126: Proper 13B (August 2, 2015)


For Sunday August 2, Proper 13, Year B.

Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt “Hungry” from her album Seven Songs (get it here)

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Episode 126 Proper 13B
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 126 for Sunday August 2, Proper 13, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

Midfire Gospel: John 6:24-35 The Bread of Life

  • As is so often the case, Jesus is speaking on multiple levels. Physical and Spiritual. Confusion ensues.
  • The crowds are looking for Jesus because he physically fed them, he wants to spiritually feed them and for the crowd to spiritually feed others
  • They ask for a sign- which is funny since they just saw a sign in the miraculous feeding- but apparently it wasn’t enough
    • Are we any different? No matter how much we receive we always are wanting more. What have you done for me lately?
  • Jesus miraculous deeds are always for two purposes: To rectify a human need, and to reveal who he is. If you dwell only on one, and not the other, you’re missing the full point.
  • All good things come from God- not from the messengers of God. It is not Moses who saves the Israelites, but God. It was not Jesus who provided the bread and fish, but God.
  • God gives even faith, and it is this faith that is the key.
  • God continues to give. The story of God providing is not just one for the histories. It is one for the present age. It is not that God gave, but that God gives.

Featured Musician
- Amanda Opelt “Hungry” from her album Seven Songs (get it here).

Please support the show!

Second Reading - 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13 Nathan confronts David
Initial Thoughts

  • “You are the man” - very different context
  • Ahh….sweet hypocritical self-righteousness, goes down smooth every time...except this time.
  • Almost a direct continuation of last week’s story
  • What is missing?
    • Uriah is killed along with some other soldiers, David doesn’t care but encourages Joab to take the city
  • Direct connection to this week’s Psalm 51- the “Ash Wednesday Psalm”
  • Worth continuing the story- at least letting people know what happens in vv. 14-24

Bible Study

  • It looks like David got away with it...he didn’t
  • Any attempt to blame Bathsheba is overwhelmed by the fact that David is solely held responsible for his actions (sex and possible rape) and reactions (the cover-up and murder of Uriah)
  • David also enlists others (Joab) as accomplices in his crime
  • Nathan
    • Last time Nathan spoke to David was to tell him God would watch over him and his house and make his name great.
      • What about when we don’t want God watching over us?
    • Prophet - Perfect representation of the prophets as the ethical, moral and spiritual voice speaking to power and holding David accountable
    • Crafty - He does not accuse David directly but does so in a way in which David is forced to reveal that he knows what is right and therefore exposes his own guilt
  • Wrath of God or consequences of sin
    • “The sword will never leave your house” - this is the end of the happy days for David. The rest of his life will be marked with family strife and sorrow:
      • death of an infant son
      • his son, Amnon rapes his half-sister, Tamar
      • his son Absalom kills Amnon
      • Absalom rebels and takes Jerusalem
      • Absalom flees Jerusalem with David Harem (think 2 Samuel 12:11-12)
      • Absalom is killed sending David into grief that he possibly never recovers from
    • God forgives David, but there are still consequences for his sin
  • Sins of the father visited upon the children
    • The death of David’s son is clearly interpreted as his punishment from God
      • Is this a theological device to explain how such a horrific thing to happen to God’s chosen?
    • Psychological and family systems would suggest this to some extent, but interpreting this as the will of God is dangerous and I do not think faithful theology.
  • We have to imagine what Bathsheba is feeling in the midst of this- this could make a powerful sermon about her response, grief, victimization, etc.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • God watching over us can be both challenging and comforting. We love that notion when we are afraid but what about when we are arrogant?
  • How do we interpret when bad things happen to children? Infant mortality, disability, stillbirths, etc. How do we comfort the parents without adding to their own grief and guilt?
  • Forgiveness is complex. At times we hear forgive and forget (“I will remember their sins no more”) but then we also have instances of God’s forgiveness paired with God’s judgment. How to we affirm that there are just consequences for our actions and proclaim God’s boundless love and grace?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 51:1-12 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

The Pulpit Fiction Podcast is brought to you in part by audible. For listeners of Pulpit Fiction, Audible is offering a free 30-day trial and get a free audio book simply by going to audibletrial.com/pulpitfiction. There are a ton of books, 150,000 titles to choose from, including some great works by friends of the show Peter Rollins, Adam Hamilton and Nadia Bolz-Weber. We recommend Rachel Held Evans’ new book Searching for Sundays which is available on audible right now! Get it for free at audibleTRIAL.com/PulpitFiction. Again, support the show by going to audibletrial.com/PulpitFiction to start your free 30-Day trial and get a free audio book download.

Wearing God Sermon Series: Bread and Vine
Scripture: John 6:24-35
Focus 1: God as Bread

  • “You, eternal Trinity, are Table and Food and Waiter for us.” (Catherine of Siena, as quoted on page 91 of Wearing God, by Lauren Winner).
  • “It would not be a gross exaggeration to say that the Bible is a culinary manual, concerned from start to finish about how to eat, what to eat, when to eat.” (Lauren Winner’s opening sentence of Bread and Vine chapter in Wearing God, p. 92)
  • If Jesus is the “bread of life,” what kind of bread is he?
    • What kind of bread do we use at Communion?
      • Prepackaged wafer
      • Cut up pieces of white bread
      • Hawaiian loaf (at $4.50 a loaf)
  • God is the meal and also provides the meal.

Focus 2: The Darker Side of Bread

  • White Bread
    • White bread was once a delicacy because highly refined flour was expensive.
    • 1890: 90% of bread eaten in the US was made by women at home.
    • 1930: 90 % of bread was baked outside the home by men in factories.
    • As it became easier to produce, it became more popular. Not always because of its taste.
      • “In an era obsessed with hygiene and sanitation, the color white came to represent ‘scientific control,’... Physicians took to the pages of national magazines to urge families, especially immigrant families and poor families, to whitewash their walls… [One designer wrote] ‘Whitewash is extremely moral.’” (p. 106)
  • Shoe Box Lunches
    • Created by women for the men in segregated South who would be traveling far for work, or for families from the North traveling into the South to visit family. They would not be able to stop anywhere and eat.
    • Food must be packed that could last for hours.
    • “[This kind of] food preparation is the best picture I have found for understanding God as a provider of food. Here is God preparing food for the Israelites journeying in the wilderness: God is not just abstractly raining coriander flakes down from the  heavens. God is staying up late to prepare shoe box lunches for a people on a perilous journey.” (Winner, p. 112)
  • Eating Disorders
    • “From a study on women with eating disorders: two thirds of the women who regularly participate in the Eucharist report that they have decreased the frequency with which they receive Communion because they fear the calories in the wafer and the wine.”
    • Avoiding the bread of Communion as a part of an eating disorder is an extreme case, but probably one many people can identify. Maybe they haven’t gone that far, but they can see it as plausible.
    • Obsessing over food, we have lost the joy, process, and fellowship of it.
    • Too much of eating food has been reduced to mechanical process, fast, quick, and cheap.
    • Yet, God is surely in the cold can of Spaghetti-O’s with the TV on or the Quarter Pounder woofed down in the car. Sometimes we just miss it.

Focus 3: God as Vine
Scripture: Isaiah 5:1-7
Scripture: Israel as a vine or collection of vines, Jeremiah 2:21, Ezekiel 15:1-5, 17:1-21, 19:10-15; Hosea 10:1-2
John 15:1 - “I am the true vine”

  • Israel as vine or collection of vines is a common image in the Prophets
    • Gentle, fragile, loved deeply by the one that planted it.
    • When it produces wrong kind of fruit, it must be chopped down and burned.
      • Wrong fruit: Injustice and idolatry.
    • God is guardian and caretaker
    • In Jesus, God becomes the vine too, and is cut down
      • Tremendous vulnerability for the gardener to become the vine.
    • Vintners “talk to the vines, ‘reminding them that they all can make a great wine.’ I like to picture God the vintner talking in the same way to us.” (Winner, p. 122)
  • Drunk on God
    • Drinking can be very dangerous.
      • Noah drunk after his boat ride
      • Drunkenness is a part of David’s plot
      • Part of God’s punishment on idolaters.
      • Alcohol’s danger is all over our culture.
    • “But there are delightful stories to tell about drunkenness, too,” (p. 125)
      • Drunkenness is also depicted as in extremely intimate relationship.
      • To be drunk on God is to have exorbitant passion and willingness to follow.
      • When was the last time you felt drunk on God? Moved by the Spirit?
      • Inebriation with God is a powerful image, and one that straight-laced, middle-class, good Christian men and women would not want to lower themselves to.
      • “This is why Jesus is hymned not as grape juice but as wine: because he is dangerous and excessive. He is more than you need, and He is more than pleasure, and if you attend to Him, you fill find so much there that you will be derailed completely. And you will think that your heart might break. And then… He will withdraw and you will be miserable and sick until He returns.” (p. 131).

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners and Shout-Outs
Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt “Hungry” from her album Seven Songs (get it here).

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”).