120: Proper 7B (June 21, 2015)


Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 120 for Sunday June 21, Proper 7, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

Quickfire Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

  • Beginning of this passage really starts before chapter 6, at 5:19 “In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.” Now, what does that reconciliation look like, and how do we achieve it?
  • Two sections to this passage:
    • The time for reconciliation is now. Now is the day of salvation.
    • Work of reconciliation is going to have trials
  • Overcoming trial becomes an important theme in all of the texts: David overcoming Goliath, Jesus calming the storm, the Psalmist enduring trouble, and here Paul enduring “problems, disasters, and stressful situations. We went through beatings, imprisonments, and riots.”
  • Through the trial however, they “served with the Holy Spirit, genuine love, telling the truth, and God’s power.”
  • With these things, Holy Spirit, Love, Truth, and God’s power, Paul was able to say “And look, We are alive!”

Featured Musician -  Jonathan Rundman, “Calm the Storm” from album A Heartland Liturgy.

Primary Scripture - Mark 4:35-41 - Storm at Sea

Initial Thoughts

  • A very simple, short story about Jesus on a boat, but it about more than a boat.
  • Jesus calming the storm is a key piece of Mark’s Christology. It is a demonstration of Jesus’ power, and special relationship with God, but it is just a foretaste.
  • A few chapters later (6:45-53) the disciples are again in a boat. This time another storm brews, and in the midst of the storm, Jesus appears walking on the water toward them. In this moment, he says, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Then he gets into the boat (no Peter walking in Mark). Here, the disciples are “so baffled they were beside themselves. That’s because they didn’t understand about the loaves.”
  • Here he asks, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”

Bible Study

  • Literary Context
    • Comes just after last week’s lectionary - when Jesus teaches about the Kingdom.
    • They are going to the other side of the lake, which would be considered a foreign land. Jesus and his disciples are leaving their home base, and venturing into a new field, Decapolis (The Ten Cities) where they are met with the Gerasene Demoniac. He heals him, the pigs run off the cliff, and the people “pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.”
    • This story of the storm on the sea comes before the storm of their encounter in the region of the Gerasenes.
    • It also comes before the storm of the Passion, in which all of the disciples will fall victim to their fear, even after coming to know Jesus as the Messiah.
  • Calm in the Storm
    • There are many storms that brew in the Gospel of Mark (and Jesus’ life).
    • Walking with Jesus does not assure smooth sailing (or vast riches, or material comfort as so many Prosperity Gospel preachers proclaim)
  • Fear and Faith
    • At first reading, it appears that fear is the opposite of faith. If they had faith, then they would not have had fear. Fear though, is not the opposite of faith. Fear however, can make it hard to access our faith.
    • The problem with the disciples is not that they were fearful, it was that they were paralyzed by it. It is not that they didn’t have enough faith, it was that they didn’t have any faith. “You don't have to have perfect faith for God to respond; indeed, you can even be paralyzed by fear, assume the worst about God, and still receive God's mercy and grace...and then, perhaps, an invitation to greater faith!” (David Lose, Working Preacher)
    • A little fear is not a bad thing, “It is not inappropriate to fear the Lord. If we have the slightest idea of his glory, it is appropriate but also, in a sense, irrelevant. What seems to matter is what we do in spite of or because of that awe.” (Meda Stamper, Working Preacher)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • End of the story is a question, and like much of Mark, demands the reader to be the one that answers. The disciples do not end with a great confession of Jesus’ Lordship They are simply left stunned and wonder.They can’t even bring themselves to thank Jesus or ask him themselves. The question they pose is to one another, I presume in quiet whispers after they get off. So we are left with the question, who is this man?
  • The storm, understandably, produces fear. Jesus’ action produces awe. Awe and Fear seem to be close on the emotional wheel. When looking at the Cliffs of Moher, there is a sense of awe, but part of that awe is wrapped in the fear of plummeting to the bottom. Awe however, makes you want to inch close to the edge. Fear keeps you back (which might not really be a bad thing). However if the fear of the edge keeps you in the car, away from the wind, the sound of the sea, the blindingly blue sky, then you have lost out on something great. Fear made the disciples run to Jesus and accuse him of not caring. Awe made the disciples wonder, search for more, and maybe inch a little closer.

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 9 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

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Second Scripture - 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 - David and Goliath
Initial Thoughts

  • Tell the whole story v.1-49
    • This is one of our great stories of faith that permeates culture and literature for a reason- PRACTICE this story ahead of time, don’t rob listeners of its drama
  • Malcolm Gladwell- great take, but we are going to come at this from a traditional standpoint...at least initially
    • the Real Story of David and Goliath- listen, watch it- let us know what you think?
  • A Children’s story? maybe...maybe not

Bible Study

  • God is on the side of the small and least powerful
    • Jacob the trickster outwits his older, stronger brother and his father
    • Joseph succeeds over his brothers
    • Moses outwits Pharaoh
  • David
    • still a boy - emphasized repeatedly (the youngest son, not able to be in the army, only the 3 out 8 oldest or army-worthy)
      • never worn armor
      • isn’t even worthy of fighting in the army
      • small in stature - great in faith
      • His anointing is not recognized by the community
    • David only agrees to fight after establishing repeatedly what his reward will be twice (v. 26 & 30)
  • Goliath
    • 9.5 feet tall!
    • Game of Thrones fans - imagine Ser Gregor Clegaine, “The Mountain”
    • Heavily armed and armors - commentators make much of this- the heaviness of the armor in relation to David quickness, but I don’t see that in the text.
      • David doesn’t wear armor or sword because he is “not used to them” - Goliath doesn’t have that problem
  • The Fight
    • Adaptive Change to face the new reality (Heifetz & Linsky)
      • The old way- attack, kill, win no longer works - this is a fight Israel cannot win
      • Israel needs to adapt - Saul cannot adapt. He tries to address the problem the same old way- armor sword and shield
      • David adapts and changes the fight
      • God adapts (Gen. 9, Ex 34, Parables, Resurrection)
    • David’s faith does not preclude him from using his own gifts and talents. His faith is in God working through him, not necessarily in an external manner (i.e. he doesn’t sit back and wait for Goliath to be struck by lightning or swallowed up by the ground)
      • Other than being anointed David is acting of his own volition- God does not tell David he will be safe
  • Aftermath
    • David uses GOliath’s sword to cut of his head - taking his comment in v. 47 (the LORD does not save by means of the sword and the spear) there is an interesting parallel to Matthew 26:52 “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”
    • David still resolves the situation through violence- how do we reconcile that? If my son brings a gun to school to shoot a bully is that justified? NO. We need to be careful with this story.

Preaching Thoughts

  • David succeeds not because he was a better fighter, but because he changed the fight - he adapted to the challenge. How can we adapt to challenges of faith? Challenges of church decline? Challenges of pastoral leadership? Perhaps not by trying the same old things
  • Not everyone is happy about adaptive change. David’s brothers resist his attempts to enter into the battle. How are we resistant to change because we are afraid it will highlight our failure?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

TY listeners

Voicemail - PLAY - Tina thank you for the call. She had much more to share and highlighted Malcolm’s book for us. I had heard the TED Radio Hour but had forgotten about his book- so thank you Tina for recommending our Tasty Wafer this week.
David Lose on new ways to view the church:

Tina- prayers and best of luck on your exciting upcoming endeavors!
Be like Tina and give us a call 9292-PULPIT (929-278-5748)

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Featured Musician - Jonathan Rundman, “Calm the Storm” from album A Heartland Liturgy.

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to 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(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).

The Lion and Lamb Festival is seeking musicians and speakers. Already featuring friends of the show Heatherlyn and Sarah Renfro. Other participants can apply now. The Festival’s vision is to bring people together to inspire and be inspired by stories of peace, mercy, justice, and love. It is August 8, 2015 in the Quad Cities, Illinois.