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Monday, March 12, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings -- Snake on a Stick Edition

Agnus Day

AS we once again prepare for the holy (and somewhat terrifying) task of proclaiming the Good News, let us pray: [prayer source]
The words we speak all too often do not show you in
our lives, God of our pilgrimage. We spend so much time
boasting to others, they imagine we have no need for you.
We grumble impatiently when you don't respond immediately
to our requests, but are slow to sing your praises. We
mutter under our breath about the behavior of those around
us, when we could be asking them if there is some way we
could serve them.
It is on our journey to the cross and the tomb that you
fill us with the riches of your mercy, Steadfast Love! You
do so, not because of any thing we have done, but because
of the compassion which flows from your heart wounded
by our failings. As we open our lives to receive your
forgiveness, may we turn to the Light which brings us
life, following Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, every
step of the way.

Christ Lifted High
The passages for this week can be found here

Many years ago, in my 2nd year at seminary, I was assigned chapel worship on the day when these passages came up.  I remember looking at the pairing of the Numbers reading (with the snake on a stick offering healing) and the first verse of the John reading and wondering if it was an invitation to a superstitious approach to Christ on the cross (which also, according to our faith, brings healing).  Do we who wear crosses around our neck wear them as a sign of faith or as a talisman?  Of course after 18 years I have no idea where I went with that logic but it sounds like there might be a sermon in there...

OR of course there is that temptation to expand on the most famous verse in all of the Gospels -- John 3:16, with the opportunity to point out the verse that follows it.

OR one could go with Paul, and forgiveness, and justified by grace through faith.  Is there a more quintessential passage for those of us in Reformed or Lutheran traditions?

Wherever the Good News is being found in your midst this week please share it in the comments.  If the Good News is scarce in your midst this week please share that too.  And if you have a Children's Time idea PLEASE PLEASE share that!  (I often find that the hardest piece of the service to plan)


  1. Always a relief when the scheduled post feature works!

    THis week in my Lenten series I am looking at prayer: why do we pray, how do/can we pray, what difference does it make.

    And today I realized how BIG a topic that is (worth a series all its own really). My opening thoughts are here>

  2. Hi - I am new to this - only my second post - but as I create Sunday's liturgy and wrestle with the passages - what occurred to me is how we called to 'face our fears' (which is what I think the sermon title will be) when we must look in the face that which has poisoned us - the snake on a stick - and we will be healed - how much of our life is about looking at what when we fear in the face then we find healing

  3. I like that line of thought HEather.

  4. Heather, that is the approach I took last time I got the snake sermon that day is here. Feel free to use it for inspiration or to remind yourself what you don't want to say! :-)

    There's some great liturgy appearing on LiturgyLink, be sure to check that out. Or if you write some, send it in!

    This week we have a cantata (the Rutter Requiem) so I'm saved from the strange Lent4B texts, and from the children's sermon too! For what it's worth, I think the epistle is the most interesting lesson this week--and so relevant to what's going on in our culture's "christian" discourse too. the way of life...

  5. One of my favorite sermons is on these texts from 3 years ago.

    Which leaves me facing a wall when considering preaching the same texts this week. I don't normally have that reaction. Maybe I'll go with Ephesians...

  6. Thanks Teri - I appreciate being able to read your past sermon it clarifies the direction I hope to go in. I also was not familiar with LiturgyLink. Interesting site.

  7. Heather - face your fears, sounds like a great place to go with his reading.

    this week I am preaching on part of Mark 12 - a possible title at the moment is 'trying to trick Jesus'. I remember hearing sometime you should never ask a question if you don’t know the answer. Here the Pharisees, Sadducees and a scribe all check out Jesus. in the first 2 cases, Jesus manages to not answer the question. In the third case, he does answer, and the scribe continues the answer. I love the direction the Holy week readings are taking us, but I am finding it more difficult being off lectionary.
    Back to work, it is already late Wednesday afternoon here.

  8. I'm finishing up the bulletin still not knowing where I'm going with the sermon --- I try to get that figured out before picking hymns, etc! The reason it's taking so long, I think, is my mental hang-up that (#1) John is my least-favorite gospel and (#2) John 3:16 reminds me of bad experiences at Billy Graham crusades as a child...

    I do love the snake-on-a-stick passage in illuminating the John text, and I am trying to think of ways that God uses what is death-dealing (e.g., snakes, crosses, death) to give us life.

    Any examples you can think of?

  9. Peregrina, my first thought is something like forest fires (or prairie fires), which renew the soil and plants though they also destroy. A more distressing example may be something like chemotherapy, which often makes you sicker in order to make you better.

  10. marci - I have a very few things I feel like I've really gotten right in sermons and it's hard to preach on them every year - hope it's coming together!

    I am deep into series on the seven deadly sins - this one LUST. So I'm preaching on John "god loves" and also "came not to condemn..." And then, throwing in Song of songs, just because. This is a difficult topic - sexuality has so many layers for so many people - so I've been working pretty diligently on it already which is unusual for me. I'll be curious to pick up what I now consider a mostly-done manuscript on SAturday night and see what my reaction is :) See you then!

  11. Thanks, Teri! Hope you all are doing well.


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