144: Advent 2C (Dec. 6, 2015)


144 for Sunday December 6, Advent 2C

Featured Musician - Ethan Keller “Emmanuel” from his album, “One Way”

Episode 144, Advent 2C - (Dec 6, 2015)

Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 144 for Sunday December 6, the 2nd Sunday of Advent,  Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • When to start planning for Lent?
  • Kind of...Eric’s first Sunday at Crystal Lake
  • Eric Elnes

Quick-Fire Scripture: Philippians 1:3-11 - Thankfulness and Love

  • Thankfulness for the church - how often do we give thanks for the church and reflect on the joys and good news that your local community brings to the greater world?

    • Stewardship season doesn’t count :)
  • Thanksgiving is based on “Sharing the good news” constantly

    • How does your church share the good news?
    • The heart of evangelism is not door to door membership recruiting but sharing the Good News!
  • What is Paul’s hope? That “love may overflow more and more with knowledge and insight”

    • Bible study is important insofar as it leads to greater love, science and learning is important insofar as it leads to greater love
  • Purity and Blamelessness is based in how we share our informed and educated love- not in conservative social norms

    • What does blame accomplish? shifts responsibility to another (e.g. Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the snake, etc)
    • Take responsibility for wrongdoing through confession, acknowledge the grace of God already offered to you- don’t fall into the “Blame game”

Featured Musician - Ethan Keller “Emmanuel” from his album, “One Way”

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Special Thanks to:

  • Rick Hogan
  • Nina Wynn
  • Robin Kleinschmit
  • Marie Meeks!

Gospel Reading: Luke 3:1-6- A Voice in the Wilderness
Initial Thoughts

  • This and the Immanuel passage of Isaiah 7 are the primary text that come to mind for me (Eric) during Advent
  • Part 1 of a larger passage Luke 3:1-18. John’s message is divided into 2 weeks- so if you want your hypocrites and vipers- just wait a week :)
  • Timing- Emperor Tiberius (not Augustus, Augustus was emperor from 27 BC to 14 AD, Tiberuis from 14 AD to 37). So the 15th year would be around 30 AD

Bible Study

  • v. 1-2 Who God chooses

    • Imagine these verses as a movie in which we see the “known world” the center of which is Rome and we slowly zoom in- but not where we expect. Who does God choose?

      • Emperor Tiberius - nope
      • Pontius Pilate - nope
      • Herod - nope
      • Philip - nope
      • Lysanius - nope
      • Annas and Caiaphas - nope
      • John...yep...wait, who?
    • Once again John chooses the most unlikely candidate in the most unlikely place
    • Also consistent with the OT prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah) which being by seeing the prophet in a geo-political historical context
  • What God is doing through this nobody in the backwater of the world will affect everything- even up to the emperor

    • There is a foreshadowing of what is to come:

      • Jesus confrontations with Annas and Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate
    • This is not the world of a Deist, “Divine Watchmaker” God but a God who is intricately involved in the geo-political and historical messiness of humanity and Earth- albeit in completely unexpected ways
  • Repent!

    • metanoia - a radical change of heart
    • “Change your whole way of thinking” - Eric Elnes interpretation of metanoia
    • Not a message the Kingdom of God is near, but change your way of thinking for forgiveness
    • Forgiveness comes from the Greek root to “Let go” (Veli-Matti KãRkkãInen, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 1: Advent through Transfiguration.)

      • Forgiveness is not a simply “letting go and letting God”....or is it? Forgiveness whether accepted from God or offered to another is much more complex, but is it possible without inviting God in to pick up where we “let go”?
  • Isaiah 40

    • Message of hope to Exiles
    • Message of hope for those longing for salvation
    • Salvation necessitates change from the Status Quo - otherwise we have nothing to be saved from or for- only those who are discontent with the current state of things long for salvation
    • Preparing the way of the Lord - making it easy for the Messiah, the salvation of God to come- how? Repentance

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Often we think of John message of repentance and forgiveness to be about us needing to repent and receive forgiveness, but perhaps we need to change our way of thinking into to offer forgiveness to others.

    • Are we able to forgive without a radical change of heart, mind and soul?
  • How will you repent this Advent? How will you lead your church into repentance?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 126 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist)

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Second Reading: Luke 1:67-79 Zechariah's song
Initial Thoughts

  • Stands in the lectionary in the place of the Psalm.
  • Cearly pairs with the other Gospel reading, for Zechariah’s song comes as a response to John the Baptist’s birth.
  • My blog post: Declare that the Dawn is Coming
  • John the Baptist is a common figure in the Advent story, but Zechariah is often ignored (No one ever says, “Hi Dad” at the camera).

Bible Study

  • Zechariah’s story

    • Zech is the first man named in the Gospel of Luke - a high priest, whose wife Elizabeth was a daughter of a priest. A priest who married a PK.
    • Both righteous before God, blameless, and barren. No child.
    • Chosen to enter the sanctuary (Holy of Holies? According to Common English Bible, this is “a holy place, containing a menorah, a table for sacred bread, and a small container for burning incense.” (Common English Study Bible, p. 105 NT)
    • During this trip into the sanctuary, an angel appears to Zechariah, and tells him that Elizabeth “will give birth to your son and you will name him John. He will be a great joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes: He must not drunk wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. He will bring many Israelites back to the Lord their God… He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:13-17, CEB)
    • Zech’s response: “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”
    • Gabriel: “You won’t speak until he is born.”
    • Zech comes out, can’t speak. People know something happened. Elizabeth gets pregnant.
    • When John is born, neighbors say that they should name him “Zechariah.” Z gets a tablet and writes, “His name is John” (which means God is Gracious). Then he can speak. When the neighbors hear this they wonder, “What then will this child be?”
  • The Song

    • About God

      • “for he has delivered” interesting verb tense. This implies that the people are already saved - even though John is just a baby and Jesus isn’t born yet.

        • The salvation is present because of God’s promise in the past. Connected to Abraham. This is not a new thing that God is doing, but a part of God’s great work of salvation.
        • God’s promise of salvation transcends current political state.
        • Judah is still occupied by Rome, but Zech declares “He has brought salvation from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us.”
        • They may not be delivered from Rome, but they are delivered from Rome’s power. - This is the story of Resurrection. The power of Rome, which is centered on the threat of the cross, is not enough to keep Jesus from Resurrection.
    • About John

      • Only a few verses about John
      • What he does say about John is more about what he will do for God.

        • Be a prophet
        • Prepare the way
        • Tell people about the power of forgiveness.

Sermon Thoughts and Question

  • “What then will this child be?” What parent hasn’t wondered that aloud? What do you wonder about your child - or any child you care about? John was given a vision of this child’s future, but can any other child have any less of a calling? John is called to “tell his people how to be saved through the forgiveness of sins.” Can any of us not achieve this as well? Being a prophet is not about having magical powers, or being touched by angels. It is about speaking God’s truth to people who need it.

    • But I’m here to tell you that God rejoices no less for you than did Zechariah  for his son.  Zechariah so loved his son that he could glimpse him through God’s eternal eyes.  God so loves you that he has laid out a path for you to follow.  God has given you something that makes you uniquely you.  There is something in you that transcends employment, labels, gender, race, or status.  God has created you with a purpose, and is calling you to that purpose today.  You were created to do no less than John once did – to prepare the way of the Lord, and “to show the people the way to salvation through the forgiveness of sins.” (Robb McCoy)
  • “He has granted that we would be rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear.”

    • What is the power of our enemies?
    • When terrorism changes our values. When we allow fear to rule our hearts and decisions. When we fear a man because he is black. Then we are allowing our enemies to have power over us. Instead, we have salvation. Salvation from what? From fear, and from the power of our enemies.
  • Lots could be done with Psalm 23 and the last line. “To give light to those in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.”

    • When do you sit in the shadow? How does Advent call us out?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Excellent new podcast- Beyondering by Matt Cutler and Lucas Taylor, both incredible podcasters and minister in Melbourne Australia. Beyondering explores spirituality in the modern world by asking the traditionally taboo questions such as, Where does God fit into today and tomorrow?  How do we express spirituality authentically and truthfully? Matt and Lucas also host excellent guests such as John Dominic Crossan, Walter Brueggemann, John Shelby Spong and others. check it out at Beyondering.com.au

Thank you listeners and

  • Moira Finley, Pulpit Fiction supporter and  pastor of the Tri-Jo parish which consists of Trinity UCC, Shoicton and St. John’s UCC, Cecile in the northwoods of Wisconsin, “I think we often forget, or overlook, or purposely ignore the part where the commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. At least among the people I know it's so easy to get busy worrying about loving others that we neglect our own lives, souls, hearts, and minds. I don't think the commandment can work at all if we aren't also worrying about ourselves. So how can the commandment be understood in terms of our relationship, not only with G-d and others, but with ourselves? How can the Shema, and its companion change how we look at ourselves, how we treat our own need for care, nurture, and Sabbath?“

2 New 5-star reviews on iTunes:

  • Nate Battle - Consistant Mainline- This podcast is helpful for anyone that uses the Revised Common Lectionary and has experience in mainline Christian approaches to scripture. I listen every week now. I could live without both the attempts at humor and music still the bible discussions are right on and helpful.
  • Jggnyr - A big cup of brain juice - Even if I’m not preaching the lectionary on a particular week, I listen to Robb and Eric. Their humor, insight, and humble stabs at interpretation get my brain whirring. Add a dose of Holy Spirit, and I‘m on my way to wrestling a sermon to the ground. Keep it up guys!


Featured Musician - Ethan Keller “Emmanuel” from his album, “One Way”

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”).