The Revised Common Lectionary offers a number of great options for this Sunday! Will you be preaching on Jesus and the Geresene (or Gadarene) man who had been living with demons? If so, will you address the inconsistencies in the text – for example, the fact that Gerasa was over 30 miles from the Sea of Galilee? What about the pigs, an unclean animal in Jewish tradition? Whose herd did Jesus send the demons into? Does this have any particular meaning? Sometimes the complicated questions are best left for a Bible study. What themes of love and hope do you find in this week’s Gospel lesson? Once the man was healed, he became an evangelist. How can his example inform us?
The Hebrew Bible readings are also intriguing this week. In Isaiah, the Lord laments the unfaithfulness and hypocrisy of the people, and promises to punish them – but not all of them. The accompanying Psalm is a plea to God for help, and a praise of God’s power. How might these passages speak to your community? Perhaps this is an opening to talk about how you can address hypocrisy when it shows up among your people, and how to remain focused on praising God through it all.
I’m planning to focus on Elijah’s journey in 1 Kings 19. At the beginning of the chapter, he is persecuted and flees for his life. Things look bleak. Then God miraculously supplies food, enough for him to journey 40 days. At the end of the journey, Elijah encounters the presence of God in a way that few people ever have. How can this story from Elijah’s life give up hope for our own journeys? It seems promising that God provides what is needed both for body and spirit. On the other hand, how is this good news to people who are hungry, or who cannot hear God’s voice no matter how much they pray?
And don’t forget the Epistle! Galatians offers familiar verses that many have found to describe the revolutionary welcome of God. Followers of Jesus are not ranked by nationality/ethnicity, or by sex/gender identity, or by social/employment status. We’re still learning this. Society lures us into the trap of considering some races or gender identities or social roles to be more important than others. Paul says this isn’t true; Jesus has leveled the playing field. So, what are we going to do about it?
Whether you’ve got a solid draft already, or you’re just starting to brainstorm, share your ideas in the comments! What are you doing with the children this week, and do you have any special congregational celebrations going on? Blessings in your worship prep and preaching!
Katya Ouchakof keeps the Legions at bay by reading and writing outside on her deck whenever possible, working at Rutabaga Paddlesports in Madison, WI, and spending time with her spouse and extended family. You can find the reviews she writes on the deck about the books she reads there on her blog: revkatyawrites.com.
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