I'm tempted to use my nursing relationship with my new baby (this is my first Sunday back preaching following maternity leave) is this kind of reconnection. Sometimes he wants to nurse when he is overwhelmed or overstimulated. It calms him and focuses him and I like to think it reminds him who he is and to whom he belongs. He can be sure that he is safe and home becomes my warm lap and mama's milk. Perhaps these "rote" prayers are the same. (I recently did a memorial service in which they didn't want psalm 23 and weren't sure about including the "Our Father" because they wanted to do something different and felt that these were used too often!)

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