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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings--Eat, Drink and Be Merry Edition

We might as well, because there is not much in these readings (Proper 13C, 11th After Pentecost for this year)to make us merry.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  The first task of any preacher, of any person of faith for that matter, is to open oneself to the Divine.

And so we pray...
Generous God,
in abundance you give us things both spiritual and physical.
Help us to hold lightly the fading things of this earth
and grasp tightly the lasting things of your kingdom,
so that what we are and do and say
may be our gifts to you
through Christ, who beckons all to seek the things above,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now. we will get to the RCL readings in a moment.  But we also have to remember that there are other choices out there.  The Narrative Lectionary for example, which this week concludes its Wisdom unit with Ecclesiastes 2:18-3:8 &Luke 12:16-21.  Is there a better known passage from Ecclesiastes than the opening verses of chapter 3?  (Thanks to Pete Seeger of course)  But is that passage hopeful or fatalistic?

Shall we listen to the song???

And then there is the RCL.

I long ago decided that I would not try to figure out a way to link the RCL readings during Ordinary Time to each other.  It is so obvious that building links between the Hebrew and Christian readings is not the prime focus of the compilers....

So we have some more of Hosea, merry fellow that he is.  But to be fair there is a touch of mercy at the end of the passage.  Even if it does have a rather begrudging sound to it (IMO anyway).

Or the alternate passage from Ecclesiastes.  I preached on this one 3 years ago, for my first sermon in this pastoral relationship.  I went with setting priorities.  Otherwise we are down to saying nothing is worth it.   I have a suspicion Qoheleth was a depressed fellow....

Then we have Colossians.  So much more cheeriness, particularly verse 6.  Is Paul veering into a "right way or the highway" approach?

The Rich Man
And of course there is the Gospel.  Re-reading it I think I know why I preached on Ecclesiastes 3 years ago.  I see that someone comes to Jesus to ask that he tell his (or possibly her I suppose) brother not to be greedy and so we launch into a teaching on greed.  A teaching which seems aimed at the first questioner--not the brother.  A teaching which could quite conceivably be aimed at the modern church in many places.

 Mind you there is the chance to use the phrase "You fool!" in the sermon.   And who knows who you could be talking to in your head.....

So where are you leaning this fine Tuesday?  Share your thoughts with the rest of us....


  1. Preaching Sunday for the first time in a couple of months. We don't officially use the lectionary, and although I often check it out for inspiration, Sunday I'm going with an idea that's been rattling around in my mind for a while... Matthew 20:20-28 (James and John's mothers request about places of honor in the Kingdom) and exploring the ways that James and John did end up "drinking the cup" that Jesus drank - each in his own very different way, then moving into the idea that we are all called to serve our own individual way... Or something like that. Its not quite gelling yet...

    The last few weeks the sermons have been on the long side (included a visiting preacher who spoke for 45 minutes, and really he could have cut the first 30 with no loss of content...) So I'm aiming for short and sweet. I don't think anyone ever compained because the sermon was too short !

    1. Update: the more I delve into the text, the darker the tone gets - I've been reading up on the cup imagary, and whereas I thought before I started that I had a nice chirpy sermon about different forms of service, I'm now thinking that I have to address death and suffering. I'd change text, but that feels like a cop-out. Oh dear...

  2. I too am off lectionary for this week - I feel a little guilty about it - my seminary professor running around in my head extolling the virtues of using the lectionary I guess.

    Anyway we are having Communion this Sunday and the last time we shared was Easter so the whole service will focus on the sacrament. Luke 22: 14-23 is the passage although I am using Psalm 107 (lectionary) as well. I want to use words like nourish and sustain and nurture when I speak of communion which will flow out of the sermon. I think the conclusion on the sermon will include the invitation to the table...all preliminary thoughts at this moment

  3. I am on the RCL and still using my favorite things as sermon titles. This week's favorite thing: "Storage Units." It seemed like a cute take on the story when I was working out the summer plan. Today, it seems tricky because I really don't like having a storage unit! Indeed, I've always been judgmental about the very idea. However, like the man in the story, I have things that need a place.

    The even trickier thing is that the congregation is made up of lots of people who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina -- including what could be called truly precious things like photo albums and family heirlooms. I am convinced that they found good news in that journey that I can only swat lamely at.

    But it's only Tuesday, and I have an overdue newsletter article to finish!

  4. I'm doing a bit more pulpit supply lately - So will be using this incredible resource more. Felt really blessed by that prayer - it's been stressful today at home so truly a gift. I'm feeling drawn to Luke. I like parables. Because they make me feel comfortable and warm and fuzzy, and then the more I think and dig I find myself all the the more confused and annoyed. I like the back and forth. I like the storage units motif. We just moved so that might be an easy segue.

  5. I think I want to take the Hosea reading and the Gospel and talk about what the gospel message of real faith when there are so many gods to worship that take us from the transformation that the Holy calls from us.

  6. I'm back. Back to preaching after about two months off. I'm going with Hosea and his ability to envision God as male (husband) and female (mother).

  7. The last time this Gospel passage cycled through, it was perfect for the folks I preached to at the time-- a congregation that takes The Idolatry of the Church Building to extremes. But now I'm preaching to a congregation that just received a big donation to renovate the elderly barn-like building that houses two thriving ministries: a food bank and thrift shop. And this "barn renovation" will make a huge difference for this church's ability to carry out its ministries. Not sure which of the other passages to draw on. Hmmm.

  8. I'm also off lectionary, preaching a series on the petitions of the Lord's Prayer. We're reading the Ecclesiastes and Colossians text but substituting Matthew's Lord's Prayer for the lectionary gospel reading. I'm finding the contrast between 'all is vanity' and "thy kingdom come, thy will be done" to be intriguing. Is life and wisdom and toil different when we see ourselves plugged into the God's kingdom and will? Add in the lectionary gospel reading: is not storing up treasures for yourself, but being rich toward God a way of living out 'thy kingdom come, thy will be done." I'm still pondering and wrestling, and struggling to voice it coherently.

    1. thanks ramona, I am working with the luke reading, but the contrast with teh Lord's Prayer still connects .

  9. Going with the Gospel and the invitation implicit in the parable--the invitation to be rich towards God. Sharon Ringe does a nice job of interpretation linking the admonition & the parable to the teaching that follows. Pointing towards Shalom. As I was working on this today, the parallels between this and the Acts story of the couple who withhold some of the profit from the sale of their fields struck me. (They too were struck dead!) The Acts story is set in community. Hearing all of this more and more in the context of the nesting dolls of communities in which I live and preach.

  10. I'm leaning toward imagining that the person in the Luke passage who asks Jesus to tell the brother to share half of the family riches was present during Jesus' Ask-Seek-Knock message.

    Mixed message or something else...?


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