It’s not every year that we have a long season after the Epiphany and have the opportunity to preach from the words of Leviticus. Oh Leviticus, so complicated, so misused. I remember one of my classes in seminary divided the class into five groups, each one assigned a book from the Pentateuch. My group got Leviticus, lucky me. But truth be told it was lucky. At the library I found an amazing book written by anthropologist Mary Douglas, that unpacked Leviticus in a way no one else has. Although its been twenty years what I remember from Douglas is that the book of Leviticus is essentially a guide for being in relationship with God, self, and others. The  “moral” code in Leviticus may talk about blood and laws and cleanliness, but these are not the point.

The meaning of Leviticus is  to recognize what is holy and to honor the holy in one another and God. We lose the beauty of the holy relationships when we focus to literally on specific actions instead of the integrity of the self and one’s intention to live in a holy relationships.

What is a holy relationship? Well, Jesus sums that up for us in Matthew, a holy relationship is love – love God, love yourself, and love others. It’s about integrity and dignity and self worth, about being, to use a Bowen Family Systems theory phrase, “a solid self.” A solid self is clear about the values and principles that guide one’s life, is capable of introspection and self reflection, never blaming or shaming others but being accountable for one’s  own thoughts, words, and behavior, working to change one’s self, not others.

This may be pushing too much of a 21st century lens onto this ancient text, but if so, I come to it from Jesus. His life and his teachings ground me in this understanding, and the Gospel reading this week points us to where it ends up in Chapter 22 with the shema, the summary of all the law and the prophets, love God, love self, love others.

That’s kind of where my head is at with the RCL  readings this week as we draw near to Lent. What about you? What text speaks to you, perhaps the Psalm or the Epistle? Or maybe you are following the Narrative Lectionary? If so you can find a great discussion on that text if scroll down to Tuesday and the NL post.

Regardless, this is the preacher party. We’re here all day to commiserate, support, pray, inspire, share ideas, or at the very least share a cup of coffee or tea. I have plenty of both, along with some left over chocolate raspberry mousse cake (from my 60th birthday)….pull up a chair and join the party.

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The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is an Episcopal priest serving a congregation in Dearborn, Mi. She joined RevGals in 2006 and has been blogging at  Seeking Authentic Voice ever since.

 

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59 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Holy God, Holy People

  1. Chocolate raspberry mousse cake! I might get this done after all. Anything will be anti-climactic after last Sunday, though. After receiving a harshly critical email from a church member on Monday (l’m too “liberal”), I preached from 1 Corinthians on being one in Christ regardless of differing opinions, and from Matthew on how words and insults can be harmful, and from Deuteronomy on choosing life. Afterward the person came up to me, gave me a big hug, and said “you did it, let’s move forward.” I doubt it can get any better.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh, boy. I’m continuing to show how faith and so-called political issues cannot be separated. So, this week Leviticus calls out about not harvesting to the edges of the field in order to leave some for the poor. What, today, could compare? And that begs the question of whether what’s leftover is sufficient. I read this gospel lesson in the most subversive way possible–not calling us to being doormats but to non violent resistance.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. happy birthday Terri and.yes please to chocolate raspberry mousse cake.

    I am a week ahead, and looking at the Transfiguration. becasue of the week that has been and is, i am pulling some bits and pieces together, hopefully for a not too late night tonight.

    Next week we will have something off-lectionary for a combined service – thank you Wild Goose and Iona.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have two funerals on Saturday (in the morning) so I’ll be checking in first thing in the am, then as I am able between funerals. My funeral sermons are written, formatted, and on my mini iPad. My Sunday sermon is in solid draft form, but I am considering if the direction I’m taking is the one I really want to take. However, having spent hours today working on Sunday’s sermon and with two funerals tomorrow it’s unlikely that I’ll have the energy to come up with something else..so, this is probably it. Anyway, I’ll be back in the am. 🙂

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  5. I’m working with the “love your enemies” bit, which seems more relevant minute by minute. I had the bright idea to do a who/what/when/where/why/how structure around it, which was better in concept than it is turning out to be in execution. I’m only partway through. I’d love to get it finished tonight (Friday), but it’s looking unlikely. On the upside, a conversation with a parishioner about this very passage last Sunday has been helpful as I’ve pondered it this week. That’s a nice feeling.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. While reading the Leviticus passage Monday, I couldn’t resist using “Because I’m the Mom” as the sermon title. It’s in the bulletin. Now should I just plan on beginning by saying “this is why I rarely give a sermon a title,” or could it actually work out? Why should we love our enemies? “Because I am the Lord.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I never title my sermons, except on my blog…but I think this one works. Sometimes I trust the congregation to get the point I’m making without literally making the connection, but other times I make it clear, because, well, I’m one of those people who might not get it since my mind wanders when I listen to a sermon….so, I guess if I were you I’d be wondering the same thing…but I like the title and think it works!

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    2. Hah! I am sure that you can do it 🙂 I thank you for posting this because it did just inspire me to help with a transition in my sermon. I think when we first learn the rule of love your neighbor as children we really do hear it as “follow it because God/Mom/Dad say so” which is what I am saying and then juxtaposing it with we do it for ourselves to grow in relationship with community and God.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. the sermon is finished, some new material, and some from 2 previous sermons on the reading., and yes, I am a week ahead. Transformation

    I wont be surprised if ti is somewhat disjointed, as I am not focused tonight. I received a phone call from a member of the church tonight letting me know his daughter-in-law was hit by lightning this afternoon and is in a coma. I looked at the news reports online and it doesn’t sound good. I know this woman, as her husband was one of the Ministers i worked with during college.
    Also tomorrow at the early service we farewell an organist as she moves to be closer to her family, and at the later service we will celebrate a ninetieth birthday. i am exhausted. i don’t know how you manage with Saturday funerals.

    11.00 pm, time to put the kettle on for a cuppa and try and sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. g’morning all!
    well, it is actually afternoon here… and I am down with a severe case of procrastinitis…

    We use the NL and I am looking forward to exploring acts of love, forgiveness and just being nice. Because… well, you know! But I have so far restarted both computer and internet hub twice (three times for pc) because it keeps freezing. Sigh. Anyway – it seems to be back up now, and I’ve downloaded the email I needed

    It’s early afternoon; and I have a long, long list of things to do
    I also have some delicious olive and rosemary bread and pea & ham soup to share

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There is much need in the world today to explore acts of love, forgiveness, and being nice. Of course, I’d add, but that does not mean being passive in the face of injustices….but we can still maintain integrity in working to dismantle the wrongs of society. 🙂 And, yes please, that bread and soup sound delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. so the freezing computer turned out to be serious!! It is 5 pm, and I am at last back online and back with the machine working – phew!
      Still distracted.
      but getting more focussed by the minute!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so incredibly tired. Rereading my sermon for tomorrow I just can’t imagine preaching it as I’ve written it, it needs a little lightening up or a slight change. So I took out a section of it and inserted the illustration from Elaine, regarding Jackie Robinson. It works well with my sermon, too, and gives it more dimension now instead of using only Intimate Partner Violence to make my point. It feels better to me. But like I said, I am so tired after two services today, so I hope I still like it in the morning. 🙂 Thanks, Elaine, for you that illustration from the movie 42.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Count me in on the chocolate raspberry mousse…it’s 7:13 AM where I am…do there’s my dairy and fruit for breakfast!

    It was a day of working yesterday, instead of sabbathing, but I did get a draft done. I am using the SOTM and how counter-cultural the practices were in Jesus’ day and asking what might that look like today. I remembered a scene from the movie “42” which was about not fighting back…with fists etc and so I am using that so far.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. This is the text from the movie:

        Jackie Robinson: You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?

        Branch Rickey: No. No. I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back. People aren’t gonna like this. They’re gonna do anything to get you to react. Echo a curse with a curse and, uh, they’ll hear only yours. Follow a blow with a blow and they’ll say, “The Negro lost his temper.” That “The Negro does not belong.” Your enemy will be out in force… and you cannot meet him on his own low ground. We win with hitting, running, fielding. Only that. We win if the world is convinced of two things: That you are a fine gentleman and a great baseball player. Like our Savior… you gotta have the guts… to turn the other cheek. Can you do it?

        Jackie Robinson: You give me a uniform… you give me a, heh, number on my back… and I’ll give you the guts.

        Liked by 6 people

        1. Elaine, I love you! This is the perfect illustration for my sermon, which was very dry. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m not a movie person, so I would never have come up with it.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I decided to use the illustration too…I took out a section of my sermon and inserted this. I think it gives my sermon a little more dimension. Fun that three different sermons are using the same illustration, each making their own individual point. nice.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Thank you, Elaine! I’d forgotten that scene. I don’t think it will fit this year, but I’m going to file it away for another time.

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  10. Last Sunday with my interim congregation, so I am preaching a mix of gospel and one foundation with where we were a year ago and where we are now, in church and world. Two services, a reception in between, and that’s that. I have been writing thank you notes to deliver tomorrow, and my office is bare of my belongings except for my robe and a new stole, a gift from a parishoner who obtains them from a men’s co-op in Guatemala (this is the third one he’s given me).

    It’s been a weird week of highs and lows on the prospective call front, but the end result is that in another day I will be completely unemployed. I am disappointed and disconcerted, and hoping that maybe I am getting something I need: time to write, to consider the future carefully my next decade, and to do some of the work necessary to downsize to a new house someday.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks for the coffee. I have Founder’s Day for our Scouts – so we’re expecting around 50 young people and their leaders for worship in the morning [no pressure then]. What with colour parties, promises, presentations etc I decided to just preach on Matthew as I don’t have the time and context to explain Leviticus to a group of non-regular church attenders.

    I am hoping to use the text to show how Jesus shows a different way to live, by being subversive – not submissive – and how when we challenge injustice, when we support each other, look after one another, we create community, we conquer bullies and we can change the world. At the moment all I have are thoughts and no sermon though! oops.

    Help yourselves to fresh fruit from my fruit bowl…lots there to choose from: pears, apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, kiwis, clementines.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok…I have a ‘wondering together’ theme introduction – thinking about how being together with people who are the same as us AND different to us builds community and how ‘doing things together’ makes us one. And the Cub leader is going to get us all to join in a campfire song…so that the congregation AND the visiting Scouts and families – become one community.

      My sermon is more a reflection/teaching about how Jesus’ three examples show how to stand up to those who put you down – by turning the other cheek, by giving them your undergarment and by walking a second mile. And if we look out for each other, care for each other and stand up to injustice we can indeed make the world a better place. phew. [6pm here!!]

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We had our Scouts Sunday a couple of weeks ago, always nice when they show up. Last year I made reference to them because it was the 100th anniversary of the troop at this church…but usually I don’t. Still, having them present might influence what I say, so I understand your point. I hope the words have come to you to flush out this sermon!

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  12. I pressed post to soon, I was going to say any inspiration would be gladly received. I am also doing a baptism tomorrow afternoon, thankfully that is sorted.

    I would love to offer, but haven’t a clue what is in the house, so as a form of procrastination I am going to make a cuppa, happy to make a cuppa for others that are on a roll.

    Blessings,

    Em

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  13. For the first time in my new congregation, I am preaching two weeks in a row. I framed last week’s sermon as God’s wisdom for beloved children moving through liminal spaces (moving into the Promised Land and, with Jesus, the already-not-yet-ness of life in God’s kin-dom). Where that goes this week is anyone’s guess, as it’s only Saturday morning here ; ) I wanted to play with Leviticus, but we’re not reading that in the 10 am service so I’ll have to quote from it if I use it. We’ll see. Right now there’s an over-abundance of possibilities for this sermon!

    I’m mid-move, so I’ll be taking myself out for lunch and writing in public before stopping by the grocery store to get just enough food for the next few days in this house. Last week I skimped on sleep Saturday night. I don’t want to do that tonight, so I’m forcing myself to step over boxes and delay packing more until tomorrow afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The move is just across town, so I’ve been dragging it out over the last couple of weeks. The truck comes on Friday. I have tons of time. Still, my brain is in transition– liminal spaces abound.

        And the sermon will emerge. Thanks for your gracious hosting of this space, and Happy Big Day to you!

        Liked by 2 people

  14. So grateful I’m not the only one procrastinating. I have grasped the idea that Jesus’ command to us to be perfect as the Lord is perfect is neither an indictment or a stick, but an affirmation of our identity as children of God and a promise that God is working out something new in each of us. Now to find the other 850 words people will be expecting.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s interesting to play around with “perfect” since so many of us think we are supposed to be perfect in the human understanding of never ever making mistakes. We can be so hard on ourselves and its not helpful for our well being or growth as compassionate humans – if we can be forgiving and compassionate with ourselves how can we ever be that way with others?

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  15. My sermon is so far from finished… It might be summarized so far by “Really? Yes, really, but never alone.” I’d be grateful for some of that raspberry chocolate mousse cake to encourage the process. (And happy birthday, by the way!) Glad for a little virtual company while writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m back and here for the remaining portion of the day. Two funerals in one day, with one of them including the interment portion of the service at a cemetery 45 minutes away has made for one long day….

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  17. Thank you for hosting the party here on such a busy day for you!

    I’ve been working on my sermon off and on since yesterday. I am trusting it will soon make some better sense. I have some fresh coffee for those who need a hit of caffeine.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. So I am writing my sermon on Leviticus and Matthew together, how the two together deepens our understanding of who our neighbor is and how we are to love them, and through that how we learn to strive to be in a holy perfect relationship with God.

    I have one question I would love feedback on. I am starting at a new church, my first. The pew Bibles are an NIV translation but I really like the CEB translation better. When reading sections of the scripture back within the sermon do I use the NIV or the CEB? I figure when I read the full text I will read from the NIV since I know members like to read along and there is no powerpoint.

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    1. If you use the CEB just reference it, which offers the opportunity to remind folks that there are different versions of the Bible? But maybe for awhile you just want to use what they use. the NIV? Build the relationships and trust with them and then slowly bring in references to other texts? I don’t know your context, so my suggestions are only that….mostly though, I think you have a good take on the readings and some good ideas for the sermon.

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      1. Thanks. Context is Southern Ohio, USA, Disciples of Christ church, small older congregation. They should be aware of different versions, but based on the office I took over the NIV was what the previous pastors used, so I don’t know if it was their influence or the congregation’s choice for NIV. It’s the fact that I am still building a relationship that made me question it in the first place, so I thank you for supporting my gut instinct 🙂 Looking forward at the possibility of using different versions I am going to bring it up with the Elders to see what they prefer. Maybe it will be using inserts of the scripture from the translation I like that Sunday.

        Thanks again 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  19. I’m here…pondering the woman in Luke 7, whether to talk about child sex slavery or not, and thinking a lot about “do you see this woman” and how frequently the answer is no. I’m torn between talking about how we so often assign sin to the wrong places, especially where sex work/trafficking is concerned (i.e., it’s always the women who are arrested, not the customers nor the johns), or how rarely we see a person the way Jesus does, instead seeing sinner/disabled/black/hispanic/poor/whatever.

    Either angle…the title is “she persisted” and that is definitely true. As is the fact that Jesus knew who she was far better than Simon and maybe better than she herself…which is a nice set-up for the Emmaus road story eight weeks from now where Jesus is asked “are you the only one who doesn’t know what’s happened?” (and of course he’s the only one who DOES know what’s happened)…I can’t decide if I want to lay that groundwork now and bring it up again then, or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel certain that this is going to be a powerful sermon regardless of how you develop it. The whole
      “she persisted” issue in this country has raised the way we tend to not see women or try to silence women or at the very least treat women like children, and while it was pretty awful that it happened in the Senate, it can be used for good – to reawaken a whole lot of people. And so can this scripture reading be heard….

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  20. Hi, Y’all! I’m late to the party, but I’m all done. If y’all are still awake, I’d sure love some feedback on my sermon. It’s pretty raw, and thought that’s kind of my style, I’m really going out on a limb with this one. I, a UCC Licensed Minister, am going to have an altar call. I’m shaking in my slippers just thinking about it, but every morning this week it’s been first thing on my mind. Seriously, all constructive comments are welcome. If I’m really off track, I’d rather hear it from you than after service tomorrow…
    Here’s a link to my sermon: https://www.dropbox.com/s/tyq78jtz9yvvatr/2-19-17%20Eye%20For%20An%20Eye.docx?dl=0
    Blessings on you all tomorrow. May you preach the word in the power and strength of God’s might, and not your own. I pray the Holy Spirit has your back, and the congregation has ears to hear.

    Liked by 2 people

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