Readings for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost can be found here.


Being a lectionary preacher usually reassures me; I don’t have to choose the texts, with all that involves. But sometimes, the RCL confronts us with texts that hit so close to home that we really squirm, and now is one of those times. Just last week the lectionary asked us to wrangle with the issue of divorce; this week it’s wealth. Can a preacher catch a break?

In all seriousness, this week’s gospel featuring the rich young man who, when he seeks the key to eternal life, is told that he must give up his wealth falls at an opportune time for those in the midst of stewardship campaigns. How do we as congregations and as individuals wrestle with the issue of wealth, with the issue of sharing our resources with others? It can be a thorny issue. An older Working Preacher piece not only helps us confront some of the myths about this reading (think camels and needles and gates), and also offers some insights into its nuances that I find quite helpful. And perhaps the most helpful line in this pericope is Jesus’ reminder that “for God all things are possible.” How often we forget that!

The prophet Amos (one of my favorite prophets) also confronts us on issues of wealth and justice. Amos condemns those who trample on the poor, and predicts their doom, even as he holds out a shred of hope: “Seek good not evil that you might live.” How might these words speak to our 21st century reality with its deepening divide between the rich and poor?

If talking about wealth isn’t where you want to head, the readings from Hebrew scripture provide some interesting alternatives. This week we get the second of four installments from the book of Job – not an easy text by any means. The RCL makes a big jump from chapter 1 to 23; we hear Job going from a position of  righteous acceptance of his suffering to a yearning to find God so that he might argue on his own behalf. Job’s plaintive cries speak volumes to anyone who has felt the absence of God  – as most of us have done from time to time. I’m wondering if this text might be good opening for wondering where God is in our dismay about so much gun violence?

Do you know where the scripture is calling you this week? Are you in the midst of your stewardship program? Doing a series on Job? Struggling with juxtaposition of poverty and wealth in our culture? Wondering where God is in our struggle to come to terms with yet more gun violence? Share your inspirations, questions, even your frustrations here with us.

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8 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary ~ All things are possible edition

  1. A month ago, I made the decision to use the Job and Hebrews texts.

    I also chose the sermon title “Who Will Be your Advocate?”

    Now I have to remember where I was going with that. It should be an interesting week.


  2. working with Mark, and there is a baptism at the early service.
    thoughts so far :
    – being who God made us to be [children’s story will be the Mixed Up Chameleon]
    – rules don’t always change who we are, may change our behaviour
    – discipleship not only rules
    – working preacher commentary – how do any of us inherit something – being part of the family
    – “Maybe the reason is not that the rich are so wicked they’re kept out of the place but that they’re so out of touch with reality they can’t see it’s a place worth getting into.” Beuchner

    the liturgy is due in 24 hours, so I need to get a kernel to work with to choose hymns and prayers.


  3. I’m in a church with a large endowment and very low giving so talking about money is always a bit tricky. These are not wealthy people but are beneficiaries of two very generous individuals. I’m thinking of this text in terms of our relationship with wealth – how it helps us and how it can, in fact, be a stumbling block. I’ve probably preached along those lines before for stewardship….

    But lots of undercurrents swirling in my life and my parish so who knows where I’ll be by the time I sit down to write on Friday!


  4. I’m filling in for a pastor with two congregations, in two different little towns. I’ve not filled in for him before, so there’s always a lot that I try to be prepared for, but never quite can be. I was struck (like Cindi, too long ago now for it to be much help), that all three readings (the Amos reading for OT, Mark, and the Hebrews) had a common thread of “seeking.” The Amos is more of a stretch, the Hebrews is seeking the throne of grace, and the rich man in Mark, seeking eternal life. Not sure what I”m going to do with that, however.


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