101: After Epiphany 5B (Feb 8,2015)


For Sunday February 8, the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B.

SHOW NOTES -  2/8/2015
Episode 101:  After Epiphany 5B
Image: Image found at Jesus Without Language

For Sunday, February 8, 2015
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 101 for Sunday February 8, the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Superbowl predictions

Quickfire Scripture - 1 Corinthians 9:16-23 - It's all about context

  • Paul’s job is to proclaim the Gospel and he has no choice in this
  • How is Paul paid? By being able to give away the Gospel for free
  • To proclaim the Gospel is to be free for others- to enter into their context and offer the Good news - why?Because Good news is best for everyone!
  • Favorite Passage about Paul: Contextual Paul - weak to the weak, Greek to the Greek, Jew to the Jew
  • Great book on this: Paul Among Jews and Gentiles by Krister Stendahl

Featured Musician -  Rob Leveridge,“Taste and See” from his album “Dancing on the Mountain” Find more of their music at www.robleveridge.wordpress.com. Follow @robleveridge

Primary Scripture - Mark 1:29-39 - Healing Simon's Mother-in-Law
Initial Thoughts

  • Mother-in-laws get a bad wrap
  • Only reference to Simon being married, or really any family of the disciples (except for the sons of Zebedee)

Bible Study

  • Context:
    • Follows the exorcism of the demon in the synagogue
    • Second healing story in Mark
  • Healing
    • fever- not a demon or impure spirit, simply something that renders her powerless
    • egeire  -   to lift up - literally, but same word as in the resurrection in 16:6. He “resurrected” her
    • He doesn’t say anything, simply takes her by the hand and the fever leaves her
    • Does Jesus heal her in a miraculous fashion or does he simply sit with her and his being present heals her?
    • Touch is important- it can be both incredible healing and incredible damaging- how to do it right?
  • Response
    • diakonia - service - part of the ministry of deacons
    • Serves Jesus and the disciples on the Sabbath - grateful serving was more important than legalism
    • What did it mean to serve? Not with cookies and iced tea - perhaps Simon’s mother is the first to understand what it is to follow Jesus - to serve
    • Simon’s mother is the first deacon
    • This story does not reaffirm patriarchal gender roles but challenges them
  • Sabbath issues
    • Jesus sits with Simon’s mother, but wait to heal the others
    • It isn’t an all or nothing- Jesus does not simply throw out the law, but addresses the needs as they are presented
  • Jesus’ Real Estate: Location, Location, Location
    • Where does healing happen? Where 2 or 3 are gathered: in the synagogue, in the house, throughout Galilee
    • On the Sabbath and after the Sabbath, in the day and in the night
  • Jesus the introvert
    • Jesus came to proclaim the good news in thought and deed, not to be a healing vending machine

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Jesus doesn’t say anything he simply “came”,  “took her hand” and “lifted her up”. We often spend much time and energy trying to find the right words when what is needed is simply to show up and hold someone’s hand
    • We have many people suffering from dis-ease in our congregations, are we willing to sit with them and be with them in the midst of their impotency?
  • This is a great story to preach on the ministry of women. Women in the gospel tend to “get it” long before the men. Service is not the “proper place of women” it is the proper place for all Christians!
  • Make room for introverts - Church is not often a friendly place for introverts. How do we allow people to reclaim their deserted places to encounter God and prepare themselves for the ministry ahead?

Psalm Nugget with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan: Psalm 147

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Secondary scripture - Isaiah 40:21-31 - Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Initial Thoughts

  • Inspiration for a few songs “On Eagles Wings,” and “Everlasting God,” a Contemporary Christian classic by Chris Tomlin.
  • “On Eagles Wings” reference in United Methodist Hymnal points to Exodus 19:6, when God’s voice calls out from Mt. Sinai, “You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me.”

Bible Study

  • Literary Context
    • Part of the introduction to Second Isaiah.
    • Christopher Seitz, author of the New Interpreter’s Bible, v. VI calls this passage “The Pre-Trial Statement”
      • “Chapter 41 introduces a trial scene… Preceding this, a long speech is made on behalf of God (40:12-31). The statement defines God’s relationship to the nations, to other gods, to idolatry, to the divine testimony already delivered, and to those who would speak on God’s behalf from the divine assembly.” (Christopher Seitz, p. 341)
    • Ch 40 is the first chapter in what is widely recognized as Second Isaiah. Very roughly, Isaiah can be divided into three parts, 1-39 is about the coming judgment, especially in face of Assyrian invasion. 40-53 is about the exile itself. It is the judgment, and the condemnation of Judah. 54-66 is about the road home. The suffering servant has come and allowed the people to return from exile.
    • Seitz does not divide 40-66 into two distinct books, as many modern critics do.
  • Answers the rhetorical Question posed in v. 18: “To whom will you equate God?” The answer is a resounding - no one, nothing. There is no god like God.
    • Seems like a silly question, but when seen in context of ancient religious understandings of warrior gods, and the stated reality that Israel was overthrown, it is a real question that God deems worthy of consideration.
    • Two-part answer.
      • Part one is somewhat sarcastic, drawing image of God as creator, superior to all things.
        • Answer should be obvious. Almost sarcastic in response to such a question. Could have been, “You should know this by now.”
        • “God inhabits the earth’s horizons”
        • God is above all human institutions
      • Part two is more pastoral, encouraging the people to have faith despite current surroundings.
        • The second time the “Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? feels more comforting, said to give the people strength to endure.
        • The people don’t have to understand, they should know that God is working.
        • “His understanding is beyond human reach, giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted.” (v. 29)
  • They will fly up on wings like eagles - similar imagery used in Exodus 19. Preparing for the “second exodus.” Recalling the power of the Exodus to triumph over Pharaoh is a source of strength, and can serve as a reminder that it is the same God that will triumph in face of exile.
  • “The fundamental lesson that prepares the human heart for the entrance of God is the lesson of God’s oneness and uniqueness. It is the lesson that cultivates out of human powerlessness not helplessness and despair but openness to the power of that alone can save, God’s power.” (Paul Hanson, Interpretation Isaiah 40-66, p. 31).

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Israel claims that God has abandoned them. God’s defense is not, “No I didn’t.” It is encouragement and exhortation. God understands that the exhaustion can lead people to losing their way. “It is a difficult but essential discipline to learn how rightly to assess our degree of weariness and exhaustion in the walk of faith. Sometimes these twins are directly responsible for our inability to hear God, and for misunderstanding God is actively at work.”  (Christopher Seitz, p. 341)
  • To pretend that the walk of faith is not exhausting is dishonest. To believe that the remedy is simply having more faith, more strength, more determination, is a recipe for disaster. Instead, see the walk/work of faith as one that is done with God, not for God.
  • Cannot underestimate the importance of the question that is asked by the people. They want to know where God is in the midst of the exile. The answer is I am here, and I never left you. God recognizes that the people lost their way, and promises strength for those that seek to find their way again. 

Tasty Wafer of the Week!


TY listeners everyone who has listened over the last 100 episodes
Shout Out to all listeners and guests

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist),  Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Second of May” from their album Live at Goose Creek) and Paul and Storm for our closing music, “Oh No”.