We have a special guest post from the Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D, this week relating to events in the U.S. Please join the preaching conversation in the comments below. All preachers are welcome.

#what2preachOn 14 December 2012 (my father’s birthday) I posted an angry tweet about pastors who didn’t know what to say in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting sit down rather than preach something stupid like God needed more angels. Someone asked me what to preach instead, a serious question as they were struggling with the horror and the assigned texts in the preaching lectionary used by many Christian denominations. I held my first-ever tweetchat using the hashtag #what2preach.

I have brought that hashtag back after shooting after shooting and atrocity after atrocity. I realized today that it has become a macabre protocol for me as a priest, seminary professor and biblical scholar to help other priests and pastors who are struggling to proclaim a meaningful word in God’s name.

And Goddammit– yes, may God damn and curse the murderous violence in our society to the pits of hell – God damn it we are here again.

#what2preach

Preach the truth: There are hard, ugly truths to confront in our preaching: an enduring history of American violence and its legacy, the history of race, racism and racialized violence in America, access to guns and military weapons in particular. This will be hard to do if you have never addressed these truths before.

Preach the context: Cooption of one #BlackLivesMatter protest among many simultaneous BLM protests around the country because of two more killings of black men by police on video that depicts the killings as little more than assassinations. If you have never preached about BLM before you will need to introduce it to your congregation in its own words, not the words or opinions of others. You will need to do some homework and I won’t do that for you.

Preach to your context: Sermons in white, multiracial, lightly integrated and black congregations will be and should be different because we do not have the same experiences of being American and encountering police. Some will have the luxury generated by white privilege to construct a service of lament for the murdered officers without any regard to the larger context. That may be what your congregation wants and expects. Preaching to your context doesn’t mean doing what they want; what they want is not always what they need.

Avoid religious tropes: Folk waiting for Jesus to make this right are dying and being killed. God’s love extends to all but so what. We may believe that God will exact perfect justice in the world to come but we live in this one. Prayer is powerful but it is too often used as an excuse to avoid doing the difficult work of holding our society accountable for its ills and working to dismantle and rebuild it. Jesus’ execution and triumph over death are the powerful heart of the Christian faith and need to be more than a sermonic flourish or rhetorical performance to be relevant.

Exorcise the demonic: Name the evils in our midst – white supremacy, systemic racism, interpersonal racism, callous disregard for human life, corrupt authorities and legal systems, murder, hate.

Heal the hurt: Begin the process – you are not responsible for all of it or even finishing it. The healing process begins with creating the space for healing and naming the hurts. Acknowledge the deep pain and fear. Address the grief and anger of the police officers and their families in Dallas any the larger police community. Address the fear, anger and rage of the black community in the face of continuing recorded police killings for where there are few indictments and even fewer convictions. Give voice to the pain. Lament and let the lament be unresolved. This lament will endure.

Wrestle with the text: If a text doesn’t fit, don’t use it. Don’t contort the text. Change texts if need be. Don’t be so enslaved to a preaching cycle that you abdicate your responsibility to proclaim a living word. Don’t choose a fallback text that is irrelevant because you’ve worked out some sermonic theatre.

Theologize well: Where is God in all of this? In the killings of black folk? In the lack of justice for their deaths? In the rage of the black community? In the decision to spawn murder from that rage? In the killing and wounding of police officers and civilians? In the response of congregations and civil society to all of these acts of violence and the society that produces them? What enduring truths will give meaningful comfort without scapegoating or being cliché?

Offer hope: Stand on the promises and convictions of your faith in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary. If you have preached well – or at least honestly and thoughtfully – this will not be heard as meaningful platitudes.

Call to action: What will you and your congregation do to help heal the world that is meaningful and concrete inside and outside of your walls? This will vary depending on the ethnicity of your congregation.

In all of these approaches, it’s all right to say you don’t know. It’s all right to be silent, even and especially when it becomes uncomfortable.

*****

The Reverend Wil Gafney, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas and is an Episcopal Priest. Follow Wil on Twitter.

*****

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.

129 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: #what2preach when blood is running in the streets

  1. Hello, preachers! I’m your host for this evening, with Monica taking over tomorrow. Like many of you, I’ve been shaping, reshaping, discarding, and starting all over again this week. I’m in the RCL and preaching alongside the Good Samaritan. I have the day pretty free for writing tomorrow, which is a good thing in this case.
    I hope you’ll share what’s going on with you. What text are you preaching? Have you changed plans along the way? If you’re outside the U.S., what is having an impact on your context?
    Thanks again to Wil, especially for the reminder to offer hope and a call to action.

    Like

  2. “But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
    Amos 5:24

    This is true religion. Amos spoke against religious observance that did not result in social action. It was empty religion that was a mask for those who “trample upon the needy” and “buy the poor for a pair of sandals”. Is our worship a mirror we look into and then turn away, forgetting what we’ve seen? What action, concrete and measurable, comes from our encounter with the living God? We don’t have the luxury of gazing into tragedy and walking away saying, “What a shame.” The shame is ours if we do nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A few days ago I switched readings for this week and next, because I wanted to preach a 2-part series on inward/outward journey, and I wanted to focus on the outward journey next Sunday before our afternoon pre-RNC service. (We are in a Cleveland suburb. Of immense privilege.) So now I am reworking my Mary and Mary sermon to speak about the importance of listening to Jesus speaking – Jesus who is walking toward suffering and the violation of justice to emerge victorious on the other side — through the voices of those killed this week.

    Like

  4. I’m behind in the NL because I was taking classes in June, so I didn’t start the 2 Corinthians series until last Sunday. So I was scheduled to preach 2 Corinthians 2, on forgiveness this Sunday.

    Today I scrambled to change the readings, jumping ahead a few weeks to the passage on reconciliations not chapter 5. I wrote a sermon on this passage for my Dmn class in prophetic preaching, right after the Orlando shootings. I wasn’t sure I would actually preach it. July 31 (when the text was scheduled to be read) was so far away from the event, would it still be relevant? Besides, this was my raw reaction, what I felt, but I didn’t know if I have the courage to preach it in my context.

    Then Louisiana happened. And Minneapolis happened – just a mile and a half from the seminary where I wrote this. And Dallas happened.

    And I have to preach it.

    Here’s the version I preached in class. I’m going to edit a bit and rephrase some of it to include this week’s tragedies/travesties. I’ll post that tomorrow on my blog.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ywjH6r9xYDNBgA4gRWio1T5LYfY0yrVCI6qn2HN6zEc

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I am preaching from the text of the Good Samaritan. It is the appointed text and I will stick with it. I will speak from the experience of a friend who has a multiracial family and who is terrified when her young adult son, a man of color, leaves the house. When her adult daughter, a black woman, goes out. Will she see them again? Or will they end up on the side of the road? I will speak of the privilege of having been stopped by the police for a broken tail light and being given a simple warning. I will speak of our call to be the one who is willing to be present on the side of the road where the hurt is, even if that presence involves lamentation or risk. And I can’t tell you any more than that because I have not been able to write yet at all. I am listening to the cries. and I am listening for the Spirit.

    Like

  6. Being in Australia, I see these things on the news, wonder at the weirdness of the US and add it to violence and pain from all over the world. But we do have injustice in our country. Our indigenous brothers and sisters suffer racism, as do people from different racial groups and faith groups. It looks like a conservative party has ‘won’ the recent election [for which votes are still being counted a week later and some seats are still not clear] and some of the voices in our senate [upper house or house of review] are abhorrent.
    I am doing two talks/sermons tomorrow. One on Amos and the plumb bob – how does our nation look against God’s plumb line? Our treatment of asylum seekers, our talk about indigenous people, the way people who are poor are marginalised.
    The Good Samaritan, wondering what it looks like when we are the person who is robbed, the person needing help. What is it like not be able to choose who helps us. Also liking the idea form Bruce Prewer someone pointed to on Tuesday –
    The robbers, represent all those who basic attitude to their fellows is: Yours is mine if I can get it.
    The Priest and Levite: They are self-protectors. The attitude is: Mine is my own if I can keep it. What I have I will hang on to.
    The Samaritan, despised by righteous Jews. His attitude is: “Mine is yours if you need it.”
    http://bruceprewer.com/DocC/C44sun15.htm

    Saturday lunchtime, a few things to do yet today, I will see you all tonight my time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pearl, good to see you! There’s no question all cultures have issues around how we treat the marginalized and dominant people who have a hard time recognizing their complicity.

      Like

  7. I am also preaching on the Good Samaritan text. I see in it two important lessons from Jesus:
    1. The answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” – he could easily have said “everyone” (or “All Lives Matter”), but he didn’t – he individualized and made it specific – he pointed out the different, the looked-down-upon, the other. He did not give the lawyer an escape clause but forced him to see and identify with someone he never would have otherwise
    2. The answer to the unasked question “What does it mean to love?” – the actions of the Samaritan go so far above and beyond what most of us would consider. He put himself in danger (who knows if this is a trick? or if the robbers are still around?), he gave up his own possessions, position, time, money, he put his name on the line for someone he did not know
    There is so much to learn and a lot of it is scary and uncomfortable. I’m also new to my congregation (this is just my 4th Sunday), so I’m not 100% sure what they need to hear, so I’m sticking with what I need to preach.

    This has been my meditation for today:

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
    He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
    But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    In reply Jesus said: “A man was selling CDs outside a convenience store…

    “A man was driving in car with his girlfriend, her daughter, and a broken taillight…

    “A man was standing guard at a peaceful protest…

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m considering how it wasn’t just the expenditure of time and money that counted, it was the mercy that informed them. I wonder if “mercy” isn’t a word that needs uplifting in talking about this story? We tend to talk about – well, I tend to talk about – God’s mercy. This story calls us to show mercy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m beginning to think, too, about the ways that we treat mercy like time and money – as if it’s somehow a limited resource. As if compassion is a zero sum game – if I give some to you, there’s none for someone else.

        Like

  8. Love God, love people, OK? You don’t need Moses or Jesus or me to tell you exactly what that means. Listen to the word that’s already in your heart, and for God’s sake just help.
    But Jesus is doing something a little more subversive with this story. And he forces me to wonder why I wish so badly to be able identify myself with the figure Christians call “the good Samaritan” ––a phrase, by the way, that Jesus never uses.
    Because my desire to be seen as “good” is not the same as my desire to be a neighbor. It’s disordered: the desire to be seen as a good white person, instead of as racist, is a wish which is really all about me: my self-image, my imagined difference from other racist white people, my fear that someone might blame or be angry with me for hurting them. It is a sinful desire that has nothing to do with other human beings’ real needs, or their sufferings. But actually being a neighbor means acting like a neighbor: putting my fear and pride and pretense aside, touching a stranger’s wounds, and letting myself risk being touched, in solidarity.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Sara, welcome. Thanks for joining us and for your powerful reflection. That “imagined difference,” as you put it, has been on my mind and heart for a long time now. One of the recommendations of anti-racist work is to confess our own racism so that other white people can hear it. When we rush to identify with the Samaritan (and as Amy-Jill Levine would remind us, in ways that set up the Jews as the bad guys in anti-Semitic fashion), we forget the times we have walked on by.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Sara, yes, yes. It’s absolutely the opposite of “about us,” or how we look. Fear is at the root of it for me, fear of saying the wrong thing and giving offense. I think fear is at the root of all our dis-ease. I’m praying to be set free from my self, to be courageous to say something (not nothing), to learn from my mistakes, apologize for any offense I give, and to move on in grace with the Gospel work of touching and being touched.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m a brand new Rev. coming in on my first Sunday as an associate pastor in a new congregation. Won’t be preaching until next week, thank God, but I’m responsible for the prayers of the people on Sunday, and it feels like a mighty big task this week… :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christina, blessings as you begin your new ministry. How much freedom do you have in designing the prayers of the people? Will you say the names of those who died this week?

      Like

      1. Martha, Thank you! I am free to write my own prayers, so I am planning to say the names of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five officers in Dallas, as well as the communities in Minnesota and Louisiana.

        My congregation is, I’m happy to say, a wide tent of political and theological leanings, from the liberal to the conservative (sadly, not very racially diverse, however). This makes it tricky, though, as I don’t know them quite yet, and I don’t know what I consider to be “just a word” is fraught with political and ideological meaning. A pastor friend said to stick with the language of scripture in prayers as often as possible I normally think, “oh, this isn’t a preaching week, so no sweat!” Little did I know…. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Blessings on your new ministry. I have been struggling with the place for Micah Xavier Johnson – the man who shot the police officers in Dallas and was blown up by a police bomb. I named him as the shooter in my sermon but I wonder if the prayers for the people might be a place to lift a prayer for his soul. For the anger in his heart and violent murder he committed. For whatever happened in his life that led him to this horrible act. Does it do more harm to include a prayer for him? Create more confusion?

          Like

  10. I honestly don’t know what will come out of my mouth tomorrow morning. I am trusting the Holy Spirit to help me sift through the anger and the pain to find the words my congregation can hear. We are a mostly white, 2/3 LGBTQ+ congregation still mourning for Orlando. Then there was Baton Rouge. Then there was just down the street in Falcon Heights. Then Dallas. On top of that, a Black man was murdered early Thursday morning and a Black child was murdered early yesterday afternoon. I’m sticking with the Good Samaritan because the answer to the question of “Who is my neighbor?” is “The one who showed mercy.” My question is what does mercy look like when blood flows so freely in our streets. I will find words even as my tears continue to flow. May the Spirit guide us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rachael, I had a plan, and I’m trying to figure out how much of it will actually still work. The good news is it was a plan and not a manuscript, so I have no hesitancy to change once I have a clearer sense of direction. I’m so sorry to hear about the continuing deaths in your community.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sticking with the Good Samaritan text but will be focusing on the ability of the Samaritian to “see and to feel” and not to just ignore or walk by the wounded man. To love our neighbors we must first see pain, to see pain this must move us to love and care, and this must move us to action and action will require sacrificing our own privileges and comforts for the sake of the world. Using the theme that the opposite of love is not hate it is indifference, I will be speaking about our ability to be moved to pity, but emphasizing the example set in the gospel to be moved to action, to caring and to helping heal and bandage up wounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am thinking of all of those who will be preaching and leading worship this week. The task feels particularly heavy this week. Blessings to all of you!

    I’m preaching on Luke 24:13-35 – the road to Emmaus. We are commissioning youth mission trip participants and this scripture is their theme for the week. Something David Lose wrote about how “our hearts are broken before they can burn within us” has guided me. The disciples on the road were feeling helpless, hopeless, and grief over the execution of their friend and teacher. Making the connection to how we are walking a similar road of feeling helpless, hopeless, grief, and anger over the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the police officers in Dallas. I’m trying not to move to good news too quickly, but allowing for time for people to be on that road. And it is precisely on that road where Jesus comes to us listening to us and giving us the opportunity to welcome a stranger.

    Like

  13. Needing some further help and reflection here…The sitter has arrived…I am going to an LGBT book group later in day “Honor Girl” — and need the morning to ponder while I do a huge amount of chores… My angle on the text is about the Jericho road (need to research a bit) and how it became an accepted thing that the robbers would be there… so much so that it could easily be part of Jesus’ parable and it would be recognized that it was just part of the social fabric (numb or uncaring or just “that’s the way things are here”) and so left the man suseptible (sp) vulnerable to the robbers who were profiting from the vulnerability. America is a Jericho road right now and it sickens me. Have all names been released of victims…because I plan to hang all the names of everyone black, white, victim, perpetrator from the communion table and have tealights for people to light. I have a strongly worded litany from a prof. at Princeton–Dr. Yolanda Pierce– that was circulated as a prayer of confession…though now I am thinking of adding a few lines in light of the sniper slayings…. And on top of a tangled mess, I am preaching for the last Sunday before a badly needed vacation, on the birthday of my deceased husband four days before leaving for MA to return to my former church for a playscape dedication for my dead son… I am not saying these things to put focus on my pain but only because it is a complicated day..and I don’t process things quickly and I wanted to go to a demonstration /protest in DC yesterday, but I would have had to take my two little sons (who are white) and they asked about bad men and I realized that I couldn’t protect them, especially now, and felt very white in my privilege, very fearful (so I can’t imagine what black mothers and fathers must feel every *&^^% day…) and just very stupid that I can’t figure any of this out in a way that keeps all the stories from bleeding together.

    What I need to know after all of this is how that road became so bloody? Why was the Jericho road accepted as dangerous in the first place? Why is the innkeeper so close by, there for the travelers, but he/she must have heard stories about the robbers? Robbers tend to revisit the vulnerable…yes?

    Anyone else talking about that Jericho road before we get to the Samaritan part? I want the Samaritan part to be the “good news” on the road of bloody despair.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Dee, take good care of yourself. You are carrying a lot. My heart goes out to you on this anniversary day.
      I know in the past I’ve had the thought you express here, that you can’t imagine the experience of others. I wonder if that isn’t a good hinge point for all white people thinking about the New Testament text for tomorrow? Would we show more mercy if we applied more imagination to considering the plight of other people? I’m playing with the words here to tease out more thoughts.

      Like

      1. Yes– I agree with what you are suggesting… I need to think more about that. I usually pride myself on imagination…but how can we imagine such pain that runs thru generations and that we are even complicit in… ?

        Like

        1. And I think we use that phrase to be sure we are not jumping to the conclusion that we *do* understand, when of course we don’t, as white women. Thanks for hearing that the way I offered it. I’m genuinely seeking language that communicates a sincere attempt to do this better.

          Like

  14. I also want to do something about the fact that the Samaritan “comes to” the man and meets him where he is (instead of going the other way). Jesus, this is hard. I couldn’t go to that protest yesterday, more out of fear, than out of lack of a sitter to accompany me. See? To me, coming to the place of the wounded is setting aside fear and acting in spite of… A black man was interviewed who witnessed killings at protest and he had a son my boys age,, and he said that he was teaching him NOT to be afraid…by being there…not to be afraid of ANYONE, police, people, human beings, or bloody streets…That wasn’t his exact words but he essentially said that he’d keep traveling the Jericho road (my words…)

    Like

  15. Holding all you preachers in my heart and prayers today and through tomorrow. Such rich, raw and honest discussion. Strength, courage, and heart to all of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dee thank you for your thoughts on the Jericho road and prayers for you as you continue through the personal grief complexes and wrestle with all of this. Your thoughts on the road & how it became an accepted fact that it was not safe are along the same thoughts I am having. I am preaching at a new-to-me church, 2nd time ever at this particular service, which will be 99% white (based on what I saw last week). I have been wrestling with my own lack of racial education – and my own upbringing that assumed racial prejudice – so that road of assumptions looks familiar to me. I am wondering if the body with the gaping would alongside the road is our country torn open by racism. Some of us are the privileged ones who can keep passing by and glancing at it, maybe even saying a prayer for it from the other side of the road. Others who have been doing this work for decades keep patching it up as best they can – first aid alongside the road – but it needs major surgery as it keeps gaping and killing people. Alongside those thoughts, I have Amos’ plumb line and the thought that a wall built out of plumb cannot be fixed – it has to be torn apart and built again. Our country was built out of plumb, on the backs of slave labor. Brave institutions are starting to address this. It is big work – and requires us to get in the ditch and do the work. That’s all I have so far – thoughts? It looks too far removed to me – not personal enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a very personal parable, but I wonder if your approach might let people hear the familiar with new ears and in a new way. I’d never thought of the injured man as representing the community. Hmm. Now you’ve got me pondering.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve been on vacation all week, enjoying friends visiting and showing off Santa Fe. I did end up working Thursday. After Thursday night, I realized that a “regular” worship tomorrow (Sunday) won’t work. So, I’m not preaching, but with the music director am creating a service of confession and prayers. The music director and I are on the same page; we need to acknowledge our sins before we can get to a “heal us” moment. And there are systemic sins in America -as many (most) of my clergy sisters and brothers know, and have been naming this week.

    The ELCA had a live streaming service of prayer yesterday; the service bulletin is available for anyone interested.

    Prayers for us all, for strength, courage, and faith as we prepare for and lead worship this weekend.

    Like

  18. I usually don’t come by this early in the day, but I’m trying to put the pieces together in my mind so that when I get to writing, it’ll be a little smoother, perhaps…
    I’m preaching Psalm 133 this week: “how good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity”…The psalm suggests it is worth celebrating, but also rare: it’s like anointing oil running down the head of a newly ordained priest. And when we have it, it brings together the whole land, north and south…

    So in light of this week, especially, I’m pondering why it’s so rare. Perhaps because we refuse to see one another as kindred, and therefore cannot live together in unity. I think something of the “I can’t imagine…” falls in here too–I think the issue is that we don’t want to imagine, because even that would cost us something. And the PCUSA’s newest confession (Belhar) will probably make an appearance a week earlier than I originally intended.

    A friend posted in another group about a phone call she received yesterday from an african-american church member who had just come home from her neighborhood grocery store, the same one she’s been going to for 16 years, where today people turned away from her and even moved aisles so as not to be in the same space with her.
    And then there’s the FB story going around about the woman of color who encountered a white police officer in the convenience store, and the officer initiated a genuinely compassionate conversation that recognized things are difficult for both of them in different ways, without any judgment or justification.

    And of course the church picnic is right after worship.

    What would it take for us to move toward the joy and celebration of Psalm 133? Because I think too often we prefer to jump to the celebration without doing the work that would make it whole.

    Like

    1. The rarity of the celebration in the Psalm hadn’t occurred to me–like it’s a special occasion when people actually get along. No question that we prefer the celebration without any work. Thanks for pondering here.

      Like

  19. I’ve been thinking about preaching about the innkeeper. That Jesus brings the church people who are broken and bloody and instructs us to care for them. But is that too passive a role? My congregation is mostly white and contains a number of retired policemen.

    Like

    1. Was the innkeeper putting himself in danger? Were there negative consequences to him helping?

      Some questions that came to mind…thanks for coming and working alongside us.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I have also thought of the role of the innkeeper – and the place of the inn. I don’t think providing a holding space for healing and taking care of those who are broken and bloody sounds passive to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I am deeply grateful to Wil for her words and wisdom. I’m also grateful to Martha for getting this week’s somber and subdued party started. I’ve been at my Presbytery’s camp, somewhat isolated from the events of the week, but heartbroken and horrified, as all of you are.

    No one has mentioned the children’s time–does anyone have any wisdom to share for them? Or maybe it’s a time to listen to children.

    I’m praying for each of you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m thinking about Mr. Rogers. I figured he fit right in on the whole “neighbor” thing since I’m doing the Good Samaritan, and I’ve also been thinking a lot about his quote about looking for the helpers when scary things are going on in the world. I don’t know that I will get specific about the events of this week in the children’s moment itself, but that felt like a gentle and genuine way to approach “who is my neighbor?” and also both looking for the helpers and being a helper.

      Here’s the quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I am doing the Children’s Time tomorrow because the person who was going to do is no longer able. I have to say that I am glad to have some control of the Children’s Time after a week such as this week. First thing I thought of was Mr. Rogers also.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks, Monica. I’ll admit I’m glad there is no children’s time to think up for me this week.
    I’ve got the first half of a sermon on screen, and I know where it’s going to land, but the hard part remains unwritten in part because I keep reading more and more news stories about the week’s events and thoughtful opinion pieces, and I run the risk of being hampered by an effort to be perfect (impossible anyway!). I’m going to take one more run at it, then take a break. Be back later!

    Like

  22. I preach in a few hours. And I covet your prayers because I’m tackling the issues from the news and Black Lives Matter. And I am not worried about offending sensitive white folk (although that may happen) but I really don’t want to be a bad ally. Will post it later.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’ve got ’em. The bad ally part is my biggest concern, too. That and not so much offending sensitive white folk, but stirring them up then being unavailable to deal with possible fallout for several weeks. VBS being held at a partner church this week, and I leave town for two weeks on Friday morning. I’m not worried about offending. I’m worried about not being there to take the hits from the offended.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. I haven’t been around here in ages. Not because I suddenly turned into a weekday writer, but because my Saturday writing turned into Sunday morning writing more than anything. But tonight we take the kids to see the Lion King and tomorrow is too big of a day to leave to tired Sunday morning writing.

    I have enough words written to make a sermon. Probably more than enough. But they all started as me just writing to try to figure out what was going on in my head about what was going on in the world. I think they are at least part of my sermon. Or maybe they are parts of three different sermons. I’m not totally sure. The biggest problem is that since they started as thoughts and a working out of things they didn’t start with scripture, so now I feel like I’m doing things backwards and, frankly, unfaithfully to the task, by trying to fit scripture back to them. I think this one time I need to just let that go, though, and keep pressing forward.

    My original plan had already been an introduction of the new PC(USA) confession, the Belhar Confession. I have tweaked how that will happen several times throughout the week, and I’m going to stick with it in some fashion I think. Maybe some play on two kinds of confession (of sin and of faith). Not sure. I think, though, that this sermon might fall into the “testimony as proclamation” category which is not a place to land often or comfortably. Definitely leaning toward Denise Anderson’s call to the white family to confess our own racism. I believe I will do this in the sermon. It’s also influenced by my conversations this week with white people who are fairly comfortable admitting their prejudices, but not seeing or confessing or knowing how that is connected to racism, personal or systemic. That has been interesting for me to learn as I don’t remember when that switch happened in me, but I imagine it did.

    Anyway, time to keep writing in my document instead of here. Time to dive in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us. Prayers for you in your testimony and proclamation. That sounds like a powerful way to approach it, and going from there to Scripture is fine, done sparingly and not every week 🙂

      I’m halfway wishing I were preaching tomorrow, so I could work out some of my own thoughts, and halfway feeling relieved that I’m not, and way more than halfway feeling guilty about that relief.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I found my way!!! The Colossians lectionary passage!

        “For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

        Call to lead lives worthy of the Lord, and the good news of forgiveness to balance my harder news of why we need to seek forgiveness, confess, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m preaching from Colossians, focusing on the concept of bearing fruit (mentioned twice in the text). Are we bearing good fruit, bad fruit or no fruit?

          Like

      2. Yes. Yes. And yes. On all that. When I was on sabbatical last summer during the Charleston shootings I had many similar feelings and thoughts. More than one friend offered to me “Unfortunately, I doubt this is the last time we will be called to preach on this. You will be there another time.”

        I’m starting with that story actually. The desire and the fear that goes with addressing these events with and among the people of God.

        Like

    2. Hey sherev – I’m not usually here either. But this conversation is everything today. And it’s feeling like old home week in a weird way. Blessings on your preaching and proclaiming. Grateful to be with you.

      Like

  24. I’ve been hanging out on the edge of the party all day, listening in and praying and thinking.

    I’m working on a Job sermon that I had already titled: “Where are My Friends?” and I am still going with that. In my super-liberal almost all-white church whose activism glory days were years ago, the word I’m getting is that we might call ourselves friends (allies, “not racist”), but what would the one who is suffering say about their experience of us, as individuals and as a church?

    Prayers continue for all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right. How do others see us and label us, and how does it feel to be the one described rather than the one doing the describing. Thanks, Sharon.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I preach tomorrow. I’m a ministerial candidate; my senior pastor is at conference! I’m preaching “Cast off the millstone,” from Judges 9:50-57. Cast off the millstone of anxiety, indifference, etc. and stand on the word of God.

    Like

  26. I am preaching off lectionary this week as we’ve been looking the Elijah stories but taking them chronologically rather than as in the RCL. This week we have the chariot of fire and Elisha taking over. I am not preaching on BLM as it isn’t appropriate in my context. But we will be praying.

    I just wanted to join the preacher party to let you all know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Tomorrow at 12noon [GMT+1] at the end of our family worship service we will be praying for you all. Our prayers are for all who are speaking truth to power and those who have been handed the job of being God’s ‘truth tellers’ for those who need to hear it.

    May you feel God hold you so tightly that His hug is palpable. Amen

    Ps – I have a HUGE big bar of Cadbury’s fruit and nut chocolate to share if anyone wants some.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. For some reason I had planned to preach Mary and martha this week. So I’m still going with that text – and talking about being stretched far beyond our comfort zones by Christ as he goes knowingly into a nest of violence.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I’m going with Good Samaritan text. I’ve written half a sermon on the road to Jericho, half another sermon on this lawyer (as white-privileged me) looking for a loophole way out of Jesus’s true way, half another sermon on the history of the Samaritan-Jew conflict, and half another sermon that’s full of cursing and name calling, and therefore just for my own private late night giggles, about how it’s not neighborly to kill people with guns, you morons.
    None of these go together well right now. So I’m stepping away from it for dinner with friends and fam, and praying for that badass Spirit to be at work on me. And y’all too.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the prayers. I was just having the “a million sermons all at once” conversation with someone else!

      Praying that your break will bring some focus to you.

      Liked by 2 people

  29. I’m preaching the RCL, and beginning with Amos’ and the plumb line as a metaphor for all that is out of plumb in our country right now. We have come “out of true” with our values. I’m also talking about the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were “the other,” and Jesus wants to enlarge the lawyer’s vision and ours. Also incorporating BLM and the Cross. So there’s a lot there, but it’s holding together.

    Like

    1. A lot going on in the world right now, so it’s not surprising that your sermon has a lot, too. It sounds like you’re holding it together well.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I’ll be doing the Samaritan, somewhat coincidentally. We’re doing a summer series on Favorite Bible Stories, and this week is the Good Samaritan.

    As I’ve done with other stories in the series, I plan to start with some social/political context: the enmity between Israel and Samaria, the priest’s “reasons” for not stopping to help. Then we’ll walk through the story, but this time from the viewpoint of the injured traveler. I’ll move back and forth between the story and the killings that took place this week; so among other things, we’ll think about people on whom we would not want to depend for help. The final two questions we’ve used for each of the stories: What is the word for us in this story? And what is God calling us to do after hearing this story?

    Like

    1. “people on whom we would not want to depend for help” is a provocative question. Thanks, Barbara, and thanks for checking in.

      Like

  31. OK, one sermon yesterday morning, another today. Context: Affluent white suburban congregation. Recent history: It seems that some, perhaps more than some, discussion (in a good way) is being generated by the interim pastor’s (that would be mine) inclination to pray and preach about world and national events, something that happened almost never in the preceding 38 years. Sermon (Mary and Martha): We are called to let go of our complacency and defensiveness, and listen and watch for what Jesus is doing and saying through those who, like him, know violence and injustice. Anticipating: No idea.

    Like

  32. Humbly I come. I have seen so many posts and blogs and threads and comments about how we who preach must now stand up and rail against all that contributed to what we have seen in the past several weeks. And for some, I am sure that is so. But, dear ones, as I was talking with a friend earlier today, we saw that we were numb from all of this. We likened it to shell shock/ PTSD/
    sensory overload. And if that is the case for us, it may be for our folks. When this is the case, I can’t thrust them back into that which caused the shock in the first place. I spoke with one of our astute leaders today and told her that she may not hear a call to arms from me. She told me that what she hoped to hear was something like restorative — something that would enable her and us so that we can go forward.
    I am grateful for the RCL Gospel tomorrow that carries the good news of moving beyond our boundaries. I’m going to let that and the liturgy itself stir hearts and minds. I pray that I am not taking a coward’s way out. It doesn’t feel that way. And in that, I’ll be wearing my big girl panties.

    Like

    1. Of course you know your people and your context better than anyone else. It’s normal (I would think) to feel numb and battered by tragedy after tragedy. I feel that too, but I (middle class white woman here) far removed and distanced and isolated from it. Others feel the pain more keenly and unavoidably.

      I trust that the Spirit will move in your congregation tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. I am praying for a strong voice since as I have been preparing this, I have felt so fragile. As a new grandmother of a 4 month old African American granddaughter (my daughter is half black/half white and her father is black) every time I think of the 4 year old in the car as Philando Castile was shot, I fall apart.
    I was going to use the Amos text but it only led me in a downward spiral of anger and I felt like Jesus’ very clear instruction to “go and do likewise” offered a way forward. This is a very white community and so I think that they don’t see their racism . . . if they have no African American neighbors who do they have to be racist against? But I’ve seen it and heard it in some of their comments . . . lots of racist code in several members. So I’m not sure how they will hear this. And as Marci mentioned, I have an underlying fear of being a bad ally. Once I finally sat and wrote, the words came tumbling out and so I feel like this was Spirit driven and I hope it moves some people to action or at least compassion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve used the word “inadequate” a lot this week. Thank you for your struggle, and for sharing. Peace be with you also.

      Like

  34. Preachers, I know lots of you are still struggling and working and striving with this sermon. My week at camp is catching up with me, and I’m turning in.

    This has been a remarkable conversation here today, and I’m honored to have been with you. I have learned much.

    Prayers as you bring the Word to God’s people.

    Like

  35. Peace to each of you. I am so grateful for RevGals. Thank you, especially, to Martha this week for making sure RevGals was a safe place for all who are hurting and angry. Thank you also to Wil Gafney for her opening words of guidance. I need them.

    I am one week behind on the Narrative Lectionary Job series, so I am preaching Job 1 tomorrow. I barely have a sermon after two funerals last weekend, a trip to Denver to be with my hospitalized son during the week, and two more funerals this weekend. But I have been writing down thoughts and prayers and quotes and resources as the horror of this week unfolded.

    One of the things we are doing tomorrow instead of our usual prayers is a time of silent prayer with the opportunity for all to go the baptismal font to touch the water and confess our sin of racism and violence. And also, I have candles on the communion table for anyone who wants to light a candle and pray of all who were murdered this week. I, too, have the names of Alton and Philando, as well as at the names of the police officers posted on the communion table.

    God be with you.

    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