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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Connect the Dots" Edition

Texts for Sunday can be found here.

What a happy coicidence that, with Valentine's Day coming up tomorrow, people have "hearts" on their minds: Because Jesus, in Sunday's lesson, asks us to take to heart, to internalize, the Law that our recent Old Testament lessons have been telling us are the basis of a healthy relationship with God and with other people. And he challenges us, as one Bible commentator puts it, to "connect the dots" between our external actions and our guiding thoughts and feelings.

What connections are you making with our texts as you pray and plan for Sunday worship?  As always, we welcome your comments and insights here.


  1. I am not making any connections right now, but I think you just gave me a sermon title!!!!!!!
    Thank you!!!

  2. I'm glad this was posted - I came over to check after reading the lessons for Sunday and realizing that this will be my first opportunity to preach on this or similar texts as a divorced (young, not re-married) woman. Ack!

    I will survive this, right?

    Oh, and my supervisor/mentor is nominally but quite reluctantly ok with divorce & remarriage ("Our church allows it but I have managed to never be in the position to officiate at a remarriage" he proudly tells me).

    Grump. I am drawn to the end of the passage (let your yes be yes...) but am not sure whether I can leave the trickier bits alone, unaddressed.

  3. Since Deuteronomy 30 is one of my favourite passages how can I not preach on it???

    Choices matter, and according to Deuteronomy they matter not only for us but our choices matter for our descendants.

    ANd I am trying to work in the Corinthians which, in a way, is also about choices and who we will follow.

    My opening thoughts are here

    Oh and the whole of Presbytery will be present at worship on Sunday. So no pressure.

  4. Just have to post as the word verification is 'grump'. Is it I, Lord?
    Parodie - you will survive. Those of us who are divorced are ideally placed to come to the topic of 'love' with fresh eyes: I believe in the never-ending quality of love itself, greater than all human failings - and I am PROUD (& shouty) to officiate at second marriages because i believe in the gospel of love and grace which can give any of us a second chance.
    We are taking people on a labyrinth journey to think about choices and how to orientate the heart towards God's way (if I stop posting & go & get down to it!).
    May God guide all our steps.

  5. Ruth - thanks for the words of wisdom.

    Gord - good luck preparing for your presbytery. Nothing like colleagues to make us feel extra pressure in our preparatuk !

  6. Yikes. I sort of wish I had just let them do a hymn sing last week when I was sick and saved my sermon for this week! Divorce? On the Sunday before Valentine's day? I mean, I don't usually mess much with the non-church holidays, but I won't be going there, I don't think. I know I'll hope for the challenge later, and I like the premise behind what the homiletical portion of FOTW is saying - - it being about the "realm possibilities" for relationships. I just don't know if I could get to that point without having lost all my divorced and remarried folks before we ever started. IF I were to tackle that one, I might attempt it as a 1st person narrative/monologue that allows me to demonstrate how there really is a word of grace in there somewhere. Maybe. I like the idea of the challenge, but I just. don't. know. Not sure I'm being called there.

    I do like the mortality questions of Deu. 30. That seems to speak to my congregation right now more than the others. We have a disproportionate number of folks struggling with cancer. There have been some difficult deaths in our small town - promising young college student killed in a car accident, 20 year olds who graduated from high school here a couple of years ago dead in a murder/suicide, full term baby lost unexpectedly, etc etc. It's been a rough couple of months for those who really are from here. Dealing with Moses' questions of mortality and how to choose life might be a good one for us. Not sure yet. Off to read more, pray more, study more, and knit a little. Maybe I'll have a thought then.

  7. OK. I might be coming up with something with Deuteronomy. I started by asking the question what does it mean to choose life in the face of death, when it seems like death is all we hear or all we know, when wandering around a desert is all the people of God had known for so long? I wonder if they were getting cold feet as they were getting ready to enter the Promised Land (the place of life). I wonder if we get cold feet as we are faced with the choice of life with God. And if we do, how do we "warm them up"? How do we choose life when we are faced with the complete uncertainty of walking into that new land?

    We don't do it without guidance. We don't do it without a leader, a Savior who gives us commandments to follow, not that they will save us, but that they will show us life, the life God chooses.

    And maybe here is the gospel part, too, although I'm nervous about reading it without spending much time with it - - that life God chooses for us, that "realm" presence as FOTW says, that life God pulls us into is life characterized by relationships that are whole, not broken, life lived in mutual support. It seems like all of God's commandments are pointing to this end - - for individuals/communities/all creation to live in whole relationship with God, one another, and all of creation. Choosing the way of God's heart, the author of life (which is illustrated by God's commandments) is choosing life.

    I think the general jist of it is where I'm going. I like the title "Cold Feet" and might just have to find a good wedding movie clip about cold feet as my "way in." I wonder if there are 3 consecutive minutes in 4 Weddings and a Funeral without swearing that would work? :) Love that movie. Guess I'll just have to watch it tomorrow on my sermon writing day to find out!

  8. I was doing some online reading yesterday and the fact that these were hot topics in Jesus' day caught my eye. Then I read somewhere that Jesus is asking us to go beyond the surface Law, to look at what is behind it. So in this morning's shower prayers, I asked for guidance and was drawn back to these two points.
    If we are to choose life, we need to look behind the hot topics *of our own day* and see what drives our feelings about them. Then we need to ask whether those emotions/beliefs actually give us life or have we made a life for ourselves by cobbling them together with some other stuff about God.
    I don't think I can bring Valentine's Day into it. I did manage to talk about football last Sunday - I exiled everything pro football to Mexico when Canada conquered the US - but V Day is too big a stretch for me.
    I am pretty cautious about marrying anyone but particularly people who have been divorcedand I am divorced. Why that happened has a lot to do with whether I will walk with the couple. Wouldn't that make a good discussion on Wednesday sometime!

  9. way behind this week. Wednesday evening and I haven't looked at the readings. Hopefully tomorrow, which is a mainly office day so far!

    I notice the Sunday School material has something for V Day, that focuses on God's love for us. The liturgy is for a cafe style worship and including people who are not regular church attenders, which we rarely have and I think too late to plan for that now.

  10. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts.

    sko3, I had a hard time with hymns for this Sunday . . . not much in the hymnal about plucking out eyes. I found this new hymn (to a familiar tune) that I like and plan to use:

    Also, my basic take so far is that choosing life is not as easy, not as simple, as it sounds. Jesus' statements of "you have heard it said, . . . but now I say to you . . ." point to the fact that following the rules might be the easy way, but it's not necessarily the life-giving way. (More thoughts on my blog.)

  11. I like what the Sermon Brainwave podcast said about how to approach the gospel text: either pick one to talk about, or say up front that we are going to talk about the underlying themes of this text.

    Still, when I read this text, my intern supervisor's advice came to mind: If you decide not to preach on the gospel and it has a difficult or troubling idea in it, you need to think about how reading that in worship and ignoring it by not preaching on it will sound to the congregation.

    So my questions right now are, do I go with the underlying themes - which I want to do - or pick one topic to preach on? The verses on murder and anger seem to be particularly appropriate to my congregation, whom I know to be deeply divided and harboring much anger. Am I brave enough to talk about conflict and anger from a supply pulpit? And what about the many divorced people in the congregation who will decidedly not hear today's gospel as a word of grace?

    Just some things I'm wrestling with this week.

  12. One of my seminary professors just recommended Bishop Mike Rinehart's (ELCA Gulf Coast Synod)reflections on the gospel text for this Sunday. Good stuff - especially his thoughts about Jesus' teaching on divorce.

    It can be found at

  13. I'm preaching Deuteronomy because it is a lovely text and I've never done it before. I love the thoughts some of you are kicking around here!

    I keep thinking of the 80s t-shirt from the Wham! video for Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. You know, the white one that said in big bold black letters: Choose Life! (and Life was much bigger than the word Choose). It was just a fun, joyful proclamation, an anti-suicide/anti-drugs statement. But now that phrase seems to belong entirely to the pro-life movement, which is not territory I really want to wade into on Sunday.

    I love that the command is "Choose life so that you may live." It seems circular in a way, but not. My sermon title is simply "The Choice." And it's a choice I feel we have to make every day, and we get to make it in so many ways.

    Not sure where all I will take this, but I'm excited by it.

  14. Am wondering what is the word of hope that I can offer to a congregation of homeless people who daily encounter abuse on many fronts. The hope I find in the readings for Sunday comes from Paul's letter to the Corinthians--I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. Am finding blessed assurance in those last four words and seeing the planting of Paul and the watering of Apollos as invitations to all of us to plant and water when we have the opportunity. Wish I had a story to go along with this.


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