Is it time to start pulling our hair out yet, preachers?  

Are you preaching from the Revised Common Lectionary this coming Sunday?  If so, are you riveted again by Luke’s story of Jesus and the man possessed by so many spirits that they name themselves “Legion”?  I can’t hear the story without thinking about a seminary skit where people take Jesus to small claims court.  In the skit, the owner of these pigs joins the owner of the fig tree and the owner of the Palm Sunday donkey in protesting that Jesus was cavalier with their possessions.  Jesus matches the unruly spirits with the watery chaos, and the man’s new health reveals the town’s ill health.

The story has so much to preach about…the man so dead to himself and life that he lives in the tombs, amid death and decay…plus the moral decay of the town that is unwilling to rejoice in his healing.  I love that Jesus leaves him there to “proclaim” the good news to them.  His very presence will be a constant reminder of their callousness. 

Is Paul’s timeless word from Galatians 3 calling to you this week?  Each of the groups Paul mentions in this passage has an up-and-down hierarchy, and Paul is bold enough to announce that these imbalances of power are now erased in Jesus.  He speaks with such certainty, and yet the church of Jesus, in all these years, has never managed to fulfill his vision.  How might we reach this kind of equality, without erasing the differences that make us who we are?     

If you follow the Narrative Lectionary, are you working with the Psalms?  Doing something else? 

And who has a great summer sermon series going?  Last summer I did a series on “Things Grown Folks Know,” which was fun to think about.  If we’ve been paying attention, what have we learned along the way? We’d love to hear your great ideas for a series, too. 

Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian Church.  She is the author of Meeting God at the Mall.  The image above is Master of the Furies. Tormented Figure, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55481


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16 thoughts on “Preacher Party: Pigs and Prejudices

  1. Back to leading worship this week after two weeks medical leave with a broken ankle. Planning to sit as I lead worship. Theme is giving thanks. For the sermon showing part of a TED talk, then asking people to write something they are grateful for and something that inspires them. Also AGM and election of church council members. I think I will then be ready for a rest.

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  2. I’m RCL but doing the alternate texts this summer so it’s Elijah and the “sound of silence” for me. It will be fun to give background on what led to this hide out seeking God’s voice. What leads us today to hide out, away from the crowds and where do we seek God ‘s voice? Where do we find it? With the cacophony of noise in the world today this should be fun.

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  3. I’m preaching Elijah and silence as well. One of my favorite topics — but I had forgotten how difficult it can be to introduce silence as a practice in 18-20 minutes!

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  4. I’m in Acts all summer. This Sunday is about prayer and miracles. Thankfully I have a previous sermon to help me though. Eric Elnes talks about prayer and quantum physics in his book Darkwood Brew…so that’s the direction I’ll head. Then two Sunday’s off. One for study leave and one for vacation.

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  5. You ever have one of those weeks where you can’t even land on a text? All 3 are great (RCL, semi-continous with Elijah) and I keep hopping back and forth between them but nothing seems to quite grab me or lend itself to a full sermon.

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  6. Preaching on Galatians 3. Really struck by verse 23: “Before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law.” In light of the concentration camps full of children near our U.S. borders, and legislative testimony regarding Reparations for the descendants of slaves, I’m moved to reflect on the contrast between our nation’s history of division and incarceration and the vision of freedom and equality found in Paul’s words. Let’s see…in 15 minutes or less?!?

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  7. Difficult Decisions. I’m focusing on the still small voice calling us to be the Gospel. I’m struggling to find the best silent prayer practice during the sermon. Suggestions appreciated.

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  8. Ugh. It’s 11:33 p.m. here, and I’m just getting started. My grandfather passed last Sunday morning in the wee hours, and we have had family in from out of town for visitation and funeral. Today, we got word that my cousin was found dead in a hotel room in Texas. Intentionally or unintentionally, it was by his own hand. The mourning starts anew. I’m filling the pulpit in a church where I have never done that before and in a different denomination than I am accustomed in the morning for two services. Thankful for the opportunity, but wondering how I’m ever going to be ready. I turned in the 1 Kings passage for a sermon on Elijah and a “seeking God in the silence” theme, which should be easy for me, considering what I do, but at this moment, harnessing my thoughts into something cohesive feels very difficult indeed. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

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    1. Julie, I’m so sorry for this time of sorrow for your family. You’re in my prayers for strength and peace and the right words — or silence — today and beyond.

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