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Monday, June 20, 2011

Lectionary Leanings -- You Want Me to DO WHAT with Isaac? Edition

We Pray:
Faithful God,
your love stands firm from generation to generation,
your mercy is always abundant.
Give us open and understanding hearts,
that having heard your word,
we may seek Christ's presence in all whom we meet. Amen.

(Prayer found here)

Another Sunday, another sermon.  Or at least that is how it sometimes feels to those of us who have to prepare them

You can read the Lectionary passages for this Sunday here.

It is an interesting mix.  In Genesis 22 the brave (or foolish--they often seem the same don't they?) can take on the question of child sacrifice.  Or in the alternate Hebrew Scriptures reading from Jeremiah one could take on the question of how to know a true prophet.

Or maybe you like Paul's letter to the Romans.  In this week's section Paul is talking about sin and law (Paul? Sin and law?  What a surprise!)  And includes one of his best known phrases "The Wages of Sin is death"  (which in English is poor grammar since Wages is plural and so it should say "are" not "is").

Or do you prefer to talk about the Gospel reading.  Here we have Jesus telling the disciples how blessed the people who will welcome them are.  Of course that may be a way of hinting that there will be many who will not welcome the disciples or their preaching...

And of course sometimes we like to look at the Psalms.  Both suggestions this week serve as invitations to talk about God's steadfastness and trusting in God to protect/sustain us.

Or maybe now that we are in Ordinary Time you are deciding that the Lectionary is going to be set aside to allow a focus on a certain theme or to explore a specific story/book in Scripture.  Wherever the Spirit (or the Church) is leading you this week please share it with us in the comments.  And if you have a link that you find helpful feel free to post it too! (for help on how to post a link check here)

Welcome image found here
Sacrifice of Isaac image found here (lots of other options on the same story there as well)


  1. I just had a conversation with a parishioner who shared with me the source of some current aches and pains. Seems she was in a serious accident several decades ago. She said they said that she shouldn't still be here. She said, "I guess the good Lord wanted me for some reason."

    I just finished that call and got to thinking: I might let go of the "why" and "how" of that confounding Abraham/Isaac story and what they were saved from, and perhaps switch the focus to "saved for what?" as in, God must have wanted them "saved" for some reason, a God reason.

    But it's only Tuesday! =)

  2. Oh, boy. I am so totally skipping Ab/Is - I just dont seem to have the stomach for it this year.

    Havent preached for a couple of weeks - music Sunday and kiddie Sunday - so looking forward to rockin it old school on this one. MIght even do the 3 points and a poem thing. (I was being a little snarky there, but I have actually gotten a request recently for a 3 point sermon , so maybe that's not that bad an idea....)

    We are hosting an ecclesiastical council (a step toward ordination) for a just-graduated student pastor this week in the afternoon, so my Tuesday thoughts are that I will preach on Matthew and Jeremiah. Tentatively calling it "Do you want the bad news or the good news?" I've got something in mind about being prophetic, sometimes the good news is hard to hear, and then weaving in a word of welcome as we move toward deepening a relationship with the public housing project in our neighbhorhood.

    But, early days yet, things could change.

    I toyed briefly with Romans. Is anyone going there?

  3. Doing Abraham and Isaac, because it is such a troubling story, and perhaps focusing on what the conversation between father and son was like coming down the mountain, after it was all over. We tend to live in the aftermath of the major events that loom over our lives, and the question for me usually isn't about how it fits into God's plan, but what we are supposed to do in response to that which shatters us and our human plans. Isaac was a pretty messed up individual for the rest of his life, and yet the covenant continued. Struggling with what it all means.

  4. I used Abraham and Isaac last week, along with some other problematic "parenting" passages that emphasized how the Bible is not a "little instruction manual." The point was that we have to look "through" the people of the Bible to see God, not just read the stories as literal instructions. Clearly, God isn't saying to US, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love ...."

    This week, I'm back in Genesis 1 because we're using the Faith Alive "Creation Celebration" curriculum for VBS. (I really like it for small, multi-age groups.) If anybody has a powerful new look at creation, I'd love to hear it.

    Blessings to you all this week.

  5. This takes "late" to a whole new level! But... Sunday I visited a local church and heard a Trinity children's time that was worth sharing. Rev. David Stoddard recalled the royal wedding and all of Prince William's names that were used in the vows. He described other times we use our full names, then asked the children to share their full names. He shared his. Then, he asked, "does anyone know what God's full name is?" A bright voice offered, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The priest briefly spoke about each person of the trinity and how they were all part of God's full name. I'd never heard that approach, thought it was coold, and will definitely be filig it.
    Now on to this week!

  6. Welcome all!

    A few years ago I found and used a confession prayer that explored the ways we might sacrifice our children and to what. But I can't remember where I found it so I can't provide it now.

    Actually I am going with the Matthew passage and talking about welcoming, but with a twist. I am sure that the undertone of the passage (given the verses preceding) is that Jesus is hinting how the disciples may not always be welcomed (or even that the welcome will be the exception??). And so I have to ask: as a church community, how welcoming are we to those who are "different"? to those who have a message we would rather not hear? to those who challenge us?

    My opening thoughts are found here

  7. Carolyn, that was BRILLIANT! I'll file it too!

  8. I found the confession prayer! ANd apparently I actually wrote it!

    You can find it here

  9. I do like that Trinity children's sermon idea. In fact, I think I might use it the next time a grown-up comes to me with that Trinity question.

    For this week I'm not sure what I'm doing yet. I might go off lectionary since we're doing something a little different. We're having our worship service outside - - inviting folks to bring camping chairs and setting things up on our front lawn. I'm making things a little more casual than usual, but we're also having an infant baptism. I think I'll preach a baptism homily more than anything else and may or may not use the lectionary.

    The pastor who baptized my son preached from this Genesis text and ROCKED it on W's baptism day. I've thought about attempting to do the same this week. But then, I don't know. I had sort of planned to do a very inclusive children-and-adult sermon with an extended storytelling sort of feel, and I don't think that would work quite as well. I also don't have a story yet to tell. Hmmmmm...

    More thinking to do. Baptism is definitely the plan. The rest is up in the air.

  10. RevGord, I'm looking forward to reading your confession prayer. I am going with Abraham and Issac. Agree with Rev. Mary Brennan Thorpe--It's a troubling story and hence needs some light shining on it. Don't know where I'll go with it--to those eternities in life that are so horror filled and don't seem to have an end in sight or to the ways we sacrifice our children and the altars we sacrifice them on. What I'm really uncomfortable with is the notion of God testing, God has a purpose for suffering. Don't know how to address that in a gentle way.

  11.'s a bit of a stretch, but not too far. My daughter, who is hanging out with me at work a lot tihs summer, just begged me to read "God Said Amen" to her (Sandy Eisenberg Sasso children's book). I did. It might just pair up pretty well with the gospel lesson, particularly in the end with the cup of cold water. It's a fable with two kingdoms who each are flush with one resource, but desperately need another. The prince of one kingdom and the princess of the other each pray fo ran answer to their problem. When they come together they each want their own need to be met first so they are frozen into mountains because of their immovable stubbornness. The each have a servant, though, who goes to meet the other. Each sees the need in the other first and the boy offers the girl the water she and her kingdom need and the girl offers the boy the oil he and his are lacking. God answers their prayers when they see the need of others.

    I think I might learn this story (mostly memorize it) and tell it live for my sermon on Matthew. Again, it's a little of a stretch as an interpretation of Matthew, but maybe not too far. Those who give do not lose.

    Not sure exactly where to fit the baptism in except in the story the things they need are water and oil. I don't usually include an anointing in baptism, but on this occasion I just might. Hmmmm....

    More thinking to do.

  12. still working through the Pentecost readings, this week 1 Corinthians 12. commissioning of church council members, and the whole congregation. There are many in the congregaiton here who are reluctant to recognise that they have a gift that is to be shared.
    Love the sound of the 'God said amen' story. it will be added to my book list.

  13. With fear and trembling, I'm going with the Genesis text. Guest preaching at a church with unhappy people (unhappy with the denomination). I don't imagine I'll speak directly to that, but I'm absolutely uncertain as to which direction I'm going...thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone.

  14. For perhaps the first time EVER I'm tempted to preach on Paul, based in part on something David Lose wrote at Working Preacher on Paul and freedom. We had a great discussion about it at our lectionary bible study this morning. But it's early i the week yet, so I may revert to Matthew.

    Love the Trinity sermon idea for children OR adults.

  15. oh mibi, I don't know that I've ever seen anyone else admit that Isaac seems not to have recovered from that Very Strange Trip with his father...but very glad I'm not the only one that thinks so.

  16. I am off lectionary this week and will be turning to Ephesians for some words of wisdom.
    Will see you at the pa-tty

  17. RevDrMom- I saw that same post and am going that route this Sunday and next. Now to begin pondering........

  18. Hi, all, just looking for opinions,I am wondering about this passage

    28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

    29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.(john 5:28)

    i wonder if this lesson is only about his resurection after three days?,should i consider if this is also for the end time, regardless of where or what we are born into, those who do good will be raised to life...being muslim or whatever, being born into whatever, corrupted or not..... But 'good' by Gods standards, not the modern politically correct worlds standards. And Christ is salvation for all sinners, muslims and all. And as some say their God is the same God, so they being in the same world Christ is also their salvation for the sinner, whom Our God, sent to the world.

    much like a Jew, who may place themsleves under the law, which may be one thing, if they perform the law, but i believe it would be difficult to perform, as we are sinners, i dont know, just a ponder..., so truly, we all go to the father through him. as he said, "I am the resurrection and the life" [loose quote]

  19. Late here - because I've been at a preaching conference (with Anna Carter Florence as key speaker - wow!): so I came back realising I couldn't just run away from Ab/Is - bother. Final sermon notes done.. thanks to ACF for helping me be brave!
    Also heard a great joke (which I don't think I will use!)
    Why did God tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac when he was 12 years old?

    because If he'd waited til he was 13 it wouldn't have been a sacrifice.


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