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Brainstorming: the dog days of parables

Beginning with Ordinary 15 and running through, oh, all summer, it’s parable season in the lectionary. What are you doing with your Ordinary Time this summer? Do you have creative seeds you hope to see grow? Do you need ideas? Do you have liturgical, symbolic, musical, decorational, or other ideas you want to bounce off a community planning worship together? Here’s a spot to talk about what to do with that long stretch of green paraments.

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  1. We use green for Ordinary Time (and Kingdomtide later) to symbolize our growth in faith or even a hope of eternal life, an eternal greenness. But so often the green becomes a dull background for a long stretch of the church calendar without any interruption. The green becomes detached from the symbols of growth and is a dull banner or parament.

    I know many churches use flowers in their decoration, often given in honor/memory of a person or event. But what if the plants moved from just being decoration to being a symbol of the season. What if week by week a new plant(s) was brought in to symbolize the growth. And not vases of arrangements but potted plants that continually grew and changed and bloomed. And as these plants multiplied and grew a congregation could really see growth in a tangible way.

    I may play with this idea and see where it leads me. I think I might not even mention it to anyone and just see what happens as I bring in more and more potted plants. Maybe even invite some members to bring in a potted plan or two over the summer.

    Maybe no one will make the connection with our growth in faith and the growing plants and maybe some will, but it will be different and I bet really pretty.

  2. I love the idea of having new/more/growing plants around. That’s very cool.

    I am trying to figure out what to do about the parable of the sower. I’m so tired of the normal ways we think about that parable. We’ve decided to have a Taize service that day for one of our services. The other service will, I think, have some kind of guided meditation instead of preaching. But I still need some liturgical brilliance to appear (not to mention brilliance in the writing-the-meditation arena). I’m also not entirely certain which Taize songs to pick to help people enter this story in a new way…ideas?

    We have a banner that has a hand pouring seeds onto the earth, and the banner says “surprise us, Lord, as a seed surprises itself.” I pretty much love it…and want to work that into the whole thing somehow. Are the seeds surprised? Is the soil? Are we? How do we interact with this story without using the traditional “make yourself better soil” interpretation?

  3. I worked my way through the parables three years ago – – my first shot through the lectionary as a solo pastor, and my first time really working with our A/V capabilities ta my church. This year I’m planning to run with the Genesis stories, conveniently starting the NEXT week, so I’m skipping Isaac’s sacrifice. Hee hee. Actually I didn’t really do that on purpose, but it worked out. I REALLY want to do the Jacob/Joseph stuff, but that’s on schedule when I’m on vacation. I might shift things around to get to that earlier.

    I’m having a sort of story-telling theme to keep things fresh for the congregation and me. At least once a month I’m being intentional about having folks telling their own faith stories in worship. We did it a few weeks ago on Memorial Day. We’ll do it again in July when I’m planning a service that will have folks sharing stories from Scripture that have had an important influence in their lives (the service will have a slight nod toward the KJV anniversary). This week we take our regular worship outside to the front lawn of the church. It will be somewhat more casual so instead of a standard sermon I am learning/memorizing Sandy Eisenberg Sasso’s “God Said Amen” and will tell that story (of welcoming and being sent), tying it into the gospel and the baptism we will celebrate after. The sacrament of baptism being a sacrament of welcome and sending.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. I haven’t really planned of anything physical to do to our space when we get to the Genesis narratives, but maybe I’ll think of a symbol we can add up front, one each week, to tie it all together.

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