Y’all. I’m scheduled as a guest preacher this coming Sunday … I’ve already submitted my texts from the RCL, sent a sermon title and some hymn ideas … already drafted an outline … but lo and behold! today as I reflect on Sunday’s RCL readings, I’m struck by an entirely different theme. Oy.

And so the lectionary proves to me yet again that there is always an abundance of good news … even if I’m no longer certain of which good news I’ll be preaching this Sunday!

Here’s my take, at least for today:

Do you know where you are planted?

256px-the_mulberry_tree_by_vincent_van_gogh

Thus says the LORD: “Cursed are those who trust in mortals … they shall be like a shrub in the desert and shall not see when relief comes. Blessed are those who trust in God … they shall be like a tree planted by water.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Do you notice the situation of the desert shrub? Stubbornly focused on resisting its environment to survive day after day, the shrub doesn’t recognize water when it comes, doesn’t ease its veins when nourishment arrives, doesn’t stretch its roots to soak in relief that pours from the heavens.

The difference between the shrub and the tree is not the circumstance of location, whether one is predestined to the desert and the other predestined to the riverside. The difference is that the tree recognizes its nourishment & relief, while the shrub does not.

Do you know where you are planted?

Blessed are you who know that you are planted in the kingdom of God, for the world will never hesitate to starve you and blame you for your own hunger. Woe to you who do not notice God’s abundance, who consume for fear of want.

Blessed are you who know that you are planted as a beloved child of God, for the world will demonize you as fast as it glorifies you. Woe to you who do not recognize God’s delight in you, who gather a cohort of false prophets & priests.

Blessed are you who know that you are planted in God’s faithfulness, for tears and struggle will always find you. Woe to you who do not notice the relief of God’s comfort, who are drunk with joy for fear of pain.

Those who know where they are planted
will be fruitful and unafraid of a dry spell,
while those who cannot recognize relief
will wither and be blown away like chaff.

Preachers, how are the blessings and woes of Luke 6 shaping your sermon prep this week? Is the image of the tree in Jeremiah 17 and Psalm 1 tugging at your spirit? Are you enticed by Paul’s argument about resurrection?

Share your comments, homiletic brainstorms, blogposts, etc. and we’ll get to Sunday together.


Rachel G. Hackenberg‘s book with co-author Martha Spong, Denial Is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith), searches for faith through life’s trials. Rachel has also written Writing to God and Sacred Pause.


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6 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Planted

  1. I’m impressed that you have all that done already! Monday is my day off, so I always start Tuesday feeling like I’m a bit behind. So far I know I’m preaching on Luke, but I don’t like the title I put in my preaching schedule, so I’ve got some work to do today to get closer to your degree of preparedness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll be focusing on the Blessings and Whoas (as I’m calling them), but I usually use the psalm to write a call to worship… here’s mine for Psalm 1. (the _ marks indicate _Bold_, to be read by all.)

    The psalmist begins the great book of prayer:
    _Blessed are those who don’t embrace the Bad News,
    or walk the Scoffer’s Way._
    Instead, take the path of Good News:
    _Be delighters in God’s way; be studiers of God’s law!_
    Be like trees, planted by streams of water:
    _Be bringers of good fruit; be strong and steady-hearted._
    Be music in the breeze and beauty in the snow.
    _Plant yourselves in the love of God:
    Know that you are already planted there, and live._

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Most of my congregation are farmers, current or retired and still working into their 80s. They resonate with vegetation examples, I thank you Rachel for this take on the Luke and Jeremiah passages, (my RCL choices) with Psalm as Call to Worship. Title so far- “Same Old Platitudes” looking at how we hear familiar passages and advice as blah,blah, blah. But Jesus was saying something radical and new, important for them to understand. He was speaking on their level (the plain) addressing them “woe to you” not sure where I am taking this. Part-time pastor with Monday and Tuesday off.

    Liked by 2 people

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