The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 12), July 30, 2023

July 28, 2023 | by Monica Corsaro

Reading 1 Reading 2 Reading 3 Reading 4 Reading 1 Alt Reading 2 Alt
Genesis 29:15-28 Psalm 119:129-136 Romans 8:26-39 Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Psalm 105:1-11, 45b, Psalm 12 1 Kings 3:5-12

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 light your imaginations. I have my own tastes and realize there might be some genres missing, use these suggestions to let your creativity flow to use your own, and enjoy.

Themes: Struggle, Struggle, Struggle. What is truth? What is family? Survival. Legacy. Loyalty, Authenticity

Pop Culture Films and Television: Jean Valjean’s journey in Les Misérables,(Genesis) Twelve Years a Slave (Genesis), Cinderella (Genesis, Matthew), Trading Places (Genesis), Milagro Beanfield War (Genesis), Kinky Boots(Matthew)

Genesis 29:15-28

And here we are following along in the family line catching up with that dastardly brother Jacob. He and his treachery and deceit have kept up with him and he has been banished from Canaan by his brother Esau, let’s remember at this moment process thinker-preacher-reader-writer, Jacob is not the most upstanding citizen. But thank goodness for family clans that keep us alive when needed most. Laban, Abraham’s cousin takes Jacob in and immediately is taken by Laban’s daughter Rachel. Does Rachel have a say in this, I think you the preacher can figure that out. My take is right now she is a flat character and is kind of great beginning of a “gotcha ya” to Jacob.  Laban makes his deal with Jacob. Sure you can have my beautiful daughter Rachel after seven years of service Jacob. So the seven years is up and Jacob says here I am….Ok Laban says…..and then a little trickery played on Jacob who he lays with is NOT Rachel but the oldest daughter Leah…..this moment should be very familiar to Jacob!!!!

A great opportunity for the humble pie talk. Jacob is now the victim of his own treachery, but a treachery like his in the past, as is Laban’s in the present is about survival, survival FOR his oldest daughter and what will be for his youngest in the end.  The plight of the daughter’s much different than that of the sons. The oldest must marry to get a birthright, not just be the oldest or have it stolen from the youngest.

Use this part of the story to make the point that these folks all of them are scoundrels, imperfect and at times we just cannot even stand learning about them and their dastardly deeds. But, but, but they are called by God and they will learn to live their lives into that call. We are not nearly that dastardly just think what we can do if we listen intentionally to what the Divine wants for us oh the good we could do.

Psalm 105: 1-11, 45b

And the Psalms take us into thanksgiving-ness, the intimacy being sought for and in Genesis abounds in these two Psalms. Gratefulness for all that God has done, and the promises kept to Jacob, Abraham and family. Reader-Listener-Preacher, this is a great opportunity to talk about the steadfastness of God. The God of the past, is in the now and the future. The Psalmist sings (remember originally in musical form).  Another opportunity to make the point that taking time to be grateful is a spiritual discipline much like our ancestors of the faith did before us.  Take a moment to reflect on the art of thankfulness.As we move to Romans this could easily be used in a juvenile way not in a grown up way. Do not get caught up in the “predestined” language.  It is poetry, not a Christian tenant as some have made it out to be.The Process understanding is because of our current co-creative relationship with our always interactive God in relationship. This predestines us to make the right decisions for ourselves, with others ad the created world we live in.   And since we are always in relationship, with God, who can separate us. Paul is usually sold short, especially by the evangelical understanding. When you understand the Christ as cosmic there can be no separation from.

8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

With this cosmic understanding Paul answers his own question, no one can!

8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And Matthew with one of the most famous passages in scripture that of the mustard seed. Lots of fun with this one. What the process preacher can talk about however is this, while the mustard seed starts out tiny and it indeed what it brings forth is large and abundant, it does not just happen overnight. And cannot happen with proper care. We cannot have an abundant faith life unless it is fed with nutrients. The plant cannot grow without water a balance of sun and shade. We cannot grow without a balance of intellectual rigor, spiritual practice, and community. The faith journey is not meant to be alone in a vacuum and without connection with organic. Take the opportunity to continue through this rich text. It gets deeper and is not as gentle.

13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;13:48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous.

We in the process life are always making decisions. What decisions help us live our best potential? Not everything thrown in front of us may be good for us. The faith life is not mean we are called to take on every evil because “Jesus told us to.” No the faith life, again is about a life of balance and that needs discernment.  Knowing what is life giving for us and what is not.  There will be all sorts of fish caught in our wide nets of love and potential but some will be bad and to honor God which means honoring ourselves not only can we toss out the bad fish, we should.

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.