Thursday, January 14, 2010

Preaching Materials for January 31st, 2010

R U M O R S # 586
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor

January 24, 2010


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

Note: Usually Rumors relies on your letters to provide much of the content in Rumors. In this, and the next several issues, you’ll notice that most of the stuff comes from my barrel. That’s because Bev and I are soaking up a bit of sunshine and these issues have been written in advance. Hope you don’t mind too much.


The Story – passionate and powerful
Rumors – a fire in the belly
Soft Edges –
Bloopers – three every hour
Mirabile Dictu! – reincarnation
Bottom of the Barrel – white man
Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – Jeremiah 1:4-10
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)


Rib Tickler – At the Baptist Women’s Missionary gathering in the Maritimes, one of the leaders had brought an inflatable globe to show where the various countries of the world are located.
But when she was ready to use it, her “world” had sprung a leak, and the globe had shrunk. She used the problem to make a point. “It’s marvelous! When you get rid of a lot of the hot air, how small this world is.”

Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, January 31st, which is the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany.
* Jeremiah 1:4-10
* Psalm 71:1-6
* 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
* Luke 4:21-30 (Note: We tacked this on to last week’s reading to make it a complete story.)

The Story (from the Revised Common Lectionary) – Jeremiah 1:4-10

Ralph says –
I’ve always liked Jeremiah. He was just slightly nuts which is what a prophet needs to be to have the chutzpah to carry it off. He also used audio visuals and objects lessons to good effect – throwing around jars, walking around naked – that sort of thing.
Jeremiah was passionate and powerful and that shows in his call. There’s no sense that God might have been looking for a prophet one day and Jeremiah happened to walk by. Jeremiah was chosen by a God who knew him intimately from the moment of conception – possibly close to a virgin birth story because the word “knew” here was almost always used to indicate sexual intimacy.
And Jeremiah’s just a kid. The commentators say about 14 or 15, and there is God telling him to go and prophecy to the nations. That must have been interesting – a beardless boy prophesying to rulers of nations.
I’ve always liked Jeremiah because he’s wild and crazy and not all that good at what he does. But he does it with such passion and flair you can’t help but believe that God is inside this man goading him on.

Psalm 71:1-6 – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
The psalm is entitled an old man's prayer, but it could equally well be a young child. Both are vulnerable and dependent on others. I chose to paraphrase from the child's viewpoint. Every one of us has been a child; only a few of us have been old – yet.
1 Don't let them make fun of me.
Let me hide myself behind your skirts.
2 Comfort me and protect me;
listen to my fears, and enfold me in your arms.
3 When I am in trouble, I run to you.
I have no one but you to rely on.
4 The bigger kids won't leave me alone;
their greedy hands keep grabbing at me.
Rescue me from their clutches.
5 From the time I was tiny, you have been my refuge.
I have always been able to trust you.
6 Before I was born, I felt safe in your womb.
As an infant, I rested on your breast.
You are all I have, and all I ever had.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Publications.
For details, go to

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – This may be the best-known passage in the whole Bible. Certainly it’s the one that’s heard at weddings and funerals. But I wouldn’t read it to the congregation unless I was going to talk about it, because within its profound truth there is a lie. So much popular psychology and music and poetry and rhetoric talks about love. But by itself this love is sentimental mush. Love, as simply a felt emotion, is as sincere and as real as the drunk careening down the street proclaiming, “I love everybody.”
Love and justice are two sides of the same coin. Paul says as much in this poem, but it’s very easy to miss.

There’s a children’s version of Jeremiah’s call in “The Lectionary Story Bible, Year B,” page 55. It’s called, “Jeremiah Becomes a Prophet.” And there’s a children’s version of the famous 1 Corinthians 13 on page 57 titled, “Paul’s Song About Love.”
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 – Jeremiah
"...a fire in my belly that had to get out!"
From “Is This Your Idea of a Good Time, God?” by Ralph Milton, Wood Lake Books, 1995.

Jeremiah Confronts God
Look, Lord. I know I shouldn't talk to you this way. But we've had a pretty good relationship, you and me.
Besides I can't help it. I think I've been had. I think you, yes you God, pulled a fast one on me.
I know you're busy taking care of the whole world, but try to remember, if it's not too much trouble.
I was just a kid, remember. Pink cheeks. No beard. And you grabbed me by the insides one day and told me to be a prophet.
Me. A prophet. I didn't even know what a prophet did. And I told you so, but oh, no. You wouldn't let me go. "I'll put the words right in your mouth," you told me. Do you remember that? I don't think you do.
I don't think you remember a bit of it because if those are your words, why doesn't anybody pay attention? Ha? Why do they all laugh at me, spit on me, call me names?
I use your words God. Your words, not mine. "Violence and destruction," I tell them, "violence and destruction unless you repent and do what God is asking of you."
I do everything I can think of to get their attention. I throw pots around, put a yoke around my neck. Once I even walked around naked. Stark naked, God. That got them talking but not about my prophecy. They just wanted to send me to the funny farm.
Even my own family. They think I've flipped. They think I'm a nut case. It's not so bad when they yell at me, it's when they try to be kind and patronizing. "Now, just try not to get too upset, Jeremiah. You just need a little rest, that's all." Damn!
So for awhile, I didn't say a thing. Nothing. Quiet as a mouse. My mother loved it. You know what I got out of it. A sore stomach. A big old-fashioned gut ache. A fire in my belly that just had to get out. I couldn't keep quiet about the things I saw, I just couldn't.
And you're sitting up there laughing at that, aren't you God. You knew I couldn't keep it in.
Damn! I wish I'd never been born. I wish my mother and father had never been born. I wish I'd died while my mother was still pregnant.
So what do I do? You are God, and I'm just a poor underpaid prophet and I have no choice but to go with it. And it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't really believe those words you give me to say. I do, you know. You've taken over all right God. You've taken over my head, and yes, even my heart. The plain unvarnished truth is that I really love you God and really do want people to hear what you have to say.
But I'm still mad at you, God.
Really mad.
And I'm going to stay mad just as long as I can, because being a prophet is no piece of cake. It's no walk in the rose garden.
Do you hear that God? Are you listening?


Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor


Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – from the file
* We are always happy to have you sue our facility.
* Hymn: I Need Three Every Hour.
* All children are requested to bring fresh followers to decorate the cross for Easter Sunday.

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! –
Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.
Dr. Melba Colgrove
When the church service is over, it is time for your service to begin.
source unknown
Religious differences are not nearly so disastrous as religious indifferences.
source unknown


Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “reincarnation!”)
Signs you're the reincarnation of someone famous:
* During a thunderstorm, you build a giant boat and start stealing your neighbor’s pets.
* When the boss criticizes your work, you hack off your right ear and mail it to her.
* Not only do you consider Yoko an artistic genius, you think she's beautiful and has a lovely singing voice.
* While working under the sink, you get this insatiable urge to paint a church ceiling.
* Out of luck winos are bringing you jugs of water.
* You're found writing down rules of the office on giant stone tablets.


Bottom of the Barrel – The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by Indians. LR says, "Tonto, there are Indians on the north of us, on the south of us, on the east of us and on the west of us. We are surrounded! What are we going to do?" Tonto gives the LR a long stare. "What do you mean 'we,' white man?"


Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – Jeremiah 1:4-10
Reader 1: I really like the prophet Jeremiah. You know why?
Reader 2: No, why?
1: Because he was a little bit nuts. A little out of touch with reality. He smashed clay pots. Once he even walked around naked.
2: Some guys’ll do anything to get attention.
1: No, it wasn’t primarily to get attention. Jeremiah was making a point. The nation Israel was going to get smashed like that pot. It would be stripped of everything it had and would be naked.
2: The reading today is about Jeremiah’s call. God telling Jeremiah he was going to be a prophet.
1: And Jeremiah protests. “Hey, God, I’m just a kid. I don’t know how to preach.” But God tells Jeremiah he was picked out to be a prophet even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb.
2: I sort of imagine all this happening in a big temple, with smoke and fire and lots of pyrotechnics.
1: The passage doesn’t say anything like that. This could have been Jeremiah, all alone somewhere, having his conversation with God.
2: So let’s read it. This is from the book of Jeremiah.
1: Now the word of the LORD came. And this is what I was told.
2: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
1: "But, Lord GOD! Really, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy."
2: "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.”
1: Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth.
2: "Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

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