Posts Tagged With: Revised Common 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.

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RCL:You have Heard

I apologize to all of you faithful RevGalPals for being so late getting this together. My family has been down qith the stomach bug that is hitting the south in epidemic proportions.

This weeks RCL readings can be found here.oldyoungwoman

There is a picture we studied in one of my psychology classes that has always intrigued me. It was a picture of a woman. The thing about it was it depended on your state of mind which woman you saw. It took me a while, but eventually I was able to switch back and forth between the young and old woman.

The scriptures from the revised common lectionary this week invite us to look at things from a new perspective.

Jesus’ words from Matthew challenge preconceived notions of the way things should be. Over and Over again Jesus says “You have heard it said, but I say.” These words are an invitation to see the world in a different light. These words offer the opportunity to view the world with eyes of love instead of vengeance; with hope instead of fear, with joy not loss. These words offer the opportunity to engage with the world through a completely different paradigm, one of abundance instead of scarcity.

I watched a video in seminary of Walter Wink and his approach to this passage which has changed the way I read this part of Matthew’s Gospel. You can find a youtube video of it here. (It is long, but good)

But Jesus’ words are not all easy to hear. His words of divorce may ring strangely in our modern ears. We must remember that marriage in Jesus’ day was not the same as marriage in most of our societies. Perhaps this was Jesus protecting women in a way that had never been considered?

What things will you be preaching dear pals?

What questions do these scriptures bring to your heart?

Please share your journey through the word with us.


Cardelia Howell-Diamond pastors a small Cumberland Presbyterian Church in northern Alabama. She is the mother of three children, all of which have had the stomach bug back to back since Friday. She blogs at randomrevhd.blogspot.com.


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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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.

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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.

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RCL: Christmas Continues

bombed-932108_1280

If we are listening, I’m quite certain we can still hear Rachel weeping for her children. It isn’t exactly what we want to be thinking about with Christmas candles still burning, though, is it? For decades I have avoided preaching on this passage from Matthew. The other texts this week are much more uplifting and lend themselves well to praise-filled sermons.

Perhaps you have chosen to lift up Isaiah’s reminder that out of “pity and love” we are saved in our distress. There’s a timeliness to a message on where redemption comes from. All throughout Advent Isaiah cautioned us about trusting human ways over holy ways and this is a clear statement that redemption doesn’t come out of human ways.

Psalm 148 could be the basis for a message filled with praise. Perhaps a reminder of all that God has done for us is appropriate as Christmas convictions begin to fade.

The Hebrews passage serves as a reminder that we are siblings in Christ, that Jesus walked among us for a reason. While I find some of the theology in this passage challenging, the message of Christ’s on-going presence with us could be reassuring as well as an invitation to walk through life more intentionally.

And now we come to the Matthew text. I will be preaching on this text, as you might have surmised. The image of Rachel weeping for her slaughtered children is one that I cannot shake. It seems to me that we still have not figured out how to protect our children from the Herods of today. It won’t be a welcome message in the midst of Christmastide, but a necessary one. The innocents of this world are still being slaughtered in Syria for sure. And in how many other places? And we who walk in the Light, what are we doing to provide safety and refuge? What has this to do with manger scenes and Christmas carols?

The Christmas story that we have cleaned up into a story for children isn’t actually that. It is a messy story with lots of risk involved. If we have indeed made it to Bethlehem to kneel before the Christ-child, then we cannot continue on in the same fashion as before. At the very least, we have to recognize with Isaiah that God redeemed us and we cannot redeem ourselves. When truly confronted with God breaking into the world, we have little choice but to sing God’s praises with the Psalmist. Similarly, when we see the fragile beauty of the babe born in Bethlehem, we are confronted with our own fragility and need for this One who will unite us as siblings, as Paul pointed out. And the ultimate risk is in recognizing that Jesus embodied so much of what the world continues to reject, if not outright slaughter. Jesus was born into a family without a home and later became a refugee, and, later still, wasn’t entirely welcome in the town where he made his home.

This story is fraught with risk. If we claim it as our own, we claim it in its fullness – from the messy, smelly, noisy birth through the flight to Egypt and everything that follows. This really isn’t a story for children. This is a story for people willing to risk kinship with the One who is the Light the world keeps trying to extinguish.

Wherever the Spirit is leading you this week, please join in the conversation so we can continue this messy, risky journey together.


Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, vlog, and books at Beachtheology.com.


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.


Photo: CC0 image by tookapic

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RCL: Papa Joe

notthefatherIn this week’s Revised common lectionary readings we get the story of Papa Joe. Joseph is the much overlooked person in the birth story of Christ. I often find myself wondering just how he must have felt about the whole thing. Matthew tells us that he is visited by an angel who tells him not to set Mary aside, but rather to continue his plans to marry her even though she is expecting a child that is not his.

To me this can read like an odd super early version of the Maury Povich Show. “Joseph, you are NOT the father.” (an unholy analogy, but what comes to mind)

How would Joseph react in our modern day to such an occurrence? He would have been well within his rights to toss Mary aside and move on to greener pastures. But he doesn’t. Joseph remains faithful to Mary even when he’s not 100% sure she’s been faithful to him.

Perhaps that’s the way to look at this passage, as Joseph showing Mary and Jesus the kind of love that God shows all of us. Even when we are not faithful, even when we are ashamed, even when the world condemns us, God will not abandon us. God comes alongside us and offeres to provide for us. God leans in close and says “I will be with you, always.”

What things are you pondering on this fourth Sunday of Advent?

How might you work the theme of love into your sermon?

Perhaps you will use one of the other texts, found here.

Prayers for you my fellow preachers, may you feel God walk alongside of you as you prepare to preach the word.

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The Reverend Cardelia Howell-Diamond is the overwhelmed mother of three and solo pastor of a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in North Alabama. This Advent season she has been preaching on the theme of “The End of the World as We Know It” and feels that more and more everyday!
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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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Revised Common Lectionary: Joy

What then did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in soft robes?
Someone reclining in comfort?
Someone with an unending smile?

What then did you expect to see
when you went looking for joy?

This coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary readings combine to provide a picture of joy that — while familiar in the Advent season — is wildly unfamiliar to everyday life.

What does joy look like?

Joy looks like
a desert in bloom.
(Isaiah 35:1)

Joy looks like the tongue
of the speechless singing.
(Isaiah 35:6)

Joy looks like people
traveling together
without getting lost.
(Isaiah 35:8)

Joy looks like justice.
(Psalm 146:7)

Joy looks like freedom.
(Psalm 146:7)

Joy looks like ruin
to the wicked.
(Psalm 146:9)

Joy looks like
power deflated.
(Luke 1:52)

Joy looks like
a promise
still waiting.
(James 5:7)

Joy looks like
preparation.
(Matthew 11:10)

advent maryWhat does joy look like — for you, for your community? What does it look like for Mary, if you’re preaching on the Magnificat (Luke 1)? What does it look like for ancient Israel in a season of political crisis, if you’re preaching on Isaiah 35?

What sermonic joy is flowing from your fingers in preparation for this coming Sunday’s Advent worship? What joy is singing in your spirit or straining for new imagination? Join your joy (and your brainstorms and your worship plans) with others in the comments below as we prepare for this coming Advent Sunday.

 


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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Revised Common Lectionary: All Things New

Reflecting on the Revised Common Lectionary texts for this coming Sunday, November 13:

Be glad! Rejoice forever!
God is creating new heavens & a new earth!
(Isaiah 65:17-18)

There is a day coming
when evil will stumble (Malachi 4:1),
when the complacent and the lovers of the
status quo will be revealed (2 Thessalonians 3:11),
when those who put their faith in the structures
and institutions of this world (Luke 21:6)
will tremble before heaven’s signs and they

will be called upon to do what is right.

Yes, that means you/us too.

You will say in that day:
Give thanks to the LORD!
Tell the world what God has done!
(Isaiah 12:4)

No matter whether you follow or falter,
make a joyful noise to the LORD!
Hear the sea roar, listen to the hills sing!
Celebrate God’s victory, for the LORD has done
and is doing new & marvelous things! 
(Psalm 98)

Have you felt it — the new thing that God is doing? Have you heard its song in the air? Have you rolled in its joy like a pile of crunchy autumn leaves?

No? (Me neither, most days.) What is weighing you down so much that you can’t envision it, taste it, touch it, dream of it, call out its name, share its good news, work for its realization? What are the burdens of those to whom you preach this week, the strains & stresses that prevent these texts from feeling like the early glimpse of Advent’s promises that they are?

I can think of a few reasons, among many others:

  • Globally, the manifestations of xenophobia are compromising, challenging, worrying our collective spirit: from the reactions to refugee resettlement…to the ongoing injustices against indigenous communities…to the perpetuation of racism and sexism.
  • In the US context, stress has been sky-high through the presidential election season, and many RevGals & Pals will be stepping into pulpits post-election this Sunday.
  • Some among us are preaching during the annual stewardship season, as churches look ahead to 2017 and consider their budgets, their ministries and their maintenance.

e8df7-hickspeaceableBe glad! Rejoice forever! The LORD is doing a new thing!

See the wolf and the lamb!

See the vineyards ripe with fruit!

How will you bring good news and imagination to your sermonizing this week? What are the current events (local and global) that contribute to your particular audience’s encouragement or discouragement? Do you yourself have a strong sense of what God’s new thing is … or are you searching for it, straining after it, waiting patiently for it?

Join the conversation in the comments here, and share your worries & wonders of sermon prep.


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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Revised Common Lectionary: Words Matter

You have heard it said,
“Words don’t matter.
Locker room words.
Political words.
Loud words.
Behind-closed-door words.”
But I tell you:
Words matter.

Words of belonging matter:
“I will be their God, and they shall be
my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Words of naming matter:
“You shall be called Israel, because
you have striven with God and with humans
and you have prevailed. (Genesis 32:28)

Words of commitment matter:
“Your law is my meditation
all day long.” (Psalm 119:97)

Words of assurance matter:
“The LORD will not let your foot be moved.
The One who keeps you will not rest.” (Psalm 121:3)

Words of persistence and protest matter:
“Grant me justice against my opponent!” (Luke 18:3)

Words of integrity matter:
“Proclaim the message with
the utmost patience in teaching.
While others wander away to myths and
chase their desires, carry out your ministry fully.”
(2 Timothy 4:2-5)

So then teach and preach words with integrity,
honor one another’s name and naming,
support protest and add your own persistence,
be faithful in your commitments and
be quick with the comfort of assurance;
and above all — marry word & deed
so that all people belong.

  • What words of good news are you finding in this coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary texts — for yourself, for your faith community, for this world?
  • How are you shaping this Sunday’s sermonic words to demonstrate and invite deepening commitment to God and to all God’s people?
  • Does your faith community/preaching context need room to wrestle with words & life & faith? This Sunday’s texts raise many hard questions: “Are we living in a season of plucking or planting?” (Jeremiah 31:28) “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) “From where does our help come?” (Psalm 121:1) … and before you reply too quickly that “Our help comes from God,” consider the problem of theodicy: “Does God delay in helping those who cry out day & night?” (Luke 18:7)

Add your preaching notes, your sermonic struggles, your blogpost links, and more in the comments. Join the conversation to support & inspire your fellow preachers toward Sunday!

words-matter


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ (US) 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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Revised Common Lectionary: With Gratitude

I recently began bullet journaling. It is a process described in its most basic form by modern creator/guru Ryder Carrol . I have incorporated more artistic ways of keeping track of schedule, time, lists, etc. (more along the line of Boho berry )

image One of my favorite things to keep up with is a gratitude log. My gratitude long is a small way everyday to find people/things/events/conveniences I am thankful for and take note in a tangible way. There are some days when this is ridiculously easy to do, and others where gratitude seems to be the most difficult thing to find. But there is always something to be thankful for, even if sometimes it’s just the ability to take a breath or think clearly enough to search for gratitude.
In our Revised Common Lectionary readings we find a thread of thanksgiving in the midst of all circumstances.
In Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 God tells the people to build buildings and buy land even though they are in exile. Their well being will be tied to the wellbeing of the nation in which they dwell. A good reminder to all of us whose citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven but dwell in earthly lands where other powers reside. We should offer gratitude for these lands and lift them up to God in prayer.
In Psalm 66:1-12 the psalmist sends out a call of gratitude reminding the author and the people of God that God has been faithful and will continue to be faithful, even in the highest of waves and the darkest of nights. A good word for all of us as we begin efforts to help Haiti and other countries begin to recover from hurricane Matthew.
2 Timothy 2:8-15 remind disciples of the Christ that even in their suffering there are many things to be thankful for, especially the salvation given through Christ.
Luke 17:11-19 tells the story of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. Only one of them, a Samaritan, returns to give thanks for his healing. I find it particularly interesting that the one that returns is the Samaritan, an outcast among outcasts. What might that mean in our current contexts?
Today I am starting my second day of vacation. While it has been far from perfect, a late arrival, sick child, wicked sunburn, 6 people in a small RV, the death of a church member; I am grateful.
I am grateful for a few days off of my everyday schedule.
I am grateful that my parents have this RV and are willing to let me and my children invade it for a while.
I am grateful for the beautiful sunrises and sunsets I’ve witnessed.
I’m grateful for being able to see the beach through my children’s eyes.
I’m thankful for a spouse who encouraged me to take this trip even though he could not get the time off of work to join us.
I am grateful for the women answering phones, taking food, watering plants at church so that I could leave.
I am grateful for technology that allows me to write and study miles away from my office.
I am grateful for all of you; faithful preachers and teachers who will study and bring God’s word to God’s people; for the community gathered here that surrounds us all with support we sometimes lack in real life.
I am grateful. i AM grateful. I am GRATEFUL.


The Reverend Cardelia Howell-Diamond (blogger known as RevHD or cpclergymama) is a Cumberland Presbyterian Minister currently serving a congregation in Alabama. While a part of her heart resides in Texas, the land of her birth, the rest of her lives with her clergyman husband and their three littles ages 11,8, and 4. Cardelia posts sermons at randomrevhd.blogspot.com  and has links there to her publications.


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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