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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Never Never Never Give Up Edition

Here's the widow, once again harrowing the judge. From her firm stance, upraised hand, pounding fist and even the angle of her eyebrows, you can just tell she's not going anywhere until justice is done. This isn't what many of us - raised on folded hands, closed eyes and bent knees - usually think of as a prayer posture. But Jesus is advocating just that. Try talking to God this way sometime - standing up, eyes open, fist in the air - and see how it changes the content and outcome of your prayer life.

Well, actually, maybe Jesus isn't talking so much about how we approach prayer exactly, and more just encouraging us to persist, whatever our stance may be. If so, we have some help from the rest of the lectionary. In the reading from Genesis, Jacob does not give up in wrestling with the angel until he gets the blessing he demands. He's injured in the process, but persists.

Just as we are not to give up in talking to God, we are exhorted to persist in talking ABOUT God too in the letter to Timothy. Check out Eugene Peterson's great translation The Message:

You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant.

How are YOU keeping the message alive this week? The comments are open and ready!

Link to this week's texts found here. Picture of the widow with the unjust judge found here.


  1. I'm trying to start from 'with what questions are people coming to this text?'... but am at risk of getting overwhelmed by some of the things which i know people in my congregations are going through. How can these texts speak into our lives.
    I think I'm drawn to Jacob - in the midst of our darkest wrestling, we can know God with us...

  2. Well, I need to tie the lessons into our celebration and affirmation of ministries. So at the moment, I am leaning toward Jeremiah with God building up the people. It is also stewardship Sunday but I rarely work that into the sermon.
    I find bending texts to meet my needs rarely works but I'm hoping to pull it off this one time. Maybe persistence in faith will work better than being built up. Who knows! It's only Tuesday. :-)

  3. well I'm still feeling immersed in Sunday's sermon after the way it worked on me all week and my personal connection to it. So I need to find a way to shift gears and be open to what this week's readings are saying and where I'm being drawn to go with them.

    It took a day and a half, but I got Sunday's text posted here for anyone who was interested:
    Sermon on LGBT Teen Suicides Oct 10 2010

  4. I found Tom Long at 30 Good Minutes providing some good ideas on the Luke passage.

  5. My favorite approach to the widow and unjust judge is to think about God as the widow and the body of Christ as the unjust judge...God keeps asking and asking and asking for us to do justice...

    anyway, this week I'm on Jeremiah, new covenant, etc etc etc. I have no idea where that's going yet. But I'm on vacation with my dad until Friday...and I have two youth group events that will take up the vast majority of Saturday....which means that while I don't have to have an idea right now, I do have to have one sometime during vacation...

  6. oooh Purple and Teri, *thanks* for the link (will have to check it out, really like Tom Long) and the thoughts on *who* is the widow! Helpful, because I just read through the texts and mind was feeling blank, or still resonating with last week's direction - which might not be bad, but don't want parishioners to think that's the only topic I'm going to preach on now.

    Usually the Sermon Brainwave podcast at, or Lectionary Homiletics from Good Preacher or Feasting on the Word give me some interesting things to ponder. Probably won't start looking at them until tomorrow... maybe this afternoon.

  7. I thought I was going to have this Sunday off from preaching, but at the last minute I got a supply, now I have to ponder what I'll say....certainly I've learned a few things about wrestling with God....and hoping to find grace and hope....

  8. I feel like this week's sermon will be brought to us by the letter "W" - there's 'wrestling with God', "the whiny widow' or 'opening a can of worms" My denomination is divided over homosexuality issues and biblical interpretation - and the 2 Timothy text is one of those used to support the conservative side. It's a timely message, but do I dare preach it - especially from a supply pulpit? Perhaps one of the other texts would be better.

    I don't like not having a clear idea of which text to use. Perhaps diving into some commentaries will help.

  9. ramona - bwah ha! I like your start. Maybe supply pulpit is best place of all to be prophetic? You dont have to stick around next week for the fallout, after will know best what to do.

    bythesea- so glad things went well last week. You are on a roll now.

    Teri - great thoughts - I had not thought of that before, but I like it.

    I am actually not preaching this week - I have a guest preacher in to talk about Stephen Ministry, which we are voting on beginning at our place right after the worship. So we are not on lectionary, either. But I love these texts and am looking forward to seeing more ideas roll in.

  10. I'm leaning Teri's direction with the Gospel lesson and even thinking about someone standing just outside the Sanctuary and knocking on the door throughout the sermon, building faster and louder until the end, "For the love of God, open the door!"

    Of course, Tuesday is creative-play-with-the-texts day so we'll see what actually happens. :)

  11. Ack. I'm preaching this week after two weeks off (rare for me but appreciated!) and I'm NOT liking these texts. I did find David Lose's commentary at Working Preacher helpful.

    We are in the midst of a very intense stewardship campaign, and I'm trying really hard not to feel discouraged by the very poor attendance at the planned events. The sermon I might need to hear could be on persistence in asking for what is needed--not $$ per se (although we DO need those) but rather commitment. Teri, I like the way you turn the characters around--that might actually work with what I am thinking/feeling.

    Of course, Saturday is a long way off; who knows what I'll be thinking by then.

  12. I'm supply preaching at a new place (this is an interesting discussion re: prophetic supply preaching, food for thought, as I am a more-or-less regular supply-er these days).

    Going with Jeremiah, and Juniper's title of the post has helped me immensely! God never never never gives up on humans fulfilling the covenant, and gives us new covenants to help us do so. And now I think I'll tie in the Luke as well. Loving Teri's idea, but that's another sermon entirely. Must focus.

    Thanks for the ideas and the bit of energy that I desperately need.

  13. First, I was moved to write a litany on Psalm 121, which I've posted over at my blog.
    And I think where I'm headed is toward using Psalm 121 and the wonder of God's steadfastness in concert with our lack of it as seen in the person of the unjust judge. After a lectionary conversation about the various Judge TV shows (Judge Judy, etc.), which honestly I've only seen in waiting rooms and find distressing, I landed on the sermon title "Judge Me," which is a play on how we are both judged and judging and therefore draw lines that have nothing to do with what God wants for the world.
    On the other hand, I could always steal kathrynzj's awesome idea...

  14. fyi - if you are even consdiering working the Chilean Miners into any part this weekend, go read Stuff Christians Like #876 and be forewarned!

  15. elastigirl - so today's question is - if something is predictable, does that make it bad?


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