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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings~~Sinners and faith and forgiveness edition

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  Collect for Proper 6

With the weather we've been having it feels like I should be preaching on Noah and the ark, but this week's readings take us in a different direction. In our reading from 1 Kings, Ahab is having a bad day. He wants to buy a vineyard next to his palace, but much to his dismay, the vineyard's owner refuses to sell and gives God as his excuse ("The Lord forbids that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.") Ahab is distraught and Jezebel decides to take matters into her own hands, arranging for the vineyard's owner to be killed. When she is sure that he is dead, Jezebel urges Ahab to take the vineyard for himself. God, however, sends Elijah to meet him, and when Ahab goes to claim the vineyard, Elijah delivers God's message of displeasure at what has taken place. Ahab has sold his soul to obtain the land. Not good. 

2 Samuel gives us another story of one acting to get what he wants and displeasing God along the way. The lectionary leaves out the backstory--David sees and desires Bathsheba, and sleeps with her despite knowing that she is married;  then he arranges to have Uriah, her husband, killed in battle. After Uriah's death, David takes Bathsheba as his wife. In our reading, Nathan comes and tells David a parable to clue him into the evil he has done. Once again, getting what you want at any cost can have drastic consequences. 

Paul's letter to the Galatians provides a more positive text as Paul reminds his audience that they (and we) are in fact saved by faith, not works. Although this message is a familiar one to those in the reformed traditions, it can still be hard to grasp and can seem at odds with Jesus' gospel imperatives. A challenging text to preach...but a good one. 

Finally our gospel finds Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, where an uninvited woman anoints his feet with perfume and her tears. The woman's actions provide Jesus an opening to talk about forgiveness of sins, and to highlight his concern not only for sinners but also for those overlooked by society, including women. 

Do you have a homiletical direction for the week, or are you still searching? On lectionary or off? Summer series? Narrative lectionary?  Wherever you're headed, join the discussion with your questions, inspirations, frustrations, insights, or just to let us know you're here!

Readings found here or here.


  1. In a fit of foolishness I named my sermon Forgiveness, Justification, Grace. Not like there are several sermons in that title or anything.... Anyway my early thoughts (which include a statement some might call heretical) are here.

    Also I wrote a Prayer For/Assurance of Grace based on Psalm 32

  2. I'm working our way through our Core Values that were identified during our Transformation process over the last year. I've preached "We value caring for each other" and "We value children." This week is "We value where we have come from and where we are going." The focus of the value was intended to be the balance of the two, but I imagine and can sense that the "Where we have come from" folks are feeling a little left out lately. We have had a WONDERFUL surge in our younger families which is great and I think necessary. This could be my chance to honor those who have been around in this church or just in the kingdom of God a lot longer.

    In this series I'm doing things a little backward by looking for Scripture with the general theme instead of using some sort of lectionary. I think, though, that I'm being pretty faithful to exegesis vs. isogesis by finding a passage that fits the theme, but not pulling out my true preaching focus out until I have the passage and see how the Spirit speaks through it.

    That said, I don't have one yet for this week's theme. Time to do some reading and digging. It might be the cloud of witnesses if I think of the where we have come from as people, but I think I would rather think of it as how the Spirit has worked through the church. I might need to turn this one into a little bit of a dialogue sermon and let some of the older people "testify" about the glory days - - how they remember God working through them. Hmmmm....

    I'd take Scripture suggestions if you've got 'em!

    1. Isaiah 43 on Behold I am doing a new thing? I would pair the first few verses of the chapter with verses 18-19. Down side for your theme is that this is all about the new thing and the passing away/forgetting the old thing.

      One of the passages in the Jewish Scriptures that encourages people to remember the Exodus story, to remember what God has done for them (of which there are several, I just can't think of one off the top of my head)?

      Revelation and the new heaven and new earth?

    2. Maybe you want that ritual text that begins "A wandering Aramean was my ancestor..."? or Deuteronomy 6--know these words and teach them to your children? Or perhaps a story of Jesus teaching in a synagogue or of the Last Supper--he participated in a tradition even as he transformed it?

    3. Weird - my follow-up that I left yesterday didn't show up. Thanks, Gord, for some ideas. I think I'll work Isaiah 43 into the liturgy. You're right on the downside. I think I need to go a little more into the honoring of the old thing instead of it passing away or being forgotten. I've used some of the commands to remember the exodus recently, including Deu 6 last week with the command to teach them to the children. Maybe the crossing of the Jordan into the promised land would work - - the monuments they build as they go forward. Hmm....

      The wandering Aramean was definitely one I was trying to remember, but I also like Jesus in the synagogue claiming the scriptures for himself.

      I've decided to definitely open things up for some story-telling, asking people to tell stories about from where they have come - - what characteristics, memories, events from their past communities of faith (either this church or another) have carried them or have they carried with them to today, what experiences of the Spirit of God mark "where they have come from."

  3. We are in the midst of a big conflict centered around two competing church volunteers. After some attempts at mediation and other conflict-resolution efforts, I'm using the gospel lesson to craft a service around themes of healing & forgiveness, with some sort of ritual element. (Not sure if I'll be anointing with oil, handing out slips of paper for people to write something to bring forward & lay at the feet of the cross, or what.) Into the middle of this, I've been requested to set aside time for special recognition of a newly-minted Eagle Scout who's leaving for Army basic training in a week. Oy. I have absolutely no idea how this will all work, but I already told the congregation about the "service of healing," so I'm committed to that theme. I'd welcome your ideas and suggestions!

    1. Sing "On Eagle's Wings?" I'm actually not kidding.
      I think your idea about bringing a piece of paper forward is probably an easier entry into ritual than anointing might be, but if you have the ability to arrange a worship center, it might include a flask/jar that evokes the one the woman would have used.

  4. I'm captivated by the structure of Psalm 32, the pause intended at each "Selah," and the way we can only work through anxiety by living through the sensations it produces. What must it have been like to sit at Jesus' feet, knowing everyone around disapproved?
    I'm not sure what form this will take, except that I will probably build in some pauses and have already done so in the Prayer of Confession.

  5. I'm on the "forgiveness" petition of the Lord's Prayer and seriously considering how to preach on this. How do we talk about forgiveness, but acknowledge that we may not be able to forget? That forgiveness may not make everything right again. That water under the bridge can wash the bridge out and we may be left standing in a place we come to see as more beautiful and more fitting, but we can't cross back over the water again. And we are scarred from the journey. What to say, what to say?


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