There is a running joke among preachers that if the lessons seem too tough to tackle, you can always “preach the collect” or, in the absolute worst case scenario, “preach the Lord’s Prayer.” I’ve preached the collect a time or two, but never have I been so bold as to preach the Lord’s Prayer.
During the time of Elijah’s ministry, while the LORD was particularly angry with Ahab and his Ba’al-worshiping wife Jezebel, God shut off the rain in the fertile crescent for three years. It was a drought of epic proportions. It was a mess in those days, and people were hungry everywhere.
On August 1, 2009, The Mobile Press-Register published an article written by Greg Garrison of the Religion News Service entitled, “Heaven? Sure. Hell? Not so much.” Shortly thereafter, a parishioner of ours brought in a copy for me and wondered aloud, “Why don’t we talk about hell any more?” It just so happened that the answer to his question appeared in the teaser quote right at the top of the article.
This Sunday’s lectionary texts are particularly awful. I’m like the boy who cried wolf with bad lectionary selections, but hear me out on this one. At my church, we are using track two, the thematic track, of the RCL. Here are the lessons for Sunday.
Sometimes preaching in a lectionary church is like being Philip in Acts 8—the Spirit plucks us up and drops us where ever she darn well pleases. It is necessarily this way, certainly. Between the thematic requirements of the seasons of the church year and the sheer length of the four Gospels spread out over 156 Sundays, there is no way we can read all four in their entirety in three years. So, we skip stuff. Especially in Year B, as we try to mash the shortest Gospel, Mark, together with the other Gospel, John, together in some supposedly coherent way.
For about three and a half years, from 11th grade until the summer after my freshman year in college, I was convinced that I was going to be an engineer. My mother worked for a civil engineering firm at the time, and so I knew what it took to be successful. I enjoyed high school physics. I was pretty good at math.
The psalm appointed for Sunday, despite my reservations expressed on Monday, is quite a piece of liturgical theology. If you look it up in your handy-dandy study Bible (rather than the BCP), you’ll find that it is given both a title and a style heading.
Although only the most daring (read stupid) among us preachers will take on the task, one has the opportunity to preach the scandal-of-the-particular-versus-universalist controversy this Sunday. I say daring (stupid) because it will invariably get you in hot water, but you could, the texts are there, the opportunity is available, but the nuance is tough.
There must have been some Lutherans sitting in that conference room
when the Revised Common Lectionary was birthed. That is the only
explanation that I can come up with for Ephesians 2:1-10 having a role
on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B.
I’ll post on the lessons for Lent 1 for the rest of this week, but
today my thoughts are focused on what to preach for Ash Wednesday in a parish I don’t know very well. Ash Wednesday is probably a top-five
“liturgies that say more than any sermon ever could” service (with
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Ordinations).
Oh Peter, how I love thee. You make my craziness seem normal, thank you.
In the midst of the most amazing thing he had seen to this point, the
Transfiguration, Peter stops being present to the glory just long
enough to say, “Master, it good for us to be here. Let’s build three
dwellings: one for Elijah, one for Moses, and one for you.”
If you’ve spent much time on this blog, you’ll know that I think
rather highly of the collects (the prayers appointed for each Sunday) as
offered in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Some of majestic, some are
beautiful, some are funny, and some, like this Sunday’s, are downright
It seems as though every time I read a well known piece of scripture, I find something I had never seen before. This week in our Lectionary Group, TKT noted that Cleopas and the other disciple stop walking in order to talk to Jesus.
I believe in evil. I believe that evil has a face and hands and pulls a
lot of strings. I have too much experience of strange circumstances
around holy moments to believe anything else. So, though I'm not sure
why yet, I am certain that yesterday afternoon was almost lost to the
It is 3:13 on Thursday afternoon and I still have eight sermons bouncing
around in my skull. I'm not so much worried about tomorrow, I'm certain
this Friday will have enough worries of its own. I'm not even worried
about Saturday evening's five15 because the conversation format means I
don't have to have one direction nailed down when the service starts.