The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 8), July 2, 2023

June 13, 2023 | by Monica Corsaro

Reading 1 Reading 2 Reading 3 Reading 4 Reading 1 Alt Reading 2 Alt
Genesis 22:1-14 Jeremiah 20:7-13 Romans 6 1b-11 Matthew 10:40-42

This week’s lectionary integrates scripture, film, and music. Today’s congregants never receive scripture or sermon in isolation but in context of our cultural images, many of which involve drama and music. Below are some suggestions of some pop culture expressions that could add to your storytelling. This by no means is exhaustive just some that have meaning for me that might get light your imaginations. I have my own tastes and realize there might be some genres missing, use these suggestions to let your creativity flow.

Themes: Identity: Who are we and how are we representing to the world, Potential who can you be? Who God wants us to be.

Key words: Authenticity, integrity, practice, walk the walk, talk the talk

Pop Culture films: Lincoln, 42, Prince of Egypt, Field of Dreams, Do The Right Thing, A Star Is Born, (newest version), LFG a Max documentary about the USA Women’s Soccer team, Saved

Pop Culture Songs: True Colors-Cindy Lauper, Express Yourself- Madonna, Sound of Silence any version

Overriding theme in the texts: You say who you are, but are you?

Troublesome that is a word to describe this text. Famous, known, questioned over and over again. Do we really need a God who “tests” us as is said in verse 1 and is Abraham really the best example of a role model of a “founder father of the faith,” earlier in the texts, he is willing to deny having a wife calls her his sister and is ok with her being in a harem? Troublesome all of it.

Take for example Abraham. Abram who later became Abraham is not perfect. In fact one could call him a scoundrel. But maybe that is the point?

I have been taught by my Rabbi teachers that we are to read the text as metaphor. Ok, ok so that can make the asking of sacrificing one’s own child palpable, yes, are we not aware of all the violence in the Bible against women? And somehow we swallow that?

Maybe we read and preach this text as process philosophers/theologians, so here it goes. The Abram to Abraham character that we have gotten to know is a man whose character is in process. He wants to be

an instrument for God and yet, look at his past actions ( denying wife is his wife and letting her be considered as one of the harem) God at this point “calling out” Abraham so to speak, and says to Abraham, to be a servant means you must listen to me in the now, Abraham if you truly want to serve me which indeed is a hard task, this is what you must do. How many of us need a reminder that to serve God is not easy, romantic, glamourous or even fun.

So God says, take your son and offer him to me as the sacrifice, yuck what kind of God is this?

Wrong question. Think of this as good storytelling not as a story about horrific parenting. We the listener are on the edge of our seat, right? Will Abraham really do it, oh my gosh, he is doing it, he is getting Isaac out of bed, he is getting the supplies, suspense, and it is a fun suspense because we the reader-listener know what happens! We the reader-listener know what the double meaning, when Isaac says to his father in 22:7; “The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for burnt offering?” Get the popcorn!

God is satisfied that Abraham gets the seriousness of following God. God is satisfied that Abram who now known as Abraham has evolved, his faith has grown and is growing into maturity and he will receive blessings. Yes, the story is redeemable if we read it as story to teach us about ourselves, our awareness of who we say we are, who we are, and how we live. So, if we talk the talk, but do we walk the walk? For Jeremiah that is exactly problem he has with Hananiah.

In these verses Jeremiah is responding to Hananiah’s hope for peace. But Jeremiah knows that their exile will not end soon, peace is not coming in the immediate. Jeremiah answers Hananiah in a creative way in vs. 6 “AMEN” in other words. Jeremiah is calling out Hananiah and saying May. It. Be. So. This “Amen” is making the point to Hananiah, I hope you know of what you speak, but I do not believe you. I have been called by God. And when you are called by God you speak truths, not just what people want to hear Hananiah, Hananiah you are not called by God.

Jeremiah continues and reminds the reader-listener that one needs to pay attention when a prophet issues a prophesy of peace, we the one hearing the prophecy should wait…until peace comes, before we discern that God actually sent the Prophet. Jeremiah’s better to be safe than sorry: Verse 9 reads: 28:9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.”

The preacher of process knows that nothing is of God that comes by violence, oppression, repression, control. God is a collaborator with us. Relishes in who we are, not who others want us to become, and it is always a process of discernment for we the called, and the one who calls us.

And then there is Paul talking to us about sin. But let us think about sin in a grown-up way. If we understand sin as separate from God or as a way of living that is not our authentic self then these verses in Romans can really be freeing and in fact liberating. Be yourself, represent to the world who you are inside, your identity is your own and it is sacred! 6:12 Therefore do not let your sin (separateness from God) exercise dominion in your mortal bodies to make you obey your passions. This is not about certain sex act behaviors, this is about who we are. Paul gets into behaviors and Greek sex culture later. And again, let’s continue to read-listen these verses as adults. If the system is faulty then you no longer have to serve the system. Remember to serve God and do not be slaves to an evil system and or, even system of identity, that demands who you are and who should be is evil. Be your authentic self and God will love you and give you life.

And what does Jesus have to say about all this? The Book of Matthew ties all these themes together, you now reader and listener have chosen to follow me, Jesus, to be in union with not separated from, whoever welcomes you, welcomes me especially if you say who you are. You talking my talk and walking my walk, makes you blessed. Be your authentic self and know that God, is here, there and everywhere

will be seen through your talk, your walk and how you live and serve. And the you that say that you are is who you really are, authentic and beloved.

Reverend Doctor Monica Corsaro is the Settled Senior Pastor of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa.  Her career combines traditional ministry and political activism,steeped in a process understanding,  serving diverse communities in Washington State, Illinois, Colorado, and Southern California. 


Before coming to Orange County, she led United Methodist and Christian Church, Disciples of Christ congregations in the Seattle area, and served a variety of higher education communities and settings, as campus minister at the University of Washington, chaplain of community engagement at Monmouth College, University Chaplain at Illinois Wesleyan, and Director of Spiritual Life at Knox College. 


She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Illinois State University, a Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology, and a doctoral degree from Wesley Theological Seminary.