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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - That about says it all Edition

This coming January, my congregation will be studying about the connections between Islam and Christianity. I am blessed to be working with a facilitator who takes his preparation very seriously, so he's been studying for months already. Today, he came into my office with a question, "You know how there are five pillars of Islam? Well, what would you say the pillars of Christianity are?"

I'm so glad he asked me that today, because this week's gospel reading was in the front of my mind, and so an answer ("You shall love God will all your mind, heart and soul; and your neighbor as yourself") rolled right off my tongue. Of course, there are many other possibilities, but I would venture to guess that whatever your particular House of Christianity looks like, this is one of the pillars holding it up. How would you answer this question?

(I have read quite a few commentaries trying to find a useful explanation of the second half of this week's gospel reading, by the way, but most of them brush if off with the equivalent of a chuckle and a "dont bother." Which, pig-headedly, makes me half want to preach a sermon on Davidic lineage or something, although I probably wont.)

How about you? What are you focussing on this week?
Are you saying good bye to Moses after your long journey together?
Starting at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with Psalm 1?
Or continuing your little series on Thessalonians?

Whichever direction you are heading, check in. The comments are open!

Picture of the 5 pillars of Islam found here.


  1. My tweet yesterday said I was "pondering rules. and love. and economics/politics. and Jesus too."

    Pairing the Great Commandment with the Deuteronomic version of the 10 Commandments (since I didn't preach on the 10 when they came up recently) and asking what rules guide our lives.

    If we say that the Great Commandment is still the top category rule then shouldn't it shape all the other rules in our lives? Does it?

    Might work in the Occupy_____ movement in that light. ANd the best thing is that this theme gives lots of Children's Time possibilities.

    My early thoughts are here

  2. Gord - You're right. Probably better to think of this as the one rule out of which others flow, than as one among many.

    We're had two rather political sermons on a row (glbt theme and occupy___ theme) and my style is generally more pastoral. So, I'm thinking about that. Also, thinking about stewardship and a class we are doing right now based on Adam Hamilton's book Enough. I might read the OT and talk about Moses in light of what we prepare/leave behind for future generations, and how it all must flow from that One Pillar.

    In thinking along those lines, I'm reminded of this Oscar Romero quote, which might be worth weaving in:

    “The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our wisdom. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No program accomplishes our mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
    It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”

  3. Juniper -

    Brilliant Romero quote, thank you. I have banging my head against the OT laws the last few months - aren't they all about relationship? In those times they needed 300+ rules to help them establish right relationship with one another (Leviticus 15, anyone?)

    What rules do we need now to help us be in right relationship with one another?
    The greatest and the one like it.

    Also, the Davidic lineage thing... it's not too late to cut it out of the read, but Juniper I'm with you - the gauntlet has been thrown!

  4. Please forgive the typos and syntax - yikes!

  5. I wasn't planning a series on Thessalonians, but darn it, I love that image of the nurse tenderly caring for her children.
    This passage makes me miss my first Bernese Mountain Dog, Molly, who was the subject of both the other sermons I've preached on this text. David Lose at Working Preacher says what you need here is a story; well, that's how I always preach. (Thanks to kathrynzj for the link, by the way.) So I think Molly and her Paws of Love may be the way I go. I can't bring in the dog, the way I did last time, but her love for everyone she met certainly opened my heart and mind.

  6. Thanks so much, Juniper, for the Romero quote. Will make the perfect introduction to my weekly e-letter which I must write this afternoon (along with preparing for a new members class on responding to the Bible, a rationale for an anti-racism proposal, and I can't remember what else but the pile is huge).

    I've been working on the Leviticus reading--in part because I've never heard anyone ever preach on Leviticus so there's a challenge in it and in part because it links the great commandment to Holy Living--an Anglican icon.

    Looking for ideas and also traps that those of you who HAVE preached on the Leviticus might have discovered along the way.

  7. I feel like I have been preaching the same sermon for the last month -- or at least variations on a theme. Here are my thoughts on this Sunday's text.

    Pericope Pondering

  8. I'm feeling a little defeated after a sermon that I didn't like so much on Sunday. It's weird how one "meh" one will do that to me. I still think it wasn't a bad idea, but I think I ended up with more than one idea in one sermon and they were competing with each other for the position of "the" idea. It was my first sermon since I started preaching without a manuscript this fall that I knew immediately would have been better if I had had a manuscript.

    Oh well. Let it go.

    I'm trying to carry the stewardship theme the next few weeks since the committee announced that there is one, but didn't really make any plans to use it in anything. I only wish they had asked me for input on it. This week is "Time," as in time, talent, and treasure. I'm leaning toward Psalm 90. I am hearing in the start of psalm the same sort of "myth of scarcity" we talk about when people say there isn't enough money. Then by the end there seems to be a move toward the idea of giving our time, all our days to God, and it will be enough for doing all that we are called to do.

    Like Songbird and Thessalonians, what I need is a story. I have such a hard time preaching psalms that I'm scared to take it on. I remember a professor or pastor or someone once guiding a class in reading and hearing and praying the psalms - - essentially he said that if the words you are praying don't ring true for you, pray them for the person for whom they are true. I need to enter the story of this psalm in order to preach it.

  9. We're not saying goodbye to Moses just yet. We're running two weeks behind the lectionary for the next four weeks, so this Sunday is the Golden Calf. Sermon theme as of today: how we use God's gifts to us shows who/what our God is (i.e., gold plundered from the Egyptians was used for the calf but it was also used for the Tabernacle)

    Unfortunately, the church that is in greater financial difficulties is the one that is having an "outdoor picnic worship service" at a family farm, so I sense that the implicit stewardship message won't have as strong a hold...

    One of my professors, Brent Strawn, co-edited a book on preaching psalms:
    I find it helpful, although I'll admit I've only preached a psalm once in my short (four months!) preaching career.

  10. I'm off to hear Barbara Brown Taylor next week so I am trying to finish - finally! - Altar in the World. She talks about our bodies and learning to love our bodies. I'm thinking of doing something with that, bringing in the Leviticus line about being holy because God is holy, something about God taking on flesh and how loving our bodies is essential to loving ourselves, therefore, neighbors. Yeah, it's Thursday and I'm just getting into this. And, of course, it is stewardship Sunday complete with dinner. I think I'll be working my days off this weekend!


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