My childhood church had a tradition of the youth performing a musical each year on Mother’s Day. One year, our choir director chose a musical named Paul & Co. by John Horman and Mary Nelson Keithahn. To this day, a song from this musical goes through my head whenever I hear the Lydia story:
A seller of purple am I
With goods that just the wealthy can buy.
What I touch turns quickly to gold,
But someday soon I’m going to grow old
What good is gold when you die?
How did Paul’s teaching and her subsequent baptism change Lydia? The text tells us that she was already a believer in God. Is Acts 16:14-15 the equivalent of her call story? What do you think she did with her renewed faith once her brief appearance in Scripture is complete?
Lydia has remained an important figure from the early days of Christianity. She is described as the head of her household. She led everyone in her household to the waters of baptism, which has become significant in discussions about baptizing people of all ages. Lydia has continued to inspire leaders in the church, especially women. How can she inspire your faith community?
As ever, this week’s Revised Common Lectionary texts provide many options for preaching and worship planning. There are countless songs based on Psalm 67. Will you be using any of them in worship? (This song by Hezekiah Walker isn’t so much based on Psalm 67 as the embodiment of it!) This psalm would be a good basis for a sermon on how we praise God! Do your people know why they do what they do in worship? Perhaps you could take the chance to explain your liturgy to your community, and describe how each piece of it is meant to praise God. When people understand what’s happening in worship, the liturgy truly does become the work of the people, as it’s meant to be!
Perhaps you’re being bold and preaching on Revelation. This text is clear that God is central, not humans, or any other part of creation! Maybe this focus on God can help you deal with the issues of unclean or accursed things, without encouraging your people to judge others.
Which of the Gospel options from John are you hearing in worship this week? Will you preach about the persistent faith of the man who was ill, and Jesus’ boldness of healing him on the Sabbath? Or will you reflect on how Jesus expects us to have untroubled hearts, and how he seems to have more faith in his disciples than they have in him?
Whatever the shape of your sermon or worship prep, please share your questions and ideas below! Happy planning, and blessings to you this week!
Katya Ouchakof lives in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. The photo accompanying this post is of her favorite piece of purple fabric: a scarf that she knitted for herself more years ago than she cares to admit!
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8 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Purple (but not Lent)”
Probably not going to preach on it this time around, but something jumped out at me from the John 5 passage about the man at the pool. He needed help getting into the water to be made whole, but everyone else was crowding in ahead of him and he could never get there in time for the healing. How does this play out in a society where the 1% seem to get everything and others get nothing? Where things come easily for “people of privilege” and don’t come at all for those who aren’t privileged? And see how Jesus just bypasses the whole (rigged?) system and says, “Stand up, take up your bed and walk.” And the man is healed, with no one (apparently) having to “lose” anything with regard to their system of running down into the pool. So this man can have what he needs and the privileged ones who have set up a system to get what they need are not deprived because one man was healed without going through the system. (“Darn those illegals taking our American jobs”?) Sorry, that’s awkward, but I throw it out to you on Tuesday for your own ruminations.
Thank you for this. I appreciate your thoughtful interpretation – it’s a new one to me, and strikes me as incredibly faithful and relevant!
I think I’m off on a rabbit chase, but it struck me that both the Lydia passage and the John 5/healing at the pool passage take place either just inside or just outside the city gates. Does that mean anything? I sure hope so, because I’ve already turned in a title of “Near the Gate.”
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Gates as places of transition, holy spaces, where realities collide? That can preach 🙂
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I am preaching on Lydia and the implications she might have for the church today, especially the parts of her story that are often glossed over. I am not sure where I will end up, but this is where I am now: https://rachaelkeefe.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/listening-to-lydia/
Thanks for sharing your reflections, Rachael!
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Thanks for this Katya! A great sermon-seed-planter.