Posts Tagged With: lectionary

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

11th Hour Preacher Party: Salt and Light

Welcome to the 5th Sunday after Epiphany! How is the season of light going for you?

salt-51973_1920This Sunday’s RCL Gospel continues the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus shares words of wisdom that are counterintuitive to the world’s values. The Isaiah reading is explicit about the requirements for a faithful life requiring housing the homeless and feeding the hungry, among other things. How can you share the good news with your worshippers through these texts? How can you do so without being accused of being “too political”? Perhaps the Psalm or the lesson from 1 Corinthians is speaking to you this week. How will you speak this word to your worshippers? Some RCL ideas were shared on the blog earlier this week.

The Narrative Lectionary has a pair of miracle stories – healing the slave of the centurion, and raising the son of the widow at Nain. Will you preach on one or both of these miracles? What do they mean for Christians today, especially for people suffering from illness or grief? What will you do with the issue of slavery, or of a woman’s need for a man in her household? See this page for some lively discussion on these stories.

Whether you’re preaching on these texts or something different, looking for children’s sermon ideas, preparing your liturgy, or working on anything else for worship, please share your ideas below!


canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a certified canoeing instructor, occasional hospital chaplain, aunt to the best kids in the world, and a devout Star Wars fan. Katya is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and blogs periodically at Provocative Proclamations.


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: 11th Hour Preacher Party, RevGalBlogPals | Tags: , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary: Called and United

In this week’s installment of Adventures in Preaching, we who follow the Revised Common Lectionary have options of a hopeful prophesy in Isaiah (that is fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew), the calling of some of Jesus’ disciples, a Psalm expressing deep faith, and Paul preaching to the church in Corinth about unity.

Those of us in the USA might find Paul’s words to be particularly meaningful this first Sunday after the inauguration of an extraordinarily divisive man as President. How can Christians today “be united in the same mind and the same purpose”? What would that look like? And what work do we have ahead of us?

nkv94ru

Psalm 27 is one of my personal favorites to use, in its entirety, at hospital bedsides or in other situations when people are struggling. The psalmist reminds us that life isn’t always easy, but God remains with us and supports us through it all.

Matthew’s account of Jesus calling Simon and Andrew, James and John, is well-known and inspiring. What do we leave behind if we choose to be disciples of Jesus? What did Jesus mean about having them fish for people – and what does that look like for us? Somehow increasing the numbers of people on church membership lists doesn’t seem like a good enough motivation for the disciples to leave their whole livelihoods behind – Jesus must have meant something deeper than this.

In Isaiah, the prophet proclaims words of hope to a people who have experienced military defeat and oppression by the Assyrians. In Matthew, the evangelist claims that the prophesy is fulfilled in the person of Jesus. It’s worth sometimes preaching on a prophesy from the Hebrew Bible by just looking at it in its original context and considering how the people of Israel would have understood the words. With today’s combination of readings, worshippers will easily make the connection to Jesus even if the preacher stays focused on the original intent of Isaiah.

What is speaking to you this week? What do your people need to hear? Please share your ideas and stories and questions below. Blessings in your writing and your worship preparation this week.


Katya Ouchakof is co-pastor of Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She blogs less often than she would like at Provocative Proclamations. She looks forward to warmer weather so that she can get back out on the water in her canoe.


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: RevGalBlogPals, Revised Common Lectionary | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

11th Hour Preacher Party: Choose Your Own Adventure Sunday

Jesus passes through childhood in the blink of an eye this lectionary cycle, with only one Sunday in the season of Christmas before we enter Epiphany. There are so many occasions to mark, and not enough Sundays in which to do so! While the brief attention given to Jesus’ infancy and childhood is faithful to the Gospel accounts, there are many stories that people are expecting to hear every year that may be missed this time around.

John baptizes Jesus - Matthew 3:13-17Last week might have been Christmas 1, or Name of Jesus, or New Year’s Day, or honoring the Holy Innocents who died in place of Jesus. This week might be Epiphany or Baptism of Our Lord, or a chance to squeeze in one of the occasions that you had to skip last week. The Narrative Lectionary includes Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism, with a long description of John’s ministry, but without him explicitly being the one to baptize Jesus. What are you doing this Sunday? Which stories or celebrations are important to your community? To your personal theology?

If you are preaching on Epiphany this Sunday, I encourage you to choose your words carefully. This week one of our musicians asked why we’re not singing “We Three Kings.” My answer is that we don’t know how many of them there were, and we do know that they were not kings. While the song is familiar to many, it perpetuates a traditional story that is only one interpretation of the biblical account of the Epiphany… and people need to hear more than just this one interpretation. Might there have been women among the magi? What if there were two wise ones, or twelve? Instead of using royal imagery for them, consider what a different impression the story might make if we described the magi as scientists. (Or, for a more humorous interpretation, see the below photo from an irreverent game I received as a Christmas gift this year, Santa v. Jesus  🙂 )

fullsizerender-2

If you are celebrating Baptism of Our Lord, there are many details to address and many questions that naturally arise. Why would Jesus need to receive a baptism of repentance? Could Jesus alone see the heavens opened and hear the voice of God, or did everyone see and hear God’s presence? What was the relationship between John and Jesus – did they know each other well before this encounter? And why does any of this matter for our faith life today? If you happen to have a baptism during worship today, perhaps that ritual can do the preaching for you – and if not, you’ll get to anticipate the questions and discover the answers as you prepare your sermon!

Additional resources can be found at TextWeek, or Vanderbilt’s lectionary resource page, or Working Preacher. If you are interested in doing Epiphany “star words” with your congregation this year, you can learn more at Marci Auld Glass’s blog. Jan Richardson’s Women’s Christmas Retreat might also be helpful either in your worship preparations or your personal spiritual journey.

Please share your ideas below, ask questions, and point us towards other places where you have found inspiration! I have tea and wine to share – join the party and join the conversation!

 


canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a certified canoeing instructor, occasional hospital chaplain, aunt to the best kids in the world, and a devout Star Wars fan. Katya is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and blogs periodically at Provocative Proclamation.


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: 11th Hour Preacher Party, RevGalBlogPals | Tags: , , , , , | 53 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

This weekend we celebrate the birth of Jesus! It’s an honor and blessing to proclaim one of the central stories of our faith to worshippers on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. It is also a continual struggle for preachers – how do we proclaim such a familiar story in a way that is faithful, relevant, and not cliché? Additionally, as Christmas approaches, many of us are called upon to resolve issues regarding the placement of the tree in the worship space, or how many bulletins to print this year, or whether children should be allowed to hold candles in worship, or any number of other energy-sapping adiaphorous issues.

2013-12-23 08.40.58For the Nativity of the Lord, the Revised Common Lectionary offers three separate options. Churches with worship on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day might choose to use different sets of readings. How did you go about selecting your readings? Some worshippers only expect to hear the birth of Jesus on Christmas– are you including any readings aside from the Gospel?

The Gospel options are Luke 2:1-20 (or selected verses) and John 1:1-14. The nativity story from Luke focuses more on shepherds and angels than on the holy family. The angel has already appeared to Mary (in Luke) and Joseph (in Matthew), and it seems that they have accepted God’s calling to parent the Messiah together. Contrary to popular belief, there is no innkeeper and no animals named in Luke’s nativity. For the preacher seeking to be faithful to the biblical witness – will you address the problems of harmonizing the Gospel accounts and adding embellishments from tradition, or let them lie another year?

John has a very different tone than Luke. Instead of the detailed dialogue and internal reflection of Luke, John brings a cosmic vision of the second person of the Trinity. The phrase “in the beginning” evokes the creation of the world, yet the reference to John grounds us firmly in a particular time and place. And while the bookend verses are hopeful and lovely, the ones in the middle remind us of our sin. Some of us have not accepted Jesus as divine. What does that mean today?

Other assigned readings come from Isaiah, the Psalms, Titus, and Hebrews. These passages are powerful. Though they do not relate the birth narrative, they do reveal more to us about who Jesus really is. Can you incorporate one or more of these readings in to your sermon for the day? Which one speaks to you most clearly?

Some other questions to consider this week:

  • What does your worship schedule look like for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day? Have you scheduled time for sleep and self-care?
  • Which Bible passages will you be using this weekend? Might you consider preaching on something other than the Gospel lesson?
  • If you plan to focus on the holy family in your sermon, how will you relate them to the present day? Will you name the conflict in Syria, and the parallels between their struggles and the holy family’s? Who else bears resemblance to Christ today, with whom your people may be able to identify?
  • How do you, personally, celebrate Christmas? Aside from leading worship, in what ways will you celebrate the birth of our savior?

Whatever your schedule for the next few days, however you choose to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, whatever other commitments or concerns you have right now, I pray that you’ll be able to find joy in the coming of the Messiah! Christmas blessings to all of you. I look forward to reading your comments and ideas.


Katya Ouchakof is co-pastor of Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She blogs at Provocative Proclamations. Her Christmas list includes world peace, an end to gender-based discrimination and violence, Star Wars toys, and a good night’s sleep with nowhere to be in the morning.


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: RevGalBlogPals, Revised Common Lectionary | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Preacher Party: Wilderness of Judea Edition

img005Welcome to the second Sunday in the season of Advent! Today’s Gospel lesson brings us the story of John the Baptist, baptizing believers as they confessed their sins, shouting accusations at the Pharisees and Sadducees, and prophesying the coming of the Messiah. With whom do you relate most closely this week – John, Jesus, Pharisees and Sadducees, or those confessing their sins? With whom can your people most closely relate? There are so many angles to take when addressing John’s ministry – preparing the way of the Lord, baptism for repentance, accusation of the authorities, prediction of judgment to come. Which perspective will you take this Sunday?

The Revised Common Lectionary also offers Isaiah 11:1-10 – a shoot shall come out of the stump of Jesse, righteousness will be around his waist, the lion and lamb shall live together and a little child will lead them. Beautiful imagery. How can it be applied to the world today? Perhaps each one of us could take on the role of the shoot from Jesse’s tree, guided by the values of righteousness and equity. Psalm 72 follows the same theme with a king who judges in righteousness.

Romans 15 encourages us to live in harmony with one another, and to welcome one another, including (or especially) the Gentiles. Most of us are preaching to congregations filled with Gentiles. As those who have been warmly welcomed in to our faith tradition by others, what is our obligation to people who are on the margins of society today?

Additional discussion on the RCL readings can be found on this page. You might also check out Karolyn Lewis’ reflection on the place of John’s prophesy on Working Preacher, or the call to prophetic preaching at ON Scripture.

In the Narrative Lectionary, the prophet Joel calls us to return to the Lord, to rend your hearts and not your clothing, so that God’s spirit might be poured out upon all people. Traditionally reserved for Pentecost, this passage can bring new meaning to the season of Advent. How do you interpret Mary’s song, knowing that God’s spirit may be poured out upon her? Does the meaning of the incarnation change if you consider the possibility of God’s presence within all people? Additional NL discussion can be found here.

During Advent, some churches are working on a Christmas program with the Sunday School kids, or following a topical preaching series. Your worship order may have changed to accommodate the lighting of the Advent wreath or a new Communion liturgy. Following an idea that I stole from an online colleague last year, my congregation will be collecting baby items throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons, to be blessed on Epiphany and then donated to the local domestic violence shelter. What is important in your community at this time of year?

Wherever you are in your preparation, welcome to the party! Pull up a chair, settle in for some writing, and share the virtual snacks. Blessings in your worship preparations!


canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a certified canoeing instructor, occasional hospital chaplain, aunt to the best kids in the world, and a devout Star Wars fan. Katya is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and blogs periodically at Provocative Proclamation.


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: 11th Hour Preacher Party, RevGalBlogPals | Tags: , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary: An ADVENTure in Justice and Peace

Revised Common Lectionary readings for the Second Sunday in Advent, Year A from Venderbilt Divinity School.

Peace.Where's the Peace?

We could all use a little peace right now.

There are battles all over the world, but the situation in Syria is especially dire. Many people live in oppression. People are protesting over lack of clean water, or fear of losing clean water. Acts of terror seem to pop up everywhere. There are threats of violence, and threats of retaliation.

Is peace without justice at best a cessation of hostilities and, at worst, the normalization of oppression?

Those of us lighting the Advent candle of Peace have Paul offering us

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

but are also challenged to think of peace that follows one about whom Isaiah writes

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

While in Matthew, John the Baptist calls out religious leaders with

You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Perhaps the resolution lies in the words of the Psalmist, who writes about justice:

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

I’m inclined toward the differentiation between imposing our idea of what is right (or winning) and reaching toward justice that seeks to hear, involve, and benefit all people. Okay, I’m more than just inclined: I’ve already written it into the confession for Sunday.

But I still struggle with language like “with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked,” “crush the oppressor,” and “every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire,” because we so often think we know who is wicked and who does not bear good fruit. Worse yet, we often want to help in the killing, crushing, and throwing into the fire.

How do we strive for God’s justice, when in our hearts we want to win, and punish the loser so we won’t be challenged again?

As usual, The Text This Week has some awesome resources.

The United Network for Justice & Peace in Palestine & Israel has some worship resources for Advent 2 (these are from 2013, but still year A).

Some insights on Advent 2 and peace are at Preaching Peace.

For those interested in mimetic theory, especially as it pertains to violence, there are some resources at the Girardian Lectionary.

  • Where are you headed this week?
  • Is this the Sunday of Peace for you? Or are you lighting the candle of Acceptance, Preparation, the Prophets, John the Baptist, or something else?
    • How do the readings connect with your Advent liturgy – or does it?
    • What challenges are you finding in connecting the texts with your liturgy?
  • On what resources are you leaning?

Please share your answers and, even more, your questions.


Cindi Knox is pastor of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Evanston. She blogs at RevCindi.


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: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary: Who Reigns? Edition

Christ the King Sunday has long been my least favorite day in the church year. To begin with, most of us haven’t had any experiences with kings aside from characters in fairy tales or movies. I don’t like to think of the Messiah as being comparable to, say the King of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Even the king as royal figurehead is a fading image, given the 64-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Only three countries in the world are still governed by absolute monarchies. Unless you are preaching to a congregation in Saudi Arabia, in my opinion, it is very difficult to reclaim the image of a king for modern society.

bible-1806079_1280

More importantly, I take issue with Christ the King Sunday because the masculinity of Jesus is often celebrated on other days of the year. Rarely have I worshiped in any denomination, in any geographic location, where Jesus was not referred to as brother, son, or king at least once. What does it say to women and girls that their savior is male? How can this theological belief influence their relationships with the men in their lives? What influence might the image of Jesus as a powerful man have over those who are being abused by the powerful men in their lives? We are not doing girls and women any favors by celebrating the traditional male roles that Jesus can fill. Perhaps if we also celebrated “Christ the Mother Hen Sunday” I would feel less frustrated about the celebration of Jesus as king on the Sunday before Advent every year.

Having said all that, I know that many churches around the world, including mine, will be honoring Christ as king this coming Sunday. Renaming this day to Reign of Christ Sunday is one way to soften the imagery of the day and make it more inclusive. Yet, given the political turmoil in many of our communities, it may not be any more helpful to see Jesus as a generic ruler than it is to see him as a king. Those of us in the United States are preparing for the presidency of a man who won the second-highest number of votes. Around the world, there have been breaking of past alliances and outright insults of people from other countries, not to mention countless ongoing conflicts and the refugee crisis. Celebrating the rule of Jesus seems both more necessary in today’s political climate, and more difficult because of the lack of appropriate people with whom to compare him.

A popular theme of Reign of Christ Sunday has been that Jesus is not your typical king – he rules out of humility rather than power. This is obvious in Year C because the story of Jesus’ crucifixion is assigned for this day. In a time when so many are disenchanted with their political leaders, Jesus’ self-sacrifice can provide a more genuine example of leadership. This might be a meaningful approach to the day for this year. The rest of the RCL readings provide additional images and ideas for describing who Jesus is, as a ruler and a savior.

November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance. You might consider adding a prayer for transgender folks, or even naming those who have died in the past year. You can find an updated list of those who have been killed on this page. One idea I have heard to repurpose this day in honor of transgender folks who have died is to celebrate Christ the Queen Sunday. What might that look like? Appropriating another’s language and culture is never appropriate, but if this image would work in your context, it is something that you might consider.

Blessings to you in your reading, writing, worship prep, and pastoral duties this week. Please share your questions and ideas below!


canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, occasional hospital chaplain, freelance writer, professional canoeing instructor, and Star Wars enthusiast. She blogs occasionally at Provocative Proclamations.


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: RevGalBlogPals, Revised Common Lectionary | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary: Exalted and Humbled Edition

How do you pray? Between last week’s persistent widow and this week’s Pharisee and tax collector, there are lots of examples of prayer in Jesus’ teachings at this point in the lectionary. Will you be exploring the topic of prayer with your community this week? Alternately, the point about the humbled being exalted (and vice versa) is counter-cultural and hopefully good news for your listeners. Maybe this is the message to focus on this week. Or perhaps you have found another sermon direction for this Sunday. Please share your ideas and insights below!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOther Revised Common Lectionary themes this week include righteousness and judgment (in 2 Timothy), beyond judgment to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2), and trust in God’s forgiveness (Jeremiah 14). If you’re in the middle of stewardship season, the alternate lesson from Sirach provides a great tie-in!

October approaches the end of the season of Pentecost, or ordinary time. It’s a good time to plan for the liturgical days and seasons that are soon to come, but also a time when other events sometimes get squeezed in because there aren’t church holidays. What is important to your congregation at this point in the year? Perhaps it’s time for a topical sermon series, a harvest festival, or a celebration of some specific ministries of the church. Wherever you find yourself in your thought process and preparation, please join in the conversation!


canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, occasional hospital chaplain, freelance writer, professional canoeing instructor, and Star Wars enthusiast. She blogs occasionally at Provocative Proclamations.


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: RevGalBlogPals, Revised Common Lectionary, Tuesday Lectionary Leanings | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary: In the Bosom of Abraham

While in seminary, I preached a sermon on this Gospel lesson that I still remember as one of my more mediocre moments in worship leadership. While the sermon itself could have used some improvement, I think that the point I preached holds true: we are all Lazarus. And we are all the rich man. Or at least, we have been at some point or another in our lives. Sometimes we are the poor person, desperately hoping for the goodwill of another to help make our lives a little easier. Sometimes we are the self-absorbed rich man, unwilling to see the need right in front of us, and even less willing to inconvenience ourselves with a response. Sometimes we are Lazarus, welcomed warmly into God’s presence, and sometimes we are the person finding ourselves unexpectedly in a place of torment.

richmanlazarusgebhardt

Where are you today in relationship with this Gospel passage? Where is your congregation? What message does your community need to hear this week?

Other interesting points to note about Luke 16:19-31 are that the rich man is never named, even though the poor man is. Does this say something about God’s sense of who is truly important or valuable in the world? What does it mean that the man who is embraced by Abraham after death has the same name as the man Jesus raised from the dead? Perhaps there is no connection – or perhaps the name “Lazarus” is meant to remind us of that other man by the same name, who was so beloved by Jesus that he wept at his tomb and raised him back to life. Additionally, this parable is unique to Luke. How does this story fit in with Luke’s overarching themes of wealth and justice for the poor, and inclusion for all people?

Other RCL texts for this weekend include a passage from Jeremiah 32 that would frighten even experienced lectors! If you can get past all the complicated names of people and places, you hear the good news that it is time to settle in and buy some land, because God is going to restore the people to Judah. Psalm 91 gives beautiful imagery of God’s protection and salvation to all who “abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

The RCL also offers a choice from Amos 6, prophesying the demise of the wealthy who avoid the poor in their midst. Psalm 146 sings praises to God, listing some of the highlights of God’s interaction with humankind.

1 Timothy 6 carries a possible connection to the Luke passage, reminding us that we brought nothing into this world and can take nothing out of it. Rather than money, faithful people are to pursue godliness, love, gentleness, and all kinds of other admirable characteristics. A lofty goal but a good one – so how can you encourage folks to work towards it?

Where are you headed with the texts this week? How might they resonate with your community? Please share your ideas and comments below. Blessings in your writing and worship preparations!

 

========

canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI, part-time hospital chaplain, and certified canoeing instructor. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and has recently given her blog a facelift: Provocative Proclamation.

 

******

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: Lectionary Leanings, RevGalBlogPals, Revised Common Lectionary | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.