156: Lent 3C (Feb. 28, 2016)


Episode 156 3rd Sunday of Lent - (Feb 28, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 156 for Sunday February 28, 2016,  Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Lent, Lent, Lent!
  • Social Media Holy Week coming up!

Voice in the Wilderness: Nelson Pierce, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13  

Featured Musician - Heatherlyn “You Gotta Move…” from her album  Storydwelling.

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  • Sarah Samuelson - Hello Guys! I start my week, each and every Monday morning with the two of you as I drive to church. Your work helps to center my thinking on the texts for the week. I also appreciate hearing about your ministry and what you're doing in your parishes. Thanks for all your efforts. You're starting to feel like old friends! I'm waiting for the first "Pulpit Fiction" preaching conference! I'll be there! Blessings! Sarah Samuelson
  • Marie Duquette

Donate by the end of March and be entered to win Hezekiah: Buried in the bowels of the Earth for centuries, recently unearthed by a team of hearty explorers  by listener Susan Presley, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Mendota, IL

Gospel Reading: Luke 13:1-9 Jesus calls for repentance
Initial Thoughts

  • Repent or perish!! Seems a little harsh
  • Seems very “John the Baptisty”

Bible Study

  • Context

    • Slaughter of the Galileans

      • not mentioned outside the Gospel of Luke
      • Presumable refers to Galileans who were killed by Pilate while offering sacrifices at the Temple
    • Jesus is asked to comment on the political issues of the moment- the slaughter of the Galileans, but instead of railing against the oppressive injustice of Pilate- he instead turns the focus back on the crowd- demanding repentance from them. True change begins with us.
  • Sin and suffering

    • God does not enact external punishment on “sinners”
    • Immediate rejection that the Galileans were killed because they were sinners or that this tragedy was God’s punishment
    • God’s wrath seems much more tied to our choice to change our hearts and minds to accept and share God’s grace than external factors
    • Awful things happen, but it is worse to deny or reject God’s love and grace
  • Repent?

    • Terrible translation of metanoia which means a change of Mind, a change in the trend and action of the whole inner nature, intellectual, affectional and moral.
    • The Greek does not contain any sense of regret or moralistic implication but rather a complete and total change of heart, gut, soul and mind
    • Common English Bible is a much better translation
    • About being transformed - not about feeling guilty
  • Barren Fig Tree

    • Allegory - God as the landowner, Christ as the Gardener and we are the fig tree
    • Classical theology as summed up in Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

      • We have all failed to bear the fruit expected of us and, therefore, are deserving to be cut down
      • Christ intercedes on our behalf (like the Gardener) and does everything in his power to help us bear good fruit (care, till, fertilize, etc)

        • “The manure around our roots is the very blood of the one who pleads for our justification before God, the one through whom we may offer up the fruits of the kingdom to our Creator.” Daniel Deffenbaugh - Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.
      • Still gives us a set time to bear fruit - change our hearts and minds - or face imminent wrath
    • How to handle this in a more progressive sense? There is something to this even if you are not a sacrificial atonement theologian (i.e. Christ died for our sins)

      • Affirm that God’s grace is a gift which is not earned
      • God’s grace can only be fully accepted when we change our hearts and lives toward God and neighbor
      • Eternal life is living in full relationship with God, self and neighbor
      • Christ shows us how to live in that fullness of life
      • By following Christ’s way we have a chance and a choice to accept God and other centeredness and life or self-centeredness and death
      • The “wrath” of God is as much one of our own choosing as it is God’s

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Are you and your church honest about the radical transformation required by the Gospel?

    • Are we honest about the complete “change of mind, trend and action of our inner whole” in order to follow Christ or do we make the Gospel palatable and relatable in order to get more members?
    • UMC - “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
  • Jesus is more concerned about being honest regarding the demands of a faithful life- are we willing to be that honest?
  • Jesus is asked to comment on the political issues of the moment- the slaughter of the Galileans, but instead of railing against the oppressive injustice of Pilate- he instead turns the focus back on the crowd- demanding repentance from them. True change begins with us.

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 63:1-8 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

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Second Reading:  Isaiah 55:1-9 God’s plans are not your plans
Initial Thoughts

  • v. 9 seems like a strange place to stop. Every commentary includes 1-13 as a unit. It is the whole of chapter 55, and the end of Second Isaiah. Stopping at 9 seems to end mid-thought.
  • Argument against including 10-13, this makes the reading a little long, and doesn’t really introduce any new ideas. It is more about the mysterious and yet effective nature of God. Expounds on the celebration that is to come, and the renewal of the land and the people, that even the mountains and trees will celebrate.

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • End of Deutero Isaiah, which began with ch 40. (argued)
    • Ch 40 starts with Comfort, a road being made through the Wilderness, a reflection on the withering nature of loyalty, but a promise that “God’s word will exist forever.”

      • Of particular import if you include v. 10-13, which includes affirmation that God’s word will not return to me empty, and that it will provide bread, and plants, and flowers.
    • Ch 55 begins with the invitation to come and drink and eat. In a way, this chapter is the completion of the road through the Wilderness. .
  • Two main themes are the Banquet, with its invitation being open to all; and Repentance, which is God’s ultimate will for all.

    • v. 1-5 Invitation to all to come to God’s Banquet

      • “To the hearer on the edge of exile and in the midst of real displacement from the land which God promised, what is promised here is outrageous. The economy of the promise here reiterated is built not upon the scarcity of exile but upon God’s abundance.” (Samuel Giere, Working Preacher)
      • Only requirement: Thirst and Hunger

        • Chastises those who spend money on things that are not necessities.
        • Extravagances are mocked, but Listening to God is what matters.
      • Covenant with David is still strong, but now it is extended to the community - not just the monarchy and the elite.
      • “A Nation you don’t know.”

        • God is opening up the covenant to include others.
        • God is using nations and leaders (Cyrus) that no one expected
        • God is doing a new thing in new ways - And people may reject that.
    • v. 6-9 Call for all to seek the Lord

      • Seek the Lord - while he can still be found

        • Invitation to all, but limited in time. God is patient, but decision to seek must be made.
        • Mercy offered to those who return to the Lord
        • :”My plans aren’t your plans,”

          • Human plans are often for vengeance and retribution.
        • Only repentance and pardon can open up relationship with God. Anything that we plan to take us to God will fall short.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • Invitation to the Great Banquet is open to all. The only requirement is hunger and thirst. Reminiscent of the beatitudes - “Blessed are the hungry and thirsty.” God’s Banquet is open to “the people” and to “nations you do not know.” A radical new understanding of God’s people. Coming at the end of exile, the road through the wilderness has come to this place, where all are welcome and the loyalty for David is extended to all.
  • God wills forgiveness and peace. Human plans get in the way of that all the time, but God’s plan is for forgiveness. While humans like to scheme vengeance and punishment, God’s plan is not like that. This is not the trite “It must be a part of God’s plan” in reference to suffering. God’s plan is not for suffering, and we just have to sit back and figure it out someday. God’s will is peace, but sometimes human plans get in the way.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners!
Good morning,
I was deeply touched by the gentleman who spoke so eloquently of his new understanding of I Corinthians 13 as he lived as a refugee in a new land.  Is that something that is available to share?  I would love to share that with my congregation as a lesson from the contemporary church.
I so enjoy your show and how it leads me to a deeper understanding of the text.  My sermons are richer for your work.
Sharing the journey,
Glenda Survance, Pastor, First Christian Church, Mooresville IN


Voicemail from Lee Saylor (not Taylor- sorry Lee!)


Featured Musician - Heatherlyn “You Gotta Move…” from her album  Storydwelling.

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 ("Sunday Morning" &“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”).