Thursday, January 14, 2010

Preaching Materials for February 7th, 2010

R U M O R S # 587
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor

January 31, 2010



"A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)

This is still one of those issues that’s written ahead so Bev and I can bask in the sunshine for a bit. That means there’s not much in the way of readers’ contributions. But that doesn’t mean you should stop sending them. I’ll collect them all together so that the first few issues after we get home should be a gas.


The Story – the worst or the best sermon
Rumors – the fisherfolk club
Soft Edges –
Bloopers – the king’s bras
Mirabile Dictu! – the sale of cabbage
Bottom of the Barrel – paving stones
Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – Luke 5:1-11
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)


Rib Tickler – A single guy decides life would be more fun if he had a pet. So he went to the pet store looking for something a bit unusual. He finally settled on a talking centipede, the kind that really does have a hundred legs.
The next day being Sunday, he decides to take the centipede to church. He goes up to the little centipede box and says, "Would you like to go to church with me today?”
There’s no answer.
A few minutes later he tried again. "How about going to church with me?
Again, no answer.
He waits a few minutes more, then realizes they’ll be late if they don’t get going soon. This time he yells, "Hey, you in there! Would you like to go to church with me? I mean, it’s Palm Sunday y’know!"
A tiny, bug-like voice comes out of the box. "I heard you the first time! I'm putting on my shoes."

Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, February 7th, which is the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C.
* Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13)
* Psalm 138
* 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
* Luke 5:1-11

The Story (from the Revised Common Lectionary) – Luke 5:1-11

Ralph says –
First of all, Gennesaret is just another name for the Lake of Galilee. It’s a fair bit below sea level and hence has an almost tropical climate. It’s a lovely lake to swim in.
In this story, Simon (aka Peter) wins the lottery. He’s been out there all night working his butt off, and catches almost nothing. Then Jesus tells him to try again and they fill up the boat.
Peter’s a bit like a guy who wins the lottery, but then never goes to cash in the winning ticket. Peter doesn’t take that haul of fish to the market to sell so he doesn’t benefit from the bonanza. He and his partners, James and John, just leave everything there and follow Jesus. Which makes no economic sense.
It doesn’t make economic sense for a smart person with good people skills to go into the ministry, either. There’s way more money to be made selling something.
Nor does it make economic sense for dedicated laypeople to spend all that time studying their faith and working in the outreach ministry of the church.
These three men go stumbling over their nets and boats and follow Jesus, and the crowd that saw all this witnessed a sermon in action that was more powerful than the one Jesus preached. Luke doesn’t tell us a thing that Jesus said in that sermon. Nor does he say whether Simon and his buds were paying attention. He tells us what they did.
And we’re still talking about it.

Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13) – Unlike Jeremiah’s call to prophecy which we looked at last week, Isaiah’s call would have brought out CNN and Fox and more photographers than the Vancouver Olympics. Jeremiah’s call could have been very private. Isaiah’s was full of lights and noise and smoke.
Unless, of course, it all happened in his imagination which may be more likely. So call off the media.
What this does illustrate is that calls to prophecy, to ministry, to service, to faith, can take many forms. Many forms.
And one is not more valid than the other.

Psalm 138 – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
In biblical times, worshipers prostrated themselves on the ground before the Holy of Holies, while reciting Psalm 138. For us, it's a strange position from which to express gratitude.
1 This is your turf, your home, your territory.
I am so glad to be here, God, that I kiss the earth you walk on.
2 I fling myself into the dust, the floor of your dwelling.
I extend my arms to embrace your earth.
But you lift me up from my humble position.
You take me in as your guest.
You have made me one of your family;
you have even given me your name!
3 You have taken me under your wing.
When I cry out, you cover me;
I benefit from your strength.
4 Foxes may lord it over the chicken coop, and squirrels over the sparrow's nest,
But no creatures challenge the eagle's rule;
They cower before the eagle's eye and ruthless claws.
5 As the eagle soars above the field mice,
so do you, Lord, rise above us mortals.
6 Daily duties keep us scurrying close to the earth.
But you watch over us from on high;
you can see danger long before it draws near.
7 Troubles grow around us like tall grass
But in the shadow of your outspread pinions, predators scatter
Like leaves before an autumn wind.
8 There is a place for me in your plans.
You will never abandon me.
You will work out your purpose for me, no matter how long it takes.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Publications.
For details, go to

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – In this passage Paul talks about his call to ministry which was also pretty dramatic. And it involved a 180 degree turn from being a persecutor to being a promoter.
Paul calls himself the “least of the apostles,” but his humility loses a bit of its shine when he goes on to claim that he worked harder than all of them, though of course, it wasn’t him it was the grace of God. I imagine a bit of a nervous laugh here, which of course isn’t recorded.

In the story, “Isaiah Becomes a Prophet,” I have his friend Rebekah talk to Isaiah about becoming a prophet. It’s in “The Lectionary Story Bible, Year C,” page 59. Then there’s a story called “Simon Gets a New Job” on page 62 based on the Luke passage.
Click the main Wood Lake Publications website at, or click on the following address which takes you directly to the “Lectionary Story Bible.”
Or, if you live in Canada or the US, simply pick up the phone and dial 1 800 663 2775.


Rumors – There are many versions of this story. But basically it goes something like this.
There was a group that called themselves The Fisherfolk Club. They started out as a gathering of people who earned their living fishing in the ocean. At first, only real fisherfolk could join. But not wanting to be selfish, and because they had nice facilities that needed to be paid for, they invited others to come in too.
In the club headquarters there were fish symbols galore, hooks, nets, and floats and rods. All the members of the club, even those who were not fishers, wore old hats with lures stuck in them and tall wading boots which got quite uncomfortable on warm days. But they were proud to be fishers and so never took them off.
They had a well-stocked library of books about fishing. And several times a year they ran seminars to which world-renounced fishers were invited to come and deliver learned lectures. All the talk and all the activities of the club centered around fishing, but as the years went by, fewer and fewer of the members actually went out fishing.
Then one day, the club had a new member. They had not had a new member for some time, so this was an interesting experience. And the new member asked an interesting question. “When do you go fishing?”
Well, it turned out that members of The Fisherfolk Club had never caught a fish. In fact, they had never actually seen a live fish. And the idea that they should go out there in a boat or wade into the water came as quite a shock to them.
They had long meetings on the subject and finally came to the conclusion that the new member would have to leave. The new member obviously knew very little about what it really meant to be a member of The Fisherfolk Club.


Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor


Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – From the file
* The King's Bras will present a concert at our church this evening at 6:00 pm.
* A songfest was hell at the Methodist Church Wednesday.’
* After receiving the communion elements, the altar is open for prayer and medication.
* Amazing Grace: “I once was found, but now I’m lost ...”

If you’ve spotted any good bloopers in your church bulletin or newsletter, or anywhere else for that matter, please send them to me. ralphmilton at (change the “at to the symbol and remove the spaces.)

Wish I’d Said That! – from the file
I can only please one person per day. This is not your day.
source unknown

Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are the statue.
source unknown

The things that count most in life are the things that can't be counted.
source unknown

If you are not treated as you deserve, be thankful.
source unknown


Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “sale of cabbage!”)
Here’s how long it takes to say things:
* Pythagorean theorem: 24 words.* The Lord’s Prayer: 66 words.* Archimedes’ Principle: 67 words.* The 10 Commandments: 179 words.* The Gettysburg address: 286 words.* The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words.* Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words.

Bottom of the Barrel – There once was a rich man who was dying. While on his death bed, he tried to negotiate with God to be allowed to bring his earthly treasures with him to heaven. “God, please, I have worked so hard to accumulate all these riches. Can’t I bring them along?”
“This is very unusual” said God, “but since you have been such a faithful steward, I will allow you to bring along one suitcase.”
The man immediately had a servant fill a large suitcase with gold bricks. Shortly thereafter he died.
When the man arrived at the Pearly Gates, he was stopped by St. Peter. “I’m sorry sir, but you know the rules. You can’t take it with you. You may enter, but the suitcase has to stay outside.”
“But God told me I could bring one suitcase,” the man protested.
“Well, if God says it’s OK then I guess it’s OK, but I still need to examine the contents before you can enter.”
St. Peter takes the suitcase from the man, opens it, and looks very puzzled. “You brought paving stones?”


Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – Luke 5:1-11
Reader 1: I got a real shock when I read this passage.
Reader 2: Why? It seemed OK to me.
1: Well, it’s not OK. It tells about Jesus preaching and teaching and nobody pays any attention and we’re not told a word about what he said.
2: What are you talking about? Jesus was a very good preacher. It says that several times in the Bible, that the people heard him gladly.
1: Not this time. Jesus borrows a boat so he can speak to the people on the shore a bit more easily. Then when he’s finished, he asks Peter who owned the boat, how the fishing had been. Peter said it was the pits. They worked all night and caught nothing. So Jesus tells them to try again and this time they almost sink the boat. Then Jesus tells them to come and follow him and they do that, leaving their boats and the whole mess of fish sitting right there. And nobody says anything about what Jesus was preaching.
2: You know, you’re right. The sermon they were watching was more interesting than the sermon that Jesus had just preached.
1: What I want to know is, what happened to all those fish? Did they just sit there in the boat and rot?
2: Maybe each person in the crowd got to take home a fish for lunch. A kind of slippery door prize.
1: I just thought of something. It says that Peter and James and John were washing their nets while Jesus was preaching. Maybe they were listening to the sermon as they worked. Maybe that’s why they just up and followed Jesus.
2: Enough of this. Let’s hear the scripture. It’s from Luke’s gospel.SLIGHT PAUSE
1: Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.2: Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he spoke to Simon.
1: "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."2: "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets."1: When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
2: But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees.
1: "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!"2: Simon and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken. And so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
1: Then Jesus spoke to Simon.
2: "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people."1: When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

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