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Monday, March 19, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings -- Birth or Death Edition

I do love the lambs!

As I sit down to prepare this week I see that there is something of a choice to be made.  Are you going with the Annunciation readings (although really, what are the chances that Mary discovers she is pregnant 9 months to the day before the birth?) or are you going with the readings set for the 5th Sunday of Lent (where we have the foretold death of the child who birth is foretold in the other readings)?

Now if I am to be honest, if I chose to read the Annunciation is story I would have to point out the nine-month thing or people would start to wonder why I am reading a Christmas story in March.  So if I were on-lectionary this season I would go with Jeremiah and Hebrews and John.

In fact I would go specifically with Jeremiah and the new covenant to be written on the heart.  If there is a better description of how our hearts will be changed when the Reign of God is made fully real I can't think of one.

Abraham and Melchizedek
In my entire life I do not remember ever preaching (or hearing someone preach) on passages from Hebrews.  I find it a strange book {which might mean I should preach on it more often}.  But the whole "priest according to the order of Melchizedek"  line might have some sermonic potential.  Of course one would need to go back to Genesis and explain who Melchizedek was....

Then we come to John.  Is it just me or is this essentially an Easter teaching?  Or maybe it is merely foreshadowing (something John likes to us IMO)?  Certainly as the liturgical year draws closer to Jerusalem it fits to heighten the tension in the story.

So what is it?  Annunciation of birth or foreshadowing of death?  A New Covenant where the law of love is written on our hearts or an eternal priest in the order of an obscure character from the Abram/Abraham story?  What rabbit trail is attracting you this week?

But first, we pray:
God of impossibilities,
you chose to enter human flesh
through the one who called herself lowly.
Teach us who daily receive announcements of Christ's coming
to live as Mary did,
trusting in your power
to bring your desire to fulfillment. Amen.


  1. So quiet out there today.....

    I am still of Lectionary this week (but will be back on for Palm Sunday)

  2. We Episcopalians don't really have the option of doing the Annunciation on Sunday; it is transferred to Monday (we won't observe it but I know some larger churches do.) I am leaning towards revisiting the covenant thread with a little of John thrown in. I am drawn to the idea that God is continually seeking reconciliation with humanity and we keep walking away...not sure if that will actually preach but that's where my head is right now.

    And yeah, it is quiet here everyone outside enjoying the spring weather?

  3. Looking at this, my initial thought is to go with the new covenant in Jeremiah--new, not better, not revised, and certainly not eliminating the old (in preparation for my Yom HaShoah/Holocaust Remembrance sermon on April 22). And then the voice from John--and borrowing the UCC's slogan, "God is still speaking."

  4. I am with Jeremiah as well. I gave them a healthy dose of reality last Sunday via Diana Butler Bass' newest book. So this week, I am following up on that and using some broader strokes of Jeremiah, ala Walter Brueggemann, and allowing a space to begin to grieve the church which is no more (i.e. full sanctuary, kids in SS,etc)...and ending up with the heart message of Jeremiah.

    Might title it "Broken Hearts"...are they broken out of saddness or broken open in order to hear...or is it both?

    Parker Palmer has a great illustration in "A Hidden Wholeness" and placing the words on our hearts until our hearts break open and the words fall in.

  5. ooh, Purple, I like your thinking on the Jeremiah passage. It's one of my favorites, even wrote a paper on it in undergrad. Which does nothing to explain why I've chosen the Gospel reading. I have no idea where I'm going with it, either.

    I have preached from Hebrews, several times, all on the "cloud of witnesses" from chapter 11, though. It's a strong image. I suppose Melchizedek could be a strong image too...if it were explained.

    Anyway. Focusing on John.

  6. I am still off lectionary, continuing to look at the Mark readings of the week leading up to Easter. this week we are looking at the woman who anoints Jesus and Judas going to the religious leaders. Mark 14: 1-11 – so there are those Markan frames as well. Thinking of the way good and evil play out in this passage, and the reasons the poor are always with us, is not because of an act of beauty/generosity/kindness, but because of self-interest.
    A RGBP asked about the response to this preaching series; which is based on the Book 'The Last Week' by Borg and Crossan - not a lot of specific response; a few comments about needing to think something over. The theology of the book is not greatly different to where I usually preach, and in preaching I don't expect the whole congregation to agree with me. How it would go elsewhere, not sure. I am fortunate to be in ministry with a congregation who [generally]are open to a variety of viewpoints and love me. Over the past few years we have worked together on being more biblically literate, that is looking at ways of understanding the Bible in its social, cultural and historical context. One thing I do sometimes get comments on is the way the socio/historical helps them get a better idea of what was happening, and a greater understanding of the passage. Last week I took a picture of the Temple in for people to look at during morning tea, so they could see where the Temple courts were as part of the whole temple complex.

    Much as I am enjoying this preaching series, I look forward to returning to the lectionary, so much easier finding worship resources.

  7. I am doing Jeremiah for our family service. I did the 10 commandments a few weeks ago, and I am toying with the idea of an invisible covenant written in our hearts, beyond a visible one written in stone. I have this vague notion that doing something with invisible ink--lemon juice--ahead of time that I heat up with a blow dryer to show a message might have potential; I could then let them write invisible messages/drawings on paper hearts to take home. High mess potential!Still have to ponder this more...

  8. I just accepted--5 minutes ago-- a last minute pulpit supply gig for Sunday, and have no idea what to preach--I'e never preached this lectionary week before, apparently, so anything is possible. Nothing grabbed me in the first reading.


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