140: PROPER 27B (NOV. 8, 2015)


For Sunday November 8, Proper 27, Year B

Featured Musician - Koine, My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less from their 2006 album Koine.

Episode 140 Proper 27B
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 140 for Sunday November 8, Proper 27, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Thursday Night Special with Diana Butler Bass!

Quick-Fire Scripture: Hebrews 9:24-28 Christ’s One Sacrifice for All

  • Continues the base for the theology of sacrificial atonement and if that is your belief run with it because Hebrews lays it out pretty clearly from last week into this week.
  • But what is you don’t believe in sacrificial atonement? Do we just skip Hebrews- NO
  • Great way to engage with the basic question Hebrews is trying to answer - how is Jesus Savior?
    • Hebrews Answer: He was the ultimate sacrifice once and for all time- there is no need to offer another atoning sacrifice only hear and believe the good news in what Jesus has done
    • What is your answer? What is salvation to you? If it isn’t Jesus’ sacrificial atonement than what is it?
  • Alternatives:
    • Also we may not believe in needing to give atoning sacrifices to God, but don’t we still need to confess? An isn’t there an aspect of atonement in our confession?
    • Perhaps we need to confess because we don’t truly believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ- because if we truly believed it and lived it then we would need to confess.
    • Jesus showed us the way to most fully live in love of God and love of neighbor- more than any before or since
    • Jesus revealed the emptiness of self-preservation by showing that non-violent love and forgiveness important than even self preservation
    • Jesus revealed that eternal life is not something that comes later but is “at hand” when we love God and neighbor

Featured Musician -  Koine, My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less from their 2006 album Koine.

Consider us for your continuing education budget!

  • Thank you to your newest donors including East Anchorage United Methodist Church and their pastor Karen Dammann. "With schools in our neighborhood designated as the most diverse in the nation, East Anchorage UMC is celebrating that diversity with an expanded English As A Second Language Class. We already have students from Russia, Brazil, Samoan and Egypt! Prayers are appreciated for our new outreach, for our students, teacher, and tutors.”

Gospel Reading: Mark 12:38-44 “The Widow's Mite”
Initial Thoughts

  • Stewardship Fans rejoice….but should they?
    • Widow’s Mite or unfaithful scribes?

Bible Study

  • Sacrifice - latin origin meaning “to make sacred”
  • Contrast between the scribes and the widow
  • Scribes
    • Hypocrites - claiming to be righteous yet “devouring widows houses” instead of caring for widows
    • Might give much but sacrifice little
    • Strive to be the best or highest place in the religious arena (fighting for honor at synagogues and banquets)
    • Like to wear their long robes (like the modern clergy in fancy robes and nice suits?)
    • Greeted with honor (like the local church bemoaning its loss of power in the public spectrum)?
  • Widow
    • category of the most vulnerable (along with orphans and aliens)
    • On who should be cared for by the “righteous”
    • Gives little but sacrifices much
    • An example of a failed system- not an example of faithful giving
  • Message of critique against a religious system that results in the poorest giving all they have so the institutions can remain in wealth and comfort
    • This message strikes home for many- perhaps too close for some
    • Pastors concerned over losing their housing benefit
  • What matters?
    • Jesus is about to declare the destruction of the temple- all the offerings are somewhat useless in this regard - in some senses a terrible stewardship Sunday text
    • What matters? Maintaining the institution or caring for the least of least?

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • In what ways do we participate in a religious system which punishes the poorest? How can we overcome and transform those systems?
  • How is the “worth” of a congregation measured?
    • In members?
    • In budget?
    • In young families?
    • In the number of vulnerable cared for?
  • What are we unwilling to sacrifice for God? Our buildings? Our institutions? Our paychecks?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 127 with 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: Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 Ruth, Boaz and “his feet”
Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • What have we missed since last time?
    • Naomi and Ruth have been gleaning the fields of Boaz.
    • Boaz is a relative of Naomi’s husband, and thus has some duty toward her, but not Ruth. Also, his treatment of Ruth in particular is extremely kind. He goes out of his way to make sure that Ruth and Naomi are provided for.
    • Ruth no longer referred to as “the Moabite,” but instead as “Naomi’s daughter-in-law.”
  • Cultural things to note
    • These two widows, one of whom was foreign, would have no chance for security outside of the protection of a man. Gaining a husband was the only chance for long-term security. However, Ruth getting married would not have inevitably led to Naomi’s care
    • Allowing the poor to glean from the leftover of the grains was a Levitical law.
    • Term “Redeemer” is used to designate Boaz as a relative of Naomi, who would be at least partially responsible for her care. He has legal right to redeem land that would have been her husband’s for the sake of caring for her.
      • Redeemer of the land and Redeemer as one who marries Ruth are not necessarily tied together.
      • Katharine Doob Sakenfeld makes the argument that Ruth’s use of word go-el, which can be described as next-of-kin, or redeemer is not a legal term, and cannot be traced directly back to Levitical interpretation. Instead, it appeals to the “central motif of the story as a whole, namely, human protection and support as a manifestation of God’s redemptive care.” (Interpretation: Ruth, p. 61) In other words, caring for one another is the way that we love God. God’s salvation happens through the kindness, generosity, and love of humans toward one another.
    • “Feet” may not have been feet. A sexual relationship between Ruth and Boaz, while not explicitly mentioned until after they are married, is at least implied.
    • Women would not have been allowed on threshing floor. Ruth’s actions are quite bold.
  • What did we miss by lectionary editing?
    • Ruth’s own initiative.
      • In lectionary reading Ruth is reduced to little more than a body following orders. She follows Naomi’s orders, then marries Boaz, gets pregnant, and lives happily ever after.
      • Ruth does not do exactly what Naomi says. She does not simply sit by his feet and wait for his response. Instead, she takes initiative and calls upon Boaz to act.
    • Boaz’s response
      • He refers to Ruth as eset chayil, same term as found in Proverbs 31. Rachel Held Evans has translated this famously as “Woman of Valor.” He remarks on her courage, and her place even though she is a poor, foreign, widow.
    • Community’s response
      • After this exchange, Boaz goes to make the transaction, the whole process is witnessed and blessed by the community.
      • Doob-Sakenfeld refers to this is the “Peaceable Community.”
        • “A foretaste of God's promised future, of the peaceable kingdom in the microcosmic form of a single village as a peaceable community, includes features and comes about by processes that many readers in today’s communities of faith find objectionable.” (p. 67)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • The story of Ruth is confined in ancient culture. In one way, Naomi and Ruth are victims of a patriarchal system that reduces them to their beauty and wombs. They are victim of circumstances, and not allowed to take control of their own lives. Even their reward is only in who Ruth births. This is all true, but within the confines of the culture at the time, they are remarkable women who take initiative, risk, and care for one another. They become an intertwined inseparable pair, and they are given new life and security. They are richly blessed, and Ruth becomes the grandmother to the greatest King of Israel.
  • Depending on context, much can be done with the sexuality of Ruth. Did she use sex for her gain? Did she have sex with Boaz before they were married? Is there room in the church to explore the sexuality of women in a positive light? She is not the evil seductress, she is the Proverbs 31 Woman - but she used sex to achieve her goal of security. Interesting dynamic, to say the least.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Word And World, September 2013 features an article outlining a sermon series on Ruth. Features articles from many known people from Working Preacher - Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, Karoline Lewis, etc. (You may need a password to access it)
  • Also on on Working Preacher, an outline for a Four-Part Series on Ruth.

Thank you listeners and 
Diana Tyler - I’ve caught several of your shows since Lion & Lamb, and I just want to say how much I appreciate the fun and lightheartedness that all three of you (Rob, Eric and Richard) bring to scripture examination.  I learn a lot, and I laugh a lot, too.  (FWIW, I’m in the “Bible Geeks” category….  J )
Have a God week, y’all.
Erin Michelle Simmons: On Facebook shared the Walter Brueggemann interview: “Listening to this at work today! Really enjoying getting into this podcast series.”
Five Star iTunes Review: PastorMoira: “A wonderful commentary each week, stretching my brain with many new ways of thinking about the Scriptures and ministry. Thanks for your work, your conversation, and the way you engage each other, and the way you disagree with each other (an excellent model for our lives together).”

Featured Musician - Koine, My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less from their 2006 album Koine.

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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