Sometimes when I set out to preach from the Revised Common Lectionary I feel like calling someone from the Consultation on Common Texts to get the scoop on why the group settled on a particular set of pericopes. This week, Isaiah’s marriage metaphor and Jesus’ miraculous transformation of water into wedding wine are an obvious match. The rationale for including 1 Corinthians 12:1-11’s discussion of spiritual gifts is less clear.
This past week I have shifted into a new phase of ministry, which has necessitated saying goodbye to the congregation that I have served with joy over the past ten years. I was sad to leave, but excited for new possibilities.
I was especially good at holding my emotions together over the entire transition, and though I am notorious for “losing it” in worship at the first sign of sentimentality, I held it together through all of my lasts—until it came to the last moment I would be at the church with my now eight-year-old son.
I'll admit it: I'm one of those people who, back in the 90s, learned Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" and played it note for note without even realizing it was written by the great Leonard Cohen. Glad to say I'd moved on by the time The West Wing, Scrubs and !@#$% Shrek got hip to the song, but still: no excuse for that.
If you graduated from college, you know the drill. Every so often a magazine arrives in your mailbox, full of glossy photos of happy, successful people. Some of them might be the professors who taught you oh so many years ago. Some of them might be silver-haired philanthropists who are leaving a legacy for their beloved alma mater. And some of them are younger than you. . .
A while back I spent a good chunk of a week at a denominational pastors' retreat in the Alberta foothills just north of Calgary. One of the things we did during our worship times each day was spend some time “dwelling in the Word.” The specific text we focused on each session was Luke 7:36-50, the story where Jesus is anointed by a “sinful woman” at the home of Simon the Pharisee. It’s a scandalous story—a woman of ill repute showing up a bunch of religious elites, crashing their party with her sensuous, inappropriate display of penitence, love, and devotion.