141: Proper 28B (Nov. 15, 2015)


For Sunday November 15, Proper 28, Year B

Featured Musician -  Rob Leveridge, “Welcome,” from his album that is under construction called “Sacred Days.” We’ll tell you more about this exciting project as our Tasty Wafer.

Episode 141 Proper 28B
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 141 for Sunday November 15, Proper 28, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Pulpit Fiction Headquarters has moved!
  • Thursday Night Special with Diana Butler Bass!

Quick-Fire Scripture: Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25

  • Our last time with Hebrews.
  • The rhetorical climax of the letter. All of the talk about Jesus and the nature of sacrifice leads to this point. The last of the therefores and sinces leads to: Hope, Good deeds, gathering for encouragement.

    • Let's hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable.
    • Let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds.
    • Don't stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.Don't stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.
  • All of the high-minded theological stuff about the nature of sacrifice is boiled down to hope, kindness, and fellowship.

Featured Musician -  Rob Leveridge, “Welcome,” from his album that is under construction called “Sacred Days.” We’ll tell you more about this exciting project as our Tasty Wafer.

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Susan - Hezekiah: Buried in the bowels of the Earth for centuries, recently unearthed by a team of hearty explorers,

  • This humorous, eight-chapter book (plus accompanying notes) is written in the style of the Old Testament prophetic books. Though Hezekiah was an actual king of Israel, there is no book in the Bible named for him. Therefore, the two authors have chronicled a fictional account of Hezekiah’s life that includes idioms, proverbs, and aphorisms that are often erroneously attributed to the Bible. The notes that follow the faux scripture explain the true origin of the expressions in a light-hearted manner.

Gospel Reading: Mark 13:1-8 - Little Apocalypse
Initial Thoughts

  • Our last bit of Mark for quite some time. Gospel readings will be mostly Luke and John for the next year.
  • Ends on a high note before Christ the King Sunday and Advent.

Bible Study

  • Apocalyptic literature

    • A genre of ancient Jewish writing that must be understood in its context.

      • Pessimistic view of history
      • Anticipation of the end of the world in some great imminent crisis (often in light of current crisis)
      • Dualistic understanding of human existence.
      • Visions of cosmic upheaval - that the material world has a parallel spiritual world, which has great impact upon the material. (Lamar Williamson, Interpretation: Mark, p. 235)
    • “Much of what is stated here is apocalyptic boilerplate. Jewish apocalyptic literature had been working with such themes, imagery, and topoi for several centuries leading up to the time of Jesus and Mark in the first century. Conservative biblical literalists, who look for the specific fulfillment of Jesus' prophecies in our modern age, completely misunderstand this genre of literature.” Micah Kiel, Working Preacher.
    • “In a nutshell, apocalyptic literature stems from a worldview that believes that everything happening on earth represents and correlates with a larger, heavenly struggle between good and evil. It therefore reads into earthly events cosmic significance and anticipates future events on earth in light of the coming battle between the forces of God and the devil. Hence, it often tries to make sense of current events and experiences by casting them in a larger, cosmic framework and in this way give comfort to people who are currently suffering or being oppressed.” David Lose, Working Preacher
    • Jesus’ teaching is set in context of the destruction of the Temple, which probably already happened when Gospel of Mark is written.

      • Apocalyptic thought arises largely out of current disaster, in this case the destruction of the Temple sent the author of Gospel to explain why such a thing occurred.
  • Jesus words are spurred by two statement/questions of the disciples
  1. “Look at this amazing building”

    • I’ve always heard this disciple as a Gomer Pyle type of Galilean country boy, going to the big city for the first time and saying, “Well Gol-ly! Look at them stones and buildings!”  But, given how Jesus has been quite candid about going to Jerusalem and being betrayed by the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, I should give this disciple more credit. It could be more akin to, “Seriously? We’re going to take this on?” D. Mark Davis, Left Behind and Loving It.
  2. “When is this going to happen?”

    • Jesus doesn’t answer.
    • Not a prediction - words of encouragement for those going through tragedy (as is with most apocalyptic literature)
  • Meaning for original readers

    • The events Jesus described are at the very least recent memory, and there are many explanations as to why this is happening. Many thought these were signs of the end, but Jesus is in fact saying otherwise.
    • “From perspective of the first readers of the text, these events might have already happened, or be in progress, or still be future.” In light of the Roman-Jewish war of 66-70, the “the meaning of the chapter is clear. Contrary to popular expectations in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic circles, war and catastrophe, persecution, and the fall of Jerusalem and desecration of the Temple were not sure signs of the end of the world. Though these things had just occurred, ‘the end is not yet.’ The end of history is rather to be associated with ‘the coming of the Son of Man in glory, which will occur only at the collapse of the cosmos - a combination of catastrophes for the sun, moon, and stars which will be unmistakable… From now on, for Christians, the coming of the Son of Man in glory replaces the Temple as the locus of hope for the full realization of the Kingdom of God. The intention of the text is therefore to call the followers of Jesus to hope for the coming of the Son of Man.” (Williamson, p. 238. Emphasis added)
  • Meaning today

    • Apocalyptic literature is still very popular. People love “end of the world” stories. This chapter of Mark helps us keep in balance between those that say “the end of the world is near,” which Jesus proclaims is not in our hands, and those that claim there is God is not involved in the world.
    • “Our historical situation today is analogous to that of the first readers in at least one important respect: The historical sings which many people associate with the end of the world have occurred (countless times by now), but the final coming of the Son of Man still lies in the future. Mark 13 speaks whenever advent hopes are excited by calculations that conclude, “This is the time!... In another respect, however, our historical situation is quite different from that of the first readers. The cosmos did not collapse nor did the Son of Man come in clouds with great power during the lifetime of the Twelve…. If Mark 13 offers a correctives to the apocalyptic enthusiasm on the one hand, it addresses a challenge to jaded skepticism on the other. To planners who face the future with only such guides as actuarial tables and economic indicators, this chapter announces God’s intervention in history to judge and to save.” (Williamson, p. 241. emphasis added)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Williamson points to three ways that we should respond to Jesus call to “watch”
  1. Stress the urgency of “Watch.” We are to keep watch for this is literally coming soon. This stresses the urgency of an immediate hope. This interpretation was particularly helpful in times of great tragedy or overwhelming institutional oppression. Jesus seems to be calling out corrupt institutions as ‘about to fall.’

    1. When this is co-opted however, by a traditional ruling class, it can lead to a a troubling triumphalism and voyeurism in the coming “they’ll get theirs” attitude of those who love the Left Behind theology.
  2. Rationalize future hope in terms of present pragmatism. The need to keep watch instills a desire to do what’s right for what is to come.

    1. Like the watchers on the wall of “Game of Thrones.” Their sense of duty and mission comes from a sense of prolonged responsibility for generations to come.
  3. Demythologize the language to understand the coming as the realization of the rule of God in one’s own experience. The interpretation of the “Watch” is inward - to be watchful is to be mindful of God’s presence in one’s own life. Sometimes Christ’s presence is after a time of trial, or in tragedy, or in the daily mundaneness of life. The coming of the Son of Man is when all are watchful for not the own cares, but for the needs of others.

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 16 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:1 Samuel 1:4-20 - Hannah Prayer for a son
Initial Thoughts

  • Be very attentive to those in your congregation who have lost a child, are unable to have children or have more children - this may really going to hit them hard
  • Tricky- what does this really have to do with the Gospel? Perhaps Daniel would be better suited for the “Little Apocalypse” of Mark 13.
  • Apocalyptic literature is as much about hope as it is about fear- Hope that the way things are is not always how they will be

Bible Study

  • Background

    • Hannah is the wife of Elkanah who has another wife, Peninah
    • Son = security, if Elkanah dies Hannah is left with nothing
    • This also sets the stage for her song in Samuel 2 (later sung by Mary when she hears that she will give birth to Jesus)
  • Hope in the midst of grief- things are not the way they should be

    • “Persecuted” by everyone else in the story: God, Peninah, Elkanah and Eli

      • She has no one to comfort her (kind of like Job)
    • Until you have stood for years knocking at a locked door, your knuckles bleeding, you do not really know what prayer is
    • remains in prayer
  • Holiness mistaken as drunkenness

    • Like Pentecost
    • Perhaps the assumption that she must have done something wrong in order to be barren

      • Lung cancer vs breast cancer
    • Rebukes before he asks her need - he does not know what she is going through
    • “Pray like there is no one watching”
  • Steadfast love of God endures forever

    • God delivers, but not always - name this inconsistency and speak to it - what happens when our prayers are not answered and we are left knocking at the closed door
    • Perhaps we need a wider perspective (like Elkanah tries to provide: Am I not worth more than 10 sons- easy to say when he has sons from his other wife)
    • Samuel does not mean I asked, but rather “God hears”

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • How do we handle hopelessness? Can we rest in the tension without assuming (like Eli), Brushing off (like Elkanah) or holding ourselves above (like Peninah)
  • Simple dismissing someone else’s suffering without getting to know them or try to “fix” them is not helpful. Simply telling the addict to stop or the depressed or grief stricken person to be happy is not helpful. What would it mean to enter into prayer for and with that person without a preconceived result?
  • How often do we let what other people think influence our prayer? Grace at home but not when we are out? INstead of being a witness to thankfulness and belief we fear what others may think

    • Also can be taken out of context as well as in “Look at me everyone! I’m praying! See how holy I am!” - Jesus clearly rejects this kind of prayer

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Rob Leveridge’s newest album and project Sacred Days. This is an exciting project by a great artist and pastor. Rob is producing music to be used in worship especially for particular moments of worship like Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, and more. His song “Welcome” was our featured song this week, and is available for free on Rob's page..
  • Fundthisministry.org A crowd funding resource for progressive Christianity. A project of the Convergence Music Project, which we have learned about through Brian McLaren and other friends of the show.

Thank you listeners and
Jonathan Conrad @pjconrad “How do you prepare write and present a sermon to a 21st century Christian?”
@revmatt1774: In response to a tweet from @FatPastor about Diana Butler Bass being a Protestant Mystic, he said first; “I did a sermon recently about Jane Leade - an English seventeenth century Behmenist Protestant mystic!” He then sent another tweet that said, “I’m listening to your podcast now.”

New Reviews on iTunes:
By UF Bobby: Five Stars “This is a great podcast for preachers. It is an excellent resource for pastors who use the Revised Common Lectionary. It is also a great resource for non-pastors who are interested in furthering their understanding of Scripture and interpretation of Scripture. Thank you for all you two do! I listen every week!”

We also got our first 4-star review, but there was no explanation. 26 total ratings: 25 are 5-star, 1 is 4-star.

Featured Musician -  Rob Leveridge, “Welcome,” from his album that is under construction called “Sacred Days.”.

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”).