133: Proper 20B (September 20, 2015)


For Sunday September 20, Proper 20, Year B

image: From Los Angeles Times article “Which Countries Are Taking in Syrian Refugees?”
Featured Musician - Heatherlyn, “Ever,” which is available for free download at HeatherlynMusic.com

Episode 133 Proper 20B
image: From Los Angeles Times article “Which Countries Are Taking in Syrian Refugees?”
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 133 for Sunday September 20, Proper 20, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in

  • Brian McLaren Thursday Night Special

Quickfire Scripture: James 3:13-4:3

  • Inner wisdom is revealed in an outer lifestyle.
  • What is wisdom?
    • Pure, peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine
  • What is not wisdom?
    • Bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, bragging, denying the truth.
  • Wisdom leads to justice, which leads to peace.
    • “Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts.”
  • Conflict in communities come from acting without wisdom.
  • Inner cravings, which are antithetical to wisdom, cause jealousy, which cause struggles, which cause conflict.
  • Submission to God is the only way to attain wisdom.
  • Wide implications for daily living, both as an individual ethic, rule for a community, or guidelines for a greater society.

Featured Musician
- Heatherlyn, “Ever,” which is available for free download at HeatherlynMusic.com.


Gospel- Mark 9:30-37 - Jesus predicts his death
Initial Thoughts

  • Isn’t there anything you’d rather talk about, Jesus? This is two weeks in a row that Jesus predicts his death.
  • Sometimes Jesus is a real Debbie Downer

Bible Study

  • Second Prediction
    • Mark 8:31 “Jesus began to teach his disciples: ‘The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.’” This was followed by Peter scolding him.
    • Transfiguration, the disciples fail trying to heal a boy.
    • Then, Mark 9:31 “This was because he was teaching his disciples, ‘The Human One will be delivered into human hands. They will kill him. Three days after he is killed he will rise up.” This time they “were afraid to ask him.”
    • Fear is a common theme in Mark.
  • Who is greatest gets two answers?  “They had been debating each other about who was greatest.”
    • Their arguing about greatness while Jesus talks about his own death reveals how much about the Disciples’ lack of understanding.
    • Answer One: “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.”
      • Servant leadership is pathway to ‘greatness.’
      • In Kingdom of God, everything is backwards from Roman patronage system.
    • Answer Two: “Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me.”
      • Not a romantic, idealized version of children.
      • The child is a representation of “The least.”
      • Embracing the child is a demonstration of Jesus’ love of the unlovable.
      • In the next chapter, 10:13 (in lectionary in two weeks) Jesus is blessing children, but the disciples scold them.
      • The path to God’s power is to open your arms to the powerless.
      • Saying that the way to gain honor is to receive those who are without honor goes against the logic of the ancient society. The Kingdom of God assesses and assigns value differently than the human realm. God will receive those who receive the child. This will give access to true power, the power of the one who sent Jesus.”  Micah Kiel in Working Preacher
  • Disciples don’t get it
    • This is a common theme in Mark, repeated twice
      • Don’t understand prediction
      • Argue about who is greatest
      • Disciples’ failure to understand does not bring about rebuke, but deeper teaching.
      • Jesus does not abandon the Twelve in their ignorance.
      • Eventually, they are redeemed, but not until after crucifixion and Resurrection, when it all makes sense.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • How can we receive the children?
    • What does it mean to receive children in our churches?
    • What does it mean to receive children in our communities or schools?
    • What weight do Jesus’ words have as we look at the refugee crisis in Syria?
  • Jesus’ ministry is not easy to understand. The Disciples’ continually fear what is going to happen. They are unsure, and do not understand. In the midst of their fear, they are arguing about who would be greatest. Perhaps they believed that if they achieved “greatness,” then they would also have security. Jesus points to another way of finding security. Their understanding of greatness is the old way. He presents a different way toward greatness, which they just never get. Until after the Resurrection (which in Mark, they still don’t really get). Jesus’ life and way of being, the Kingdom of God, only makes sense through lens of Resurrection.

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

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Second Reading - Proverbs 31:10-31 - Praise for women
Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • Acrostic poem - each line begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet
    • denotes a divine woman - like Wisdom
    • alludes to completeness - A to Z
  • Patriarchy
    • Traditionally used to tell women how to act
    • Used to show women their place
    • Unrealistic call to be a “spiritual Martha Stewart”
  • BUT
    • Wisdom is portrayed as a woman
    • The community of faith is called to be the bride of God or the bride of Christ
      • see Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Revelation, 2 Corinthians, Song of Songs
    • Instruction for all people to follow to be in faithful relationship with God
  • Wisdom literature
    • Not simply a list for women to follow
    • Jewish men would memorize this passage
    • All people of faith are called to follow this example
  • What matters? Not beauty or charm, not the size of your budget, endowment or membership- but your faithfulness to God.
  • What is faithfulness to God?
    • trustworthy
    • works
    • attentive to the needs of the people
    • takes calculated risks
    • good steward of resources
    • cares for the poor
    • prepared for the bad times
    • Makes God known
    • is strong in faith and dignity- “laughing at the time to come”
    • thinks before she talks and speaks kindness
    • is always working intentionally for the goodness of God and community (i.e. does not rest on her laurels)
    • is in awe of God
      • “To "fear the Lord" does not mean to live in abject worry but in awe, wonder, gratitude, and reverent humility before the Creator. It is to follow every good feature of true faith. The poem concludes with a summary line that takes praise of her and her works on behalf of her household into the public arena, revealed to all at the city gates.” - Kathleen O’Connor (Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 4: Season After Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ).)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Explore the “Proverbs 31 woman” as a model for living a Christian life- for all people, not only women. How can we be the capable/virtuous/valorous partner for God?
  • What does Proverbs 31 say to men? What does it say about God and how we respond?
  • If the Proverbs 31 woman is Wisdom, then how do we seek her?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:
Social Media Sunday - October 25. First year of this as an ecumenical movement. Join the facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/SMS15/ . Follow on Twitter at #SMS15.
Starting a Social Media Sunday

Thank you listeners
Featured Musician - Heatherlyn, “Ever,” which is available for download at HeatherlynMusic.com.
Heatherlyn on Facebook
@HeatherlynMusic on Twitter
Shout Outs:
Thank you to all our questions for Brian McLaren on  Twitter and Facebook
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”).