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Monday, May 21, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Fire and Tongues and Dry Bones--OH MY! Edition

What would we do now?
We open with prayer (prayer from this liturgy site)
Call to Worship
L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: the day when the flames of faith dance in our hearts.
L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: the day when our babbling speech becomes the Good News for the world.
L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: the day when compassion is seared into our souls.
L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: let the people of God rejoice. Alleluia!

Prayer of the Day
L: Spirit of the Living God, dance with us on this day.
P: Come, Whirlwind of Wonder!
L: Sing to the groaning of creation.
P: Come, still small voice of Hope!
L: Enflame us with your passion for justice.
P: Come, Liberator of the Least!
L: Purify us of our grasping greediness.
P: Come, Advocate of selfless living!
L: Silence our gossiping tongues.
P: Come, Harmony of God's Heart!
L: Wind of God, blow through us; Fire of God, burn within us;
Tongue of God, speak to us on this day of renewal and birth, even as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
Our Father . . .

The Readings for the Festival of Pentecost in Year B (with all their varied options) can be found here

PRophesy to them bones!
Part of me is tempted to ask the Ezekiel question "Can these Bones live????" as the intro to the sermon this year.  On my bad days that is the question I want to ask the institutional church.  On my really bad days I hunch the answer is a resounding NO!  Then again I suspect that is the answer Ezekiel had at first as well...

 Then there is the quintessential Pentecost reading from Acts.  As always I find it hard to deal with a  story we read Every. Single Year.  But still the drama, the power of wind and fire, the extreme possibility of new life!!!!  Somehow it hits me more on Pentecost than on Easter.  (Full Disclosure:  In my mind Pentecost is 2nd only to Easter in the running for the most important festival of the Christian year, eclipsing all others by a magnitude of 10)

And then my mind turns to the creation groaning.  Groaning for what?  What is being born?  Do we know?  Paul suggests not, or at least we don't know well enough to pray for it.

Maybe when we have embraced the "Spirit of Truth" (of course a few pages later Pilate asks the very pertinent question "What is Truth?") we will know if the bones can live, we will know what is being born....or maybe we will still keep striving blindly, sometimes hitting the mark, sometimes going way wide.

As a Sunday School teacher 20 years ago I was one of those who used the "birthday of the church" imagery for this Festival.  I know why we used it, why we still use it from time to time, but I am not always sure it strikes right on the head.  Unless by birthday we aren't talking about an anniversary but those labour pains PAul talks about in Romans.  Not celebrating what happened long ago but what is happening here and now in surprising ways and places....even in a valley of dried out bones.

Certainly that might preach?

Where are you heading this Festival week?


  1. I'll have two chances to work with the texts, both Sunday and at worship service tomorrow for people discerning a call to ordained ministry, their advisors and pastors, and our Church and Ministry Committee. (No pressure.) For that service, I think I'll do something with Romans, but whether that will carry forward to Sunday, too, I'm not sure. It's hard to make it a big party when it's a three-day weekend for a civic holiday and attendance will likely be down. I'm open to the direction the Spirit moves me--scary, sometimes, isn't it?

    1. is there a more logical day to go where the Spirit leads/blows/drags?

  2. Not preaching this week because the bishop is coming. Hurrah! Believe it or not I'm already thinking about NEXT week.

    Having it be Memorial Day weekend does make life more difficult, and our town has a parade that starts at 11 am. Ugh.

    Come Holy Spirit!

  3. Alison-in-FranceMay 22, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Neither preaching nor leading the adults, but taking the children (3 to 10 year olds, unknown quantity thereof). Its so tempting to go down the "Pentecost as the church's birthday" route - because then we can have cake and I can make it kind of easy and cuddly, but I'm feeling the urge to be more original than that.

    I'm wondering whether Ezekiel's dry bones wouldn't speak to the ghoulish minds that so many of the little pets seem to have... But then how to keep a minumum of order !

    1. I know many children who would find the dry bones a good area for play....maybe a bunch of chicken bones to put together?

      I remember once as a child bleaching chicken bones for a school project (perhaps we were doing dinosaurs???) It was fun.

    2. Alison-in-FranceMay 22, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      oh wow - i might just have to go buy some chicken !

  4. As we confirm three young women, I am preaching on faith in bloom out of the strength of Acts. I am thinking of some natural images of when wind and fire in need for blooms and fruit!

  5. We have 2 confirmations (one teen, one adult) this Sunday, and communion. But no holiday weekend (our May holiday was yesterday). For a sermon title I am borrowing a line from the United Church "New Creed". For sermon content however I am still thinking. Luckily it can (should) be short because of what else is happening.

    My early thoughts are here

  6. I have a big head start on my sermon for this week as I did a lot of thinking, praying, and studying to prep for my Living by the Word assignment for the Christian Century. If anyone is interested in the "blogging toward Sunday" post, it is available here:

  7. I'm tackling the Acts passage. My sermon title is "When We Least Expect It." The disciples were expecting something, but they really didn't know what. But the Spirit often comes upon us today when we don't expect it, and in the least expected ways, and afterward, if we reflect upon it, we think, "Wow! No way I could have caused that to happen...or even come up with the idea in the first place!"

    But I sure could use an idea for a children's sermon, in case we have any children on a holiday weekend. I am eyeing the box fan next to my desk as I write, wondering if I could use it to create a little "wind from the Spirit" in the sanctuary on Sunday. (Our sanctuary isn't air conditioned, as it was built before Climate Change, and one of the changes I have made since coming as pastor two years ago is to make standing electric fans de riguer in worship from about mid-June to September. No one in the congregation has complained yet and quite a few make a point of sitting near them.)

  8. I'm thinking along the lines of dry bones and how the Spirit may be making them live again. I'm not quite a year into my first call in a tiny rural community - actually 2 tiny rural communities and congregations. Over the year I have heard the lament about living in a dying community and seen how members of the community are trying to breathe in new life by encouraging business development. For example, letting go of the major dairy farm idea that they can't get off the ground, and working to bring in a wind farm. I guess I see those dry bones more as legos - the Spirit is going to take the dry bones of our ministries and re-create them into new fresh ways of serving God and proclaiming the word. I guess I'm thinking if we can't talk about renewal and re-creation and re-formation on Pentecost, when can we?

  9. I like the dry bones too. Rather than use subsititue bones and have to worry about young brains making the connection, what about letting the children be the bones. Equiped with rattles (can's of beans?) they can act out the vision and rise up to become God's living breathing people. Try a script for this at (Sorry for the copied address, I can't quickly figure out how to do the "here" link.)

    1. Nice. Now I wish we did children's sermons so I could use it!

  10. Acts...and we're doing a reading when there will be readers overlaying the English with Greek, German, Spanish, and Lingala (African trade language from the NW Congo). Focusing on how the people were allowed to retain their own language/difference even while entering into a place of shared understanding. Resonates with our Anglican tradition (at its best) and offers the opportunity to talk about dialogue across difference. This is all still in a very embryonic state, as usual on Wednesday. BBL - off to do a noon Celtic service.

  11. Happy Pentecost Week, RevGals! RevGord, thanks for the hospitality and your questions. In reflecting on the Acts passage, I've been struck all over again by how God continually chooses to work in ways that are so often contrary to our human expectations, bringing new life and showing forth wisdom in places where we might least anticipate it. This challenges me again to keep my eyes open for how the Spirit is stirring in others, and to keep my heart open for what the Spirit might want to get up to in my own life, beyond what I'm able to envision and dream in this present moment.

    More about this, & new art, in my new blog post, Pentecost: The Origin of Fire.

    Pentecost also always makes me think about dear Dr. Bill Mallard, one of my seminary professors, who talked about how the real miracle of Pentecost was not a miracle of speaking but a miracle of hearing and understanding. May we know that miracle in these days.

    Blessings and a wondrous Pentecost to all--

  12. Alison-in-FranceMay 24, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    Turns out there are some excellent ideas for children (both for all age worship, and for age-group break-out sessions) on the Scripture Union UK site:

    I think you need to create an account, but its free, and then you can just search for Pentecost.

    As a bonus, a printable skeleton is available here:

  13. Writing today - Ezekial not on the menu here. We have four Baptisms and a brunch to follow so shorter will be appreciated. I am thinking about the elemental nature of what we do in the church - earth, wind, fire, water - all but earth will be used/spoken about on Sunday. I also like the groaning in new birth - as we create and re-create the church in each new generation, do we really belive the HS is still in the process? If we do believe it, why so much anxiety? Bible study over the summer will be Diana Butler Bass book, so I may throw a bit for that in too.


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