I listened as a pastor prayed, “Lord, send your Spirit to Orlando to comfort those who are mourning,” and I thought, “The Spirit doesn’t need our sending to get to Orlando; the Spirit was dancing in the midst of the Latinx community of Orlando long before tragedy interrupted their joy.”

In fairness, it’s too easy for ministers to critique one another, too easy (for me) to critique each other’s praying & preaching & presenting. In fairness, people of faith often ask where God is in times of crisis, we often pray that God will be ascertainable in particular places of agony, and we have prayed this way & sought God this way for generations.

My soul thirsts for the living God.
When shall I behold the face of God?
(Psalm 42:2)

O LORD, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
(Psalm 22:19)

Praise Jesus, even when we feel that God is far off, God is close to us and seeks us out, saying “Here I am, here I am” even before we call (Isaiah 65:1).

Praise Jesus, this coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary texts bear witness to God’s faithfulness in all circumstances. Praise Jesus, this Sunday’s RCL texts tell the truth of God’s life-giving presence in the midst of a world full of death.

  • Life to Elijah as he hides from the rage of Ahab & Jezebel and as he narrowly escapes the powerful wind & earthquake & fire (1 Kings 19:1-15a) — life, not hatred.
  • Life to those who aren’t even seeking life, life to those who rebel against life, life to those hide near death because life is too painful, life even for those whose self-righteous incense burns the nostrils of God (Isaiah 65:1-9) — life, not judgment.
  • Life to one bound in chains by the misunderstanding & fear of the community (Luke 8:26-39) — life and a name and a face and friendship to not walk alone.
  • Life to all and life without division (Galatians 3:23-29).

Praise Jesus: in life, in love, in community, in horror, in fear, even in death, in all circumstances, God remains with us and the Spirit witnesses through us to joyful & audacious & loving life.

Weaving+Art-4Preachers, how are your sermon preparations unfolding for Sunday? What global events & local events are shaping the good news that is needed for your particular context? Share your wonderings, your drafts, your blog links, your questions in the comments below and encourage one another toward Sunday.

Peace and love, y’all.

16 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Seeking God after Orlando

  1. Just starting to think and read… even before Orlando I was glad to have the Galatians text – no longer us and them, we are all one. Now I am thinking about the kinds of demons we have these days and how people are treated. I myself struggle with depression, as did my mother, but am doing mostly well with regular medication and therapist. But there are so many different kinds of “demons” that people experience. What is it like to have demons in us? To feel like we are acting in ways we don’t want to but can’t seem to stop? Demons of anxiety, depression, fear, worry, addiction, anger, contempt, self-righteousness, destructive habits… And where is God in it all? Text study group this afternoon so I hope for a good discussion. Mostly I am going to try to speak clearly and forthrightly this Sunday about all the us/them in this world and why it is SO destructive. I know it’s only Tuesday, but I do have some good rhubarb sauce and fruit to share 🙂

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    1. Thanks for sharing the rhubarb sauce and fruit. 🙂 Yes — us/them is so pervasive, so destructive, and so important to counter in our preaching & our living.

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  2. I’m still reeling over the shooting in Orlando. Kathrynzj and I were out of town, and as far as I know no mention was made in either of our churches. (Her AP didn’t hear the news until after church; I had a supply preacher.) We live in a part of the world where people accept us quietly but not enthusiastically, if they do at all, and it’s scary right now. I don’t want to put a spotlight on myself or this event in a way that might end up causing harm to any other LGBTQIA people. The sense of responsibility is weighty.

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    1. Thanks, Martha. Your comment has been sitting with me all week: how the call for safety & inclusion can itself jeopardize safety and inclusion when those are already tenuous. Weighty indeed.

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      1. I’m looking for a way in that will allow me to talk about the events in Orlando without privileging my own fear (or my own queerness, for that matter). Among the victims, one image stood out to me particularly, that of Luis Vielma, who worked on the Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios. My daughter, about the same age, has dressed just the same way for numerous school events, Halloweens and even as a church camp counselor, in the grey sweater and Gryffindor necktie. I’m hoping to find a way in to the question of society’s perceived differences being eliminated in Christ Jesus. It feels like a start, but darn it, I wish I had video or at least Power Point capacity!

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  3. I really want to talk about the manifestations of evil in our world….homophobia and gun culture being two of them, along with all the other “isms.” I am preaching to a pretty progressive congregation these days. Two weeks ago I preached on gun violence and our need to confront it, and last week I addressed the treatment of women and both times I managed to tie them to the gospels. I wasn’t really expecting to do that again this week, but I am really feeling pulled that way. I feel like I’ve been silently complicit for far too long.

    So I’m wondering if – a la Madeleine L’Engle – there exists some evilness that shadows our world and infects us, is one way that evil is manifest in our world through racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. and the hate those isms breed – because that fits our world view just a demon possession fit the1st century world view? In L’Engle’s fiction, it is love that always defeats the darkness. Is there enough love in the world do defeat this darkness?

    Of course it’s way more complicated than that….

    Thanks for letting me work out my thoughts here!

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    1. Thanks for thinking aloud, Kris. I do always love Madeleine L’Engle’s examination of the world through fiction!

      I just saw Samantha Bee’s segment (google “Samantha Bee Orlando” with a heads-up on language) in which she challenges the adage of “love conquers all,” reminding us that this only works when we actually & actively love all. A necessary reminder that sentiment does not conquer evil.

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      1. And that’s it, isn’t it? We preach “love your neighbor” all the time (at least I do) – so how do we make that love active? By working for legislation, for one, by not being quiet for another, and for showing every way we can that we won’t accept the hate and violence. Even that can sound like platitudes though…

        I am hearted today by one small thing: I have a nephew in Orlando who is pretty conservative, and even he is rallying his friends to stand up to the Westboro Baptist folks who want to make their presence felt.

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  4. i am doing a series on Galatians. but Luke is interesting …. so thinking about what demons we can name in our society – i am thinking, hate, fear, greed, and various isms that go with those demons. then in Galatians – what divides us – often those same areas – race, gender, sexuality, age, religion ….
    In Australia, we are in the middle of an election campaign, not as weird as the US campaign from what i have seen on TV, but still plenty of scaremongering – if the other side get in we are all doomed.
    Thursday morning, so time to get hymns and liturgy done and to the people who put the PowerPoint together.

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    1. ‘Tis the season of division & scare-mongering worldwide, it seems. *sigh* Thanks for the good news you are preparing for Sunday in your context, Pearl.

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  5. I am also preaching on Galatians.We will be ringing our church bell 50 times, reading 50 names, and lighting 50 candles. I don’t think there will be much time for a sermon…but I’m leaning toward naming all the labels that we happily carry – LGBTQ, female, university affiliation, etc – and how we find solace and community in them, and as we grow up in our faith, we should also find more and more solace in the label Christian. I’m calling the sermon, “Training Wheels.” I know I sound muddled and all over the place…that’s how I feel too. Holy Spirit, be my guide.

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    1. Sounds like a good sermon title, Jan! May the muddling be useful in reminding us all not to shift too easily to “clean” answers or theologies or oversimplifications that might soothe our souls but risk disengaging us from the very messy work that continues to be needed.

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  6. I’m coming into this a bit late and still don’t know what I will preach on Sunday. I resonate with Elijah’s exhaustion and being out of my mind like the demoniac. It’s been a week of overwhelming emotion as I care for my congregation that is 2/3 LGBTQ identified. Here are my thoughts so far, though I don’t think they will preach quite as they are… https://rachaelkeefe.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/maybe-elijah-or-maybe-the-demoniac/

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    1. Thanks, Rachael. I appreciate Elijah’s exhaustion too and his frustration of “What more can I say?!” And then the good (if difficult) news as God says, “Keep going. Here’s a bite to eat, walk a little further. I’m with you, journey on.”

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