20140628_160441 - Version 2Is it just me, or does it seem as though the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the Third Sunday of Easter want to take us back into the depths of Lent with all their talk of sin? Sin isn’t only apropos to Lent, of course, but … sigh … can’t the lectionary readings make the continuation of Eastertide joy a little easier for preachers and parishioners?

There’s Peter throwing blame at the Jews in Acts 3 for Jesus’ death (don’t do this, preachers!); the angst of seeking God’s answer in Psalm 4; the logic of 1 John 3 that questions our relationship with God so long as we continue to sin; the disbelief and misunderstanding of the disciples in Luke 24. Can’t the Scriptures cut us a break for one Sunday and give us some simple “God is great” good news?

I feel the same way about the world sometimes (often times): can’t the world make joy a little easier for a change, take a short hiatus from its sinning and raging? But life and Scripture are complicated — they share that — and alongside our struggles & laments there seem always to be surprises of grace & reminders of love. How will you preach through the complexity this Sunday?

Will you handle SIN with…
…Psalm 4:2, asking how long
we will shame God with our
sins, our -isms, our vanities?

Will you uplift JOY with…
…Psalm 4:8, holding onto
the reassurance of God’s
presence as we sleep?

Will you stay BETWIXT & BETWEEN with:
…Psalm 4:4 and acknowledge
our unsettledness, inviting us
not to be resolved too easily?

…1 John 3:6, daring us
to consider that we are not
abiding faithfully with God
because we cannot abide
faithfully with one another?

…1 John 3:1, reassuring
that we are God’s children,
always & unconditionally?

…1 John 3:2, with the confidence
of who we are beside the open question
of who we are becoming in God’s image?

…Luke 24:38 & 46-47, asking
how we (just like the disciples)
can preach forgiveness of sin
when we are so full of doubt?

…Luke 24:42-43, celebrating
the real flesh & blood presence
of Jesus sharing a fish fry with us?

…Luke 24:41, allowing
joy to coexist with disbelief,
wonder to coexist with witness?

…Acts 3:14-15, challenging
our societal preference for
systems that deal death over
people trying to hold life together?

…Acts 3:16, calling us
to believe in the power
of Jesus’ name to heal?

…Acts 3:19, sounding
the call to repentance,
the opportunity to walk
in new ways through Christ?

Preachers, what threads are you tracing through the Revised Common Lectionary texts for this Sunday? Are you connecting several readings or are you focusing your homiletic efforts on one particular reading? Share your ideas, your half-starts, your writer’s block, and your inspirations in the comments.

19 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary (Third Sunday of Easter): Sin in Eastertide

  1. This blogpost is an inspiration!! How did you get that spacing all wonderful like that? As far as the readings, yes, I had the same response of Lentiness. I look forward to going back to this post and the readings later today…

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  2. I’m using the Luke text to talk about the Body of Christ as seen in the bodily resurrection.
    Jesus asking if someone is going to finish their fish reminds me so much of my teen boys. “Are you gonna finish that, mom?”
    If he remains embodied, even after the resurrection, then we need to care for the bodies around us. Our faith is not just a spiritual thing. It is played out in embodied ways.
    Or that’s the thought on Tuesday.

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  3. Marci, your thoughts on embodiment are triggering my thinking about the 1 John passage (but I will not subject my congregation to an explanation of Docetism – it’s bad enough that I threw Gnosticism at them last Sunday!). I am struggling with that whole “no one who is born of God will continue to sin” business, and the commentaries aren’t helping me much. Couldn’t I just preach the part I like, 1 John 3:1? Hmm?

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    1. It *is* a pickle, isn’t it? I find that I want to give us a little wiggle room, to acknowledge that our sin is an indication that we don’t abide in God perfectly … but then I wonder, can one really abide in God only partially? Hmm indeed.

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  4. I didn’t feel called/tugged/dragged toward any of this week’s readings, so at my clergy bible club today the others (none of whom are preaching this week) convinced me to go with Acts. We talked about witnessing (v.15). What it means to be both witness to the good news (as we usually talk about) and witness to the sinning, messed up us (as Peter is saying). It’s something I’m exploring…. right after I check out these puppy videos on youtube…..

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    1. I like that — “witnessing to the sinning,” witnessing to the messing up that we do — it really circles back around to community, doesn’t it, and to holding one another accountable and to holding one another with care & grace. Sounds like a great direction, Erin!

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  5. Last week I reread To Kill A Mockingbird for book club and found that there were all sorts of interesting connections to the Acts story. For one thing you have another example of a jury (this one not Jewish) following cultural pressures to convict the innocent and Harper Lee’s insistence that more than the that particular jury was guilty. And, then there is Atticus’ witness! I’m guessing it preaches many different ways.

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