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sweet as the smell of clean, crisp laundry is the law of the LORD that calls us to shed the filth of bias and the stench of self-certainty and to don instead a holy truth worthy of the finest gala.

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As heartbreaking as a soaring descant is the unspoken speech of the heavens proclaiming the law of the LORD by which have their being; and the law of the LORD itself is the original melody without which no one can sing.

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As quick as a rumor’s spread is the pace of the fulfillment of the law of the LORD, coming among us with astonishing speed when we are not paying attention.

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As beautiful as the diverse body remembering to stand together on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the law of the LORD every other day of the year with its non-negotiable command to love & to live & to work together.
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The law of the LORD — found in Nehemiah 8 and Psalm 19 of this Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary readings, and by inference in Luke 4 and 1 Corinthians 12 — can be a challenging theme to preach, whether due to resistances to something so spiritually definitive as “law” and “God” in the same sentence or due to a fair suspicion of the ways in which “God’s law” is often manipulated in the service of human laws & biases.

Oh, but the call of it! The yearning for it! The delight in it, more enthralling than winning the lottery! The beauty & mystery of it guiding our lives and captivating our hearts, so that we with the people in Nehemiah 8 fall to our knees and weep. The very possibilities of the law of the LORD anointing with healing oil this disjointed body called the Church (and beyond that, Humanity) until all members of the body care for one another! Our dreams can barely hold the vision.

But together we try to understand the vision. Together we learn and unlearn and relearn the law of the LORD in every season, in every hour. Together we remind one another to listen for the knowledge that shouts in the heavens without a word, that whispers in the oceans without so much as a syllable.

Is it the law of the LORD that captivates your sermon planning this week, or are you drawn to another image in this rich collection of texts: the moment of communal faith formation (Nehemiah 8); the cooperative workings of the body (1 Corinthians 12); the impact of Jesus reading words about his own ministry (Luke 4); the heart’s meditation (Psalm 19). How are you musing toward a sermon? Share your thoughts, questions, and blog links in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Learning Again

  1. Calling my sermon “Scrolls and Bodies”; discussing Jesus in the synagogue, and ourselves as members of the Body of Christ, and how do we expect to see God at work? I think it will make sense. I hope….

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  2. I’m using Nehemiah this week. Not sure yet where I’m going with it. I’m inspired by your words above to look at it again with different eyes. Thank you!

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  3. I’m going with the Gospel this time, after Nehemiah three years ago. My title is “Words Spoken and Heard.” I think I had a vague idea of sharing my experiences of what I say in sermons vs. what people hear. Not negative experiences, just the way that the Spirit uses my words to say what someone needs to hear. After that…well, it’s pretty nebulous.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this story, Rachael. It’s personal and meaningful and helpful to me as I reflect on the church as the Body of Christ.

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  4. I’m preaching on 1 Corinthians this week. The congregation that is nesting in our building will vote on the 31st while we are in worship, and we will vote after, whether or not to explore merging. The Body of Christ has significance as we explore that. I leave Monday for the 2016 APCE Annual Event where the Body of Christ responsible for teaching will gather together for a week. I am on the team that has been planning this event as co-chair-in-training for the 2017 event. And on yet another level, I find this passage speaking to me in very personal ways about fracture and suffering and pain, and I am trying to wrap my brain around where God is leading me to go. The good news is it’s Thursday, and not Saturday night or even Sunday morning …. 😉 Lord, speak to me that I may speak …

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    1. I woke up at 4 a.m. wondering if I could do an interactive, get-people-out-of-their-pews sermon that helps people visualize the parts of the Body of Christ, who fits where, what we’re missing, and how welcoming other parts might strengthen our particular part. Has anyone done this? Any thoughts? Already working on figuring out how to approach it for folks who have mobility challenges … before I’ve even figured out how to approach it for those who don’t!

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