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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Kingdom as Change Agent Edition

As we move further into our week we pause to pray: (Prayer source)
O sovereign God,
in Jesus Christ you set your holy reign upon this earth
and within your people.
So let its coming be like the mustard seed
that grows into greatness,
and like the leaven
that mixes with the grain
until the whole becomes greater,
to the praise of the triune God,
who lives forevermore. Amen.

As I look at the readings for this week I remember when I used to find a unifying link between all the readings for a coming Sunday.  Gee am I glad I stopped doing that!  You can read the options here

What grabs your attention this week?  Is it the story of Jacob the trickster getting tricked (although then you would have to deal with an unfortunate model of marriage -- I wonder what Rachel and Leah thought of this whole episode)? 

OR maybe 1 Kings and the gift of wisdom to Solomon? 

OR are you playing with Romans as we now come to a favoured verse of mine "neither height nor depth..."?  It seems those last couple of verses would have paired well with Psalm 139 last week.

And of course there are these small parables about the nature of the kingdom in the Gospel.  Once upon a time I preached these (particularly the yeast and the pearl) as saying that the kingdom was like a rotten potato that would, given time, turn the whole bin.  What was I thinking????

Or are you on a summer sermon series that ignores the lectionary?  Preaching on topics requested by the congregation?  Let us know in the comments where you think God is leading you and your community this week?

Image Sources:
drawing of Jesus telling stories
Jacob Reproaching Laban


  1. I'm going just with Romans 8:26-30 and I'll tackling the rest of the Romans passage next week (this way I can combine the question of Jewish salvation later in the summer!).

    We're spending the summer exploring what it means to live in the Spirit. Of course, I am a new (3 weeks! ah!) pastor who is still discovering what it means to trust the Spirit... but I pray that the Spirit will intercede for me...

  2. Please, please...a good family sermon to go with the gospel? I am idea-less, even though I know that with these parables something ought to be coming to mind, and I will not have a lot of planning time on Saturday.

  3. Betsy, I highly recommend the children's book, "The Carrot Seed."

    If you're looking for a hymn to play up the mustard seed parable, I have written one using the tune to Amazing Grace (therefore, easy), and you can find it here.

  4. "The Carrot Seed" is amazing! I had forgotten that book. His brother said it wouldn't grow. . . Now I HAVE to find that book.

  5. I'd like to read that sermon about the rotten potatoes, Gord!

  6. This is my 3rd week in the pulpit too. When doing some work on hymn selection, I discovered that I had 3 weeks of parables, 3 miracles, then Peter's amazing declaration and finally the famous take up the cross passage. I decided it looked like a series of sorts: the parables and miracles tell us who Jesus us, Peter confirms it, and then Jesus tells us what it means.

    So I am in the gospels this week. In my text readings, the last verse about the treasures old and new struck me. I've just finished unpacking and discovered all sorts of treasures I'd forgotten I had. My musing on unpacking family treasures is here. @Betsy, it may give you some thoughts for a family sermon.

    What I've got so far seems personal - like it's a message meant for me. So, I don't know if that's the direction I'll go yet or not. The week is still young and I have shut-ins to visit and a women's circle to attend - I may end up going with the leaven!

  7. The last sermon before vacation is hard, but this one is ridiculous. I'm wrapping up 4 week with Genesis and wondering why I didn't make it 3 weeks. The Jacob/Laban/Leah/Rachel/Zilpah/Bilhah mess is proving to be VERY difficult for preaching. Fun story, difficult sermon. I already sort of went the direction 2 weeks ago of look how a messed up family can eventually be used for good by God.

    I was attracted to one blogger's thoughts about using this Scripture as a mirror - - reflecting our own experience as deceivers and deceived. I liked another that pointed out the constant push and pull of God blessing and people messing up. The does a little of what I did in a previous sermon, but something about the repetitive nature of it was different.

    My problem is trying to find the gospel, not necessarily because it all has to wrap up in a bow, but... well... OK, maybe because I do need it all to wrap up. I just worry about the unintended consequence of a sermon that says "Don't worry. God can use us even when we are intent on screwing things up." Does that give us no incentive to try to do things a better way?

  8. we are having Christmas In July this week--with carols and that's all planned and slightly odd. But for those who're working on the gospel: there is a hymn about these parables, to the tune Land Of Rest (easy and singable) that we really like. I used it last year on the mustard seed, and last week on weeds/wheat...anyway, it's called The Reign Of God and is by Delores Dufner. It's number 343 in the Church of Scotland's CH4 (the new purple one). It may be available other places as well...or if you have the appropriate license (it's under OneLicense) I'd be happy to email the words to you.

  9. At our lectionary bible study this morning some of our conversation was around how people could say we should adhere to "biblical models of marriage" with reading like our OT reading this week.

    I think I'm preaching Matthew; three years ago a gal pal (Hedwyg are you still here?) suggested in a reflection that in the phrase "the kingdom is heaven is like..." we substitute "God's love." That really works in these parables...God's love is like a mustard seed, God's love is like the leaven, God's love is like a pearl of great price. I may resurrect that sermon and work with it b/c I still really like that idea. And I'm tired of these parables. And I have two Sundays till vacation, and an extra sermon to write in that time for wider broadcast (more about that later.)

  10. I'm preaching the parables this week, and enjoying getting back into sermon mode after a couple of weeks spent on Conference stuff. I am struck by how dissimilar these portraits of the kingdom seem to be. You can read more of my thoughts on my blog.

    Teri, we do have OneLicense and I would love a copy of the words to The Reign of God. (peacemennopastor at gmail dot com) Thanks!

  11. I'm not preaching this weekend, church camp-out weekend. But I would much rather be paying with these passages than last week's.

    if memory serves, I used the rotten ppotato as an example of how something small can change its environment. I ended up suggesting that maybe the Kingdom is meant to be a pollutant in the world....

    I can't remember how it went over.

  12. Oh Sherev, I'm so happy I'm not the only one wrassling with Jacob. I agree with you- fun story, hard to find the good news there.

    In my planning months ago, I thought about reading both I Kings and Gen (will the earth swallow me up if I focus on TWO OT passages?) -- and calling it "Be Careful What you Wish For." I was imagining, I think, something about discernment and choosing wisely. We are on the cusp of some big new changes in our congregation. They are good in my mind, but I know that once we go down this new road, it will mean that other choices are closed to us. But the Gen story is so weird/dark/funny that I'm not too sure how to weave it all together. Also, I'm worried my preaching in general is often a little to us-centric, when I could be helping us turn out focus OUT a little more.

    Well, lots to ponder anyway. Thanks so much, Gord, for getting the ball rolling, btw. And I agree with you taht I'm really glad I'm not trying to tie Jacob with the Kingdom up in a nice little package.

  13. I love the Jacob/Leah/Rachel story too. And I'm quite taken with Craig Barnes take on it - found here:
    because I think he manages to get to the Gospel with it. See what you think.

  14. Another little twist on the Jacob series is how God uses the "least"...the second son, the second daughter, etc. It's not just that Jacob is a cheating scoundrel and his family is messed up, but that he also is culturally not the important one.

    Thanks for the Carrot Seed idea; I stopped by the library and got it today. What a wonderful little book! I have to figure out how to present it with some intro and/or conclusion, but it's right on target.

  15. I usually float in and out of the lectionary and am actually preaching on David this summer, because during the David cycle I like to preach Mark. But I was writing my newsletter article this week and happened to write on the Parable of the Mustard Seed. I have been enjoying the beauty of my favorite weed/wildflower on my walks with my dog. As I was walking I remembered a lesson I learned about the mustard plant actually being an invasive weed that is hard to get rid of. I like that metaphor. You can find my post here!

  16. Good food for thought on the gospel reading (and everything else, but I'm doing parables)!

    Thank you Dr Rev Mom for sharing that story and to beautiful day rev for you post - both were quite helpful. I will let them 'leaven' my thoughts.

    Spacious Faith - it was interesting to read your post. I just got "Provoking the Gospel of Matthew" by Richard Jenses in the mail today, and his take on this series was very much like yours. More grist for the mill!

  17. Rev. Dr. Mom, thanks for relaying the RGBP suggestion for replacing God's Kingdom with God's Love. Makes a world of difference and so much easier to understand than baseleia (which is hard for me to spell) and much less awkward than God's reign.

  18. Am I the only one going with the dream and the Wisdom of Solomon?

    Please somebody tell me you are out there and we can chat about it.


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