165: Easter 6C (May 1, 2016)


165: Easter 6C (May 1, 2016)

Voice in the Wilderness: Acts 16:9-15 Paul’s travels lead to Lydia

Featured Musician - Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, “The River of God” (Psalm 17) From his newest album Trust which is available now here!

Featured Musician - Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Healing River” from his album Come to the Feast.

Episode 165 Sixth Sunday of Easter - (May 1, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 165 for Sunday May 1, 2016, the 6th Sunday of Easter, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

One: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today
All: To get through this thing called life.
One: Electric word life.
All: It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.
One: But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else.
All: The afterworld
One: A world of never ending happiness
All: You can always see the sun, day or night.
One: Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down.
All: Oh no! Let’s go!

Voice in the Wilderness: Acts 16:9-15 Paul’s travels lead to Lydia

Featured Musician - Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, “The River of God” (Psalm 17) From his newest album Trust which is available now here!

DONATE: www.pulpitfiction.us/donate

  • John Greve - I absolutely LOVE your podcast! I am an Episcopal priest in a "mutual ministry" congregation, which means that I was called by the congregation (along with two others) to ordained leadership, with no seminary training. We also have several lay preachers. The spirit with which you do this work is refreshing, with the right mixture of meaningful exploration and playful holy humor. May you continue to find pleasure in creating this podcast and know that you are providing not only a much needed voice in this wilderness, but a valuable resource for many of us who have the privilege of breaking open the word of God. Blessings!

Gospel Reading: John 14:23-29 Promise of the Holy Spirit
Initial Thoughts

  • Lectionary alternate - John 14 or John 5:1-9
  • Second week in a row we have dealt with a text that is a part of the UM (and UCC) Funeral liturgy. I believe I have read excerpts from John 14 in every funeral I’ve ever done.

    • Whenever ‘I read it, I frame it like this: “When Jesus knew that his time on earth was coming to a close; when he knew that his life and teachings were leading him to the cross, he gathered with his closest friends and shared these words. He knew that when he was gone, there would be much pain, much sadness, and much confusion. Knowing this, he gave them this promise. Here today we gather in sadness, mourning, and perhaps confusion, and we can hear this promise again.” The words of the liturgy end with “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not let them be afraid.” At this point, I’m almost always looking directly at the closest kin of the deceased.

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • Part of the “Farewell Discourse,” which is chapters 13-17. Within this section, there are a few repeated themes. I am leaving, I am not really leaving. Love each other. Common English Bible subheadings:

      • Foot washing
      • Announcement of betrayal
      • Love commandment (last week)
      • Announcement of Peter’s denial
      • The way, the truth, and the life (part of Pentecost reading)
      • I won’t leave you as orphans (First part is Pentecost. Second part is this week)
      • I am the true vine
      • If the world hates you
      • I go away
      • I still have many things to say
      • I will see you again
      • I have conquered this world.
    • Just before this, Jesus just said “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
    • Then the good Judas asks, “Lord, why are you about to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”

      • Rough answer: Because you love me. I am telling you this stuff now, because it will all make sense once I’m gone. Then you’ll be able to see.
    • Cuts off verse 30 “I won’t say much more to you because this world’s ruler is coming. He has nothing on me. Rather, he comes so that the world will know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up. We’re leaving this place.” (and then talks for two more chapters)
  • Difference between a Disciple and the World

    • The world does not know, does not understand, does not love, and does not give selflessly.
    • A Disciple does know, does follow, does love, and gives out of themself.
    • The world is troubled and afraid when someone dies.
    • A Disciple knows that death is not the end.
    • The world forgets Jesus.
    • A Disciple remembers - because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Trinitarian formulation

    • Father and Son are tied together in love. Holy Spirit is presence after Jesus is gone. All tied together in love.
    • V. 28: “The Father is greater than me.”

      • “This declaration of implied origin is consonant with everything said about Jesus and God in John’s Gospel, including the full divinity of the Word. It became a problem only with the Arian challenge. There, Jesus was seen as “less than the Father,” by being a creature, although the firstborn of creation. Arius was neither the first nor the last to seize on this phrase for support in what he already believed. It happened that the church had already come to believe otherwise on the basis of the whole Gospel but it could not express itself swiftly or easily. The debates of Nicea and the aftermath of the next century and a half were needed to consolidate this as the faith of the East and the West.” (Gerard Sloyan, Interpretation: John, p. 184)
      • For a great primer on Arianism, go to Encyclopedia Brittanica (yes, that’s still a thing). There’s a lot about the history of the creeds and their exact words.
  • “Not home alone”

“Abide (meno) and its cognates show up forty times in John's Gospel. Abide signifies to stay, to remain, to dwell, to lodge, to last, to persist, and/or to continue. It can have negative associations. Wrath can abide (3:36); guilt can abide (9:41). And not abiding can have negative consequences (15:6).
Abide can have a literal meaning of staying in one place (4:40, 7:9, 10:40, 11:6, 54, 12:34, 14:25, 15:4-5). At the spiritual level, it describes what God does in our lives. God abides in Jesus and Jesus abides in God (14:10). Jesus abides in and with us (6:56). We cannot bear fruit unless Jesus abides in us (15:5). Jesus' words abide (15:7). The Holy Spirit abides with Jesus (1:32-33). Therefore disciples abide with or in Jesus (8:31, 35, 12:46, 15:4-5, 7, 9-10).
How are you doing in the abiding department? What's your hospitality quotient? Have you prepared your inner life to be a hospitable home for Jesus? One in which he will find faith and love and bountiful fruit?”

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Love and action are as inseparable as Jesus and the Father. To love God is to love Jesus. To love Jesus is to follow him. To follow him is to do as he commanded. To do as he commanded is to love one another as Jesus loved us. Therefore, to love God, we must love one another. The Companion (which means literally, one with whom we break bread) helps us do it.
  • We’re getting close to Pentecost, so a little Holy Spirit primer is probably a good idea. We are in the season of Easter, reminded of the presence of the Resurrected Christ, but here we recall not his resurrection, but the words he shared before it. Resurrection only matters if we pay attention to what he did before his death.
  • How do we make room for Jesus? What do we do when we prepare for a guest? Do we get out the nice towels? What is our attitude toward expected guests, and unwelcome visitors? To Jesus, who would be unwelcome?

Psalm Nugget: No Nugget- Psalmist is on Assignment! Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

Featured Musician - Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Healing River” from his album Come to the Feast.

Second Reading: Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 The Holy City
Initial Thoughts

  • Eschatological vision of what is to come for both the world and the church
  • Echo of Revelation 4

Bible Study

  • Challenges the traditional view of Heaven or the Kingdom of God

    • Not one set of pearly gates- but 12 gates
    • Not closed, but are always opened
    • The gates are not there to keep people out but to welcome people in
  • The New Jerusalem as the church

    • Culminating- now but not yet
    • How the church is meant to be:

      • Open Gates - a place of safety and inclusion
      • Shining with the light of God - a beacon of hope to all people
      • All people come not to receive but to offer

        • Every person is valuable (not just young families with kids)
  • Illuminated by the light of God

    • Cities are often places of dark alleyways and corners subject to come and corruption
    • This city is full of light- not from without, but from within
  • God with us- the temple (the center of life) is no longer a building but Godself

    • The promise of Emmanuel is made eternal and concrete
    • This is a mountaintop from which we do not have to descend
  • Recreation of the world as it was meant to be- does not necessitate the destruction of the “old world”

    • The world is created as a garden and ends in a city - more complex, more populous, no less filled with the glory of God
    • The trees of life is present offering abundance, healing and reconciliation
  • Waters is no longer a barrier to be crossed but a fountain of life

    • The tree of life exists on both sides of the water
    • There is no longer us and them (Egypt and Israel; Wilderness and Promised Land; Jew and Gentile; Pre-Baptism and post-Baptism) Life is abundant on both sides of the river.
    • Political, social and economic divisions are washed away in the river of life

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • God is the focal point in this eschatological vision. Not a temple or a church or a program or a budget- only God. Are we living into this vision?
  • How can our churches and lives live into this vision of the New Jerusalem?

    • What does it mean to open our gates (literally and figuratively)?
    • How can we be a beacon of hope in our community?
    • What does it mean to welcome the gifts of all peoples?
  • Water is traditionally a barrier or boundary- here water unites the world. Do we use the waters of our baptism as a boundary or a uniting force?
  • There is no longer a need for a temple- for the people become the temple. Do we work for the survival of the church or for the moment when the church, like the temple, is no longer needed?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners
Two Nice Emails:
Gregory Harrell
Greetings Guys,
I love your podcast. I am a relatively new pastor and I find your podcast to be extremely helpful as I prepare sermons on a weekly basis.
I think you should go to wild goose festival. Being NC native now in VA, I think that it is important for Christian witnesses to meet and present an alternative view than the one given by the Republican Party of NC. Holding wild Goose festival in the midst of a continuing fight over bigotry allows for Progressive Christians to stand up and show our LGBT community that there are Christ followers who love and support them. They need the progressive witness that wild goose offers during this time. Faith communities in NC who are continuing to try and speak out on this issue, and stand beside those who have been ostracized by it could use the support that the collective voice of Wild Goose provides. Also I hope there will be ways that the festival will find to speak out against the legislative action taken in NC. While eyes are on NC, I cannot think of a better way to get out our message than being part of the festival.
Grace and Peace,

My name is Josh Barrett and I am a junior college student at Roberts Wesleyan College. I listen to your podcast every morning on my commute to school. As someone who is exploring the call to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, this podcast not only enriches my spiritual life, but also my discernment process as well. Thank you for being the one thing that I look forward to every morning when I get in the car. I can always expect God to use you guys to give me a nugget that I can think about all day.
You guys rock,


Featured Musician - Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, “The River of God” (Psalm 17) From his newest album Trust which is available now here!

Featured Musician - Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Healing River” from his album Come to the Feast.

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”).