A busy liturgical season is upon us with tomorrow’s arrival of Ash Wednesday. Your colleagues in RevGalBlogPals are walking with you, encouraging you, and sharing resources so that your Lenten journey is professionally supported and personally nourished.

For today’s Lectionary Leanings on the Revised Common Lectionary, we dive into the fullness of this Lenten season with discussion of the Ash Wednesday texts as well as the First Sunday in Lent texts:

Ash Wednesday, February 10 (texts here)

  • Will you sound the trumpet of Joel 2 and Isaiah 58, with the nuanced reminder from Matthew 6 that the trumpet is not actually ours to sound — rather it is God’s call to all of us to turn & return & return again to the worship of God?
  • Will you lean on Isaiah 58, 2 Corinthians 5, and Psalm 51 to remind those gathered that God’s grace is not meant to be received in vain, but its purpose is to pour out for the healing & rejoicing of crushed bones, for the feeding of the hungry, for the relief of unjust yokes, for the vindication of those who are speaking truth against affliction & imprisonment & beatings (see also: #BlackLivesMatter)?
  • Will you focus less on the lectionary texts and more on the imagery of ashes & dust: the simple yet stark reminder that we are — beautifully, awfully, insufficiently, wholly — human, not so powerful or so proud or so self-sufficient as we hope to be?
Photo by RevGal Julie Jensen
Photo by RevGal Julie Jensen

First Sunday in Lent, February 14 (texts here)

  • Will you reflect on the Lenten theme of confession, perhaps considering “confession” as faith-journey-storytelling as represented in Deuteronomy 26, perhaps playing with the Word/word on our tongues in Romans 10 and the possibility that “confession” does not divide us by creed but binds us together in a common appeal to God for hope in an uncertain world?
  • Will you consider our world’s wanderers and refugees in light of Deuteronomy 26 and Psalm 91, celebrating a God who is a haven and calling the Church to offer safe space in the name of the ever-welcoming haven-God?
  • Will you wrestle with the complexities of Jesus’ temptation, of stones that are obstacles and bread that is not quite all of life, of esteem among nations and humility before God, of the protection of angels and the unavoidable vulnerabilities of life? Have you noticed that Jesus said no to temptation but we cannot, because we need bread and we love popularity and we plea with God to avoid harm? Have you noticed that the temptations offered to Jesus can be paralleled with the promises that God made to Abram: of land (stone and fields to produce wheat/bread), of a reputation among nations, of protection and the security of God’s name?

The texts are complex and Lent is appropriately a season for wrestling with God, with one another, with faith. How are your preaching & worship plans taking shape for Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday in Lent? Share your thoughts, brainstorms, and questions in the comments.

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12 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Dust and Temptation

  1. I guess i am not the only one starting later then usual this week. we have a combined service – 2 congregations worship together a few times a year; it is Lent 1, and we are commissioning elders and church council members. so it looks like being a busy service, so a short sermon, at the moment it could be so short it doesn’t exist 🙂

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    1. Commissioning new church leaders sounds like a wonderful way to begin this season of Lent. And with such a ready-made and in-service demonstration of Christian discipleship, your sermon can definitely be short. 🙂

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    1. A fascinating direction, Barbara: to consider not only the temptation *to* do but also the temptation *not* to do, and our regrets along the way. May the muddling turn to muse!

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  2. I’m going with wilderness but beyond that I’m at a loss. I’m sure it will come sometime Saturday after I return from a retreat for a board I sit on (not perfect timing).

    On another note the picture with the oil and the ashes – never seen such a pretty and separated bowl, anyone know where to get one?

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    1. However you go about it, I know that “wilderness” is rich and often fruitful because people share common emotions around “wandering.”

      No idea about the bowl, except that I agree with you: it’s love and perfect for Ash Wednesday! (I tried googling without much luck.)

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    2. i find a bowl like it on Google. it is a yin yang bowl – the website looks Celtic and includes witchboards etc. . the bowl is in their Feng Shui section. you may find something similar in an Asian store.

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