139: Proper 26B (Nov. 1, 2015)


For Sunday November 1, Proper 26, Year B

Featured Musician -  Richard Bruxvoort Colligan with “God of Jacob, Hallelujah” from his album Shout for Joy.

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Image: movie poster from the movie The Story of Ruth (on YouTube)

Episode 139 Proper 26B
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 139 for Sunday November 1, Proper 26, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

Quick-Fire Scripture: Hebrews 9:11-14 Christ the perfect sacrifice

  • If you’re into sacrificial blood atonement, you’re going to love this. If not, it is at least important to know how this thought process works.
  • High priest makes a blood sacrifice to God, but Jesus is a more perfect High Priest because he used his own blood.
  • If the blood of animals worked, how much more will Jesus’ blood work? (This is a common rhetorical device of Paul, to present one truth, and then another that is even more apparent)
  • Incarnation is at the heart of this, and could be the way to go if you think of atonement in other ways.
  • There is no intermediary between the people and God.
  • Jesus, in becoming human, bridged the gap between God and humanity, so he is able to restore the relationship in ways that nothing else can.
  • There is no need for sacrifice or any more because in Jesus, our restoration was made complete.

Featured Musician -  Richard Bruxvoort Colligan with “God of Jacob, Hallelujah” from his album Shout for Joy.

DONATE- new site! Consider us for your upcoming budget!

Gospel Reading: Mark 12:28-34 The Greatest Commandment
Initial Thoughts

  • One of Jesus’ greatest hits.
  • Task of the preacher is to make this fresh - realizing it is possible some haven’t heard this before.

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • “One of the legal experts saw the disputes and saw how well Jesus answered them.” What were the nature of the disputes:
    • Jesus’ parable of the tenant farmers who beat up his managers, and then kill his son.” Legal experts see that this is a story against them, so they “wanted to arrest Jesus.”
    • Traps:

      • Should we pay taxes to Caesar?
      • Who is the woman going to be married to in the resurrection?
    • Then this legal expert seems to ask a genuine question, and has a conversation.
  • The conversation is familiar, but nuances of Mark are interesting.

    • Scribe asks “What is the greatest commandment?
    • Jesus responds “Love God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

    • Scribe then: “ "Well said, Teacher. You have truthfully said that God is one and there is no other besides him. And to love God with all of the heart, a full understanding, and all of one's strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself is much more important than all kinds of entirely burned offerings and sacrifices."

    • Jesus saw the man had wisdom and said: “You aren’t far from God’s Kingdom.”
  • Seems like a change from the rest of the chapter, when they are just trying to trap Jesus. This Scribe seems sincerely intrigued, and wants to know more. He and Jesus then have a conversation, in which the man is ‘blessed.’
  • What we see is not a battle of different texts, but a battle over the interpretation of the text. All those in this chapter are referring to the same traditions and same texts. In Jesus answers, he does not go against tradition so much as reinforce an already extant one. One however, that was not the dominant interpretation of the leadership of the time.

    • Each group has a different understanding of the tradition.
    • Jesus’ reading is one that looks at the heart, the motivation, and overarching way of life - and this is the way to the Kingdom of God.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • When Jesus says that the man is close to the Kingdom of God, that doesn’t mean the man is about to die. Does this mean the man is about to die. God’s Kingdom is not about where to go when you die. It is about understanding the will of God here and now. To love God and to love your neighbor is the purpose of living. Knowing that means you’re close. Living like that means you are there.
  • The first part of this chapter is more like modern news broadcasting. ‘Gotcha Journalism,’ has become a catchphrase. The religious leaders are trying to trap Jesus with ‘gotcha’ questions. Then the final man has a conversation. He wants to know what Jesus thinks. It seems that there is little time in today’s national discourse for trying to find out what people actually think. It is much easier to construct straw men or pithy memes or tweets. The traps leave Jesus and the leaders as adversaries. An honest dialog ends up with one of the Scribes getting close to the Kingdom of God.
  • Jesus does not present any new teaching here. He does add the part about loving your neighbor as yourself, but even this is from Leviticus 19:18. He is not giving them anything that they didn’t know. The passage he quotes would have been one of the most well known passages of their Bible. So much so, that the Scribes’ response is the other part of the Scripture.

    • Faith in God is equated with Love of God. Love of God is equated with loving neighbor. In order to show your faith in God, it is necessary to love your neighbor.

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 146 with withRichard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist)

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Second Reading: Ruth 1:1-18 Ruth remains loyal to Naomi
Initial Thoughts

  • The Book of Ruth

    • Critique of the homogenization and purification of Israel in the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah - both of which speak out against foreign wives
    • Ruth is foreign- Moabite (the worst of the worse), but will exemplify what it means to be faithful (caring for the widow) and the savior of Israel (keeping the family line alive and active- resurrection)
    • Ruth is David’s great-grandmother and is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:5)
  • While often read at weddings- this is about a different kind of fidelity and love

Bible Study

  • Wordplay abound

    • Naomi = pleasant, yet she becomes bitter (vv.20-21)
    • Ruth = friend
    • “Lodge” - can also mean to complain
  • Ruth is an unlikely faithful companion: foreign, widow, woman, enemy of Israel

    • Ruth is repeatedly referred to as “Ruth the Moabite”
    • v. 14 Ruth “clings” to Naomi - harkens back to Genesis 2:24 “therefore a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife”

      • A new “untraditional” family is created by this union of friendship, love and loyalty
  • Ruth’s pledge of loyalty

    • abandons gods, family and country to be faithful to Naomi- a HUGE risk
    • “Lodge” - can also mean to complain

      • Ruth accepts the hardship of what is to come and will live in the messiness of life with Naomi
  • God at work

    • No question of why God has caused such tragedy to happen or even where God is- only a faithful response.
    • God works through the unlikely - common theme in the Bible

      • Noah the drunk
      • Abraham and Sarah - old and barren
      • Jacob the trickster
      • Joseph the dreamer
      • Moses the stuttering murderer
      • Hebrew nation of slaves
      • David the little boy
      • David the adulterer and murderer
      • RUTH - woman, widow, alien, enemy to preserve the line of David
    • God is not the main character but is subtly working through Naomi, Ruth Boaz and others to bring about new life and hope in the midst of death and bitterness

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • During a time when immigration of Syrian Refugees is forefront in people's mind- perhaps it is time to remember and lift up how God works through the unlikely and unwanted (at least unwanted according to Ezra and Nehemiah). How have the unwelcome and unlikely been the saviors of a people?

    • The poor living on the lakefront wharves and beaches welcoming the rich during the Chicago fire
  • Are we willing to accept the companionship of others? Naomi is returning home with the constant reminder of her tragedy and with an enemy woman to explain (Katharine Sakenfield, NIB) Sometime accepting help and companionship is as difficult as offering it.
  • Are we willing to live with people in the wilderness of life. Not trying to fix or change them, but simply to be with them as Ruth pledges to “lodge” (or complain or suffer) with Naomi

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners and
Bobby Wilson - Hey, I just found you guys. Thank you so much for helping to equip pastors each week. I am so glad that there are folks like you both who care enough about helping preachers become better communicators. Thank you for your selfless service to all of us, fellow preachers on the front line.

Two milestones: 500 Followers on Twitter. 700 on Facebook. Thanks for all who follow, like, share.

Featured Musician - Richard Bruxvoort Colligan with “God of Jacob, Hallelujah” from his album Shout for Joy.

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”).


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