Tuesday, June 08, 2010

creationary: Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21

A creationary: a space to be creative with the lectionary. (For more on what is a creationary go here; for other Creationary resources, go here).

The Gospel lectionary text looks too familiar: Luke 7:36-50 – so use perfume in various ways ….

So what about another Old Testament text. I’ve been really stimulated by the missional church and social justice themes around last weeks Biblical text.  This story continues the pattern in 1 Kings, of grounding social and cultural change in the stories of ordinary people – widows last week. Ordinary landowners this week. So let’s have another play with that.

When I read this text, the story of Naboth’s vineyard, I think of old maps.

  • I’d get people to bring them
  • or I’d use them as background images
  • or I’d visit the local council and ask for copies of maps going back
  • or I’d interview older folk who’ve known the community for a long time about what it used to be like
  • or I’d take photos of the older houses in the neighbourhood
  • if I had lots of time, I’d be thinking about a neighbourhood history walk, perhaps as an optional exercise after church (hunt around John Davies excellent blog, archives here, new blog here)

Why old maps? Well this text is about ownership. You see, exegetically, in the culture of this day, land belonged to the family.  It gives them identity and security. They see it as a gift from God, to be kept and cherished. So this is not just a story about a vineyard, it’s a spotlight on how we view land and identity.  Can it be sold?

So I’d be inviting people to think about the gifts they have been given; starting with land, but then wider to include family tree, personality, resources, denominational history, “traces of grace” in their family story. Some sort of thanksgiving, individual and communal for that. Perhaps inviting people into groups and giving them a map  – a map of their community, a map of the “church history”, a “map” of the denominational story – and getting them to brainstorm the gifts.

And I’d be inviting the groups to hold the maps and be praying some sort of prayer – about the wisdom to handle these gifts wisely as we go into our future.

These potential acts of worship would set up some sort of engagement with the sermon, and how we as churches can partner with a God of justice and against politics of power and greed and acquisition. The danger would be that this becomes a bit abstract, so I’d be looking hard for local examples. Like if I was at Opawa, I’d be praying for Paul McMahon, church pastor, yet standing for local body elections.

Posted by steve at 10:25 AM