Author Archives: rachelhackenberg

RCL: You Shall Be Holy

Sometimes Scripture gets a little obvious (even heavy-handed), as it does in this coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary texts:

“You shall not deal falsely.
You shall not lie to one another.”
(Leviticus 19:11)

#guilty

“Do not boast about human leaders.”
(1 Corinthians 3:21)

#beentheredonethat

“You shall not profit
by the blood of your neighbor.
You shall not hate your own kin.”
(Leviticus 19:16-17)

#colonialism #capitalism
#whiteprivilege #racism

“Give to everyone who begs from you,
and do not refuse anyone
who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:42)

#godblessthechild

“Do not deceive yourself…
for the wisdom of this world
is foolishness with God.”
(1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

#everydaystruggle

“Love your enemies.”
(Matthew 5:44)

#notevenclose

…and this doozy…

“Be perfect therefore as
your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:48)

#goingbacktobed

236a8-holyHow’s that going for you, the whole “perfection” commandment? How’s it working out in your ministry to “love your enemies”? What are you experiencing in the world’s inclination to “boast in leaders” and its preference to “profit from the blood of your neighbor?”

Let’s consider those questions momentarily rhetorical.

Try this one instead:

When Scripture is so obvious, do you preach an equally straightforward sermon?

#notmycontext

However you preach such ethical admonitions as these, let’s backtrack to their theological foundation:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
“Speak to all the congregation of the people
of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy
for I the LORD your God am holy.”
(Leviticus 19:1-2)

breath windowYou shall be holy — not by your own merit, not as an individual, not for the purposes of self-righteousness — but holy because you belong to God who is holy. Or, to borrow from John 15, you are within God who is holy, therefore you shall be holy because God is within you.

You shall be holy, and holiness looks like:

love of enemies,
foolishness for holy wisdom,
hearts set on God more than fear,
spirits of humility and honesty,
abundance for the poor
and welcome of the
foreigner.

#anyquestions

You shall be holy, because holiness is the way of God; holiness is Supreme Love and Divine Justice in action.

How will your sermon this week call people to model God’s holy ways? What other strains of God’s story are singing to you from this week’s RCL texts? Please add your reflections in the comments to share the work & wonder of preparing this coming Sunday’s sermon.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: Revised Common Lectionary | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Sunday Prayer: Life and Death

At your command, O God,
heaven and earth bear witness:

We sing of love
but romance death.

We reap in faith
but sow distrust

We pray for peace
but cherish gossip.

By your grace we would follow
heaven and earth’s witness:

Saying “no” to evil, to spite, to cowardice.
Pledging “yes” and “yes” to life before the throne of God.

Yes and yes to life in common purpose
with heaven and earth.

Yes by God. Yes to God.
Yes, Holy God. Let your wisdom be vindicated

as we dance in life, weep in life,
hold fast in life, and die in life. Forever in your life.

Let heaven and earth bear witness.
Amen.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: RevGalPrayerPals, Sunday Prayer | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Sunday Prayer: Mercies Every Morning

Shout out, O God,
and do not hold back
as you survey the world
with the witness of heaven.

Shout out and cry aloud, O God,
for we have given you lip service
but failed to follow your ways.

In your mercy, do not punish the hungry
because we have not been generous.
For your sake, do not punish the poor because
we have not lived as their brother & sister.

Do not punish even the wicked for we
have been evil’s accomplice and
taught the ways of accommodation.

Shout out, O God, and weep
for the wisdom of this age
that does not know or
wait upon your secrets:
mysteries
of abundance
and paradoxes of love.

Whisper such secrets
like salt sprinkled for the delight
of every tongue, every heart, every life
until the earth is so full of faith
that no one goes hungry
or thirsty or lacks
shelter or family.

Whisper such secrets, O God,
that dawn’s light might
interrupt
midnight’s injustice,
that healing might emerge as an oasis
and your loved ones never evicted
into the wilderness again.

We set our hearts in awe of you
and (re)commit our ways to your way.

Always and only
for your glory.
Amen.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: RevGalPrayerPals, Sunday Prayer | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Friday Festival: Storytelling

The annual RevGalBlogPals’ Big Event (BE 10) has just concluded, with this year’s program on storytelling led by Casey FitzGerald.

Sidebar: If you’re a member of RevGalBlogPals and you’ve not yet attended a BE, make a note somewhere on your Summer 2017 calendar with this reminder to yourself: “Register for BE 11!” and plan to attend the 2018 Big Event.

go-and-tell-by-marci

photo/meme by Marci Glass

To continue BE 10’s storytelling theme, here are stories currently being told across our RevGalBlogPals’ blogging network:

+ Kathy of God of the Sparrow wonders if it’s time to learn to be a risk-taker, as she reflects on growing up “under my skittish grandmother’s care … she gave us each only one skate, fearing that to skate on two would land us face down on the pavement.”

+ Aileen of Aileen Goes On is sharing her stories of depression, beginning in the early years: “The first memory I have of profound sadness…begins on one unforgettably horrible night in 1971.”

+ Derek of Tales from the Great Adventure tells the story of a recent moment in an adult Sunday School class: “A couple introduced themselves this way: ‘We’ve been church members since around 2006,’ they said; ‘disciples for the past year.’”

+ Cindy of The LaJoy Family shares a beautiful appreciation that she received from her sons, and she reflects: “We don’t often think of people as sanctuaries, and yet we have all had them. … I can’t help but wonder if what we really need is not a ‘safe place’, but for each of us to step up and be Sanctuary People for others.”

+ Kimberly at Consider the Lilies gives thanks for the voice of a good book “that calls to the reader, perhaps makes the mind move in ways it almost but not quite moves on its own, or proposes something totally other, adding depth, perspective, new swaths of horizon, to the ways in which a reader things, creates, acts.” Which prompts the question: What books’ voices are accompanying your life these days?

Have a personal story you’ve blogged recently? Add a link in the comments. Provoked by one of these stories and inspired to share your own? Tell your story in the comments and offer your appreciation on the blogs linked above.

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Revised Common Lectionary: Formed to Serve

 For what service have you been formed?

The LORD called me
before I was born.
(Isaiah 49:1)

To what work is the world calling you out of its need?

It is too light a thing that you should serve only your neighbors.
I will give you as a light to all nations; I will extend you
across the earth for the sake of my name.
(Isaiah 49:6)

How are you responding?

Then I said,
“Here I am.”
(Psalm 40:7)

How are you strengthening your heart
and letting loose with the boldness of your spirit?

I have not restrained my lips, O LORD, and
I have not hidden your saving help in my heart;
I have spoken loudly of your love and your restoration.
(Psalm 40:9-10)

In your conviction and determination,
how are you fostering curiosity
for God’s mystery at work in you?

Jesus asked them,
“What are you looking for?”
(John 1:38)

When your feet grow weary and your hope wanes,
do you throw up your hands in despair or
drop your shoulders in self-doubt?

You are not lacking in gifts
as you wait for God’s fulfillment;
surely God will strengthen you to the end.
(1 Corinthians 1:7-8)

So friends, be of good courage:
the work is hard and the way is long,
but that Restless Call is sure and
the Loving Presence is faithful.

As you reflect on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, how are you imagining you might bring these readings to life to embolden discipleship — discipleship in the pews and in the streets, at work and at home, from the local to the national to the global?

martin-luther-king-jr-quotes-8My dear white preaching colleagues in the U.S., as you prepare to preach on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a loving nudge:

Is this the only time of year when you quote MLK from the pulpit? Do you have an unused Christmas gift card that you might use to diversify your bookshelves with the work of Black writers, thinkers and theologians? You don’t have to answer this next question aloud, but do you google for an MLK quotation to fit your sermon? What if you took the homiletic approach of starting your sermon preparations not with a study of ancient scripture but with a study of a modern text of Black & Womanist theologies — James Cone, Katie Cannon, Emilie Townes, so many many more! — and what if you listened to that modern text as “continuing testament” to seek the Word of God as It stirs and makes use of your particular voice to call out bold discipleship in your particular context?

For what service have you been formed, friends, and how are you being called to serve through preaching this coming Sunday? Please share and encourage one another in the comments!

 


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: Revised Common Lectionary | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Sunday Prayer: New Year’s Day

In prayer,
we say the name
that gives us hope:
JESUS.

In song,
we raise the name
that brings us peace:
JESUS.

With shouts,
we cry the name
that brings us healing:
JESUS.

You who are the same
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
stay with us and love us
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
through seasons of change
of heartache of struggle of love
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
through tears and praise
and lament and delight
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
be who you are forever and always.

We long to be made new,
we are desperate to leave the past behind us,
but you have brought us this far and
you have promised to continue.
Stories and experiences
shape us like ancient stars shape the night sky,
so do not teach us to turn our backs
on what has been but to listen
for stories of what may be.
Teach us not to start over in fear
but to wade in every water and to walk
through every wilderness with the patience
of hearts that trust you.
Teach us not cynicism but curiosity
so that our souls might sing gratitude
and our tongues speak prophecies
of your love and glory
for as long as we have breath to give.

Statue of JesusTo you, the One who is worthy,
to you in whom the angels delight,
to you alone at the beginning and the end,
to you we bring our prayers and our whole lives this day. Amen.

 


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: RevGalPrayerPals, Sunday Prayer | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas Sunday Prayer

Hark! the messenger angels sing.
It is finished! Love has come!

Our spirits soar, O mighty God,
at the magnitude and majesty:

there you are among us, the Infant Savior — and
here you are among us, the Wonderful Mystery!

We are bursting with the news: Love is here!
Peace is here! Justice and judgment are here!

How sweet, how delicious, how very
indescribable — you are sublime!

Receive our joy and make of it wonder.

Receive our gratitude and make of it humility.

Receive our adoration and make of it compassion.

Make of us, O Jesus, vessels of praise
and testimonies of the miraculous

so that no one doubts and no one
does not know the breadth of your love.

Glory, glory, glory to you in our hearts!
Glory, glory, glory to you in heaven & earth!

Glory and good news for all people!
Good news and great relief for those most in need.

Hark! the messenger angels sing.
It is finished! Love has come!

Amen! Your love is complete!
Amen! Our work of love is renewed

and our life in love is saved.
Glory, pure glory to God in the highest!

Your love is forever and ever.
Amen and amen.

 


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: Christmas, RevGalPrayerPals, Sunday Prayer | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Friday Festival: Eve Meditations

The eve of Christmas Eve is waning (in the U.S.’s eastern time zone). For many RevGals who pastor churches all around the world, the final preparations & worship services are nearing completion. The light at the end of the Advent/Christmas liturgical tunnel is drawing blessedly near.

To encourage your spirit’s meditation amidst the busyness of this holy season (or to spark a last-minute Christmas Eve sermon), the writings and musings of RevGal & Pal bloggers are excerpted for this week’s Friday Festival. If you have a bit of time, drop by their blogs to wish Merry Christmas and offer your thanks for their words.

+ Liz at journalling echoes our eagerness for these final eves to break at long last so that we can welcome Christ and realize the salve of God’s mercies:

“Soon?
Soon salvation will come?
How about now?
… Now would be good
for light to come.”

+ Diana of Just Wondering offers a poignant and personal reflection on Advent waiting when the end is near: “Who really knows how much is enough? I don’t have any special insights, only my own bedraggled emotions and growing fatigue. To me, it feels like it is time.” Please read and include Diana in your prayers.

+ Kyle at The Community invites us to consider the passionate love of Christmas’ incarnation: “What would it look if we approached Christmas like a beloved longing for his or her lover? … What if this love is not one of mere sentiment or nostalgia but one of passion and intense desire? Would this change the way we view the coming of Christ?”

+ Erica of Don’t Flay the Sheep encourages churches to welcome children intentionally in worship: “The comment you think is polite, or the eyeroll you thought was subtle might be the final straw for a family that is struggling, a stab to the heart of a parent who is trying their best.” It’s an important reflection worth sharing with your congregation’s leaders to encourage hospitality year-round.

+ For those feeling overwhelmed, Rosa of Las Puertas Abiertas de Par en Par reminds us: “It is good work, the work of keeping watch. My hope for all of us is that we too may see the angels rush in with hands full of stars in the nights ahead.”

+ Finally, this poetry from Maureen at The Pastor is IN:

“Even when we can no longer
See it
Or feel it
Or imagine it
The light
of God
is always there
Carrying Advent
To us
And with us
Wherever we may be.”

Many blessings to you through these final eves before Christmas Day!


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

 

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Sunday Prayer: Emmanuel

Emmanuel, God,
be with us
as we greet you in praise.

You are the sovereign of angels and cherubim,
the source of life for all creation, and
our souls’ only hope and comfort.

Shine upon us, we pray.

When fear threatens our faith,
open our mouths to shout with joy
and our hearts to sing with love.

When fear leads us to fail one another,
break our tongues loose in humble confession
and disrupt our lives for the work of community.

Holy Spirit, come upon us we pray.

Though we have set our hearts on our own ways,
grant us still a vision of your way, unexpected as it is,
and stir within us the resolve to stand in solidarity with you.

Above all else, hear the prayers of those who weep
and answer at last the cries of those who mourn
for they have not been done justice in this world or in heaven.

Be with each one.

Bless all who love you with the belief in your fulfillment:
in the satisfaction of the hungry,
in the peace of the persecuted,
in the reprieve of the prisoner
and the depose of the powerful
for yours alone is the kin-dom, the power and the glory.

Emmanuel, God, come;
let your face shine that we might be saved. Amen.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: Advent, RevGalPrayerPals, Sunday Prayer | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Prayer: Theotokos

Pray for us, Mary, Mother of God.
While you rejoice in God’s works
and celebrate God’s faithfulness,
we wait impatiently for the fullness
of Life to be born in a flood of justice.

Sing for us, Mary, Mother of God,
to gird our spirits with courage and
bolster our steps with holy resolve
that we might be God-bearers too
through generosity and self-sacrifice.

Cry for us, Mary, Mother of God,
knowing as you do that God With Us
will not miraculously dissolve our
jealousy, selfishness, distrust, doubt;
our riches and loyalties are misaligned.

Pray for us, dear Mary, Mother of God,
that we might be prepared to welcome God
in the prisoner, the stranger, and the hungry
from the desert to the city to all the nations.
Pray that we will be part of the good news.

Advent 3

Advent 3


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: RevGalPrayerPals, Sunday Prayer | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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