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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lectionary Leanings~~(Long) suffering servant edition

Welcome preachers (and liturgy planners and all other interested parties!). It's that time again--time to figure out where this week's readings might be leading us. Before we dive in, let us pause for prayer:

Creator God,
you are wrapped in light as a garment,
clothed with honor and majesty.
Enlighten us with true faith and humble obedience
that seeks to serve others in your name. Amen.

Suffering servants figure largely in both our OT choices. In week three (of four) of readings of Job, we find finally responding to the long suffering Job, speaking to him from the whirlwind. God's response is more of a challenge to Job than an answer to his suffering, reminding him that he is, after all, not the center of the universe--perhaps something we need to be reminded of as well?

The alternative reading from Isaiah speaks directly of the "suffering servant." For us Christians this phrase immediately calls Jesus to mind, but Amy Erickson, who reflects on this passage over at Working Preacher, challenges us to consider more broadly who this "suffering servant" might be, and with the help of Isaiah's poetry, to see those around us who are suffering through God's eyes. That'll preach!

The selection from Hebrews continues to make the case for seeing Jesus as "high priest," something that required him to suffer to share fully the experience of those whom he represented with the ultimate outcome him becoming the source of "eternal salvation for all who fear him." 

Our reading from Mark has a certain sense of déjà vu as we find the disciples wrangling once more over status. This time it is James and John who want to be seated beside Jesus "in his glory." Jesus is quick to remind them (and us) that it is our call to be servants, not to be served ...something hard to digest then and now.

Don't be shy, preachers. Jump right in and let us know where these readings are leading you, or where you're headed if you are off lectionary.

Readings and prayer found here.


  1. We're following the gospel through - nearing the end of a series on the questions Jesus fielded ( because he rarely answered them!) but I feel as though its such a short time since we criticised James and John for wanting to be the greatest, so will be looking at the call for us to be servants. Sound simple - yet its anything but! That's as far as my musings have gone this early in the week. I look forward, as ever, to gleaning inspiration and pointers here.

  2. I'm preaching from Job this week. At this point, all I've done is read it. But I was struck by God telling Job to "gird up your loins, like a man". Seems like God could have been classier than that. (Hope not to preach that thought, but there it is).

    After surviving last week's funeral, wedding, installation of a colleague, CROP walk invocation, etc, I am thankful for only one worship service to plan and lead this week!

  3. I am off lectionary, doing the second of four stewardship sermons, this one on Matthew 6:19-34. Perhaps a predictable choice for stewardship, but I love preaching Matthew, and I love this text
    (I will always remember my NT prof frequently reminding us when we freaked about this, that or the other,that "sufficient for today is the trouble thereof) so I hope I'll be able to bring something fresh to it.

    Stewardship is a difficult topic most places, but I feel like it is especially so in my current parish. A combination of factors -- the inherent conservatism and Yankee frugality of this area, the particular post-industrial culture of this town, and the fact that we have endowment funds enough in the bank to keep us going for a while, and a total lack of stewardship teaching for the 20 years prior to my arrival -- mean that people mostly tune out. And I was asked to "talk less" about it this year. Which of course, I'm not going to do :)

  4. I am going back in Lectionary time and using Peter's confession (which I skipped while doing my romp through James in September) and asking the sermonic question "Who do YOU say he is?"

  5. reading and rereading the gospel text for this week, the phrase that keeps wandering through my head is 'be careful what you ask for, you might just get it'... and then I go off on a tangent remembering different well-intentioned earnest folk over the years who have told me that they were 'praying for me'
    [this re. 'my healing from gayness'].
    I occasionally responded with 'why thank you, but what if you get me?'
    And was always met with a slightly confused look :D

  6. Next week the Anglican Diocese of Harare (Zimbabwe) at last comes to the Supreme court over the seizure of all its property by the renegade excommunicate-bishop Nobert Kunonga. For many years now the Anglicans in that diocese (and the neighbouring Diocese of Manicaland) have been forbidden access to their churches and have held services at schools, in tents, on football fields etc., often being harassed and even beaten by police and army. Priests have been turned out of their rectories and schools and missions have been closed by the army. In terms of law, there shouldn't even be a case as the property belongs to the Anglican Province of Central Africa, but in Zimbabwe law does not always apply and there is no knowing how events will work out. Bishop Chad Gandiya has appealed to Anglicans worldwide to fast and pray next week (and help financially if they can, but my parish is very poor so we will "only" pray). It is a dangerous time, especially for Bishop Chad, for whom there is a very real danger of arrest or assassination . . .
    The readings of the suffering servant and James and John with their mistaken notions of power fit into this theme and so far I have not said much to my congregation about the situation in Zimbabwe. That then is where I will be going!

  7. I think I'm going to start with the challenges and problems that arise when we view God as the cause of all that is (as in, people die because God wanted them to or get sick because God wanted it to happen that way--that notion that "God won't give you anything you can't handle"). From there I want to go with the notion of an evolving understanding of God in the midst of our lives--relational/companioning and in the midst of suffering (drink the cup with me, baptized with me). The image of God as someone who understands what it means to lose a child or watch a child suffer is one that I will probably use.

    From there...the notion that our understanding of God evolves and changes--what understandings do the disciples have that must evolve and change. What notions/ideas/ethics/beliefs have we held that have evolved and changed.

    From this to the idea that the ability to change your mind is a virtue. That we seem to be in a world that values absolutes and certainties--yet, we worship a Christ who overturned and transformed what everyone thought was right and certain. (Then probably an example of how I've changed my mind on something)

    Then, one of the ideas that was overturned...the top down model of power (God as architect of all things good and bad--allowing us to be victorious in our causes, b/c of course God agrees with our causes) versus the bottom up, collaborative approach (Christian socialism tho' I won't use those words) and an understanding of a God who is in the midst of our pain and alongside us in our suffering. Isolation is replaced by loving companionship in the midst of hard things.

    Anyway, that's where I am now...


    'The Drum Major Instinct' WOW. I've never heard this sermon by MLK, but it is on the Gospel passage and blew me away this afternoon.
    Felt the need to share...
    Blessings to all

    1. I found that sermon three years ago when this text came up and used it for inspiration then. MLK was quite the preacher. I wonder if there is a collection of just his sermons published anywhere?

    2. Thanks for posting this sermon....powerful.....what an apropo message for us as individuals and for our country still today!


      Full text of Drum Major Instinct and other of King's sermons and speeches!


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