Welcome to the first Sunday in June, with summertime schedules for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere and a correlating unpredictability in worship attendance and volunteer availability. Summer is a wonderful time for visitors to check out new churches, so it is always good to be prepared to welcome guests during these months. It is also a time for new opportunities within a congregation – a congregation that typically uses the RCL may be open to hearing a sermon series over the summer, or a traditional worshipping community might want to try a different worship style (with a praise band? in a park?). Please share your ideas and ways that you are making these long weeks of “ordinary time” feel less ordinary!

 

DSC_0319This Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary readings share stories of death and new life. Elijah and Jesus each raise the only son of a widow from the dead. What power these stories show! And what complicated emotions they bring up for those who may be grieving the loss of a child or other relative. There are many approaches to take in preaching these stories, several of which were discussed here earlier this week.

 

The Narrative Lectionary suggests a 6-week preaching series on 2 Corinthians. Today’s passage includes familiar references to a gospel that is veiled to those who are perishing, to treasure in clay jars, to death being at work in us and life in you. It’s a rich passage, but not necessarily easy to preach. There are sermon prompts here as well as some dialogue about the series.

 

Any of the assigned or recommended passages offer the opportunity to preach on death and life, which is central to Christianity and the Gospel. But perhaps you’re doing something different this week and sharing the Gospel from another angle. What’s on your mind? Where is the Spirit leading you this week? Please help yourself to a cup of tea and share your ideas and inspirations!
 

========
canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and posts sermons on her blog, Proclamation. Katya enjoys knitting, Star Wars, board games, time with her family, and of course, canoeing.

******
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.
******

34 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party – Death & Life Edition

  1. I decided to go with Galatians, i usually preach on the gospel reading. the idea being a few weeks on the letter would be good discipline for me, and possibly interesting for the congregation. Also the title of the article in working preacher “God called me through his grace.” grabbed my attention.
    but it is now mid afternoon on a wet, cold Saturday. i had thought of doing some visiting today, but the weather is miserable [to an Aussie anyway – 2 weeks ago we were in shorts, now it is tracksuits and fluffy socks.]
    hopefully i will soon have an introduction to Paul, his letters and this particular letter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have swithered back and forth over the theme this week – I’m struggling through 2 Corinthians – and really it is a struggle. I am NOT enjoying it at all – however! The preaching that has come out of the struggle has been very well received, so I must be getting something right.

    So, this week- the cracked pots
    the jars of clay
    the finding glory in unexpected places
    and the power of grace to bring us together and send us on our way have been the focus points. Ot of this I hope to find a sermon.
    The title submitted for the Service Sheet is HOPE: we are in the together

    Let’s hope it bears fruit!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Am going with the first part of the RCL 1Kings reading this week. Our congregation is going through some challenging times with our primary tenant and it looks like we will not be renewing their lease. Hence a loss of significant income for the church and times of high anxiety about ‘what next’? I hear the story of the widow and Elijah as an invitation from God for us to consider that where there is a little, there is a lot. An opportunity to preach about possibilities, potential and promises. There is much more to be sure but it’s a work in progress (along with grocery shopping, a church women’t group pot luck supper to attend, food to prepare in advance for lunch guests on Monday and so on). There’s a fresh pot of tea and some banana bread to share so pull up a chair and let’s share wisdom. Blessings to all.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. i have leftover risotto to share, and 150 words of a sermon. after introducing the letter [Galatians] I am thinking of rereading all of chapter 1 of Galatians in the Good News version, that takes half a sermon 🙂
    then a few comments about the specifics of the first chapter.
    Paul is not one of my favourite Biblical writers , but what i have been reading marks him out as someone who insisted that salvation was by grace alone, not circumcision, or cultural laws or even Jewish laws.
    That i think i can work with.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. We’re beginning a series on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians – put off by a week, due to my being on leave. Tomorrow, general intro to the series/ letter, and then following Paul’s conversion, and pondering transformation and change. But I’ve done some awesome procrastination so far – and about to head out for some brunch. I’m looking at it as ‘percolating’ time.
    Speaking of which: may I offer virtual croissants and lattes to anyone? 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nik, i could go to bed now, and just use your sermon in the morning:)
      I was away last week, so am doing a general intro as well. and i would love a croissant with the sermon.

      Like

      1. Having got caught up in a bunch of other things, I’m just done, Patty… I suspect you’ve already preached – or are in the midst of preaching. Lots of transformation – and what is the gospel exactly, cos Paul is using that word a lot: ‘a different gospel’, which is ‘really no gospel at all’, perverting the gospel, the gospel of Christ – not a human invention… and then he talks of the transformative power of the gospel, using himself as an example. Like he’s begging them not to give in to a gospel with strings on/ conditional grace… almost easier to accept than a free gift of love…however, accept that free gift of love and allow yourself to be transformed – and in that transformation, others are transformed… go and love and serve and create a little bit of the kindom of heaven on earth: model what it is to be fully alive, fully free. Then moved in with a link to communion – the meal that is transformative as, in the mystery, we are nourished and enabled to go and be transformers/ bringers of change. Used a quote about change being not a fearful thing, but a hopeful thing – our assent to a belief in the future – Linda Ellerbee.

        Like

  6. I am up early here, in the eastern time zone of the USA. Yesterday and this morning I read commentaries on the readings for the RCL, but nothing is stirring my imagination. At best, I continue to ponder a question raised by a colleague on Facebook about Jesus healing even those who never ask. The woman in this weeks’ reading from Luke does not ask Jesus to heal her dead son. But the woman in 1 Kings does ask Elijah to heal her son. What does it mean to ask or not ask and yet God heals? Or more to the point for my noodling on the text, what does it mean for God to heal unbidden? And as a result what “healing” do we miss? Still, I have no idea where I might take this and so far not much inspiration.

    However, I do have some delicious healthy whole wheat and organic bran homemade banana-blueberry bread with a brown sugar/oatmeal/butter/almond crumble topping. It’s quite good, please help yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The retired minister of our Canadian twin church is over in Scotland and is leading worship and preaching tomorrow, after which we will share the sacrament of Holy Communion before enjoying a potluck lunch in the hall. We are looking at Elijah this summer so will look at the widow’s son next week. I look forward to seeing what you think.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My first Sunday back after 3 months sabbatical. In that period there have been 9 funerals in the parish, 3 of them really tragic. How do I address the fact that no Jesus came to raise the dead? I cannot ignore the questions and am finding this a difficult sermon to write. On the other hand, focussing on Jesus’ compassion and meeting us in our grief, I intend to have an altar call for anointing and healing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All I could say is that God has chosen to work through people – through Elijah and Jesus – and even us – to bring forth God’s healing love. God does not actually change us unless we participate in that process.

      Like

    2. In the Denver airport waiting to catch a flight back home. Sermon yet to be written but all is well! I’m preaching from the Narrative Lectionary 2 Corinthians series and really enjoying it. God’s grace and love to each of you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Focusing on the Gospel, I have taken the line of story.. Interrupted. I look at all the characters and how they know the script and the story.. And how it ends. Tragic, but familiar. Hopeless but they know the lines. I am celebrating and preaching as a supply in a church that has a ‘story’ of decline, hopelessness and financial penury. Sometimes there is security even in that. Life/ hope / resurrection are scary even terrifying things.
    Repeating the line in a variety of ways through the sermon I am emphasising Jesus entering the story and changing the ending. I ask how the boy must have felt commanded back to life. What did he say? His words are not recorded, probably drowned out by screams. It is a story with so few words and yet so much depth. I close with the challenge asking if we can dare to let God interrupt our stories? To call that which is dead / or we have allowed to die, back to life?

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I am really struggling with this message today. So many commentaries seem to say that we can’t understand the precarious position of widows in that society, but too often women are still potential victims without a man to “watch over ” or “help them out” I know it’s not the most femenist thing to say, but in my context there are so many areas where women especially widows are more vulnerable. From home repairs to buying cars to insurance/retirement benefits widows are easy prey. How do I faithfully address this and still bring hope? Sigh.
    A lot of pondering still to do. Meanwhile the middle child had her tonsils removed yesterday and her 5th set of tubes put in her ears.
    I have a ton of pudding and jello to share, but no red flavored!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t find the commentaries helpful with this text – to much hurt in the world, to much need for healing, too much vulnerability and yes, too many women who are cast aside and marginalized for one reason or another.

      Like

  11. Last week I started a Galatians series, and this week I am forging ahead, using Paul’s call story it to talk about my own sense of call to ministry — which I hope is not inappropriate — in the hope that folks will start to think about how their own lives shape a sense of call. I am also hoping it will offer some background as to why I am wearing an orange stole — thank you, Rosalind Hughes! — and why we are holding a pre-RNC community service the day before the convention starts.

    This week-end is my 45th (how did THAT happen???) high school reunion, which I am following on FB. I attended The Northfield School for Girls, founded by DL Moody, who had a dream that women missionaries should be highly educated before they inflicted themselves on other cultures. People often hear his name and think conservative and evangelical, but Northfield was progressive and rigorous, including a scriptural education that rivaled the first year of seminary. (I discovered a few years ago that several of our religion teachers were UCC (Congregationalist at that time in New England) ordained. In May 1970, our annual Sacred Concert was revised at the last minute, in both music and prayer, to respond to Kent State, which means that Northfield is where I learned about public witness through worship to national events. As a teenager, I took it all for granted, and never imagined myself in ministry of any kind . . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m preaching on what has become #WearOrange (for gun violence awareness) Sunday around here, so it’s impossible to avoid wondering how Elijah’s anger at the injustice of one son’s death, and Jesus’ compassion for the other, each leading to radical interventions and action call us to intervene to reverse death in our own context. That, and it’s healing Sunday for the first in the month. All of which is fine, but. I want to tell the congregation about a time they saved someone’s life (at least in the moment), which they don’t even know about. It’s highly emotive, and has to do with suicidal intentions. I am afraid it may be too much. If anyone’s willing to follow me into the dark corners of the party and give me some feedback, I’d be grateful. The (potentially) offending part goes like this:
    If you think that we are helpless in the face of the overwhelming toll that death doles out, let me tell you something that you did, one Sunday, a few years ago, without even knowing it.
    [Warning: I have held this story back for years because it is not easy to hear, especially if you have been touched by suicide or thoughts of self-harm.]
    We had a visitor. Most of you never even noticed the quiet person who slipped in just as the service began. After the service, this person made an appointment to come back and talk with me during the week. They told me that they had intended to come and tell me all of the reasons they didn’t like church. But instead, they told me another story.
    On that Sunday morning, this person had woken up with the conviction that this would be the day that they would not survive; that they did not want to survive. They got in the shower and considered their options. To their surprise, the thought came to them, as though from without, that they should try going to church first. So they came, and they sat among you. They watched you sing, and pray, and share the Body of Christ. You offered them the Peace of Christ, the peace that passes our understanding, and they thought that they understood why the voice in the shower had sent them here. They left feeling … better. Not good, but better. And they came back.
    “If I had had a gun at home that morning,” the person told me, “I would not have come to church.”
    I am glad that they found you that morning, instead of a firearm. I wish I knew where they were today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What I would give – absolutely everything, except my surviving children — for my son to have been that person. We know the ones we lost; we seldom have any way of knowing whom we’ve saved. I’m so glad you’re telling them that there is someone whom THEY saved.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. Sorry for being an absent host today! The internet is out at home, so I couldn’t get online before an all-day off-line commitment. Talk about summer schedules and unpredictability! I’ll be around the rest of the evening for those still writing. Thanks to all who have shared ideas and links and stories so far!

    Like

  14. Oh my goodness! Where has this day gone? It might have had something to do with sleeping late and doing some gardening today. Oh, and then getting a call earlier this evening from a member who asked if I would do a funeral for her unchurched uncle. Somewhere in all of that, the texts have been percolating.

    We have a baptism tomorrow, along with a blessing of the bikes. So my sermon will be a bit on the short side. The thing I’ve been thinking about as I’ve read the texts a couple of times this week is that every text talks about some encounter with God. Because of the baptism, I might take a step back and take a wider view of the texts. I want to think about how the lives of people were changed by their encounters with God. And I want to say to the baby being baptized that he will have an equally close and personal encounter with God, and his life also will never be the same.

    Right now it feels a little lightweight; but maybe that’s OK for the first Sunday in June.

    For sermon-fuel, I have Wilber Buds to share. What are Wilber Buds? Well, they are like a giant chocolate chip (almost as big as a Hershey’s kiss), but made from really good organic chocolate. If you find them in your local food co-op, do not buy them until you’ve figured out a plan for rationing them. Otherwise they will simply disappear and you’ll be running back to buy more.

    Liked by 1 person

We hope you'll join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s