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Monday, September 24, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Pluck Out My Eye?!?!?! Edition

We open our week with a prayer:
Raise us up, O Lord,
for it is you alone who restores life and health
to the suffering
and to those who wander from the truth.
By your grace,
may we offer powerful and effective prayers
for one another and the world,
in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

This week would appear to be Proper 21B, the 18th After Pentecost.  (More soberingly, this Tuesday being September 25th  means that there are just three months until Christmas--and just over 2 months until Advent begins.  On second thought, let's all pretend I didn't just say that.)

Anyway the RCL readings for this week are found here.

Esther and Haman and King Whatsisname
{beginrant} One of my ongoing irritations with the RCL is how poorly some stories (some great stories) get treated in the cycle.  This week would be one of them.  To the best of my recollection this is the only week in the whole 3 years that Esther appears.  And we get this patchwork that tells only (a very small) part of her story.  It might be less insulting to skip her altogether!! {endrant}  And how DOES one pronounce Ahasuerus anyhow?????????

Otherwise we have whiners in the desert, followed by a controversy about unauthorized prophesying.  Or you could go with James and praying for the sick and the power of prayer.  Then again there is the Gospel encouraging us to remove our own body parts (and a dose of controversy regarding unauthorized healing).  Interestingly, while former President Bush pretty much said "if you are not with us you are against us" Jesus seems more of the "if you are not against us you are for us" mindset.

Biblically Sanctioned Plastic Surgery??
It is only Tuesday.  Sermons are just a wisp in the wind for many of us at this point in the week.  SO please share your brilliant (or otherwise) flashes of inspiration, comments, questions, ideas for "must read articles" and so on in the comments.  We will be listening with open eyes.....

22 comments:

  1. Why it is the weeks which are so full are also the weeks that inspiration for the preaching text (Mark) is so little?

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  2. Purple--can you preach on one of the other passages? I am concluding my romp through James with James 5. But to be honest I think my sermon will be more tangential to the passage that immersed in it ;)

    WE have baptism and in trying to link the message to that event I have come up with the title 3 P's of Parenting: Patience, Prayer, Power

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  3. I'm preaching on the gospel - continuing a series on questions that have been raised by the lectionary gospel passages. At this stage of the week I'm thinking of virtually ignoring all the self mutilation stuff in this passage and just focussing on the question of who is in and who is out and in whose name we do things. But it IS early!

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  4. Does anyone know of a good short summary of Esther? I want to use her but the lectionary verses are not helpful

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    1. Watch the Veggie Tales episode of Ester where they have a beauty pagent. May not help any, but it is fun

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  5. I've been searching Jewish sites for Purim scripts, some of which are pretty accessible and make for a reader's theatre of the whole story. I'm thinking of skipping the ending though. Is that bad? Rev R in OZ

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  6. I try to keep things moving and people engaged so I sometimes leave out a reading if I feel like the congregation is going to sit there clueless and minds wander off. I hate to do it but I'm going to leave out Esther.

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  7. I, too, am struggling to find a short version of Esther without using a drama. I'm open to a retelling rather than a straight-from-scripture reading. Please send links if you find something worth sharing. RevBell in CA

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    1. Carolyn at Worshiping with Children has descriptions of several versions of the Esther story from Tomie DePaola's book to a couple children's bible renditions in her post from September 7 on Proper 21. It might be worth a look.

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    2. Wonderful idea, thanks Wendy (and Carolyn)!

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  8. Seems like that first line in the Psalms needs attention: "If the Lord had not been on our side. . ." I'm wondering if an interweaving with the Gospel lesson in which Jesus resists John's inclination to see "sides" and reshapes/defines it. Little early in the week to get much clarity but maybe. . .?

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  9. I am completing my series on James, but wanting to do more than say that we are suppossed to pray for each other and go get the lost back in church.
    I need some depth to end this one

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    1. Last week I took David Lose up on his idea to have the congregation write down questions they have about God and faith and such. I got several questions on prayer, most asking about how to pray and who to pray to (God, Jesus). One question touched on unanswered prayer and why God doesn't take away the desire for drugs when the family is praying for that. I think I'll delve into how and why we pray. I'd like to tackle unanswered prayer as well, but I'm not sure I can cram that all into one sermon.

      James has been talking about living lives of faithful discipleship in community, and I think this passage speaks powerfully to how we live in community together - sharing one another's burdens and joys and teaching/learning from one another to be the body of Christ. Prayer is a big part of that - maybe the essential part of it.

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    1. LOL. Wonder what bits we'd be happy to discard?

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  11. It's looking to me like this is an opportunity to talk about taking the Bible seriously without taking it literally. I don't think most people need to literally cut off body parts, but taking the gospel text seriously means being willing to sacrifice what isn't important (hand eyes etc) for the sake of what is (God's kingdom). On first glance anyone would say their hand or eye is important to them, but it takes some spiritual maturity to realize they are part of our mortal flesh and actually not as important as living in accordance with God's ways. Esther is a great example of this because she risks her life to make the plea for the life of her people. She ends up saving both her life and the life of her people - only because she was willing to risk everything.

    That's where I am right now. Thanks for hosting this chat. I'm an associate, preaching once a month, and I don't know why I never found this site before!

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  12. I also am finishing up a series on James this week. The churches I serve (3) have been doing a study on Wesleyan Discipleship and learning/reviewing spiritual disciplines. The acronym A.C.T.S. was in our teaching on prayer so I believe this plays very well into the text from James this week. May do an interactive sermon: words of Adoration for God, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (Intercession). How powerful and foundational prayer is in our relationship with God.

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    1. This is precisely the idea I have in mind, because James matches ACTS,so neatly. I am doing it at our family service. I'll have yarn in 4 colors, one for each type of prayer, and do something with making them into...well, something. Probably have a knot in each one, like a bead only safe around little children.

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    2. Remind me - what does ACTS stand for?

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  14. I'll try that again: I've been frustrated this week with folk complaining about the burdens they carry but who won't move over and let others help and who insist on standards that are just too rigid and put others off - bit of a catch 22. I've blogged it here
    Seems to be chiming with the gospel passage. Or is this eisogesis?

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