Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tomorrow's Interesting Readings

Jeremiah 28:5-9
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42

Straight up confession to fellow Kiwis. I cannot get too excited about the possibility of speaking about Te Pouhere - the Constitution (of our church) this Sunday 26th June, which day to celebrate Te Pouhere it is on our local ecclesial calendar. But if I were to choose that, what a dog's breakfast for a prospective Pouhere preacher lies in our lectionary - multiple gospel readings. What's with that? Why not one this year, another next and work on a four year cycle? Our constitution is a good thing, but I suggest there are better ways to attend to it than in a sermon. (Were I a vicar I might write an insert for the parish newsheet).

So the standard, non-dog's breakfast readings it is. An interesting set (here the Related readings rather than the Continuous) so Jeremiah (False Prophecy) and Matthew (one theme is 'prophets') are related, though perhaps here more like cousins than siblings, let alone parent and child. Romans then sticks out a bit like a sore hitch-hiker's thumb, pointing in a seemingly different direction: sin/righteousness, law/grace, death/life.

I quite like the challenge of interesting sets of readings such as this. One of my principles in preaching is to have 'one message' - whatever is said coheres around a single theme so that hearers leave the service with one and only one message to recall. What is the single theme in this set? Is there one?

Incidentally, I think is an honourable strategy to opt to choose one reading and major the sermon on that, but I encourage some reference, even just a sentence, to the other readings. But back to our set. Is there a single theme?

Re-reading Matthew 10:40-42 we find:

"10:40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

 10:41 Whoever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Whoever receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.

 10:42 And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” "

Hmm. Plenty of potential to get sidetracked into details. What is a "prophet's reward"? What does "in the name of a disciple" mean? (The NET here follows the Greek very closely. Interestingly the ESV interprets this phrase with "because he is a disciple"). But what, if anything, is a potential theme connecting the readings together? What in one sentence is a message we can read out of these readings (not read into them)?

Any thoughts from you are most welcome!

I am posting this c. 6.30 am NZ time ... my own thoughts are coming together, so will offer a postscript later today ... a couple of meetings and other stuff to get through first!

POSTSCRIPT: c. 6.45 pm "The message and messengers of the gospel matter" is what I am working on.
Jeremiah tells us that it matters whether the message we preach is true or false. Jesus tells us that the messengers matter. Paul tells us that the message of the gospel is a matter of life and death.

Just the question of relating all that to the earthquake ...


liturgy said...

Peter, you are a man after my own heart!

Like you, I advocated that people follow RCL . If they want to bring up the Constitution it can be done in the pew sheet, sermon, prayers, a hymn, the use of a variety of languages we share in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The primary focus of the liturgy is celebrating the great acts of God.

I also encourage single-message sermons.

But I discourage too-tightly themed/single-message celebrations. Hence there is no need to squeeze Romans into a Matthew message. RCL provides for a series systematically preaching through Romans this year over more than a dozen Sundays.

For those of your readers outside NZ, it may be difficult to visualise how much variety our church, the “Anglican Church of Or”, provides. The Te Pouhere propers provides one “lesson”, two possibilities for an “Epistle” (apparently the Acts of the Apostles is an Epistle in our church – I still have so much to learn about the ways of the glorious Anglican Church of Or) and four options for a Gospel reading. And NO option for a psalm. That gives (correct me Peter) 29 possible combinations – less if it’s a Eucharist as a Gospel reading is required. With RCL options and Other readings for Mornings – I think I get to something like 66 different variations & combinations for morning options provided in our lectionary. That’s not counting crossing across lectionary groups. Then there’s those places that will Sundayise Corpus Christi. And then, believe it or not! Shock horror! There are even places that don’t follow the lectionary. Clearly there aren’t enough options.



Peter Carrell said...

I would just throw the phrase "at least" in front of your numbers to cover all eventualities, Bosco!

Father Ron Smith said...

Ditto. We at St. Michael and All Angels, Christchurch, will be following the RCL (related) Readings tomorrow. I am privileged to preside at the 10am Sung mass, in order to celebrate my 30th year as a priest in the Church of God. Alleluia

Those of us who attend a Daily Mass Church are used to following the daily lectionary as well as Sundays - including all the High Days and Holy days - The Scriptures can be so exciting! And one is often surprised at the sheer aptness of the readings on any particular day!

Pax et Bonum! (St.Francis)

(p.s. Diana and I will be in Europa - earthquakes and Chile Ash Clouds permitting - for the next7 weeks so will only be looking in very occasionally on ADU. You lucky lot!)

Anonymous said...

Do you not have the Psalms in your readings?

Psalm 13 - Cracker!!!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron: Congrats on 30 years and best wishes for trip.

Hi Joshua: Psalms are a fairly routine omission in many of our parish liturgies, but not in all!

liturgy said...

Tragically. We were once a church characteristically praying the psalms monthly – now, Peter says “Psalms are a fairly routine omission in many of our parish liturgies” and no one reflects deeply on the shift in our corporate and individual spirituality. We tend to have done very little reflection on liturgical renewal – the cry for decluttering the liturgical vestibule has not reached here yet. So, right up to episcopally-led Eucharistic liturgies, we spend a lot of time and energy preparing for the readings – so much so that when we finally do get to them we are too exhausted to have a decent feed. Even to reducing it to one reading! Add to this the widespread NZ practice of a lay co-presider – once you have one of these, you have to give them something to do –another driver of our overburdened Gathering Rite at the expense of the Liturgy of the Word. [Let’s not even go to pointing out that praying the Daily Office would be a minority discipline in NZ – even amongst clergy – so psalms are not the crown in which the jewel sits].

Father Ron Smith said...

Joshua. Yes, we do have the Psalms - often led by Cantor and Choir.

Thanks, Peter, for your kind remarks.
I do hope the quakes simmer down a little during our sojourn abroad. Will be praying for y'all. Agape.

Anonymous said...

I was gong to say Peter, preach the Psalms!