When is a rock a blessing that gives life, and why does a rock become a barrier or even a weapon of death?

“A stone makes them stumble.” 1 Peter 2:8
“You are my rock.” Psalm 31:3
“They began to stone him.” Acts 7:58
“Come to him, a living stone.” 1 Peter 2:4


When is a home a last-ditch refuge, and how often is it a far-off daydream?

“Be a strong fortress to save me.” Psalm 31:2
“Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.” 1 Peter 2:5
“In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.” John 14:2


The Revised Common Lectionary readings are rich with imagery for this Sunday, and — unlike last week’s shepherd/sheep illustrations — this Sunday’s images of rocks and homes are commonplace features in everyday life. No need to guess about ancient shepherding: you probably tripped over a rock yesterday, and right now you’re looking around the space you call home and wondering who left such a mess.

Perhaps that rock was discarded from a building project or left behind after a river’s flood. Maybe the rock on which you stubbed your toe was once gloriously skipped across a lake. Maybe that same stone — so smooth to touch and so beautiful to examine — was once aimed at a squirrel or a window.

Perhaps home is more broken than it is renewing. Perhaps home is a space you don’t return to often enough, or a place you cannot wait to leave. Maybe home is your best space for creativity, a place that soothes your restless spirit every time you step into it, a space that loves you and renews you.

Maybe Jesus is the rock that trips you or the rock that grounds you. Or both.

Maybe God is the home of your heart. Maybe God represents the dreamed-of destination that seems always out of reach.

RCL preachers, what images catch your imagination for this Sunday’s preaching? Are there themes beyond the “rock” and “home” language that you’re pursuing in your sermon prep?


If Mother’s Day is an important part of your church’s liturgical year, how might this Sunday’s readings lend themselves to preaching on God as Mother-and-Rock or to meditating on Christ as Grandmother-and-Home?

Remember please, in your recognition of Mother’s Day, that the complexities and diversities of life experience do not make Mother’s Day an equally joyous occasion for everyone and “mother” is a word with diverse manifestations. Being a woman is not equivalent to motherhood, or to being physically capable of birth, or to desiring children. Having a mother doesn’t guarantee that we all feel warm & fuzzy about our mothers — from our biological mothers to our foster mothers, from our adoptive mothers to our mentor mothers. Many of us mourn the deaths of mothers. And being a mother — by birth, by adoption, by fostering, by mentoring, by the extension of love — is hardly so picture-perfect as whatever pink floral greeting card might be purchased for the occasion of Mother’s Day. Exercise your best pastoral care, preachers.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


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4 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Stones & Homes

  1. I’m struck by the relational aspect of Jesus’ promises and hope found even & especially in the midst of difficult life situations – the disciples just had their feet washed, Judas left to betray Jesus, & Peter’s denial was predicted. Where we follow in Jesus’ footsteps, we encounter God – possible anywhere. Am not sure re; Mother’s Day – it’s bittersweet for me as I hoped to be a mother within marriage and that dream has died as I’m still single and above the age in which I would want to bear children – my mother is still alive & I have a niece, so I honor the day for mom & my sister-in-law.

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  2. 5 pm on Saturday afternoon, and not sure what direction i ma headed tomorrow. i extended the John reading, John 13: 30-14:14, so i can give some background as to where this section fits. some inspiration form David Lose, In the meantime; and Karoline Lewis, working preacher. now to see if some cheese and crackers will help 🙂

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