158: Lent 5C (March 13, 2016)



Episode 158 Lent 5C- (March 13, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 158 for Sunday March 13, 2016, Lent 5C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • The Big Short - depressing; Spotlight - depressinger
  • Oscars - Chris Rock
  • Thursday Night Special with Meredith Gould

Voice in the Wilderness: Philippians 3:4-14 w/  Rev. Sarah Renfro

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “I Will Love You” from their album No More Rain

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Gospel Reading: John 12:1-8 Anointing of Jesus
Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • Context

    • Lazarus has just been raised from the dead (John 11)
    • Story right before Palm Sunday (In John’s Gospel)

      • Saturday before Palm Sunday
    • Six days before the passover (Crucifixion of Jesus) - the end is nigh
  • Martha

    • v.2 is often overlooked - Martha served- diakonia
    • 12:26 - “Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me.”
    • Both Martha and Mary serve Jesus
  • Mary

    • Mary and Martha - Martha prepares the meal and Mary anoints
    • Sister of Lazarus
    • Motivations are never mentioned
  • Nard- wikipedia

    • Very expensive- most likely imported from India
    • Years wages worth - pure, not watered down
    • Seemingly wasteful and extravagant
    • The smell of the perfume would have clung to Jesus even unto dying on the cross- as he is being crucified he may still have been able to smell the anointing Nard
  • Foot-washing or Anointing

    • Scandalous!

      • Jewish women were not allowed to “let their hair down” in public
      • Sensual act of touching and washing Jesus feet - he is not her husband
      • No more appropriate then than it would have been now
    • Foreshadowing

      • Mary does what Jesus will institute later on Maundy Thursday - she demonstrates servitude and love
      • The anointing shows she (unlike the 12) knows Jesus will die
    • Anointing

      • Kings and prophets were anointed - Jesus’ trial will focus on Kingship “Are you the King of the Jews?”
      • Anointing a body for burial
      • What does it mean to love and worship a crucified King?
  • Judas

    • Understandable concern and outrage - why waste when there is need?
    • Need for clarification (v.6) - Judas did not care for the poor
    • Judas as the anti-Mary

      • Mary = radical service, love and devotion
      • Judas = self interest, own motivations and doubt
  • Jesus’ response

    • Commends Mary (instead of rebuking- like Jesus does to Peter)
    • Quotes Deuteronomy 15:11 in essence if not in exact wording: “Poor persons will never disappear from the earth. That's why I'm giving you this command: you must open your hand generously to your fellow Israelites, to the needy among you, and to the poor who live with you in your land.”

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Service to others (as exemplified in Martha and Mary) is rooted in devotion to Jesus. Do we always tie the two together?

    • Are our actions of outreach and service rooted in faith?
    • Is our faith exemplified in extravagant sacrifice and service?
  • We may not be able to “fix poverty” - we cannot do it with God’s help, but that should never prevent us from service to others.

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

Second Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21 God is doing a New Thing
Initial Thoughts

  • “Among the exiles, about a generation after the time of Ezekiel, there lived a person with a sense of divine calling, whom we now call Second Isaiah, the author of the materials of Isaiah 40-55. This prophet’s major mission was the battle against cognitive surrender.” (Donald Gowan, Theology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of Israel, p. 147).
  • Surprising then, for any Scripture, but especially for this prophet to tell people to forget the past. Most of the time the Torah and the Prophets exhort the people to “remember.” Most of the trouble comes when people forget God and what God has done.
  • “Perhaps this passage might be summarized: The Lord is on the verge of doing such a startlingly new thing that models for this impending act of grace are to be found almost nowhere” (James Newsome, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 229)

Bible Study

  • v. 16-17 Remember the Exodus

    • Recalls the God who “makes a way in the sea,” and who extinguished the chariot and horse, army and battalion, “like a wick.”
    • Exodus is a foundational story. The decisive act of God in bringing the people out of Israel is found in Exodus 14, and celebrated in Exodus 15.
    • Exodus 15:21 “Miriam sang the refrain back to them: ‘Sing to the Lord for an overflowing victory. Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!” is among the oldest pieces of oral tradition in the Torah (Terence Fretheim, Interpretation: Exodus).
    • The sea is primordial chaos. God is the one who makes a way out of the sea.
    • Creating God - who formed order out of chaos - is same as Exodus God.
  • v 18-19 Forget the Exodus

    • “Second Isaiah declares that the second exodus will so far overshadow the first that the exodus from Egypt will be forgotten.” (Gowan, p. 154)
    • “It is fascinating that the prophet, having gone to so much effort to invoke the past, continues in verse 18 with the injunction: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old!” The command is surprising and serves as an effective rhetorical device to get the people’s attention, for the prophet is not content to have the people wax nostalgic about the “good old days.”” (Callie Plunket-Brewton, Working Preacher)
    • “One may argue, of course, that v 18-19 do not constitute a denial of the exodus motif, but merely an extension of it… Yahweh’s saving grace so far outstrips human comprehension that only the language of negation is capable of describing it. To be sure, God’s grace is like what Yahweh did at the Red Sea, but it may also be said that it is not like the Red Sea incident, in that it far surpasses that moment in time.” (Newsome, p. 230)
  • v 20-21 A new thing

    • “A way through the desert,” is the new “Path through the sea.”
    • Once again, the people will walk on land that is prepared by God, and what is past will forever remain in the past.
    • The new thing is framed by the exodus, but even this amazing foundational act is not enough to describe what is happening.
    • Imagining the exodus is just the starter for the creative possibilities of what God is doing.
    • People are invited into the imaginative process with the knowledge that what has happened in the past is not enough to cover what will happen.
    • Second Isaiah is the original “think outside the box,” guy.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • Water is the theme that this passage together. God uses the waters of chaos to create order. He uses water to bring the people from bondage to freedom. Uses water to make a desolate place a place of life. Water is the turning point from chaos to order, bondage to freedom, and death to life. This could be a good Sunday for baptism.
  • Language of the Warrior God can often be twisted into nationalistic, patriotic, fear-mongering. If the Pharaoh is understood as representative of evil, worldly power, it can be useful and adaptable. Pharaoh who was extinguished like a wick in exodus just as evil was extinguished with end of exile, and Emperor was extinguished with Resurrection. Make claim then today, that God can extinguish the evil power of this world. More than a little problematic however, if you insert a specific tribe, nation, or people into the role of Pharaoh.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners
@NelsoPierceJr tweeted: “@HeatherlynMusic Your song on @PulpitFPodcast was great. My church member and I were singing it all the way to church Sunday.”
@HeatherlynMusic: “Thanks! That’s fun to hear! Bests and bless, brother.”
@PulpitFPodcast: “This is why we do what we do: Connecting the text, music, ideas, but above all, people. #MuchLove”


Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “I Will Love You” from their album No More Rain

Voice in the Wilderness: Rev. Sarah Renfro

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”, "Real Ride" and “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”).