180: Proper 15C (August 14, 2016)


180: Proper 15C (August 14, 2016)

Image: By ABC Television - eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, 

Voice in the Wilderness:  Hebrews 11:29 - 12:2 Renee Roederer of Ann Arbor Michigan

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “We’ve Got a Fire” from their album of the same name.

Episode 180 Proper 15C (August 14, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 180 for Sunday August 14, 2016, Proper 15, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Periscope? Should we do it again?

Voice in the Wilderness:  Hebrews 11:29 - 12:2 Renee Roederer of Ann Arbor Michigan

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “We’ve Got a Fire” from their album of the same name.

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Gospel Reading: Luke 12:49-56 Fiery, Rarely-quoted Jesus
Initial Thoughts

  • Irony - God’s peace with also bring divisions - God is not a consensus creator

Bible Study

  • Fire!

    • Gk: “Fire I came to cast down on the earth!”
    • Calls back to Luke 3:16 - Baptism with the fire of the Holy Spirit
    • Fire is also a method of judgment: 3:9, 17; 17:29
    • Fire is an tool of purification and empowerment: Isaiah 6, Acts 2
    • Fire is both cleansing and condemning- empowers and destroys - like baptism - dying to the old (destruction) and committing to the new (empowerment)
  • Following the way of Jesus is not a way out of conflict but will lead into conflict

    • “Whoever is near me is near fire; whoever is distant from me is distant from the kingdom” Gospel of Thomas
    • Descriptive not prescriptive - Jesus does not desire conflict, but sees the inevitability of it and wants to prepare his disciples
  • Family division

  • Predictions

    • You are good at predicting some things and terrible at being faithful- Now is the time for faithfulness.
    • Jesus is ready for the Kingdom to be grasped

      • The “time” is coming for when it will be up to us (remember Jesus’ last words from the cross- “It is finished” from John)
      • Jesus is anxious to see that we “get it” but unfortunately is repeatedly disappointed

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Baptism is a commitment and a choice from death to life. Like Fire, baptism is not something which should be taken lightly or easily dismissed, but is serious and world changing. If the discovery of fire was the greatest technological advancement (for good and evil) then perhaps Baptism is the greatest spiritual advancement (for good or evil?)
  • Conflict can be a blessing. Churches are generally terrible at addressing conflict as it it were unnatural- it isn’t. Healthy churches address conflict head on- unhealthy churches avoid conflict in favor of being “nice” - perhaps this is the Sunday to preach about the joy of conflict.
  • How might churches acknowledge the individual gifts and voices of members while not being held captive by the tyranny of the minority

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19 Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

Second Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7 The Lord’s Vineyard
Initial Thoughts

  • Quick pass through Isaiah. Last week was Isaiah 1. Next week is on to an extended stay in Jeremiah.
  • Isaiah, a man, using masculine pronouns to describe “my beloved.” In Song of Solomon, the vineyard is used as a metaphor for a place for lovers. Is there an LGBT reading of this text?

Bible Study

  • Form suggested by Uniting Church of Australia

    • vv.1-2 = setting: a song of his friend's love for a vineyard [v.1]; his friend's preparation and yet failure of the grapes [v.2]
    • Vv.3-4 = speaker now changes to Yahweh who in the first person who appeals to the people of Judah and Jerusalem for their verdict. These verses contain two rhetorical questions

      • What else could I have done?
      • Why did it fail?
    • Vv.5-6 = the owner, Yahweh, will take action, remove its protection so the vineyard becomes vulnerable, and further to these actions the owner will destroy it by refusing to care and furthermore, instructs nature not to give rain.
    • V.7 = the prophet's interpretation of vv.1-6, makes it specific to Israel and Judah and names two requirements, justice and righteousness, as essential embodiments of the people of Yahweh.
  • Song of disappointment.

    • “There can be little doubt that the main message of Isa. ν 1-7 deals with God's frustrated expectations concerning Judah. The divine frustration is thrice repeated in the passage, twice metaphorically (vv. 2c, 4b) and then more plainly in the final climactic line (v. 7b)” (Gary Roye Williams, Vetus Testamentum ATLAS database)
    • Failed expectations

      • “In Isaiah 5:1-7, however, the tone is judgment. The owner of the vineyard made every possible preparation for a fruitful harvest -- picking a good site, preparing the land, choosing the best plants, arranging for protection and for processing the grapes. But what he got was "wild grapes," or more literally, "stinking things" (verses 2, 4). The portrayal of God here is significant. In particular, what God "expected" or "hoped for" does not happen; in short, God does not guarantee the results.” (Clint McCann, Working Preacher)
    • Metaphor explained:

      • “In verse 7, the prophet translates the metaphor: the vineyard is the house of Israel and its vines are the people of Judah. The prophet punctuates the metaphor with two puns in Hebrew. First, the sweet wine that God desires was justice (mishpat), but instead, the people produced bloodshed (mishpach). The latter term has caused many interpretive problems and may be related to the Arabic term which means “to spill,” or alternatively, “to spill blood.”2 Given the scope of the metaphor, and assuming the wine produced was red, there could be further play on the imagery of bloodshed in comparison to the dripping of red wine. Second, God also anticipates “righteousness” (tsedeqah) but has instead heard only a “cry” (tse‘aqah). The latter term in this pun recalls the outcry against the violent people of Sodom (Genesis 18:21; 19:13) as well as the cry of the Hebrew people in light of the abuse of their taskmasters (Exodus 3:7-9).” (David Garber, Jr. Working Preacher 
  • John Wesley Sermon 107

    • According to Wesley Study Bible notes on this passage, “This verse… was a favorite of John Wesley. He referred to this verse fourteen times in his preaching between 1748 and 1788, and it was the text and central focus of Sermon 107, written in 1787. In his earlier uses of this verse Wesley wrote of the nation as the recipient of God’s care and blesssing only to have God’s grace returned by corruption, violence, and exploitation (“wild grapes”) What is unusual about Sermon 107 is that Wesley now applies this parable of bitter disappointment to his own Methodist movement. He speaks of the great promise he saw in the people called Methodists and understood this promise as an abundance of God’s care and grace, but its last section is  a bitter lament reflecting Wesley’s own disappointments in the state of the Methodist movement. He accuses the Methodists of returning God’s care with harvest of wild grapes: ingratitude, lack of discipline, self-advancement, and lack of attention to the poor.” (page 819-820, notes on Isaiah 5:1-7 in The Wesley Study Bible, published by Abindgon Press)
    • For Wesley, the antidote to wild grapes is community:

      • “Was not another cause of it your despising that excellent help, union with a Christian society? Have you not read, "How can one be warm alone?" and, "Woe be unto him that is alone when he falleth?" But you have companions enough. Perhaps more than enough; more than are helpful to your soul. But have you enough that are athirst for God, and that labour to make you so? Have you companions enough that watch over your soul, as they that must give account; and that freely and faithfully warn you, if you take any false step, or are in danger of doing so? I fear you have few of these companions, or else you would bring forth better fruit!” (Sermon 107)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • In times of disappointment and failure the questions God asks are poignant, and relatable

    • What else could I have done?
    • Why did it fail?
    • These are questions people ask of themselves often. These questions can be useful for analyzing a situation/system, but they can also lead to dwelling in the past and unjustly ‘beating oneself up.’
  • Another example of God being disappointed. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, how can God be disappointed? If all things go according to God’s will, how can God be disappointed? This may not be the crux of the story, but it is an important time to chip away at the traditional view of omnipotence that is a troubling - and well-entrenched - concept.
  • This is a powerful piece, but read the rest of the chapter to get the details of what is wrong.

    • “The details of the oppressive conditions are evident as chapter 5 unfolds -- joining "house to house" and adding "field to field" (verse 8), thus displacing poor farmers from their land (and only source of livelihood), and resulting in both homelessness and hunger (verse 13). Excess, greed, and conspicuous consumption (see also verses 11-12, 22) are apparently supported by corruption and manipulation of the legal system (verse 23). The deplorable situation results, according to Isaiah 5, from the rejection of God's "instruction" and "word" (verse 24; see 1:10 and last week's essay). Although the poor are directly victimized, everyone eventually stands to lose (verse 15) when justice and righteousness (see verse 16) are not enacted and embodied.” (Clint McCann, Working Preacher)

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “We’ve Got a Fire” from their album of the same name.

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”).