AUGUST 8, 2021 + PENTECOST 11
As I sit down to write this, it is actually Tuesday. My spouse just called and after requesting I add bread to the grocery list, asked “How has your day been?” My response, “Okay.” He seemed perplexed and yet, he probably hasn’t been watching the news at work.
After a five month investigation, the New York State Attorney General Letitia James has reported that there is solid evidence that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least eleven women who worked with him. For me, Cuomo was often a voice of reason during the lockdown. Today’s news makes me angry and disappointed. Yet I must stand with Ms. James who said, “I believe women, and I believe these women.”
The aforementioned spouse is now required to wear a mask at work again. I am thankful for this change but it is also a sign of things to come. Pastors and congregational leaders will again be faced with establishing the best protocols for their community. Children who have not been vaccinated are preparing to go back to school. And my prayer today is simply the lament, “Dear God, I am weary!”
As you prepare to write your Sunday sermon, these things may be on your heart as well. Are you weary, friend? If you are, I hope it is not the kind of exhaustion described in the RCL first reading from 1 Kings. After a long walk into the desert, Elijah, came to a large bush and sat down in its shade. He begged the Lord, “I’ve had enough. Just let me die! I’m no better off than my ancestors.” And then in his weariness, he lay down and slept under that broom tree. [1 Kings 19:4-6a, CEV]
Is there grumbling going on where you are? The RCL appointed gospel tells us that in the midst of all that bread talk, the people were giving Jesus the business- questioning both his content and his credentials. Isn’t he Jesus, the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father and mother? How can he claim to have come down from heaven? [John 6:42] What could this kid, possibly know?
If you are preaching from the Narrative Lectionary, you have the task of beginning a five week series on baptism and communion. This week’s good news is the baptism of the first Christian converts in Acts 2. (No grumbling, no laments.) And of course there are some of us preaching from no lectionary at all. Whatever texts you are playing with, however weary you may or may not feel- remember these things.
- While Elijah was sleeping, an angel of the Lord brought him bread and water. God cared for his needs so that the prophet could continue to do the Lord’s work.
- Jesus didn’t let the grumbling keep him from preaching the good news. He said, I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life. [John 6:47, CEV]
- The RCL is using Psalm 34 which says, I asked the Lord for help, and he saved me from all my fears. Keep your eyes on the Lord! You will shine like the sun and never blush with shame. I was a nobody, but I prayed, and the Lord saved me from all my troubles. [Verses 4-6, CEV]
- While the Narrative Lectionary leans into Psalm 46. God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide? No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails. When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless. Even in heavy winds and huge waves, or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless. [Verses 1-3, The Voice]
Dear preacher, I hope that you will be sure and fearless as you prepare to preach this Sunday. God is with you, most certainly! And your colleagues are here as well. Conversation about the RCL can be found here: https://revgalblogpals.org/category/revised-common-lectionary/ and Narrative Lectionary preachers may want to check out contributions here: https://revgalblogpals.org/category/narrative-lectionary/. As always, you can share your ideas, your questions and your laments here in the comments.
Heidi Rodrick-Schnaath is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She will be starting a new call as an Interim Pastor in two weeks and serves as a resource to the United Lutheran Seminary. She has been fervently reading, highlighting and dictating as she completes her research for her DMin thesis, Stories of Grace: An exploration of how fiction stories impact faith development in early adolescence.