170: Proper 5C (June 5, 2016)


170: Proper 5C (June 5, 2016)

Voice in the Wilderness: Galatians 1:11-24 with Megan Thompson, pastor of Bondville UMC and Mt Vernon UMC in Champaign, Illinois.

Featured Musician - Jonathan Rundman “No One Does the Things My Lord Can Do,” from his album “A Heartland Liturgy.”

Episode 170 Proper 5, Year C - (June 5, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 170 for Sunday June 5 2016, Proper 5, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Robb’s Conference: Healthy Masculinity Training Institute
  • Join us at Wild Goose Festival July 7-10 in Hot Springs North Carolina!

    • Save 25% with the code “GooseCast2016
    • Jim Wallis

Voice in the WildernessGalatians 1:11-24 Megan Thompson, pastor of Bondville UMC and Mt Vernon UMC in Champaign, Illinois.

Featured Musician - Jonathan Rundman “No One Does the Things My Lord Can Do,” from his album “A Heartland Liturgy.”

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Gospel Reading: Luke 7:11-17 Raising the Widow’s Son
Initial Thoughts

  • Picking up right where we left off from last week, when Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant.
  • Fred Craddock gives us a good framework for this short story to study Interpretation: Luke, p. 96):

    • Elijah as antecedent
    • Act of Jesus
    • Response of crowd

Bible Study

  • Elijah

    • Tease for the next segment. If you are preaching on Luke 7, you need to listen to the whole show because the second segment is about this story, too.
    • “Luke does not bring 1 Kings 17 to the reader's’ attention; it remains beneath the surface, and if the reader does not know the Old Testament, the Elijah story will not come to mind at all. What, then, is Luke doing?” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation, p. 96).

      • Imitation - our modern values of plagiarism and originality need not apply.
      • Continuity - readers would be at home in this story, find it familiar and safe.
      • Comparison - Jesus was indeed a great prophet, and can be favorably compared to even the greatest prophet, Elijah.
  • Act of Jesus

    • Not asked to do anything
    • Begins with seeing the woman, and having compassion.

      • “The object of his compassion is the mother. His total attention is on this woman who is a widow and whose only son, her sole means of support as well as being her whole family, is dead… Jesus’ whole attention is on the woman.” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation, p. 96)
      • “Compassion is a quality which calls us to become partners with God in effecting creative transformation in our world.” (David Grant Smith, Process and Faith)
    • His words to her are, “Don’t cry.”

      • “In his cultural context, the most vulnerable people were women who had no male relative to care for them. Her weeping would have been only in part out of grief for the loss of her son, but it was also for the stark reality which faced her in a society in which the only way for a woman to make a living for herself was through begging and/or prostitution.” (David Grant Smith, Process and Faith)
    • Touches the stretcher.

      • Jesus further placed himself into solidarity with this woman by physically touching the funeral bier on which the dead man had been placed. Again, looking at the cultural context, to touch a dead person or to carry a corpse would place someone into an “unclean” status for religious purposes -- that individual would not be considered part of the community until after a specified time of purification had passed. Jesus was willing to put himself into the circle of those who would be treated as outcasts for having ministered to the needs of a family who had experienced death. (David Grant Smith, Process and Faith)
    • Says to the body, “Young man, get up.”

      • “Jesus acts without drama, ritual, or even prayer. The same word of Jesus that from a distance healed a centurion’s slave here has the power to raise the dead” (Craddock, p. 97)
    • “He gave him to his mother.”

      • Exact quotation of from the Septuagint of 1 Kings 17:23.
  • Response of crowd

    • Awestruck - Fear and praise.
    • “A great prophet has appeared among us.” Much like Elijah, of whom this story is clearly meant to remind.
    • Great Prophet - no small praise. This is not minimizing, or even misinterpreting Jesus. He is a great prophet.

      • An important part of Luke’s Christology is his portrayal of Jesus as prophet. Jesus himself refers to his prophetic role more than once (Luke 4:24; 13:33), and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus affirm that Jesus was a “prophet mighty in word and deed” (24:19; see also 7:39). Luke “unmistakably identifies Jesus as the prophetic Messiah.”” (Jeanine Brown, Working Preacher)
    • Appeared among us  

      • some translations say ‘arisen among us,’ which could be foreshadowing to resurrection.
      • In Luke, whenever the Lord is among us, it is a sign of grace and mercy.
    • Word spread throughout Judea - this is an expanding sphere of influence, sets up next passage, in which John the Baptist has heard of Jesus, too.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • When Jesus had compassion for the women, it was not just “feeling sorry for her.” His compassion pushed him into her world. He entered her pain, her grief, and even the death of the young man. When he entered into it fully, then he was able to respond with a transforming word. Charity comes from feeling sorry for someone, and may provide a brief reprieve from pain. Transformation only takes place when we enter into the pain of another.

    • “We may not be called on in our daily living to resuscitate someone from death or life-threatening conditions. But we are called upon daily to live in solidarity with those whose life circumstances are more vulnerable than our own, and to help make their lives better in some way. To pray for the discernment to see things that way, and to act accordingly, is at the center of embodying compassion, and being a partner with God in the ongoing work of creative transformation.”  (David Grant Smith, Process and Faith)
  • Who are those that are crying in the margins today? Who are the ones who are grieving, and hopeless? It was Jesus transforming word with the crying mother who forced the people to declare he was the messianic prophet. Where is the Church’s transforming word? Are we doing charity because we feel sorry, or are we transforming lives because of our compassion?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 146 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

Second Reading: 1 Kings 17:8-24 Raising the Widow’s Son - OT Style!
Initial Thoughts

  • Clear connection to the Gospel text
  • We’ve gone back in time - Elijah’s story begins in 1 Kings 17:1 with being led into the wilderness and provided for by ravens

Bible Study

  • Three Miracles:

    • Hospitality - welcoming the stranger
    • Abundance- giving to others first not last
    • Healing - about the widow - not the son- a lot like the story from Luke
  • Welcome

    • Elijah is sent to someone who is suffering from the very drought he proclaimed
    • Woman welcomes Elijah- creepy, hairy man from the wilderness v powerless and poor widow- she should run away not bring him something to eat and drink

      • She cares for Elijah over herself
    • Woman is Sidonian, same ethnicity as Jezebel, Elijah’s hated rival
    • Stays for many days
  • Abundance

    • Woman gives, even though she is on the brink of starvation. She literally gives what she needs to survive

      • God provides abundance (this can be tricky)
    • Gospel of Abundance vs Gospel of scarcity

      • do we give from the first or from the last?
    • How do we practice abundance?

      • Abundance leads to community - united Elijah with the widow and her son (vs. 15)
  • Healing

    • Elijah resurrects the son through a prayer of lament and accusation v. 20
    • Elijah raises his complaint to God
    • Not about who did it, about compassion in the midst of suffering

      • not about the why, about the response - compassion
    • Widow sees God in in the suspected wrath (v.18) but in received grace (v.24)

      • Answer to v.1 Blessing, grace, and abundance come from God

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • The problem with God’s abundance is it sometimes rests in the pockets of scarcity. How do we transform our despair of scarcity into the hope of abundance? How does this look when struggling with a church budget?
  • What are we doing to seek out the widows and orphans in need of grace and good news? Do we go to them or wait for them to come to us?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Men Can Stop Rape is an organization dedicated to creating a culture that is free from violence. Men Can Stop Rape believes that the heart of most domestic and sexual violence is a dangerous understanding of masculinity. The organization mobilizes men to use their strength to end cultures of violence, especially violence against women. It embraces men as vital allies in changing the culture which perpetuates violence in al forms. The comprehensive campaign includes education programs, which includes Men of Strength clubs; training and technical assistance, which teaches others to teach about healthy masculinity; and public awareness, which includes media kits, posters, and other marketing materials.

Thank you listeners

  • Pulpitfiction.us

    • Matt Johnson - I know it's an old episode, but I'll comment on the Trinity subject anyway -- perhaps some others will benefit. The question was asked, "Why only three? Why not Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Mother, Shepherd, Wisdom?" The basis for the question was that Eric sees himself as plural -- pastor, brother, son, husband.

I find this reasoning problematic because we are not plural in our personhood, but in our characteristics and roles. In the same way, wisdom, Shepherd, and other such metaphors give us access to God's character and way of relating, but do not reveal distinct personhood.
By contrast, in John 16 Jesus speaks of the Spirit as a person who will be sent distinctly from the Father and will speak what he receives from the Father and pass on the inheritance of Jesus to the church. This is unintelligible as metaphor, which is why (for all it's great mystery and complications) the church went through all the work of establishing Trinitarian theology.
Last, while I certainly don't believe God gives theological examinations upon arrival at the pearly gates, having faith that Jesus was God-with-us is the sine qua non of Christian belief. As such, the Trinity is essential for making any sense of Jesus life and work. Treating it as an add-on that might help us understand earthly relationships does great disservice to our congregations.

Featured Musician - Jonathan Rundman “No One Does the Things My Lord Can Do,” from his album “A Heartland Liturgy.”

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”).