For all the saints
who from their labors rest…

…and we, somewhere in the space between mourning and jealousy, continue to labor in a world that assumes little opportunity for rest. The law is slack and judgment is perverted (Habakkuk 1:4), our bodies groan day & night and our strength is dried up (Psalm 32:3-4), faithful discipleship is an argument/negotiation with God (Isaiah 1:18a, depending on your translation).

We feebly struggle,
they in glory shine…

If you’re inclined to preach for all us sinners using the Revised Common Lectionary texts for this coming Sunday (the 21st Sunday after Pentecost), the opportunity to rest is found in the unburdening of our sins/transgressions against God and one another:

Bringing offerings is futile…
make yourselves clean; cease to do evil.
(Isaiah 1:13, 16)

“Half of my possessions
I will give to the poor…”
“Today salvation has come to this house.”
(Luke 19:8-9)

If you’re inclined to preach for the saints using the All Saints Day texts of November 1st, the promise of rest is found in the proclamation of God’s sovereignty, the satisfaction for the hungry, and the unceasing prayers of those who love us.

With the eyes of your heart enlightened,
may you know what is the hope
to which you are called…
(Ephesians 1:18, adapted)

“I say to you: Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you…”
(Luke 6:27, adapted)

To these promises, those who have gone before us are witnesses: God’s judgment is righteous, God’s purpose is worthy, God’s salvation/salve/healing is sure.

Thy name, O Jesus,
be forever blest.


What are the All Saints traditions in your worshiping community? How are the names of those who have died uplifted? How are the mourning comforted, and how are the struggling encouraged? 

Will your sermon this Sunday come from the branches of a sycamore tree, or will it come from the plain where Jesus preaches? Are you on the watchpost with Habakkuk or chasing the dreams of Daniel?

Join the conversation and preparation toward Sunday’s sermon by posting a comment, sharing a blog link, and/or asking a question with your colleagues here on RevGalBlogPals!


The Rev. 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, a popular Lenten devotional, among other books.

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11 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Saints and Sinners

    1. Interesting thought about Zacchaeus’ tone. If his transformation was not as profound as we typically believe, at least the sycamore tree provides rich metaphors of transformation!


  1. I thought I would use the All Saints Day texts…until I read them. Holy cow! Daniel? “Hey, king, you’re going to be dead by morning.” And then it gets worse. So I wrote my own All Saints lectionary. Preaching from Romans 8:38-39. It don’t get no better than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The texts for this Sunday are certainly rich, but not very … sainty. (Or saintly.) Romans 8 is always a good choice.


  2. I’m using the All Saints Day Ephesians 1
    for the main text and for the OT using Habbakuk.
    We’re in a series about what disciples do ( from
    the book Lectionary Series edied by Amy Butler),
    so this week is about how disciples believe i
    the resurrection. We say the Apostle’s Creed on 1st
    Sundays, so it’s an opportunity to connect with
    those words.


  3. Zacchaeus—Assuming his deep pain was loneliness, as it is for all of us if we dig deeply enough. If we go with translations that say he’s already being righteous with his wealth, we see him rejected for appearances and assumptions, rather than reality. How does that apply to the maligned, declining church these days? What do we do with our own loneliness? What is God offering by inviting God’self into our lives?


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