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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings~~Water, water, everywhere

God of wilderness and water,
your Son was baptized
and tempted as we are.

Guide us through this season,
that we may not avoid struggle,
but open ourselves to blessing,
through the cleansing
depths of repentance
and the heaven-rending
words of the Spirit.

This week we begin our journey through Lent, traveling to Jerusalem and the cross with Jesus. Our readings (found here ) are full of water. The Old Testament reading finds us with Noah as God places the bow in the sky as a reminder of the sacred covenant between God and the people. Noah's story is familiar to all of us; does that familiarity aid us in preaching the text or make it more difficult?

The gospel returns us to Mark's recounting of Jesus' baptism, followed by his being cast into the wilderness. Some of us preached on this text just a few weeks ago, albeit without the wilderness ending. Does that extra bit provide what we need to use it as we move into Lent? Or perhaps the letter of Peter with its reference to both Noah and the baptism will serve as your inspiration.

As we move into this new season, some of you might be choosing to go off lectionary. Do you have a special theme that you'll be using through the season?

If you are like me, you have another sermon to prepare for today before you can think too much about Sunday's. The readings for Ash Wednesday can be found here. For me, the challenge is to bring something fresh to those readings each year. Please share your thoughts on this, too, if you're working on it.

As always, we're here to share your struggles, your flashes of insight, and your questions and ponderings. Join us!


  1. Good morning, RDM!
    Back in November, when I was on study leave, I had an idea about expanding this week's slender gospel reading by suggesting that the Psalms might have been among the resources that got Jesus through those 40 days in the wilderness. I hope that's going to build into a series on the Psalms as a spiritual resource throughout Lent. I must admit I've done only limited preaching from the Psalms. I think I'm going to do a little weekly handout with the Psalm in several versions and encourage people to take it home and use it through the week. *NO* idea whether that will be appreciated. We shall see.
    Meanwhile, no Ash Wednesday service for us (low attendance in the past, Deacons and I decided to skip it and see if anyone even mentions it), so I have a little breathing room but also feel a little wistful about it.

  2. Martha, I too am looking to the Psalms during Lent. I am hoping to make the Psalms the focus each week. I like your idea to send them home with something.

    It is a three service day tomorrow. The community Lenten services begin and our church hosts (but another pastor is preaching). Two care facility services in the afternoon and then Ash Wednesday services.

    Tonight's service is very simple. Scripture with a very short reflection, times of silence, simple music, and imposition of ashes.

  3. My page is blank, so I'm hoping that pondering here may help...

    Our church doesn't follow the lectionary (baptists, what can you do:-)) but I'm leaning towards going with Mark on the baptism and temptation of Jesus anyway. (Previous years we have done a series for Lent, but we are "between pastors" this year, and the elder looking after preaching doesn't like series...)

    Before I started reading it yesterday I worried it might be too sparse, but yesterday I found myself getting totally fascinated by the way Mark uses language to tell his story and the sheer vigour of it all. The thing is, I'm a language nerd. I'm capable of rattling on for half an hour about vocabulary choices and verb tenses - but will anyone else be remotely interested ? And how to answer the dreaded "so what" question ?

    I'm also reading Exodus, so some links with deserts might happen...

    More pondering needed...

    (Other idea was to go with Luke's version, and use an idea from Eugene Peterson where the temptations are to do with means, not ends - but that could keep for another time.)

  4. I am preaching through the Last Week in Mark for Lent. So tomorrow night Jesus will kill a fig tree and talk about prayer. On Sunday I am preaching Mark 13, the end of the world, the patience of hope. Where Jesus speaks of the temple being torn down. Here are some of my beginning thoughts based on a trip to the Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins on BE5 with pics. the crumbling church

  5. I often follow a theme through the Lenten season. this year will be some education/reflection on things we do at church. This week is about Communion, using a drama written by a colleague of mine many years ago [the premise being the Knox and Wesley appear on People's Court to settle how the UCCan will celebrate communion]. Next week is about worship [sermon title Worship, What is is Good for?], then I am off for a week and the choir is providing service leadership, then a service looking at Prayer, and finally a service with the sermon title Do You United Church Folks Believe Anything?.

    Much of it is a rehash from 2006 when I first used htis theme.

  6. What wonderful ideas from you. Last night was the first time I actually sat down and looked at the Lenten readings, and I was thinking about doing a sermon series on salvation history "What is God up to anyhow?". Although we hear these readings year after year, it is my hunch that most folks don't ever connect the dots and put all these stories together. Tonight we have our annual Pancake Supper followed by an Intergenerational Service, which is always well attended. I must admit the whole season has kind of snuck up on me, so for tonight I think I'll just pull off some resources from the Whole People of God curriculum and adapt it. Tomorrow we have two services and this afternoon I have a dental appointment....Yikes!

  7. I have three Ash Wednesday services tomorrow, pancake dinner tonight, and lunch with the Bishop in a few minutes, so no time to write a homily :( but will squeeze it in somewhere. I'm thinking about how the "ashes to go" movement has taken off in some places and how even people who don't "do church" come for ashes. Some sense of belonging/being part of something bigger than oneself linked with notions of mortality?

    As for Sunday, I really like the commentary on the Genesis reading on WorkingPreacher and want to think about that some more. We'll see.

  8. Martha, I like the idea that the psalms kept Jesus going in the wilderness!

  9. Welp, after preaching 3 times in 12 days including saying the seminary's Ash Wednesday Mass, I've just agreed to supply this Sunday for a colleague with a death in his family - I'm sure I retired from weekly congregational ministry... I was so glad to find a good sermon on those lessons in my archives!

  10. I feel like I just preached the Baptism of Jesus (Oh wait--I did!) and so I am jumping ahead a week and preaching Mark 8 this week and Psalm 22 the next.
    But first there is Ash Wednesday. My favorite service of the year. No idea what I'm saying there. That's the project for this afternon.
    Blessings to you all!

  11. So happy to read all these ideas. I think I know where I'm going, but I have a lot of fleshing out to do.

    We're having a simple service tomorrow evening - communion, imposition of ashes, and the shortest of homilies, entitled Abundance in Scarcity. Something about how when we feel the scarcity of optimism, hope, etc., God's mercy and goodness remain abundant, as we find when we turn toward God with our whole heart. I'm probably going to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the examen of consciousness as a way of turning toward God each day.

    As for the rest of Lent, I'm focusing on spiritual practices, and this Sunday is Practicing the Desert.

  12. Rev Dr Mom, I agree with your assessment of the Working Preacher on the Genesis reading. It's very useful. I have two services tomorrow and then will be doing a Wednesday evening series on healings in Mark, taking a different "sense" (if you can call demons a sense!) at each one and ending with laying on of hands for healing at each service. My overall theme will be "Healing for Wholeness and Salvation". Then I still have to prepare a sermon for each day of Holy Week (theme: Coming to Know Jesus) and the 3 hours on the Passion of Mark. Plus of course Easter Day! On the Sundays I will be preaching from the lectionary, but I hope to point it all towards self-examination leading to a repentance which will lead to a closer walk with Christ. Wanting to have a positive message rather than dwelling on the gloom of Lent, especially in this parish which is very wounded. And then there's a sermon as guest preacher at the Woman's World Day of Prayer on the 1st. I'm a bit stunned by it all -- it's my first solo Easter and my first parish so am feeling just a bit pressurised! Don't think I'll be doing too much visiting in the next couple of weeks. Please keep me in your prayers. Any tips would be much appreciated!

  13. Pondering Joel, and locusts, and repentance for tomorrow night. Not preaching on Sunday, but back again in March.
    Trying to get a new look at Joel, but have not had a revelation yet.
    Any thoughts or ideas

  14. Lenten blessings to the RevGals! In this season, I'm excited to be offering a series titled "Teach Me Your Paths: A Pilgrimage into Lent" at The Painted Prayerbook. The series offers new art and reflections for each day of Lent, based on the lectionary readings. I'd love to have your company there.

    Many blessings to you and those you serve as Lent begins.

  15. Hello RevGals! I am late to the Leanings this week - it was hard to think about Sunday when I was so focused on Wednesday (okay, and Fat Tuesday, to be honest - trying to help my kids get into the rhythm of this season, and having paczki and pancakes on the eve of Lent seemed to help with that).

    Anyway! I had toyed with an idea for a series preaching OT post-exilic stories, but in the end I couldn't quite get my mind around how I wanted to do that. So we decided to do as usual and preach the lectionary (Alison-in-France, I'm a Baptist! We use the lectionary! It can be done!).

    I am preaching Mark and am trying to respect his version of the story without letting the other gospel versions drown him out. This has been an interesting exercise for me, to really narrow down to those two verses about the wilderness. I've started a Facebook group for my church folks and anyone else to walk through Lent together, and today we've been discussing the wild beasts in this story. I've been really captivated by the fact that some interpretations take the beasts to be an adversarial image and others take them to be friendly (my initial inclination was friendly). Right now I am playing with that tension - things we're afraid of, things that keep us company, how the two might overlap. Where the Wild Things Are is swirling in my head, too.

    Don't know where I'm headed yet, but it's nice to have some fresh energy around the temptation in the wilderness. I love the story (all the versions), but given that it comes up every year, sometimes I worry that my thinking and preaching isn't all that interesting.

  16. I'm preaching on the Mark passage, mainly, and focusing on the desert theme, looking first at its 'hellish' qualities (with the presence of 'non-friendly' wild animals)and tying that in to our own 'hellish' places/experiences and the temptations we experience in contemporary life. Then I think I will try to swing the focus onto a more positive one, drawing out the benefits/blessings of the desert (with perhaps some friendly wild animals, and of course the angels).

    Good to read what everyone else is doing! God bless us one and all.


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