Oh goodness, what to do with these earthy, descriptive readings from Hosea, Colossians, and Luke? Are you wondering that this morning? Or are you using a different set of readings? Honestly, every time these readings come up I am stretched in new ways. I also cringe as some poor reader has to say circumcision over and over and over. Seriously. Clearly what was once a crucial practice for the sake of “right” religion now just seems completely ludicrous.
Or is it just me?
Actually I do love the potential one can extract from the Hosea reading. So human, so real. So long as one can get past the patriarchal paradigm and derive the real meaning, the text is powerful. Here, from Feasting On the Word, is a some of what I am getting at:

Whatever we decide about Gomer and the figure of the whore, however, notice that we occupy her place in this prophetic narrative. She is the person of the people before God, the typological figure of humanity.
Now consider Gomer’s mute passivity in all this.

We know nothing about who she was or how she interpreted this experience. That has in part to do with the patriarchal context, but also offers a clue that human experience is not the emotional center here….

God’s experience is .

One could take that perspective for a sermon this week – God’s experience of creation, of humanity, reflects a God who is always present, always with us, always yearning for us to turn and return to God, waiting for us to choose to live in faithful relationship with God.

And as if on cue the disciples in the gospel of Luke as Jesus to teach them how to pray. I always think that prayer is how we work at, sustain, and maintain our relationship with God. Again, from Feasting on the Word:

“Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on the story of our prayer life and where it has taken us..”

My prayer life often takes me to the mountains. The place where I feel God’s presence and the place where my prayer life began.

Following along the trajectory of Feasting on the Word for the Hosea reading Dorothee Soelle in her essay, “A Different Language, Poetry and Prayer” suggests that “prayer is a language of love.” She also suggests that prayer is how we grow in union with God and are able to become the eyes, ears, and mouth of God. Prayer is how the “soul, thus graced learns to make use of ‘God’s senses.'” (page 201, Essential Writings, edited by Dianne Oliver).

Thus one might find a connection between Hosea and Luke, between the faithfulness of God and God’s love for humanity, and our challenges to live into that which God desires.

Or not. There are countless other directions one might take with these readings, including options for other readings this week.

So, what about you? Where are you going with the readings this week? What do you feel called to reflect one and how might you break open the Word?


103 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: The very human prayer edition

  1. I'm just back from 2 and a half weeks leave during which time my sister and husband came from Zimbabwe and my 2 daughters from UK and we all celebrated my 60th birthday. All have now returned to their respective homes, I'm exhausted and my home is echoing with the silence and my heart is like a lead weight. I really, really am not in the frame of mind to write a sermon for tomorrow! But I think I will go with the Lord's prayer as a structure for our prayer – adoration, submission, confession, supplication, all in the context of relationship. Perhaps with a bit of persistence added in! I hope for some sort of inspiration!

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  2. Pat, I hear you. I too am just back from almost two weeks away as well. Now this weekend my daughter and her fiance (newly engaged) are here and it will be a busy weekend. I do hope you find the sermon inspiration you seek in the approach you are taking for the text. At the very least I suspect people will appreciate having knowledge of a structure for prayer. I went the opposite way and suggest that prayer needs no structure just the opportunity for people to present to the possibility of God and a desire for a relationship with God….

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  3. I have a draft (almost unprecedented for a Saturday morning!), but it's two different sermons! Ack! Here is my dilemma, though: it's a pulpit supply Sunday, only one. I feel like I need to say both things to this congregation. It would be ideal to have a two-week series, but I'm only there for one. Do I just stick with two sermons in one, or do I try to choose one? Occasionally, this happens to the supply preacher, and it's a bit frustrating 😦 Hubby gave me a long while yesterday without the kids, and I got a ton of work done. But that means he needs to work today (behind after a HUGE funeral this week). So the girls and I will be off to a rodeo this afternoon in the heat. I'd like to be done before then, as I'll be wiped out when we get back home.

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  4. I've been up for over an hour getting started on my sermon on prayer using "How Great Thou Art" as a prayer of adoration — way behind for me, but it's been one of those weeks. And we have a wedding to attend this evening, so it's got to be finished by 4:00.This is our first attempt at a wedding in four years. We went to two of them in the year after our son died, and then swore them off forever — but in real life, one has to move on and out into the world and attempt to be connected with one's friends and their joys. It's only been in the last few minutes that I've connected the crushing weight on my heart since 6:00 am with the wedding tonight.Usually I speak of preaching ahead of myself, but today is a real attempt to live ahead of myself.

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  5. Good MorningI am trying to get an early start to this day which ended up being drizzly and grey – I was hoping for sunshine – ah well…I am going to focus on the Lord's Prayer – I think I am going to step out of formal preaching and use "teach us to pray" as a jumping off point and teach three or four forms of prayer, allowing time for prayer, with a some explanations within…it is an unformed idea at this moment…anyway I have oatmeal and green tea for anyone who wants some nourishment this morning.

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  6. Hey hey sisters! This is my first time in the pulpit since late June due to study leave and vacation. Leaving tomorrow afternoon to take the youth on a mission trip – that's what my mind is really on now, but I've got to get it focused on this sermon! Preaching the Luke passage and I'm hoping it will be simple, straightforward, and practical. Also hoping I can get it done in enough time to pack and spend a little time with the family before I leave them again.

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  7. I am going to preach about the disciples' willingness to Ask the Question: and Jesus' answer…which for once is straight forward. My hope is that the congregation will be encouraged to ask their own questions.

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  8. Sometimes you just have to go with the sermon in your head before you can get to the work of the day. Here are some thoughts on pronouns and prayer. You'll find it here Am preaching on the sin of Sodom–selfishness not sex. That's the work of the day. Now time to walk the dogs, survey the damage from last night's rain, and go to the farmers market.

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  9. Thanks to Ramona and the Tuesday Lectionary Leanings, I have a plan through August. It will be a busy month getting the two 18 yr olds in the house off to different colleges, so I needed a plan to make it feel do-able. The deacon and I will be breaking the Lord's Prayer into chunks, talking about it in conjunction with the readings, and then maybe practicing some different prayer styles. As my household is in transition, I know others' are too – and prayer will help us all get through it. Lots of families, with either children or grandchildren starting new things this month, so I hope we can all be fed with this emphasis on prayer.

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  10. I feel better and I have a draft — not one I like — too choppy, too many sermons in one, and too long for a communion Sunday — in other words, now that I think about it, a really bad sermon! but one I can tear apart later. I need time away from it now.

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  11. I'm about to head out to be the presbyterian representative in a catholic-presbyterian wedding that's over an hour away…and then come home and write a sermon afterward. it's cool and cloudy here today, so I have chili in the crockpot. 🙂 see you all at dinner time!

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  12. I'm having trouble focusing, but have a relatively simple plan. The Colossians text is also our national workcamp theme and we've had workcampers sleeping in the church all week and joining us for worship so it's a natural. I'm just hoping that by the time they finish sharing I can just have a conversation with the congregation about the text. But I still need notes and points to include.Do you think the Harry Potter movie in the background will help?

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  13. I often find it useful to walk away from my sermons, even better if I am organized to give them a nights sleep before reviewing and editing…but that rarely happens. Still a good walk helps.

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  14. Oh yes, I think you have a natural way into the text, how wonderful. Are the campers planning on using a HP movie? Is that part of the theme? LOL

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  15. I've just started writing after spending the morning in the garden. The weather here is perfect for outdoor work – the mid 60's, which is a rare gift for late July in SD. And my labors have started to bear fruit- I harvested Swiss chard earlier this week. Today I have sugar peas, broccoli, some hot peppers, basil and the first cucumber! All that activity must have started the creative juices flowing. I have a draft, completed beginning and ending – another rare treat for me! I usually go hunting for an ending late in the day. Now all that's left is to flesh out the parts. It's shaping up to be a long sermon and I think I"m trying to cram in too much, but it's not a communion Sunday, and I have to flesh out the beginning of the sermon series, so I'm OK with long. Hope the folks in the pews will be too!It's a nice change to have the sermon come so easily. Especially since I have a bad case of vacation-brain: 9 days, and 2 sermons till we leave!

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  16. Hello, all~I got a start this morning but was then distracted by The Boy's homecoming from camp. What I have so far is serviceable and leading to a whole manuscript, but it doesn't feel dynamic, which is something I wish for given kathrynzj will be in the pew tomorrow. I guess prayer is not a raise-the-roof topic. We had a plan to cok out here tonight, but the skies just opened. I'm going to try and pull the rest of this together by suppertime. Robin, my heart is with you as you attend the wedding.

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  17. I'm preaching the Luke text on the Lord's Prayer. The balance of things is nudging me – approaching God, addressing God as a child would a parent along with addressing God as one might address a revered person like a Queen or President. Also nudging me is the similarity of the petitions (your kingdom come, give us our bread, forgive us, do not bring us to the time of trial), and Jesus' temptations in chapter 4 of Luke.

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  18. I too have vacation brain, but I'm on the flip side returning after eleven days away AND then going off again in three weeks. YAY that you have so much of your sermon completed….and are harvesting crops. SO far our garden has been a huge challenge this year – we have had a great crop of lettuce but deer have eaten the beans and broccoli….we'll see.

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  19. Good afternoon, Gals & Pals!I am preaching on Luke with a background of Colossians, and not sure how that fits quite yet. The title is "Practical Magic" and I'm looking at how answered prayer is often us answering each other's prayers. The needs of this congregation seem to always send me back to preaching on the "we" of our faith and faith practice. All of the sermon titles this summer are something that is a favorite of mine, and the movie by that title is a favorite.Saw this on Facebook today and I'm thinking it would make a great benediction line: "Go where your best prayers take you." (Frederick Buechner)I have some freshly brewed iced tea to share on this hot and muggy day in the deep South.

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  20. hum…Colossoans is such a debate about "right" practice re circumcision…and we often get stuck in thinking we need to pray just right

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  21. Prayer- Anne Lamott… Help. Thanks. Wow!Simple prayer and starting somewhere… Short and simple for a day with many other joyful pieces. Now I can get back home to "help" my beloved barbeque ribs. Helping translates to me saying "Smells fabulous! When will they be done?"

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  22. Done. It's about 200 words too long even for a long sermon, but I'm going to walk away and edit later. I'll post it now anyway: Hallowed Be Thy Name.Now to go make some pesto and apple rhubard crisp and other yummy stuff with today's harvest!

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  23. Hey preachers! Joining the party late and not really liking that it is 5:45 and I have NO sermon, not even a document open. It's been a long day and a long week. Started the day at a wedding (just as a guest as my parish secretary was married) and then a BIG funeral for a 98 year old matriarch. The family did "visitation" at the church prior to the service, which I"m not a huge fan of, but whatever. The whole thing, from the arrival of the funeral director to set up until I got back from the cemetery was more than four hours and I'm pooped. It was a good funeral though. I'm preaching on Luke and planning to talk about prayer. I pulled up lots of old notes about prayer I've jotted down over the years, and hope to use some of them. We'll see. And if I can't pull it together, I think I have a sustainable sermon from 6 years ago that I could use, but first I want to see if I can pull my thoughts together. Vacation starts Wednesday and I can't wait!

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  24. I have spent a long day getting little done. But I may be as done as I'm going to get until morning. Sad but true.I've got green tea with peach cider added for sweetness. Want some? it's yummy!I've got 10 minutes with the notes and questions (multi-voiced, counting on some conversation) marked where to jump forward in case time is extra short. It works so much better when I remember to do that, but I have to create transitions that work with or without whatever I'm cutting out. Still it's better done now than on the fly…

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  25. I am hoping that my sermon holds together tomorrow – "Keep Knocking." I have just gotten back from leading a women's retreat…and it was a lot of fun. Of course, now I'm tired and would rather stay home and goof off tomorrow…but the pulpit calls!

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  26. That sustainable sermon is looking better and better to me. I hope that is not just my tiredness talking. Or the fact that I haven't much of substance to eat today. I thinK I will take a bread for dinner and then work on it. My brain is too tired to start something new.

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  27. "prayer is not a raise-the-roof topic" – YES, THIS. That was actually liberating to read and remind myself. My sermon on prayer can be simple and down-to-earth and still be good enough! Yahoo!

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