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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lectionary Leanings~~Why are we afraid?

As we begin our pondering, let us pray:

Keeper of our lives,                                                                                             
you know the hardness and gentleness of human hearts.
You call your people to faithful living.
Through the storms of life
that bring suffering and fear, joy and laughter,
teach us to turn to you for all we need,
so that we may come to know your presence
even in the midst of the trials that surround us. Amen.

If there is one thing we preachers have this week, it's options~~lots and lots of options. For starters, we can choose from among three different readings from the Old Testament: the familiar tale of David taking on Goliath, the follow-up account of Saul's conflicted relationship with David, or God speaking to Job out of the whirlwind. Are you following one track through the summer, or the entire season of Pentecost? Or going by what strikes you each week? Or even being influenced by the psalms associated with each reading?

Our second reading continues with Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, reminding them that now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!"~~perhaps are good reminder for all of us.

And finally our gospel from Mark recounts Jesus calming the stormy seas, and in his very unflappable way asking his followers, "Why are you afraid?"~~an apt question for our times, and for our churches (well, mine, anyway...and you?)

Where are you headed this week, preachers? Slaying the powerful giant? Hearing God's voice in the whirlwind? Exhorting your listeners to open their hearts? Confronting fear and lack of faith? Or some other direction entirely? Jump right in and share your inspiration, your pondering, your questions..that's what we're here for!


  1. Me and Job. Might be my favorite book. I love that Job sues God believing that there is a justice to which God can be held accountable in spite of everything he has been through - everything the reader knows God put him through.

  2. Alison-in-FranceJune 19, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    I'm preparing for an interchurch weekend where i have to give 3 talks in "challenging" situations. Talk 1 is late Saturday evening, after a day in the pool, cooking over a fire, and a bunch of games.

    Sunday morning we go on a walk in the mountains. Talk 2 happens at the half way mark - before a picnic lunch. Talk 3 is back at base and needs to be a 10 minute wrap up beside the pool.

    I'm going with the Samaritan woman in John 4, planning to use the walk and the fact that we all arrive thirsty at the top, as a visual aid. (if its raining, I'm just going to have to tell them to imagine they're thirsty !) On Saturday evening, I'll tell the story from the point of view of one of her neighbours (a teenage boy who's fixing the roof and sells some of his mum's bread to the hungry disciples). Currently restisting the temptation to write this part down - I want to just tell the story - so I've made a little story-board and am practicing over and over again !

    I've had months to prepare this, which is why I'm still not ready !

  3. I am going to wallow in--I mean explore--the David and Goliath story b ut am expanding he reading substantially. THe original plan was to read a portion the pause to reflect. But part of me is thinking about rounding up a reader and have them read a section then I respond in David's voice. Should probably make that decision sooner than later....

    My early thoughts are here

  4. And in my usual time-traveling way I'm also working on my sermon for the following Sunday. And I'm wondering how many preachers will say "vagina" when preaching on the woman with the issue of blood from her, you know, vagina, in two weeks.

  5. I think I will read both Goliath and Mark and see what happens.
    I have had the last two sundays off (from preaching duty, at least) and am ready to be back in the pulpit!

  6. David and Goliath for me. We will be reading the Mark text in worship as well. Wrestling with having this David-life courage and hope in overwhelming circumstances and that God is not interested in saving by sword and spear. All sounds good until the rest of the story is read about David beheading Goliath and the Saul's army annihilating the Philistines who are fleeing.

  7. I am preaching this weekend. I am intrigued with David and Goliath. I am not sure I want to talk about religious violence but think that there might be something about trying to take on Saul's armor and it not fitting might be something to explore. And I have always love the asleep in the boat story. Love, love, love the picture at Textweek!

  8. I'm captivated by the idea that this is a new level of revelation for the disciples about who Jesus is. It's all very well to speak out in the synagogue, and those healings are pretty awesome, but -- what the heck! -- this guy can control the elements!
    So how about those moments when we realize something wondrous we never knew before?
    I've created a choral reading of the gospel, which you can find here:
    Even the wind and the sea.

  9. I am combining the Job and Mark readings--the power of the created order, which is under God's control, not ours--which means we have responsibilities, but also means we should not fear it. It does all lead to a stewardship of the earth position, but that is where I stand, so it's all good. And a good time to remember it--school ends next week, and people will begin to scatter to camping, cottages, etc.
    I have made my reservation for a weekend retreat next month, and now that's all I can think about!

  10. We're outdoors this Sunday (weather permitting) so I'm going with Mark and possibly Job. We were reading Job in our text study this morning, and the observation was made 'if God tells you to man up (gird up your loins like a man!), then it's really serious!

    For Mark, I have this image of Jesus asleep in the boat, the disciples waking him about the story. He lifts his head, sleepily looks around, says "Silence! Be still!" Then looks at the disciples and says, "Really, you woke me for that? Don't you trust me yet?" and goes back to sleep.

    Could have happened that way. Our problems seem much bigger to us than they do to God, with God being in control and all. And Jesus is really tired out after all that preaching and healing and time with the crowds.

    Maybe the disciples were simply asking Jesus to get up and bail, freeing an experience sailor to wrestle with the sails. Jesus calms the storm instead. Did the disciples expect too little of Jesus? Yes. Do we? Most of the time. I think we forget exactly "who is this who can calm the sea."

    Thankfully, Jesus doesn't grill us with questions like Job got!

    A bit of humor - a pastor acquaintance of mine once argued that the Sunday after-preaching nap was biblical. This passage in Mark was his proof-text.

  11. Three years ago the theme of my sermon on these texts was "why are we afraid?" and I think I'm going to revisit that this year (different congregation--perhaps even more relevant.) Maybe a little David and Goliath thrown in there with Jesus calming the seas....we'll see.

  12. Not quite sure whereI will go this week. I am out of town at a conference, and Sunday willl be my last preaching until I get back from vacation in two weeks, so it is hard to concentrate. Since I'm traveing across an ocean, with all the anxiety that that can produce, I may do Mark....but we shall see.

  13. I'm thinking about celebrating the Feast day of John the Baptist. He usually gets a bit lost in the Advent shuffle and I think it might be nice to give him a day of reflection. Pondering whether it's easier (or more appealing) to be John in the desert than the Jesus of reflection and parable. Pass the locusts and honey.

    1. I was in San Juan for his festival a couple of years ago. In addition to a really great beach party, I loved the tradition of re-baptizing yourself in the ocean.

  14. What? No one else is doing Paul? I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked...

    ACTUALLY, I hardly ever preach the letters either, but they worked out really well for my little series on building community. This week - community and conflict.

    The problem - I'm reading Christianity After Religion and it's so full of good stuff I'm having a hard time cutting back. Last week threatened to go for ages and didnt only by a tremendous force of will.

    This week I'm on retreat Thur and Fri, which might turn into writing retreat if I don't get going....

  15. I just went to my lectionary group which is a bunch of Lutherans and now they've got me thinking about Job. Might switch out Goliath for Job...

    1. Can never trust those Lutherans, what with their questions and their mystery and their sidetracking text studies. ;)

  16. denominational church anniversary this weekend, so including a 10 minute DVD - which is timely as I still don't have much voice. I think a little of Mark and fear may be relevant at this time as well. In some parts of the denomination there are questions about 'does the Uniting Church have a future?' which I think is the wrong question. surely there will always be groups of peoples living out their discipleship, name and format will change over time.

  17. Muthah, on Friday night of last week's Montreat Youth Conference, John Bell (of the Iona Community) preached on David and Goliath and one of his major points was about how the previous generation didn't deal with the problem, and when a young person came in with an idea, he was immediately saddled with all the tools of that previous generation, but of course he had to throw off that burden in order to go out and approach the problem in a new way. question was, of course, what burdens or old-ways-of-doing are we church people laying on the next generation, and how can we instead help them lay aside the heavy armor that keeps us all from moving so we can follow the Spirit?

    we are off lectionary all summer so I'm preaching on prayer, using the whole "God and Moses spoke face to face like friends" bit along with the end of James...something about prayer being a way to build relationship, not a magic spell.

    1. Oh Teri that is SO GOOD. Saving this info for end of summer, when I am revisiting the david story. :)

  18. I am going with David and Jonathan, friendship and fear and holy relationships. It is Pride Sunday which is a big deal in our community(there was a time when parishes, including ours, paid quite a price for celebrating pride Sunday. Will have to pull all this together on the long flight home from biking the Danube because when we land I have to do a different kind of peddling

  19. Hi, RevGals! Thanks for your hospitality and prayer, Rev Dr Mom, and thanks to everyone for these thoughts--especially appreciated Teri's sharing from John Bell.

    Last weekend I officiated at a wedding; the bride's father had just died earlier in the week, and his funeral was two days before the wedding. This was much on my mind as I spent time with the Mark reading for this week. I found myself pondering what happens when the storm doesn't abate; how do we minister to those who are still in the storm? What words do we offer, and how do we remain present?

    More about this, and new art, at "Still in the Storm." Blessings to everyone on this threshold of summer (or winter, for my southerly friends); may you find what stillness you need.


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