129: Proper 16B (August 23, 2015)


 For Sunday August 23, Proper 16, Year B

Featured Musician - My Anchor Holds, “Dirty Jesus” from their album of the same name. 

Episode 129 Proper 16B
image: from freakingnews.com
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 129 for Sunday August 23, Proper 16, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in

Midfire Gospel: John 6:59-69 - Jesus is harsh

  • A good reminder that Jesus message is not a walk in the park
    • Yes “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” but there is still a yoke to bear and a burden to carry
    • Speaking truth to power is not easy, loving enemies is not easy, caring for the least of these is not easy, being a servant to all is not easy
  • Predestination- v. 65
    • Not as much about predestination as reminding ourselves that faith is a gift from God
    • We cannot “give” people faith- we can facilitate, we can teach, but faith is ultimately a gift to be accepted or rejected.
  • Do you want to leave?
    • Could we be so brave as to ask this of our congregations?
    • Instead of watering down the gospel to make it palatable- perhaps we need to be honest and if people are unwilling to follow- then let them leave.

Featured Musician - My Anchor Holds, “Dirty Jesus” from their album of the same name.


Second Reading - 1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43
Initial Thoughts

  • Dedication of the Temple, highly edited by lectionary readings.
  • What gets skipped?
    • Details about getting the chest from where David kept it to the Temple.
    • Physical description of Holy of Holies.
    • Solomon paying tribute to God and David’s relationship.
    • Solomon appealing to God’s justice in dealing with righteous and wicked.
    • History lesson about Moses.

Bible Study

  • Introduction parts
    • Public leadership (as opposed to last week, which was a private exchange)
    • Designates the inner sanctum of the Temple as the “Most Holy Place”
    • Reveals that God’s presence is real - smoke, mist so thick the priests cannot see.
  • Nature of public prayer
    • Communicates to God
      • Praise and thanksgiving.
      • Gives praise for eternal and all-powerful nature of God.
      • Reminds God of the promises, and thanks God for fulfilling them.
      • Please for continued relationship, and for God to hear the prayers of the people.
      • Asks for forgiveness, when needed.
    • Communicates to People
      • Teaching, reminders, and confession.
      • Reminds people of relationship between God and David, who is “My Father.”
        • Reinforces Solomons rightful place as King.
      • Reminds people that “I” am the one that built the Temple.
    • Solomon aligning himself politically and spiritually with God. All of the action is of God, through David, then through Solomon, then to the people.
  • God’s Dwelling Place?
    • Solomon makes it explicit that God is not living here. “But how could God possibly live on earth? If heaven, even the highest heaven, can't contain you, how can this temple that I've built contain you?”
    • this is not about containing God, it is about giving access to God to the people.
    • The place of worship is a place that the people may encounter God, not a place where God is contained. This is in contrast to how many other ancients understood their temples.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • How does your pastoral prayer look like Solomon’s speech? What is good about public prayer? What is the problem with it? What does public confession look like? What place does confession have in corporate worship?
  • Where does God live? What is special about a church? A sanctuary? The candles that are lit? The big Bible on the Table? Is there something about a church sanctuary that is more holy than other places? What activities should happen here?
  • How do we treat immigrants? This can be taken on the very modern national level. If we call ourselves a Christian nation, founded on the laws of the Old Testament, how does that affect the way we treat immigrants? If believe, as Solomon says, that people will come from  “a distant country because of your reputation—because they will hear of your great reputation, your great power, and your outstretched arm,” will we then, as is commanded, “do everything the immigrant asks.”
    • If you do not want to take the national route, then what about “immigrants” in your community? New people in town, new people in church? New ideas in your own thought processes?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 84 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

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Wearing God Sermon Series: Smell
Focus 1: A Smelling God

  • Isaiah 11:3 - “And by his smelling in awe of the Lord, and not by [what] his eyes see, will [the Messiah] judge, and not by [what] his ears hear, will he decide”
  • Genesis 8:21 - “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.”


  • As a sense:
    • Smell is one of our most powerful senses- but is often overlooked
    • We have many devices to heighten our other senses, but almost nothing to heighten our sense of smell
    • Smell is deeply, neurologically connected to our emotions
      • smelling the clothing of someone who has died
      • smelling something associated with a lover or friend
    • “The ear sometimes is deceived in in hearing sounds, which are only imaginary; the eye, too, sees things in motion, which in reality are at rest; the sense of smell alone is not deceived” - Ibn Eza
    • “We ought to attend first of all, to the metaphor in the verb smell, which means that Christ will be so shrewd that he will not need to learn from what he hears, or from what he sees; for my smelling alone he will perceive what would otherwise be unknown” - John Calvin
  • God smells - verb
    • God inhales the pleasing fragrance of sacrifices- mentioned over 40 times in the Hebrew Bible
      • At first sounds gross- who wants to smell burning flesh? Perhaps what smell pleasing to God is the intent
      • The poor and homeless are often rejected because they smell, yet perhaps a congregations of unwashed bodies is pleasing to God- not in it direct form, but in its inclusive intent. (i.e. God is not pleased because people do not have access to washing and hygiene, God is pleased that all are welcome)
    • Much attention has been given to aromatherapy - how something smells changes our perceptions of a thing.
      • Casinos brand their own unique smell
      • What does your church smell like? What should it smell like?
    • What “smells”: might calm God?
      • God is pleased with Israel when it is self-giving and caring for the least, and is repulsed by Israel’s stench when it stops caring for the poor, the widow and the orphan (Isaiah 1)

Preaching Thoughts

  • What does your church smell like? What emotions do those smells represent? Is that smell be pleasing to God?
  • “Put an altar in your inmost heart. Be a sweet aroma of Christ.” - Origen

Focus 2 - Stinky Jesus

  • Ephesians 5:1-2 (KJV) - “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.”


  • What did Jesus smell like on the cross? Sacrifice? The Nard from his “anointing” days before? The metallic smell of his blood? The smell of the sweat? The smell of death?
  • Smell as a class distinction - has almost always existed
    • God is pleased with
  • God smells - adjective
    • What does God smell like?
    • Smells are so closely tied with emotions that they can “literally be transformed into emotions through association and then act as proxies for the emotions themselves…” (Winner, p. 71)
    • Smell acts as a deep connection between children and parents (for newborns and for empty nesters)
    • God like smells are hard to describe- how can you describe what a flower smells like? What does God’s love smell like? What does your church’s joy smell like?

Preaching Thought:

  • Jesus was poor and homeless and surely stank - but perhaps his smell was pleasing to God
  • We often focus on what Jesus looked like- perhaps we should focus on what he smelled like

Tasty Wafer of the Week:
@ChSocM A weekly tweet chat about all things church and social media. A great community of folks who are supportive and creative. Every Tuesday at 9 pm ET, tweet using #ChSocM. A few discussion questions, lively chat, great networking possibilities. Read the whole transcript by going to http://churchsocmed.blogspot.com

Thank you listeners and Shout-Outs

Featured Musician -
My Anchor Holds, “Dirty Jesus” from their album of the same name. See them every Sunday at Hope Church in Normal, Illinois.

Shout Outs:
@BryanOdeen “We’ve been taking the John break this year to talk about experiencing God through our senses. Has been cool.”
@RevRenfro, who agreed to take a picture with Robb at the @LionandLambFest
Check out our Facebook page to see a couple of clips from Lion and Lamb. We posted about one minute snippets of both Richard Bruxvoort Colligan and Rob Leveridge playing at the Fest.

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”).