155: Lent 2C (Feb. 21, 2016)


155: Lent 2C (Feb. 21, 2016)

Featured Musician - Amy Cox “Draw Me Closer” from her album Coming Home to You

Episode 155 Second Sunday of Lent, Year C (February 21, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 155 for Sunday February 21, 2016. The second Sunday of Lent,  Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • 2nd time through lectionary. Meeting passages again for the first time.
  • Leah Gunning Francis

Voice in the Wilderness: Philippians 3:17-4:1 Heavenly citizenship

  • Diann Bailey, Associate Pastor of First Church of Christ, CT, Suffield, CT

Featured Musician - Amy Cox “Draw Me Closer” from her album Coming Home to You

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Gospel Reading: Luke 13:31-35 Sorrow for Jerusalem
Initial Thoughts

  • Pharisees are not the ‘Bad-Guys’

    • Jesus eats with Pharisees three other times in Luke - 7:36-50, 11:37-54, 14:1-21).
    • Some of Jesus’ most important teachings happened at the table of a Pharisee - often in opposition with them, but always in conversation.
    • In Acts 15:5, Pharisees are among the first believers. Still considered Pharisees even though they are a part of the Jerusalem Council

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • Luke 13:22-30, “Jesus traveled through the cities and villages, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’”

      1. Make every effort to enter the narrow gate, but some will be left outside the gate.
      2. Jesus claims that people from the North, South, East, and West will ‘sit down to eat in God’s Kingdom.’
      3. “Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last.”
    • Luke 9:9 - Herod, who had already killed John, heard about what Jesus was doing, and decided he wanted to see Jesus for questioning.
    • Immediately after (14:1) Jesus is eating at the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, and Jesus challenges them about humility, generosity, and healing on the Sabbath.
  • Pharisees warn Jesus not to go to Jerusalem because “Herod wants to kill you.”

    • Jesus response: “Tell that fox that I’m throwing out demons and healing people.”

      1. Fox - In OT: destructive pest. In Greek: clever and cunning.
    • When questioned by John’s followers, Jesus response, “Go report to John what you have seen and heard. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled now walk. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. And good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22).
    • Jesus ignores their warning. If death is where he is going, then so be it.
    • On Palm Sunday people are shouting, and again it is the Pharisees who try to keep them quiet. (Luke 19:39)
  • Jesus’s mission

    • “I am going to keep doing my thing. On the third day I will complete my work”

      1. Completed work on the third day is a clear allusion to Easter. Also an important understanding above and beyond substitutionary atonement. Jesus’ mission is not to die. It is resurrection. This inevitably includes death, but death comes because the people cannot accept him, not because it is his mission to die.
      2. “Impossible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem”

        • Except for Jeremiah, who died in Egypt, and Ezekiel, who died in Babylon (Common English Study Bible notes, p. 141 NT).
  • Jerusalem

    • Rejection of the people brings sorrow, not punishment.
    • “Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord”

      1. This is what the people will say upon Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in chap 19.
    • Jerusalem is a central theme in Luke. It is the central place of the ministry - as seen in Acts, and as told by Jesus just prior to ascension. It starts with Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then the ends of the earth.
    • Told as if the rejection has already happened. Fred Craddock, in the Interpretation commentary, points out 5 possibilities for this strange language.

1. The events are accomplished facts, and can be talked about as such.
2. Jesus’s prophecy of the future is so certain it can be past-tense.
3. Jesus had an earlier ministry in Jerusalem which Luke fails to mention.
4. Jesus is not referring to himself, but to God who has been rejected.
5. “By this ‘premature’ location of the lament, Luke is saying that there is yet time to repent, receive pardon for sin, and to welcome the reign of God. That offer, in fact, will continue to be made following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, an offer not only in Jerusalem but to the entire world.” (p. 175)
Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • It’s going to be a common refrain throughout Lent. There is a lot of dangerous water on which to tread in dealing with “The Jews” or Jerusalem. Jesus is not rejecting Jerusalem. He is yearning to embrace the people of Jerusalem, but knows that he too will be rejected. There is no condemnation for what the people have, only sorrow that they cannot see another way of being.
  • Jesus compares himself - and thus God - to a mother hen. Such explicitly feminine imagery can be very powerful. As David Lose says, “All of which brings me to yet a third question: when we only describe God with the typical male language of king and father, etc., do we run the risk of limiting our imagination? I’m particularly concerned with finding images that make God more accessible to women, but frankly I think we are all impoverished when we can only imagine God in the narrowest of terms.” (Working Preacher)
  • It is right, even inevitable, when dealing with this text, to ask about the present. Who or what is the 'Jerusalem' of the day in which one lives? Is it the political and civic sphere? Is it the religious sphere? Or is it both? Jerusalem was a center of both political and religious power and activity in the days of Jesus, but it refused to heed its prophets, of which Jesus himself was one. It is important at the same time to recall that, when judgment is declared, the purpose for such is that those upon whom the judgment falls may come to know their plight, repent, and be renewed. Judgment is pronounced for the sake of salvation. (Arland Hultgren)

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 27 Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

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Second Reading: Genesis 15:1-18  Covenant w/ Abram
Initial Thoughts

  • Right after the introduction of tithing - nice opportunity to bring in year round stewardship
  • Read it all!

Bible Study

  • Turning point in Abraham’s relationship with God - Abraham voices his doubts

    • Daniel Debevoise, Feasting on the Word:

      1. God speaks: Abram listens
      2. God promises: Abram believes
      3. God commands: Abram obeys
    • Abraham questions: God listens and responds
    • Faithfulness is not blind acceptance- it is questioning, struggle, but remaining in relationship

      1. Abram clear doesn’t fully believe God because the who Hagar incident in imminent
  • The irrational grace of God meets the distrustful rationality of humanity

    • we know we don’t deserve it
    • we know we cannot “earn” it
    • we assume that it isn’t real
    • H. R. Niebuhr paraphrase: “The first response of humanity to God is mistrust”
  • Abraham’s “dream”

    • The path of Abram’s blessing will not be typical but will be filled with odd twists and turns
    • God is preparing Abram that God’s promises will be fulfilled but not necessarily in the timeline or way Abram expects
  • The Miraculous sign

    • God does not condemn Abraham for his doubt
    • God gives what Abraham asks for- a sign
  • Covenant

    • One sided- God makes a covenant with Abram- seems unconditional

      1. God - deliver Abram’s descendants to the Promised Land
      2. Abram - remains faithful, remains in relationship with God

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • God acknowledges and honors Abram’s questions- how too can we encourage and honor the questions of our church and community members?
  • What are the promises of God? Do you believe them? Does your church believe them? Why or why not?
  • Are we willing to ask God for signs? What are the signs that we are given of God’s faithfulness? Can we train our eyes to be opened to see God’s signs?
  • Are we open to the strange and seemingly impossible ways God’s grace works? Abram and his descents will be blessed, but through barrenness, old age, exile, slavery, wilderness and war. Not how we might expect.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners

Thanks for all that you do on Pulpit Fiction. As many others have already said, I too have come to rely on Pulpit Fiction as one of my ‘go to’ sources for sermon prep.
In your podcast on The Transfiguration, you asked for listeners to let you know our thoughts on the transfiguration, so here are mine. In addition to the usual themes of mountain-top and valley, I find two things intriguing about the Transfiguration. The first is that until the Transfiguration, the disciples might have wondered about eternity, about Christ’s allusions to his resurrection, etc. But now, they have to wonder no more, resurrection is real. Previously, Moses and Elijah have only been storybook figures from Israel’s history, but here they are, in the flesh, still existing. No more will the disciples have to question what happens after death. For the faithful, here is proof that they still exist.
The second thought, and the more important to me, is that the disciples are still trying to figure out how all of Christ’s story fits together. What is he talking about with all of the stuff about the cross? Where is he going and why is he talking about leaving us, etc.? The disciples have no way of knowing what their futures will hold beyond this point, but God has said, “Listen to my Son.” I think about the trek back down the mountain following this experience, of the disciples simply following Christ, putting one foot in front of the other. Isn’t that what the Christian experience is all about? The only way we find God’s will for us in the world is to listen to Christ, but to also continue putting one foot in front of the other as we follow along. It is only through taking that ‘next step’ that we will ever know what all God has in store for us and what all he has for us to do in this life. Keep taking that next step.
In Christ,
Robert Blankenship, Pastor
Glade Spring Baptist Church
Glade Spring, VA


Amy Cox “Draw Me Closer” from her album Coming Home to You

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”).