Three years ago this week, I preached on these lections for the first time. As I enter into my third year for the first time with a congregation, and move through the same lectionary passages again, I was wondering how to keep my thinking fresh for me and for the congregation. Reading the passages for this week, I was reminded that I have nothing to worry about. These 4 little readings have a little of something for most any aspect of the life of faith, with a thread of the compelling difficulty of discipleship woven through them.

Don’t discount the gospel as just TOO MUCH for your end of summer crowd. It might be just the word they are yearning to hear as the expectations and schedules of autumn crowd in on them. Listen to what Tony Robinson has to say:

I suspect that many of our best parishioners would welcome a sermon or sermons that acknowledge that following Christ is demanding and indicating what that looks like for us in this time and place. I recall one of my own favorite movie scenes from “A League of Their Own.” The star pitcher, Gina Davis, tells her coach that she’s packing it in. “It’s just got too hard,” she says. He answers, “It’s the hard that makes it good.”

I love this quote, although I have to say I wonder what Tony means by “our best parishioners.” Are these challenges just for the few who really get it, or is there good news for all of us buried there? If you are living the questions of these passages more than the answers, you might want to visit Jan Richardson, often a commenter here at TLL, who has a lovely reflection on the questions that arise from taking seriously these difficult and challenging sayings of Jesus. Check it out.
 
But don’t take off before you let us know what’s coming up for you. Will you tackle the gospel? That tiny-but-mighty letter to Philemon? Or, are you considering the metaphor of potter God in Jeremiah? And, for those of you in the States, how do you address (or do you address?) Labor Day? Or are you leaping the lectionary all together?
 
See you in the comments! Texts for this week found here. League of Their Own photo found here.

34 thoughts on “Tuesday Lectionary Leanings – It’s the hard that makes it good edition

  1. One of the results of having moved to a more Westerly Time ZOne is that at midnight Eastern I am still up and can be first (it helps that I don't take Monday off but generally spend it starting to build sermon thoughts).I am going mainly with Jeremiah 18, hopefully with a seasoning of Psalm 139. As I started working it out this morning the question that came to mind is ho does the clay feel>

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  2. Labor Day is a hymn sing day here, so I don't usually preach, or at least not much. I think I'm going to do something more with poetry/guided meditation, using Psalm 139, along with the hymn sing and communion, rather than write a sermon. I'm contemplating now the best places to break up the psalm and put other things there, and how many voices I'd need. One for the psalm, obviously, but then just one voice for all the other pieces (whatever they end up being)? Or one for each other section? hmm…

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  3. I'm preaching Psalm 139 as well. It'll be a shorter meditation as we have communion also. Thinking of going with a "You Are There" theme (and title). Some difficult stuff going on in people's lives (when is there not) so leaning towards offering some comfort.And in connection to the psalm and being knitted together by God, my word verification is knitiono…

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  4. Is anyone else doing Creation Season in September? I think I remember others have done it in the past. I decided to give it a shot mostly because I really liked the idea of having Storm Sunday on the day of my daughter's baptism. Good imagery for that sacrament about God bringing us through the water/storms of life.Anyway, this week is Ocean week, and I'm worrying about that. I really don't intend to do 4 Sundays of "Earth Day" environmentalism. I'll include that view in the prayers, but I don't think I can preach it that many Sundays for myself or for my congregation. Instead I sort of plan to see what these passages with these creation elements in them tell us about God's interaction with us, etc. Ocean Sunday seems to be a transcendence and grandeur kind of Sunday, sovereignty of God, with a passage from Job 38. Next week (Flora/Fauna) is definitely more of an imminence kind of week with the lilies of the valley and birds of the field.Anyway, I'm not sure at all how to preach that, especially coming off 2 weeks of pretty high intensity "get up and go" challenging kinds of sermons. Finding the application/relevence in this one is harder.Anyone else doing this stuff?

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  5. I am spending time in Philemon this week. The title of my sermon is "Private verses Personal." I'm playing with the idea that our faith is personal, but not private. Paul could have said about Philemon's dealing with Onesimus, "Well, that's Paul's business." Instead he wrote an impassioned letter and "cc'd" the whole church. When we relegate faith decisions to the private we lose a sense of accountability to the community. Just my starting thoughts…..

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  6. I am preaching the alternative OT text, Deuteronomy 30: 15-20. It was written on the cusp of entering Jordan and the beginning of a new life. I want to do a bit of teaching in this sermon related to how the Deuteronomistic History functions. It just seems to be we are on the cusp of entering into a new land as well. With all the recent events with Cordoba House, the stabbing of a Muslim cabby, the Beck event, the growing lack of tolerance for anything or anyone who does not believe or espouse the "right" thinking…can we enter into this new land in the way which God is asking us to? Not sure exactly how hard I can/will push this. It may be a bit early in my time here…for the people to take this from their "new" pastor.

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  7. I'm going with Psalm 139. Love the text but am feeling undisciplined and unfocused this week (trying to get my brain back from vacation!!). No very inspired or inspiring ideas yet!

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  8. After five weeks of no preaching, I'm feeling pretty rusty. NO clue what I'm doing yet, but it is a communion Sunday, so it will be (thankfully) short.

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  9. I have a great Keynote/Powerpoint presentation of Psalm 139, if it would be helpful to anyone.I'm doing Labor Day and really don't know where I will go with that. Hoping for inspiration as the week goes on!

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  10. I'm planning a Communion meditation for my first Sunday at my new call. The congregation has a practice of people coming forward to light candles arranged in a sand tray while speaking of prayer requests, something they do every Communion Sunday. Apparently it can be quite lengthy, so I am going to lean toward having a shorter meditation than usual, until I get to know their routines better. I'm preaching on Psalm 139, from the angle that God knows all of us very, very well, and we have the experience of knowing Christ in the bread and the cup, broken and poured, and that we will trust the Spirit to help us grow to know one another over the course of time. Likely title: "Getting to Know You." I've not yet seen an order of service for Communion, so I have no idea about where the lengthy prayer time comes relative to the sermon. Tomorrow all will be revealed!

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  11. I have to tackle the gospel. It will be the first time I've preached on the text. I'm not sure what is usually done for Labor Day, but suspect my supervisor still wants the gospel preached. We meet tomorrow for supervision, so I'll know more then. Tomorrow is also pericope group, which will help.

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  12. sounds like some exciting "starts" – sue back from vacation, songbird in a new call and ivy experimenting with the gospel.my husband got Carl Sagen's Cosmos on netflix and we're enjoying watching (in my case) and rewatching (for the BILLionth time in his case). I wonder how/if to relate Sagen's wonder in the universe, and our place in it, to Psalm 139? Also, thinking about Labor Day, and how the psalm speaks to God's work in our lives. Lots of ideas still bouncing around and nothing like direction yet, but it's early enough in the week that I can still kind of love this expansive part. I DO have to create a bulletin tomorrow morning, though, and that will necessarily focus my thinking. And I really would like to get this sermon done on Thursday, so I can have a couple of days truly off on the weekend. Hmm, maybe it's not as early as it seemed….

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  13. oh! and Betsy, I would love to see your powerpoint. We dont have the technology to show those things in worship, but I'm still in the idea-generating stage, after all….

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  14. I'm preaching for a former congregation this Sunday. It will be great to see them! It's also my last preaching assignment until after the baby comes… hard to believe that's roughly 8 weeks away. I'm preaching from the gospel with hints of Deut. & Psalm 1… about choosing to follow Christ but not sure where else it will take me. I really loved what was said on workingpreacher this week about Labor Day and the chance/challenge to connect our labor during the week with worship/community on Sunday. It certainly spoke to me after not having a "regular" vocation to labor at each week. How does what I choose to do with each day matter to God and how is it tied to what I am a part of on Sundays.

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  15. I used Ps. 139 in combo with a Jeremiah text a couple weeks ago so I knew I was cutting it out for this week. I thought about doing stations, but my MIL died on sunday and I'm doing the funeral. That means I need to do something simple for Sunday. I preached the Philemon before so maybe I can find my file and at least have some of the work done. I'd love to emphasize today's slave trade in some way to stir our compassion but don't know how I'll do it. ah well, we shall see. Best to MH for the first day in the new call tomorrow.

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  16. I was thinking about doing something re: vocation for Labor Day weekend, but I'm questioning exactly how to do that, in light of the texts. that's it.how our faith works out in everyday life….

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  17. I was intending to look at Jeremiah and the psalm – love both of these passages. The Bible study group that meets on Monday night asked me how I was going to preach the gospel on Fathers Day [this Sunday in Australia] – so I will attempt to include at least a comment about that. I am interested in the idea of the clay and how it participates with or hinders the work of the potter, also that Jeremiah speaks of the nation, rather than individuals. At least Sunday is a few days away, so hopefully some time for things to coalesce.

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  18. I read the Gospel reading to my (16 year old – and no she doesn't come to church) daughter (well, she asked why I looked at the computer screen and went 'Oh boy!'. Answer – had just looked at lectionary readings).her response was "With that attitude, Jesus is just going to get a load of EMOs as followers!".So now I feel I have to preach on it – if only so I can try to explain to her that it's not as bad as it first sounds.But… help!

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  19. My practice when I am filling the pulpit is to preach on the gospel. Since, I don't have much, if any, input on things like hymns and alternative readings and such, it's usually just easier.But this week? Oh boy! This was going to be communion week, so I wasn't scheduled to preach. The call I got yesterday to fill the pulpit was a mixed blessing.But how can I read that text in worship and just leave it hanging there? The answer is, I can't.So I am going with the gospel and talking about committment. I may pull in some Bonhoeffer and cheap/costly grace. Some thoughts (notes) from my Lutheran spirituality class last year: Cheap grace liberates people from following Christ. It diminishes life abundant. Cheap grace is the grace that people bestow on themselves and locks them into sin.Costly grace is this treasure for which we are willing to let everything else go.It comes as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It might cost everything.The call itself is the grace our hearts long for – to live with Jesus and be with him along the way.Blessed are they for whom following Jesus means nothing other than living from grace and for whom grace means living from Jesus.That'll preach!

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  20. Teri, I've sent you a message about format. Juniper, I need an e-mail to contact you.I did a similar presentation with Psalm 145 over the summer. I introduced it with the suggestion that we often read the psalms but forget to pray them; slowed down, with music and images, we can approach them in a different and fruitful way.

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  21. a day late to this, but also am wondering what EMO is, too! I am going with Jeremiah, since I am a potter! I am thinking to bring my wheel and throw while I talk, but it might be too messy then afterwards to serve communion. Not sure. But it will be fun.

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  22. revkjarla – – If you can figure out the logistics I think it would be FANTASTIC to throw while you preach. Absolutely fantastic.I'm going a different direction than previously posted. I'm still working with the creation themes, but I feel like I was trying to force myself into Job since I've never preached Job. It wasn't working, though. I liked that passage for reasons that aren't what I want to preach in this congregation now, so I have released myself from trying to fit something that wasn't what I think God is giving to us this week. I'm going with Luke 5:1-11 (something I feel like I've preached relatively recently but can't find evidence of), but going more spiritual with the "deep" than I might usually do. Also trying to keep things short for communion (something I'm never very successful with) I'll do something about being called to cast our nets of faith into deeper water – deeper spiritual/spiritual practices, deep prayer, deep spiritual friendships, something along these lines. I'll tie into the deep mystery of grace in the sacrament I'm sure.This fits much more with where I've been the last two weeks and where we need to be going as a congregation. Whew. Stress gone and let the writing day begin!

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  23. revkjarla – i'm with sherev – that sounds amazing! have you seen Living hte Questions? they do a cool thing with a potter talking and throwing at the same time at the end of each video. sherev – whew! so glad for you – love it whent he holy spirit can flow like that.betsy – had a little brainwave and wrote what I needed this morning. funny how sometime we sweat blood and other times they just come, you know? anywya, thanks for the offer, I'll remember if for another time :)hows it going, you all?

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  24. revkjarla – i'm with sherev – that sounds amazing! have you seen Living hte Questions? they do a cool thing with a potter talking and throwing at the same time at the end of each video. sherev – whew! so glad for you – love it whent he holy spirit can flow like that.betsy – had a little brainwave and wrote what I needed this morning. funny how sometime we sweat blood and other times they just come, you know? anywya, thanks for the offer, I'll remember if for another time :)hows it going, you all?

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  25. Ugh. I thought this text and sermon seemed a little familiar. I finally found what I thought I had – – another sermon on the exact same text. I preached it almost exactly a year ago. I liked it that one!I'm going a slightly different direction this time, hopefully different enough to not be noticeable.(I'm totally flattering myself to think that they would remember a sermon from a year ago.)

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  26. The high cost of discipleship reminds me of seeing the missionary graveyard in Cameroon, Africa-most notably the grave of a three year old child. I think of how very passionate those folks were who went forth knowing they may not see their families again, or risking their lives or those of their children so they could spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's very humbling to this person who doesn't feel I have to risk that much to worship openly and serve God daily. And it stretches me to reflect on my life to find ways of risking my comfort for Christ.

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