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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings~~Wisdom for the wise

If you are a preacher and  it's Tuesday, it must be time to start thinking about Sunday's sermon again. As we get underway, let's begin with a prayer. 

Holy Wisdom, God of abundant life,

you call us to the banquet of your love.
We find you in the gifts you give;
we know you in the ones 
with whom we share this holy food,
and in the bread of this table, your son, Jesus Christ.
Grant that we may be bread for others,
as he is bread for us. Amen.                                             

No matter which lectionary track you're following, there is one common theme running through the Old Testament readings and Epistle: Wisdom. Our reading from 1 Kings recounts the beginning of the reign of Solomon, when God grants him "a wise and discerning mind." Alternatively in Proverbs we find Wisdom personified, who has built her house and calls us to, " Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight." And in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul advises his audience to ", not as unwise people but as wise."

And then we get to our gospel from John where we find ... (drumroll, please) ... the bread of life. One. more.time. And will you forgive my irreverence if I refer to this passage as the cannibal edition? With clear Eucharistic overtones, Jesus once again promises eternal life to those who partake of his flesh.

So where are you headed this week, preachers? Do you have a fresh insight on the bread of life to share? Will you invite your congregation to lives of wisdom? Are you following another plan for summer? Share your inspiration, your questions, whatever is on your minds as you begin to think about Sunday's sermon. 

(Readings, prayer and art found here.)


  1. I am thinking of going with the Ephesians text, but incorporating last weeks too so we get most of Chapter 5. Wisdom. The image you have posted of the girl holding the lamp of wisdom makes me think of a couple of things...1) A young girl is holding "wisdom" we assume that the old hold wisdom 2) Wisdom is illustrated by light, flame, why is this?

  2. I'm preaching the gap: The Restoration of Bathesheba in (between) the 1Kgs text. (In spite of having written the piece on Proverbs!) And, a FB friend offers this interpretation of the Wisdom text:

  3. have no clue where to start this week. waiting for a holy spirit muse moment.

  4. I'm with revkjarla. I don't have a starting point or an inspiration or anything at all. Except maybe that Proverbs reminds me of this exchange between two detectives on Homicide: Life on the Street--
    Bayliss: "You never say please. You never say thank you."
    Pembleton: "Please don't be an idiot. Thank you."

  5. I've been doing a series on Ephesians, but am not feeling inspired by this week's text. But this is not a great week to dip into the John 6 series, especially after ignoring it for this long. Thanks for the thought about wisdom and light.

  6. For the first time this summer, I'm preaching John. Am intrigued, Rev. Dr. Mom, by the cannibalistic nature of the text and wondering how that was received in its context. Maybe the radical nature of the Christian life. In the recesses of my memory is something about how the people in the Roman world received/heard the eat/drink flesh/blood. Anybody remember this or the source? Did Justin Martyr respond?

  7. This week is a first for this supply preacher: preaching at two different congregations on the same Sunday. One at 9:00, the other at 11:00, two different towns (though one of them is my own town, which makes things a little better). I'll use the same sermon, which will be think the 1 Kings prayer for wisdom (the CEB says "discernment"). Tricky in that one congregation will have communion, the other won't, so I may have to shorten and lengthen accordingly.

  8. I am on vacation, and glad not to be preaching this week (and next!) Much to my surprise, though, the kind of meh (to me) sermon I put together on the bread of life theme and Elijah last week went over well and was adaptable for my afternoon service on the Green...thank you Holy Spirit!

    RevAlli, the cannibalistic thing really jumped out at me last night.; I don't think I had really given this aspect of the text much thought before..will be interested in what you do with it. Sarx/flesh is important in John in other ways, too, so how it was first heard would be fascinating to know.

    Hope the Spirit is there for you all as you continue your pondering this week.

  9. I'm preaching Ephesians - have been for a few weeks. Title is Make the Best of It. Seems like wisdom as an approach to life in awe is the way the path is going right now. Sunday crack of dawn often brings new inspiration, though. Rev. Suellen

  10. I'm doing supply preaching at a different church than last week, but am continuing with Ephesians. Last week I decided that the last half of chapter 4 was commentary on the some of the Sermon on the Mount and I'm going with that idea again this week. Context of the licentiousness of Ephesus seems important, because I agree with the question posed by Russell Rathbun at The Hardest Question: "How are we supposed to live in love the way Jesus did if we avoid the people he loved?" So, I'm using the Sermon on the Mount as the foundation, Ephesians as reaction.
    I've not been blogging much (longer story) but do want to put up last week's sermon and this week's when it's done.

  11. I'm going to be preaching on W isdom as Sophia, the Holy Spirit, and then contrast it with what people would have thought about the cannibalism passage (Wise? I don't think so!), which I shall probably highlight (as we know it too well) by saying the shock value might be if he had said to eat his turds (do I dare say that? I might dumb it down to eating earthworms or slugs!). And bring it together with saying that maybe when the HS asks us to do something that seems silly, like closing the church (this church was supposed to close when ours did, but begged a year's grace, and there are other issues that aren't mine to tell), it is, in fact the wisest thing. Or something. YOu'll see how it comes out on my blog next Sunday!

  12. I quoted this lovely passage from Lauren Winner's book Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis [in preaching resource Synthesis that I edit]–-
    (HarperOne, 2012), of her experience of preaching in a small Episcopal church in an upstate New
    York town. At the Eucharist, serving as a chalice bearer, she follows along behind the priest, offering the cup of wine to parishioner after parishioner. “Some clasp the cup and guzzle with
    what looks like relish; some are daintier, more polite, as though handling fine crystal,” and some practice intinction, dipping the wafer into the wine and then consuming “the crimsoned host.”
    Later, talking with the priest, she learns something about those who came to kneel—particularly about an elderly couple who seemed “fragile as mushrooms.”
    She learns “he has been afflicted by a wasting disease, an intestinal disease that makes it almost
    impossible for him to eat—he lives on Ensure and lemonade.” Before, she had
    only observed that the elderly man and his wife each took a wafer when they were offered them. The wife proceeded to dip hers into the chalice and then eat it. The husband likewise dipped his in,
    but then handed the round of Christ’s Body to his wife, who ate it for him.
    Winner writes: “There at the Communion rail, I don’t yet know what illness lies behind this gesture, I know only the couple’s hands and mouths, and that I am seeing one flesh. I have read about this, heard sermons about a man and a woman becoming one flesh; and here at the altar, I see that perhaps this is the way I come to know such intimacy myself: as part of the body of Christ, this body that numbers among its cells and sinews an octogenarian husband and wife who are Communion.”

    1. How beautiful to see such love in this elderly couple. Very touching.

  13. I heard this preached 9 years ago and the illustration that stuck with me was the priest talking about explaining communion to children and seeing the horrified looks on their faces when she quoted this text. She left us wondering if we forget how serious it is.
    Not preaching this weekend - I got the next one though - more bread to come.

  14. I was in high school, sitting alone in church, when I first HEARD in the Eucharistic prayer, "eat my flesh and drink my blood." I was so horrified I almost got up and ran out of the church. And I did not take communion that day, or for a long time. I really had to work through it. I never told anyone about it, at the time. I felt that I should have already HEARD that and what was wrong with me that at 17 I was just getting it the first time!?

  15. Addressing the cannibalistic thing and how crazy it sounded to the Jews...Luther talks about how if you shift them emphasis from my FLESH and my BLOOD to MY flesh and MY blood, you see how Jesus is saying how utterly different he is, and how utterly different what he is offering is. I am so using the passage from Still - thank you for reminding me of it, Isabel. It ties well into what I hope to convey, that we all need something to consume, to digest, to make us feel body and soul that connection to the Holy...this is what we seek when we come to the rail, in all our imperfection and human brokenness, to take in a piece of perfection that in turn perfects us.


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