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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Burning Bush Edition

Dear Friends,
As we move through these ordinary times, here is an idea to ponder from Macrina Weidekher:

"Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure." - A Tree Full of Angels

How will you unwrap the ordinary and harvest its treasure in your preaching this week? Join the conversation in the comments.

Links to texts found here.


  1. this is beautiful, and what a great picture!

  2. The last time this Exodus reading appeared in the lectionary, I put a sign up at the entrance to the nave, repeating God's words, "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is Holy Ground." I placed a basket full of socks beneath the sign with a card explaining that they were so people wouldn't get cold feet.

    The children and youth decorated a tree with flames of crepe paper, and had moved it up near the altar rail. We sang, "Holy Ground" and the sermon touched on all the ways we find God in the ordinary -- that God is everywhere, so everywhere we Holy Ground.

    This Sunday, I'll touch on Genesis again, may even do the socks thing, but I'm leaning toward Romans to preach...

  3. Glad you like them CR. I see I did not include a link ot the photo - I'll hunt around and see if I can find it again. I think I was distracted because it was (incongruously) in an article about golfing or something sporty like that.

    Rev Jude - cool ideas to bring a story to life. I did an internship with a a pastor who led every Sunday worship in his stocking feet to remind us, I guess, that we were on holy ground.

  4. I'm always more drawn to narrative passages, so Exodus is sort of calling to me, but really it's because of the style of the writing, not the content itself. I feel like I need to work with Matthew a bit more, so I'm going to try to sit with that a while. Let's see what I can do.

    My second try at preaching without notes went pretty well. I felt like I was repetitive, but the feedback was positive. I learned that I definitely need to get things organized earlier in the week this way. When I write at the last minute I have been thinking about my content all week, but just writing it in it's final order at the very end. I've been doing that without the manuscript these first two weeks back, but I'm finding that I'm not very confident in my structure when I do it in the same timeframe as before which means I definitely need the outline. I think that's always why I get repetitive. My goal this week is to have my content and structure much more set before Saturday. We'll see!

  5. That quote reminds me of a wonderful chapter in the book "Does God Have a Big Toe?" by Rabbi Mark Gellman. It's about the angels trying to help God pick a test to select the right person to lead the children of Israel, and how God's idea--the one who notices the burning bush isn't burning up--proves (of course!) to the the right and best one. I highly recommend the book and the story!

    No idea where I'll go with this week's lessons; I've done the burning bush and holy ground several times, so I think I need to look to one of the other lessons.

  6. sherev - yeah for your preaching experiment! glad to hear it's going well.

    i also am more drawn to narratives. Do you find yourself trying to fight this instinct off, and going with the passages that dont strike you as much, or do you just go with the flow of what hits you the first time? (I think I am the latter, and I wonder how it would impact my preaching if I worked a little harder to connect with the passages that dont hit me right off).

  7. Hi Betsy - I've always loved this book's title, but never read it. I'm making a little amazon order today, though, so maybe I will check it out...

  8. Juniper, I can pretty well guarantee you won't be disappointed! I have used it with both adults and children, for my own devotions and as a way to stir the pot before I start preaching, and just for fun; it is probably one of the half dozen most used books in my library (his others are really good too).

    I just went back and looked at the lessons again, and on this reading through, I was struck by Romans...and perhaps in a preachable but not entirely positive way. What I found was that it exhausted and discouraged me. All those statements about how I am supposed to be and act; I can't possibly keep up or measure up! I'm not sure how I can do on losing my life for Jesus's sake either. Maybe I am supposed to give it my best, knowing I'll fall way short, and then trust that God is who God is, and God will be who God will be, no matter how I do.

  9. From September to Advent, I'm going to be spending time with the Old Testament and the narrative texts from the Lectionary - I've been involved in a new curriculum project, so test driving it.
    SO - This week I'm going to go with the gospel. Been thinking along the lines of how we advertise church - as a place of welcome, fellowship etc. But Jesus invites us to be part of something really different - something difficult and costly! Do we take that seriously - and would we invite others if we did?

  10. I guess I do a little of both - - fighting off the urge to stick to narrative and running with it. I know that I miss a LOT when I stick only to those stories that I really love and find a lot of meat in myself. Also, I try to mix it up a little between OT and NT as my main text. Since we were with Genesis much of the summer, I feel like I need to pull in the NT for a while. It just kind of stinks (for me anyway) that this part of the Matthew narrative doesn't have a whole lot of plot or characters (or at least, I should say, in each individual pericope; I'm finding it hard to jump right in the middle of it all since I haven't been following it. The "plot" is longer than any one piece it feels at this point in the gospel.)

    I didn't make myself stick to that last week which was such a full and difficult week. I feel like I need to make the jump back now or I may never. :) I just love the OT!!!

    I don't feel the need to insert Jesus into texts and sermons from OT passages, so when I am in the OT for a season I don't preach a whole lot of "Jesus." I don't get complaints, but I wonder if they're lurking. It feels like it's good to come back to him for a while! I find that Christmas through Easter is my heavy Jesus-time, but I can accidentally skip over him much of the rest of the year because I just lose myself in the OT.

    (Sounds horrible that way!)

  11. I'm with you narrative/Exodus types! I feel like I could preach multiple nights of a revival on this Exodus passage... and I am not even a fan of revivals :-) There is just so much good stuff in here. My theme is hearing God's call in unexpected places & people.

    This quote will be used somewhere:
    "Earth's crammed with heaven,
    And every common bush afire with God:
    But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
    The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries..."
    - E.B. Browning

  12. @liz - That curriculum you gave the link for is really great looking! thanks for sharing!

  13. Doing the burning bush here, with a little Matthew thrown in.
    Borrowed the title" Back to the Burning Bush" for the sermon. Should be generic enough for me to go whichever way I end up.

  14. I too like the narrative texts, but I've committed (by way of hymn selection) to the gospel text.

    Next week, I will be beginning a sermon series on the NT readings my supervisor and I did while on internship, called "Putting on Jesus". It starts by exploring the (greek verb based) idea of putting on Jesus as you would a garmet and then goes on to look at the epsitle readings for clues to what that looks like. It occurred to me that this week's gospel may be a good lead in to this series.

    Another thread I'm pondering is how a dying (and rising) Messiah and "take up your cross" would have sounded in the disciples' ears. From this side of Easter - and Christendom -, we've lost the shock of Jesus words - the total countercultural point of view.

    And I've been talking alot about kingdom of earth thinking vs kingdom of heaven thinking in my sermons on the parables, so that theme may rise up again.

  15. Thanks for the E.B. Browning quote. Since I am preaching on Exodus this week, I'll definitely use it. I chose deliberately to go with Exodus and the burning bush today, partly because I am Presbyterian, and that is one of our best symbols. Also, I am just starting my third year here, so I haven't yet preached on that text.


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