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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Who are the saints anyway? Edition

Good old Zaccheus - such a ridiculous figure. Too short to see what's going on, he runs (and in those long robes, yet!) ahead of the crowd and around social convention to climb a tree (ditto the long robes comment here) in order to see Jesus. And, in all that milling crowd, he is the one Jesus sees, the one Jesus calls out to, the one Jesus transforms from robber to philanthropist in a single moment.

Jesus comes to seek the lost, but his eye falls on the one who has made an effort to see him, to know him and to learn about him. The one who has dared to make himself ridiculous for Christ's sake.

Will you be looking at the gospel this week? Or another one of the texts instead? Or, are you celebrating All the Saints, including the ones willing to make themselves ridiculous? Or, if it is your tradition, are you remembering reformers?

Let us know in the comments. Texts for this week found here. All Saints Day texts here. Reformation Day Texts here. Picture here.


  1. My very first thoughts on this scripture are to title my sermon, "Get Down Out of That Tree!" and to talk about how getting excited about Jesus and wanting to see Jesus isn't enough. We must first get down out of that tree and have Jesus in our lives in order to have the full and true experience.

  2. Not me preaching on son is! He is talking, with photo presentation, about his mission trip to Belize last summer.

    In the meantime, I ask your prayers; my husband Tom, who has a history of heart disease, went to the ER yesterday with chest pain. No indication of heart attack as of last night, but cardiac-related, so they admitted him and will be doing further testing today.

  3. I'm candidating this weekend (YAY!!!!) and will be using the Luke text and exploring why and what Zacchaeus was looking for when he was trying to see who Jesus was. When we come to church for the first time:

    -aren't we trying to see who this Jesus guy is?
    -We are trying to find something to believe in
    -We are trying to find meaning in our lives
    -We are trying to make sense of the world
    -We are trying to find connections to God, neighbor, and world (thanks @CarolHoward for that one)

    I'm trying to get my sermon done today because we leave for the candidating weekend tomorrow.

  4. Going with Reformation here, in a way. I am taking the "always reforming" aspect to ask where we are going. I have to review some of Reframing Hope in preparation. And I am thinking that I will invite the congregation into conversation about their vision of the future of the church.

    For Scripture I am using the story of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones. So I guess I get to add in skeletons for Halloween!

    My early thoughts are found here (you'll have to scroll past my newsletter piece for November)

  5. I really liked the concept of being ridicules. Discipleship carries about it a certain absurdity when contrasted against our modern U.S. cultural attitudes. To climb a tree in the hopes of glimpsing God does not jive with a Me Now culture.

    I had been waffling between Habbakuk and Luke. Both are awesome preaching texts this week, rich with opportunity.

  6. A query???

    Are folks planning on doing anything to mark the fact that this Sunday is Halloween?

  7. I'm continuing off lectionary through some themes of Presbyterian/Reformed theology. This week I'll poke a little fun at us as I talke about our drive to engage the mind. Taken to the extreme often too much, we Presbyterians tend to over think and over study things sometimes. I'll nod toward Reformation Sunday, but won't take it too much. I also don't think I'll mention Halloween really. I had a very cute song I wanted the preschoolers to learn that talked about remembering God in times when we're scared. It would have been PERFECT, but since we don't actually have a children's choir and our teachers rotate too much (for my liking) I just couldn't find an easy way to teach it to them. I think if it were my week to do the children's sermon I'd address it somehow there. Since it's not, I won't. Maybe a prayer for safety will be as far as I go.

    I'm also working this week on nailing down my Advent plans. Nothing's really sticking with me. I've been pretty hardcore ADVENT over CHRISTMAS my first couple of years here, so I was sort of thinking about doing something a little different. I've been thinking about setting up the nativity set on the communion table one piece/character at a time. I've done so much with the prophets in the past years I've never actually really preached on Mary or the annunciation to Joseph or any of those familiar pieces. I may have had John the Baptist once, but not the fun early Luke stuff.

    I was thinking about sticking with Matthew, since it will be the year of Matthew, and reading the same passage each week of Matthew's version of the conception/pregnancy/birth, but pair the readings with another reading, too. The first week I'd pair with Isaiah and preach something related. Another week (the order isn't quite set in my mind yet) I'd probably pair with the Magnificat and preach from Mary's part of the story. A third week I might work with Joseph, but I don't know what I'd pair it with. A fourth week I'm not sure what to do with. I don't want to mix Matthew and Luke too much since they are distinct stories. I don't feel the need to burst that bubble and tell all about the "conflicting" stories, but I also don't feel like I should encourage the blending of them either. The 4th character in the Matthew version is the angel. I guess I could preach from that, but I have no idea where I would go - - maybe with the angel's message that Jesus will save his people from their sins.

    Christmas Eve will obviously be Jesus, the Sunday after is lessons and carols, the 2nd Sunday of Christmas would be the wise men.

    Not sure. If anyone has thoughts, can you share them?

  8. Hmm, definite food for thought around here.

    Jeff, blessings on the candidating! How exciting and utterly terrifying, all at the same time.

    Gord, hadn't though much about Halloween, but maybe a children's time...hmm.

    She Rev, I like your Advent thoughts. Matthew always seems like the Joseph gospel (as far as the birth narratives, anyway). Maybe a couple of weeks on him? Eh.

    As for me, I'm supplying this week in a neighboring town. I was there two weeks ago, so I sort of know the folks now. They are doing an All Saints remembrance of some sort, so I thought I'd go with that for the sermon. Working with the Ephesians passage for All Saints, but not getting much of anywhere. I might throw in a little Reformation Sunday with a priesthood of all believers/we're all saints connection. And we're singing A Mighty Fortress.

  9. Betsy, prayers ascending for you and your husband. Jeff - good luck!

    Habakkuk and Thessalonians for me as we touch on All Saint's and celebrate Communion.

    No mention of Halloween will be mentioned, made easier because all communities around here have their trick or treat nights on the Thursday before Halloween (don't ask).

  10. None or little mention Hallowe'en, if at all, in the children's time.

    We're doing our annual All Saints liturgy where we light candles in memory of those we have buried out of our church in the past year. It has to be this week because next week is Remembrance Day recognition and I'm not conducting worship because of my study week.

    So, sermon-wise, I'll be focusing on All-Saints. No clue what I'll do with it this year. At least, not yet.

  11. Praying for Tom, Betsy, and for you. And for Jeff's candidating.

    We have "Trunk or Treat" on Sunday afternoon, so I'm sure that will be announced...but that's it for Halloween.

    We'll be doing All Saints, and as such Baptism (if there are any candidates). Tuesday we will celebrate All Souls, commemorating all the faithful departed. Lots of names will be read.

  12. I'll be calling Zaccheus out of the tree at 8:00, but at 10:00 we're having a Children's Joy Mass. I've invited everyone to come in costume as we observe All Hallow's Eve, and make the connection to the day we know as Hallowe'en. All Saints proper will be celebrated the next Sunday, but I'll be on my way to Florida that day--not for vacation but for CREDO.

    Planning an All Hallow's Eve scavenger hunt for after the service--it was my idea and I committed to it, but I am TERRIBLE at making these things up, so if anyone has any ideas, bring 'em on!

  13. Tom Long, in the Journal for Preachers, has an interesting article on Halloween where he thinks through the cultural meaning of this "holiday" with the underlying religious possiblities. Not what you think, even better.

  14. Gord - That Ezekiel passage was one I had to do a poem on for my preaching class. Every time I read it, I think of zombies! Here is my haiku:

    Haiku for the Church
    Zombies' yearning plea:
    “Breathe in us your breath of life.
    Make these dry bones live!”

    I actually wrote two poems on this passage. The other one was a 26 word acrostic.

    I don't know yet if I am preaching, but being Lutheran, if I do preach, I will be tacking the Reformation Day texts.

  15. I'm really pondering what it means to "see" and our desire to "see". Sort of an aesthetic theology riff on Z's desire to see Jesus. The importance of incarnation--gathering together in the flesh to see for ourselves and to become part of the incarnate community.

  16. oh, boy, see I was gone for a day and all kinds of interesting stuff happened.

    Betsy - prayers for you and for family - that's a lot to be holding all at once. keep us posted.

    Jeff! Many blessings on your candidating weekend - I hope it goes really well.

    We love Halloween - all are invited to wear costumes and children will be having a costume parade during the prelude. We are blessing our habitat offerings they have been gathering all during October. And then, we are talking in childrens time about how we wear costumes/masks to seem bigger or scarier, but God sees/knows/loves us just as we are. Then, sermon is kids reading stories of youngsters who have done big things. All Saints during prayer time.

    I like to bridge the gap between the secular and sacred on days like this.

    Anyway, scavenger hunt! Great idea - thanks!

    Sherev - your plan sounds really good - I wish I hadnt planned something else already! It's interesting to repeat hte same story several times and see what falls differently each time.

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  18. I really messed up the first time -- deleted more than I wanted, so I'm starting over! It's Thursday evening and until last night was gone the whole week to clergy conference. It was fantastic, with wonderful speakers, but I feel like it's Monday!

    Oh, Betsy, prayers are coming your way for Tom and your entire family. Please keep us posted.

    She Rev: Perhaps Mordecai, Esther's adoptive father, would be a good OT connection with Joseph. He certainly raised her right, so maybe there's a reading in Esther that would do the trick.

    I don't know where I'm going with my sermon, but I've definitely chosen Isaiah over Habbakuk. Hadn't even thought about doing something with Halloween for the kids, though the youth are heading off for a Harvest Festival rather than Sunday school and youth group -- I'm wishing I could go with them!


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