136: Proper 23B (Oct. 15, 2015)


For Sunday, October 11, 2015 Proper 23B

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “Heaven Don’t Come By Here” from their new album Leave Some Things Behind

images:”Blue Prophecy” by Extralife Comic (and excellent podcaster) Scott Johnson -

Episode 136 Proper 23B

Introduction and Check-in 

  • Indigenous People’s Day

    • "The soldiers mowed down dozens with point-blank volleys, loosed the dogs to rip open limbs and bellies, chased fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike, and 'with God's aid soon gained a complete victory, killing many Indians and capturing others who were also killed.' " - Ferdinand Columbus’ biography of his father (according to Sale, Kirkpatrick (1991). The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy)
    • "In the name of the Holy Trinity, we can send from here all the slaves and brazil-wood which could be sold," Columbus wrote to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1496. "In Castile, Portugal, Aragon,.. . and the Canary Islands they need many slaves, and I do not think they get enough from Guinea." He viewed the Indian death rate optimistically: "Although they die now, they will not always die. The Negroes and Canary Islanders died at first."
    • Columbus wrote a friend in 1500, "A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand."
    • For more reading on Columbus:

Quick-Fire Scripture: Hebrews 4:12-16 The Great High Priest

  • The word of God places us all under judgement- there is nothing which is hidden from God - God is the ultimate hacker of your personal information
  • Therefore since all humans are sinful, we stand condemned before God for we all must “render an account”
  • Jesus intercedes on our behalf because Jesus known all of what it is to be human, but is not a filthy degenerate like the rest of us
  • Therefore despite the fact we are imperfect and sinful - because Jesus intercedes for us - we can stand boldly before God and receive grace and mercy- That is GOOD NEWS!
  • Long story short: we all sin. in Jesus God knows we sin. Jesus loves us even in our sinful state and reminds us we are given the gift of mercy and grace if we choose to accept them boldly.

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “Heaven Don’t Come By Here” from their new album Leave Some Things Behind


Gospel Reading: Mark 10:17-31 The first and the last
Initial Thoughts

  • So many good parts in these verses - one of the downfalls of the lectionary

    • Stewardship
    • Sacrifice
    • Who can be saved?
  • Excellent drawing by Scott Johnson of frogpants.com - inspiration for this podcast!

Bible Study

  • The goodness of Jesus

    • Jesus denies being good
    • Could Jesus have sinned? Would it matter? It would to Paul in Hebrews
  • Story of the man

    • Who? Just a “man”: not “young” as in Matthew or “a ruler” as in Luke,
    • Man is not identified as being rich- only as having many possessions - Like me….and maybe like you (Eric just found out he owns 3.5 tons of stuff and he was grieved because he had many possessions)
    • Eternal life = Being Ethical and moral - Jesus does not focus on loving God, of believing in God, but does affirm the goodness of God
    • Juxtaposition of earthly treasure and heavenly treasures - the man is asked to give up his earthly treasures in order to gain “treasure in heaven” only after receiving this treasure should he come and follow Jesus

      • What are treasures in heaven?
    • Like the prodigal son’s brother we do not know what the “man” decides
  • Wealthy entering Heaven

    • Camel and the eye of the needle:

      • Is not about a door in Jerusalem: Is there a door in Jerusalem’s CHurch of the Holy Sepulchre known as the eye of the needle? yes. It was built in the 16th century...clearly not about this passage
      • Is this a typo wherein Jesus meant a rope or cable (kamilos) instead of camel (Kamelos)? possible not not very probable.
      • Could Jesus actually be using hyperbole? Yes considering that Jesus does this repeatedly: pluck out your sinful eye, cut off your sinful hand, put a millstone around your next and throw yourself into the sea, etc.
    • So what’s the point? relationships and your neighbors matter more than your possessions (see also parable of the sower in Mark 4:18-19)
    • Not about wealth and possessions, but our attitude about wealth and possessions.

      • do you place your trust in God or your possessions?
      • German family after WW2- lost everything, but had each other and thus were rich
  • Who can be saved?

    • vv.28-31 is the antithesis of the prosperity Gospel
    • Isn’t it impossible to put others ahead of ourselves and to live completely in the Kingdom of God- YES, but with God all things are possible. Good connection with Hebrews
    • God’s grace in Jesus Christ shows u how to live with love, forgiveness and compassion (as God has taught previously in the commandments and the prophets)
    • The kingdom of God requires sacrifice- what are you unwilling to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God? Why?
    • We will receive 100 fold in many things: houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, field and …. persecutions - WHAT?!

      • Perhaps what Jesus is referring to here is the church - eternal life is not about what comes after death but the Kingdom of God
      • Will not all our houses be shared, will not all people be our brothers and sisters, will we not raise our children as family village and when we live like that - others will persecute us.
      • “If a gospel is preached without opposition, it is simply not the gospel which resulted in the cross. In short, it is not the gospel of love” Reinhold Niebuhr Sign for November, 2014

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • How do you address the human nature of Jesus? Was Jesus sinless (like Paul says in Hebrews) or is Jesus sinful (as perhaps indicated by only God being “good”)? Can Jesus/God truly know what it is to be human and yet remain sinless? Does our sinful nature and our response to sin define our humanity?
  • We know what earthly treasures are- what are heavenly treasures? If you were to make an Amazon wish list of treasures of heaven what would it include? Relationships, forgiveness, love, grace?
  • The challenge presented to the “man” are also presented to each one of us. How would you respond?

    • what are you unwilling to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God? Why?

Psalm Nugget:  Psalm 22:1-15 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.

Second Reading: Job 23:1-9, 16-17 Job’s complaint
Initial Thoughts

  • Skipped a lot, but can be summed up pretty easily. Job has lost everything. He has suffered greatly. His family, material possessions, status, and his health are in ruins. After sitting in silence for an extended period, his friends take turns trying to convince Job why he is suffering. They each hold onto the idea that Job has suffered because he has done something wrong. Job maintains his innocence.

    • “Eliphaz lays direct and specific charges against Job, in an attempt to bring him to an admission of his (supposed) wickedness. Then he concludes as he had done in his first speech- he appeals to Job to repent and submit to God.” (J Gerald Janzen, Interpretation: Job, p. 161)
  • Friends: Talk about God. Job: Finally talks to God.

Bible Study

  • Complaint

    • Lamentation is ultimately an act of hope. Complaining about the way things are implies that there is a way things should be.
    • Complaint/Lament is an address to God. It is not about trying to figure out God, replace God with logic, or defer to another source.
  • Job’s complaint

    • Convinced of his innocence, Job’s complaint is not about what has happened to him directly. It is about God’s perceived absence.
    • Job wishes to lay his case before God. Still confident in God’s justice, he wishes for an audience, but finds nothing.
    • Job’s complaint is about being forsaken.
    • “At the heart of Job's complaint is neither that he is suffering, nor even that God would allow such a thing, but that God feels distant, absent, so far removed as to be unknowable. A longing for a sense of God's presence, for God's attention, is what drives Job's complaint and is its tacit substance. This may not be the easiest of texts to preach. It may be difficult to even read. But we would do well not to leave the text alone, either ignored or left hanging.” (Karl Jacobsen, Working Preacher)
  • Eliphaz has tried to convince Job to submit, but Job will not yield.

    • Job considers such a settlement for peace to be no peace at all. “By strange paradox, the only loyal  act under the circumstances is rebellion… Job’s rebellion takes the form of a prayer for justice… That such an act of rebellion is an act of loyalty is indicated not only by the posture of the hand outstretched toward God in prayer, but by the content of Job’s yearning in the following verses.” (Janzen, p. 165).

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • The Book of Job does not answer the question of suffering. All it does it deny one understanding - that the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished. But really, a cursory look at the way the world operates reveals this to be true. What Job reveals is how we should respond to suffering. It is not up to us to figure out why. These common platitudes are all equally wrong:

    • “God needed another angel.”
    • “God is testing you”
    • “Everything happens for a reason.”

    Job does not answer the question, “Why?” It gives us a guide in the question of “What now?”
At the end of this week's reading, we are still on the ash heap with Job, but we have learned from him how to lament. We have learned from him how to bring our anger, pain, grief and despair directly to God, even when we feel only God's absence. We have learned from him how to have hope, even if only a little, “ (Kathryn Schifferdecker, Working Preacher)

  • Permission to complain is an important part of good morale. Not allowing room for complaint can lead to rebellion or abuse.

    • Top Ten complaints for bosses

      • No 1. Not recognizing employees’ achievements (Job’s chief complaint is that he is blameless).
      • No 2. Not giving clear directions (mystery as to what Job is to do next. He questions his existence because he sees no possible future).
      • No 3. Not having time to meet with employees (“Oh that I might know where to find him).
    • You can go through the whole top ten list and see what Job is complaining about.
    • Give people people permission to complain to God. Complaint is not unfaithful. Complaint only happens when the complainer believes that something can be done. If complaints go un-noticed, then the relationship is severed. As long as complaints are heard, there is relationship. As long as complaints are heard, there is hope for something more.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Advent Worship planning Google Hangout at 7:30 CDT on Tuesday, October 6. Led by Taylor Burton Edwards of Discipleship Ministries in the UMC. ”Why Advent? Why Christmas Season? How can you plan worship for these seasons that fulfills their intended purpose and deepens the spiritual life of worshipers?”  Link to the Hangout.

Thank you listeners

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “Heaven Don’t Come By Here” from their new album Leave Some Things Behind

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”).