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Monday, March 11, 2013

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Smelly Feet Edition

It is Sensual isn't it?
One day a Bible Study was working through the book of Ruth.  They came to the discussion of Ruth and Boaz and what was actually happening when Ruth uncovered Boaz's feet.  There was a moment of deep silence.  Then one of the men in the group said: "so Pastor, about that story where the woman washes Jesus feet with her hair....."
The Pastor hurriedly suggested that the group close with prayer.

And on that note, let us prepare for worship this week.

The RCL readings for Lent 5C can be found here.  And what do we have this week???

Isaiah talks about God doing a new thing.  If Lent is a time of preparation maybe that is what we are preparing for.  What new thing is happening in your corner of the world???? (Or maybe God is doing a new thing that nobody has noticed yet???)

Those silly lambs...
You could preach on the Psalm--which would give a great excuse to sing "Bringing in the Sheaves"

Or there is the Philippians passage where I am sure Paul is trying to make a point of some kind.  But I am not entirely sure what it is.

I am with Mandela!
And then there is the Gospel.  Telling a story where I am always rooting for (and agreeing with) Judas.  And that oh so troubling line "You always have the poor with you" -- is that an excuse to just accept this reality or a challenge to change it?  I spent today at a community consultation regarding homelessness (another category we as a culture seem to have decided we will always have with us) and came away with some nice sermonic thoughts as well as this great quote "Poverty is what happens when people stop caring for one another"

Where are you going with your worship prep this fine Tuesday?  Is your thinking about the marathon from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday falling into place?  Let us know in the comments.

And maybe we should pray (prayer source):
Creator God,
you prepare a new way in the wilderness
and your grace waters the desert.
Help us to recognize your hand
working miracles beyond our imagining.
Open our hearts to be transformed
by the new thing you are doing,
so that our lives may proclaim
the extravagance of your love for all,
and its presence in Jesus Christ. Amen.


  1. I'm going with Mary of Bethany & her anointing/washing of Jesus... thinking of using some ideas from Lewis Hyde's book, "The Gift," about the difference between a commodity economy (where things gain value by being hoarded) and a gift economy (where things gain value by being circulated & shared).
    There is a prophetic, mystical challenge in Mary's actions. She puts me in mind of Dorothy Day, who--when asked to respond to the verse about "rendering unto Caesar"--replied, "If we render unto God everything that is God's, there won't be anything left for Caesar."

  2. I love those ideas MaineCelt! Have been spending today with a funeral and then focussing on Good Friday (so soon and I have 3 hours of service to plan!) but I think I'll look at God about to do a new thing. And maybe something about such an intimate relationship with God being a bit scary and threatening. Must start to focus!

  3. Some things I find intriguing in the John text in case they spark something for anyone:

    Martha's silence (because the the same Martha who appears to usually have had something to say)

    Martha is serving (at table presumably, though by John's day the word has overtones of leadership.) contrast with Luke...

    Mary is "at Jesus feet" again - the disciple's place.

  4. Been thinking this week about lavish and extravagant gifts--the kind that mark a true sacrifice and then I came across an essay about extravagance as a contemplative practice. You'll find it here:

    Just having fun letting that roll around in my mouth like the first sip of a fine wine.

    1. Oh, thanks! That's my sermon title - Practicing Extravagance -- as I finally get to the Prodigal story.

  5. My Lenten theme for this year now intersects with the RCL as I am using the John reading to talk about questions of poverty. My early thoughts are here

    Really I find myself siding with Judas (despite the way John goes about besmirching his character) and wondering what does it mean that the poor will alway be with us. CHallenge or acceptance????

    1. Gord, I read somewhere (yeah, I already forgot where...sigh) that Jesus is quoting something from the OT (Deuteronomy maybe?) that uses the idea that the poor will always be with us as part of an instruction/command to care for others, not an excuse to ignore them or accept the reality of poverty.

    2. Teri and Gord, the article RevAlli point to, mentions Deuteronomy 15 as the source.

    3. Thanks a pearl... And in Deuteronomy it is clearly a challenge/instruction (there will be need so do what you can to meet that need). But in the way Christians have used that verse from John throughout history--what is it there? And even in the context as John uses the phrase it (IMO) loses the power and effect of the Deuteronomy passage.

    4. RevGord,

      I'm wondering if this isn't a scene from the life of Jesus that lies below the Gospel--the oral tradition behind the gospel. Perhaps that phrase from Deuteronomy was so widely known that folks could fill in the second part just as we can fill in when we hear "When it rains....". Perhaps Mary's intimate and extravagant gesture can be seen as I way for people to respond to the poor, the outcast.

  6. this Lent we are reflecting on the OT passages, but last week and this week I am thinking the gospel would be so much easier - given all the other things happening, I have far more resources for the gospel. I rarely preach on the OT, and my lack of knowledge is showing by now, maybe not to others but to me.
    Off to look at the link about generosity from RevAlli as the Church COuncil just made what I think of as an ungenerous decision.

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  8. Having a hard time getting my comments to stick, so trying one more time. Looking for more info on what Mary was thinking/doing. The whole hair thing - was that USUAL?

  9. Jennifer, I was just reading something by BBT where she says that loosening her hair was not at all appropriate for the time. Using her hair for the anointing would have been an extenstion of that unusual behaviour. (Ha! "extension" - get it??)

    I have always found the whole scene with Jesus and Mary so profoundly intimate and beautiful. It reminds me of those "movie moments" where two people have such a treasured moment together that it's as if all the world around them just disappears.

    I'm not sure what to make of that in the context of a sermon (perhaps a bit about how personal our own relationship with the Risen Christ can be?) - but the intimacy of the scene stands out for me.


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