169: Proper 4C (May 29, 2016)


169: Proper 4C (May 29, 2016)

image: Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

Voice in the Wilderness: Galatians 1:1-12 Eric Swanson

Featured Musician - “Help Me” by The Steel Wheels from their newest album Leave Some Things Behind

Episode 169 Proper 4, Year C - (May 29, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 169 for Sunday May 29, 2016, Proper 4,  Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Memorial Day

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Voice in the Wilderness: Galatians 1:1-12 Eric Swanson

Featured Musician - “Help Me” by The Steel Wheels from their newest album Leave Some Things Behind

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  • Annie Helms - I'm a relatively new pastor and I love listening to your show each week for sermon ideas. Thank you!

Gospel Reading: Luke 7:1-10 Healing of Centurion’s Servant
Initial Thoughts

  • Back in Luke!!
  • Back in Galilee!

    • Right after the sermon on the plain

Bible Study

  • Two foci: Faith and Healing
  • Faith of the Centurion

    • Centurion - Roman (although may have been working for Herod Antipas), either way he was a Gentile
    • Centurion's focus is constantly outward- Like the sermon on the plain!

      • For the Jews - built a Synagogue
      • For his Servant - asks the help of a Jew, Jesus
      • For Jesus - does not want Jesus to get in trouble with the Jewish authorities
    • A Question of worthiness

      • Centurion is diplomatic
      • Tensions between Gentiles and Jews- Gentile's house would have been unclean
      • Concern for Jesus' relationship with Jews
    • Crosses boundaries (geopolitical, socio-economic, religious)

      • Faith is alive in the context of community - community is defined by relationship not by economics, political or religious lines
    • God’s power, not Jesus

      • Centurion draws a parallel between himself and Jesus
      • Jesus is under God’s authority, but also has authority
      • First human to truly recognize Jesus as one filled with God’s authority
    • Love is central

      • v. 5 agape (don’t read too much into this)
      • Centurion recognizes that unlimited nature of God’s power before any of the disciples - source of authority
      • He understood power- in relationship, in love, and what authority
    • Pope Francis’ sermon on Mark

      • Salvation through faithful action instead of proclaiming Jesus as savior
      • "The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can... "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!".. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” Pope Francis’ sermon
  • Healing by Jesus

    • Not dependent on his physical presence - only on faith
    • Authority to command the natural world
    • Ability to speak to those and to act for those who are not physically present to him

      • Fulfills the Centurion's request, even though he never meets the Centurion
      • He heals without being physically present

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • What is central to faith? Vocal declaration of Jesus as Lord and Savior or living the sermon on the plain/mount? Luke 8:21- the family of Jesus are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.

    • How much time to we focus on orthodoxy and how much on orthopraxis
  • The Centurion is community focused- not only on his own community but those who are around him: the Jews, his slaves, etc. In what ways are we connecting with our local community in mutual mission?
  • The Centurion is acting as an advocate for the his slave- he is using his place of power to speak up for the powerless- how might we as pastors and as the church do the same? Would the centurion’s merciful and prophetic plea have been heard if he had not first built up love and relationship within the community?
  • Gets to our concept of chosenness or salvation. What does it mean to be chosen?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 96 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

Second Reading: 1 Kings 18:20-39 Elijah vs Baal
Initial Thoughts

  • First Reading vs. Alternate First Reading

    • First Readings: "First" OT readings follow major stories/themes, read mostly continuously,
    • Alternate Readings: “"Alternate First" OT readings follow the historical tradition of thematically pairing the OT reading with the Gospel reading.”
    • The United Methodist Lectionary follows the “First Readings,” so will we.
  • Starting six weeks in 1 and 2 Kings (which is really the same volume, just divided for ease of scrolls). Through July 3, then gets into the minor prophets.
  • Lectionary Context:

    • June 5 - 1 Kings 17:8-24 Elijah and the widow in poverty.
    • June 12 - 1 Kings 21:1-21 Ahab steals land from Naboth, called out by Elijah
    • June 19 - 1 Kings 19:1-15 Elijah flees from Jezebel, hears God in the still small voice.
    • June 26 - 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 Elisha succeeds Elijah
    • July 3 - 2 Kings 5:1-14 Elisha heals General Naaman
  • Odd retelling of Elijah, Ahab, and Jezebel - puts the story out of order.
  • Background information about Elijah from chabad.org
  • Encyclopedia Britannica article: Elijah
  • An modern reading of Jezebel - the ‘baddest girl in the Bible’
  • Prophet: “The great prophets, beginning with Elijah, were not regarded as soothsayers. They were looked upon as recipients of divine visions, often against their will, and certainly not in their own best interest. They had no choice but to rail against the injustices of their age, and to demand the strictest moral standards from the people that claimed to be a people of God. The Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ (navi) does not suggest the powers of a soothsayer but rather the courage of a leader who speaks out on God’s behalf. Prophets predict, not inevitable, but the most likely consequences of the wicked misuse of power…. Tradition ascribes greatness to Elijah not because of his gifts as a seer, but because he had the temerity to defy the most powerful and vindictive ruler in Hebrew history” (What is a Jew?, by Rabbi Morris Kertzer, revised by Rabbi Lawrene A. Hoffman, p. 122).

Bible Study

  • Historical Context

    • Elijah the prophet during King Ahab, who ruled Israel from 869-850 (about a hundred years after Kingdom divided, 150 years before Israel’s exile).
  • 1 Kings 16:31-21:29

    • All the problems go back to 16:31, when Ahab marries Jezebel and starts to worship Baal.
    • Elijah declares that there will be a drought
    • He goes to live with a widow (stay tuned next week…)
    • In ch 18 arranges the showdown with Ahab.
  • 450 to 1. As Han Solo said, “Never tell me the odds.”

    • Challenge: Get two bulls. 450 Baal priests get one. Elijah gets the other.
    • No one will light the fire.
    • Both will ask their God to consume the bull.
    • “Two bulls enter. One bulls burns.”
  • Baal prophets prepare their bull

    • “But there was no voice”
    • “They limped about the altar they had made.”
    • Elijah taunts them: “Perhaps he’s asleep.”
    • “There was no voice, no answer, and no response.”
  • Elijah’s work

    • Repaired the altar.
    • Took 12 stones and built a new altar.
    • Dug a trench.
    • Arranged the wood.
    • Butchered a bull.
    • Asked people to fill four jars with water (in the middle of a prolonged drought) poured it on the offering and on the wood.
    • Repeated three times so that the altar was soaked, and water had filled the trench.
    • The altar is totally consumed by fire.
    • YHWH wins. The end?
  • V. 40 Elijah rounds up the prophets of Baal and kills them all.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • “How long will you go limping with two different opinions?”

    • Hard to not hear this as a United Methodist in the midst of schism talk at General Conference. By the time this is aired, GC2016 will be over, but right now the future of the church is very much up in the air. “How long will we go on limping with two different opinions?” seems to be a very apt question.
    • Is unity for the sake of unity a good thing? Shall we sacrifice justice at the altar of unity? It is easy to see “our side” as the good guys. We must be on the side of YHWH, and ‘they’ must be worshipping Baal.
    • While this dichotomy might feel good, is it accurate?
  • For the followers of Baal, who were making a great noise and causing a ruckus, “There was no voice, no answer, and no response.”

    • Be careful, because this is covered in a couple of weeks, but 19:11-13 “There was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains… but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake… and after the fire a sound of sheer silence… Then there came a voice to him…”
    • For Elijah, God had already come in the voice in the silence.
    • The noisy ones might be the ones who people pay attention to. They might get the most attention, and be quite popular, but God came to Elijah after diligently following God’s instruction.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners


Featured Musician - “Help Me” by The Steel Wheels from their newest album Leave Some Things Behind

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”).