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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - What's God Up To These Days? edition

I cant remember who I heard joke once that it seemed like all the sermons he heard quoted The New York Times, a new sociology study, and a favorite best selling novel before saying, "But Jesus really got it best when he said..."

In today's readings (I'm thinking of Joel, Luke and Timothy here) it's awfully tempting to head in this direction. In Joel - what are the people doing in response to disaster? In Timothy - what's Paul thinking in his last days? And in Luke - What about that wacky Pharisee, huh? Cant he see that it's all about doing as the tax collector does?

David Lose over at working preacher (I know I'm always quoting Working Preacher, but really it's just because they so have it going ON over there!) lays it on the line: "Rather, this parable is about God: God who alone can judge the human heart; God who determines to justify the ungodly."

Which makes me think that maybe it would behoove us to look at all the scriptures this way. I admit my first tack is too often to ask what what the people are doing in these passages. What happens if we ask instead first hat is God doing in Joel (and speaking of Working Preacher, check out our own Wil Gafney's excellent commentary on this passage) and Timothy?

Let us know where your early-in-the-week thinking is taking you. See you in the comments!

Link to texts here. Picture of those 2 guys in the temple from here.


  1. Actually I am not at all convinced that the tax-collector is a healthy example of spirituality either. Sometimes in our warnings about pride and urging folks to make honest confesstion the church has given the message that we should be ashamed of ourselves (the so-called "worm theology" comes to mind)

    What we need is to find a healthy balance between pride and humility. What we need is to differentiate between appropriate guilt and crippling shame.

    At least that is where I am headed. My early thoughts are here

  2. well, I am committed to the parable, but don't have any first thoughts. I like thinking, "What is God about here in this passage" I can chew on that for awhile.

    In any case, I dont' have a title, and the bulletin is due. YUG.

  3. I can't believe it is Tuesday already!
    I love asking the question about what God is doing! Thanks for that suggestion. Having said that, I have no idea what I am supposed to say on Sunday, although I did read the lessons yesterday and pulled down the stuff. I'll try your link to Wil's piece since my computer at work was denying its existence.

    Now I have a favor to ask of any of you out there who went to Wesley for seminary and may remember Dr. John Godsey. He died last week and I am doing the funeral on Friday even though I am not a Methodist (long story that boils down to being in the right place, etc.). Please email me your recollections of Dr. Godsey at

  4. Basically, they're both knuckleheads. That's my sermon.
    Well, maybe there will be more to it than that...
    But what I'm hearing here is that no matter how good your practice is, that's not real openness to God. At least confessing and asking for mercy is a better first step to having a conversation with God, because it's humble.
    I don't think there's anything wrong with humility, Gord. The axis is not pride-to-humility but pride-to-shame.

  5. My thought Martha is that humility (honest realistic humility which includes a healthy understanding of self-worth/esteem) is in fact the balance point between overbearing pride and crippling shame.

  6. Hi all. I'm preaching Luke and am currently without any creative thoughts, though I did really like the Roberta Bondi article on it from Christian Century from a few years ago (listed in the Text this Week). There is some question as to whether or not I will actually be preaching, as getting up and down the chancel is going to be difficult for me. I broke my ankle last week and am on crutches. I can get up stairs on them all right but have no confidence going down stairs. I'm thinking that scooting down on my butt is not going to cut it.

    I'm optimistic we can figure something out...

  7. oh, earthchick, what a drag. hope you are not in too much pain and are back in the swing of things soon. By Sunday I predict you will be a total daredevil on those crutches!

    loving this conversation on the difference between humility and shame - thanks gord and martha.

  8. They DEFINITELY have it going on over there. I've been off lectionary most of this fall, so I haven't been listening as much (when I do it makes me want to preach what they're talking about). I miss them! Advent. Maybe I'll be back on in Advent.

    I'm basing worship until Christ the King Sunday on 5 themes from Reformed theology. I think I'm keeping it more interesting than that sounds. This week is the role of Scripture. Unfortunately I read a sermon from a friend of mine yesterday not know that she was preaching on this same basic theme off lectionary last week and it ROCKED. It was exactly where I thought I'd go. Now I can't get it out of my head and everything I write sounds like it's straight from her sermon. Ugh.

  9. she rev - this raises an interesting question for me. isnt ok to go with that flow from your friend?

    that happened to me once, and I wrote to the author (didnt know her, it was from a book) and asked if I could preach her sermon, and she said of course, asking that I would attribute her. so i began with something like "i was reading in prep for today and found these lovely words from __ ___ that I would like to share with you today." and then something about the spirit moving many of us in the same direction, across time and space. which worked, because it was pentecost, but which I also think is true. I mean, we ARE telling an old, old story - do we really have to make up new stuff about it every single week?

    curious about your all's thoughts on this....

    PS: kwym about working preacher. they make me so sad when I'm not on lectionary for some reason :b

  10. I did contact her yesterday and tell her how well her words spoke to me. I didn't outright ask her if I could use it, so I don't know yet how she would feel.

    I do think I'll use the same general flow or order that she contructed, but put my own words and cadence to it. If that makes sense. I just LOVE her opening, though, I might ask about using that while giving her credit, though.

    I know there are differing feelings on this, but as one who does not do a lot of writing other than sermons, so it's not like I'm known anywhere outside of my own context for my writing nor am I trying to make a living with it in other circles, I would be TOTALLY OK with someone preaching one of my sermons, with or without credit. I'd feel kind of honored by it. I would love to know how it went out of curiosity and therefore would appreciate knowing about it ahead of time and after, but other than that I don't really even care about getting permission. If something I've written through the grace of the Holy Spirit speaks to someone else, by all means let the Spirit work through it again.

    That said, I also completely understand folks who don't feel this way, so I honor that and check before I borrow exact words or major ideas.

  11. Gord - what a great start - thanks. I may steal the muppets song and use it in my sermon on sunday if you don't mind - which brings me on to using other folks' holy spirit prompted musings - I'm always really honoured when folk want to use something that I've written but there is something in my Scottish psyche that dictates that I have to make things as difficult as possible for myself and not borrow other folks' work - LOL


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