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Monday, July 22, 2013

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Whores and Bargaining and Prayer. OH MY! Edition

As I was finishing supper tonight I suddenly remembered it was Monday and still July.  So time to prepare a post for tomorrow....

As we gather to begin our week's sharing we come before the Creator in prayer: (prayer source)
God of mercy,
you promised never to break your covenant with us.
Amid all the changing words of our generation,
speak your eternal Word that does not change.
Then may we respond to your gracious promises
with faithful and obedient lives;
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

This week why don't we start with the Narrative Lectionary and then look at the RCL later.  This week that Lectionary continues in the Wisdom unit and provides Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 and Luke 12:22-23 for one's reading pleasure and preaching challenge.  Some day I think I will do a sermon series on Ecclesiastes.  I find it a fascinating book.  Even if it is all "vanity of vanities".  (mind you I suspect Qoheleth would say that about much of our church life)

As for the RCL readings for Proper 12C (the 10th After Pentecost this year) to say we have a mixed bag would be an understatement.  And not at all sure what mental/theological/exegetical gymnastics would link them together.

Give us this day...
We have the Gospel and teaching on prayer.  Mind you there are several sermons, a whole series to say the least, in those few verses.  And I suspect we don't spend enough time talking about, teaching about, exploring our theology of prayer in the church these days....

Or our Epistle passage continues on in Colossians.  It strikes me over the last few weeks that Colossians is a rather strange book, even for Pauline logic.

Then there are our two Hebrew Scripture options....
Negotiating.....with power
Genesis with Abraham bargaining for the lives of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (which begs the question of why he does not bargain for the life of Isaac in an different story).  And for those who say that God can not be convinced to change God's mind--please explicate this passage.

Hosea and Gomer
OR Hosea.  Hosea with his focus on unfaithfulness.  Hosea with his use of whoredom, his marrying of whores as a symbolic action (who needs to marry for love or partnership anyway).  And in this passage are the people God's people or not?

So wherever/however you find yourself leaning this week, whatever flashes of insight you may have, whatever questions or befuddlements fill your mind feel free to share them in the comments.


  1. For the first time in recent memory, I have a vague and foggy idea of my sermon direction on Tuesday. I'll celebrate by being the first commenter!

    Title is "The Work of Prayer." Thinking of balancing two pieces in the sermon (which likely means it's really two sermons, sigh): How prayer works (guess I should figure that out) AND that prayer *is* work.

    Preaching at the uptight congregation for a pulpit supply week. I'm always nervous that I'm offending someone, but their pastor assured me he doesn't mind. :)

  2. There is a theory that preaching which does not offend anyone (particularly in some congregations) is not really sharing God's Word/Hope/Vision for the world...

    ANd besides if the guest preacher offends folk maybe it opens the door for the incumbent to do so more often and more intentionally

  3. After all, it is those sermons that make you go "Huh?" that you remember afterwards. I have All Age Worship, which is going to be non-traditional (and I would value your prayers); we are going to set up several Prayer Stations around the worship space, which people can visit to do an activity (writing down a name for prayer or thanksgiving, then praying/giving thanks for another one; looking in mirrors to know themselves a beloved child of God; tactile aids to prayer like rosaries or wooden crosses; making fridge magnets to remind them of something to pray for, etc, etc, etc), or if they prefer they can sit and look at the Cross. We will start and end fairly traditionally, though.

  4. YECHHH, some of these readings ARE, indeed, AWFUL!!! I've only been with this congregation for seven months and I think that's just too early for me to wade into some of the really difficult (dare I say, nasty) texts like this week's readings from Hosea and Genesis. Colossians isn't much better. It's like the lectionary planners set out to do a mash-up of readings that would make a female preacher scream or squirm!

    So, yes, I'm leaning heavily on the gospel reading and, like Mrs Redboots, I'm going with "prayer." I'm basing my sermon & service around Parker Palmer's quote: "prayer is the practice of relatedness." We'll do a few different kinds of prayer, from a responsive psalter reading to silent meditation to a call-and-response movement prayer.

    1. ooh, I like that plan. Wheels are turning. Thanks.

    2. That's a great quote, Holly. And just in time for my bulletin cover. Thanks!

  5. I kind of wish that our liturgist did not read all the scriptures, because I'd kind of like to announce about a "Great Whoredom" from the pulpit... Oh well, continuing week three of Colossians. This week I am focusing Jesus is our head and the fact that Jesus wipes our slates clean.

  6. I realized that there was just enough time to do a sermon series on the Lord's Prayer and be done in time for Labor Day. So that's where I'm going, starting this week with prayer in relationship and the first line of the prayer. That got me thinking about Abraham's relationship with God - the kind of relationship that allowed him to challenge God (somewhat brazenly - kind of like my kids do me!) and how Abraham appealed to God's reputation. So that's one way to connect the texts.

    I'm using the Narrative Lectionary sermon series on the Lord's Prayer, Luther's Small Catechism (and maybe some of the Large one) as fodder for sermonating. I'm also reading Crossan's "The Greatest Prayer" which is also informing my sermon prep.

    We'll see where it all leads.

  7. I'm supply preaching at a church that is between pastors and (unfortunately, due to a recent firing) between interims.

    It also happens to be a church my spouse and I attended years ago.

    So I'm using Luke, and preaching prayer & practice. It's a little "be careful what you pray for, you might have to do it." I'm going to segue into calling a pastor to help you do the work, not to do it for you.

  8. Although I once played Gomer in a Sunday School program (I kid you not, and you should have seen the wig I was wearing standing on the slave auction block, and if you did see it you would praise the Olde Presbyterian Meeting House for its fantastic Christian Ed program, because I will never forget those stories), I am cleaving to the gospel and hoping people don't listen too closely to the epistle reading.
    The congregation will include (1) the other preacher at my house, who is on staycation, and (2) some dear friends of my Cousin Jack's, who have just been basking in a series of brilliant lectures by him on the subject of his new book on the Gospel of John. So, no pressure, eh?
    The last two sermons I preached on this text were either incredibly local (my last Sunday in an interim) or very twee (a sermon on prayer that opened with Christopher Robin, which I think preached in that context, but seriously? way to avoid the scorpion and egg portion of the text).
    What strikes me this time around is the emphasis on persistence. Prayer works on God and works on us and it works on others. It's Pride weekend here, and I'm considering a title of "It Gets Better," which is the theme of the Pride service in our area on Sunday evening. It's weird. I've preached on the importance of affirming LGBT people, but I only did it *before* I was out and even more than that before I understood myself. Since coming out I've hesitated to preach on anything related to the subject except in the occasional drive by reference, such as "God loves you no matter where you live or how you worship or how old you are or who you love..." It's harder to do this now. But I believe that in the relationship that is prayer, God is working on us, too. I had to be willing to listen to God in order to accept myself as God made me.
    Those are my thoughts this morning. We'll see if they last!

    1. Yay Presbyterians. But Hosea? Really?

      And thanks for the phrase about prayer working on us and on others and on God. That's helpful.

  9. I've been following the prophets all summer but I'm skipping Hosea in favor of Genesis this week because I like the connection on asking persistently and the notion that God can and does change God's mind. Will use that with the Gospel on prayer. I almost wish I could do a series, but I'm on vacation 3 of the next four Sundays, so nixing that idea.

    Reading a book on the Lord's Prayer by N.T. Wright, and also one by Dom Crossan if I can squeeze it in. The Wright book is a quick read (unusual for him). Another friend suggested using Anthony Bloom's Beginning to Pray -- just throwing that out there in case anyone is looking for inspiration.


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