184: Proper 19C (September 11, 2016)


184: Proper 19C (Sept. 11, 2016)

Image: photo taken by Robb McCoy

Voice in the Wilderness: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Featured Musician -Ethan Keller “Saints and Sinners” from Goin Down in History Goin Down in Flames.

Episode 184 Proper 19C - (September 11, 2016)

Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 184 for Sunday September 11, 2016, Proper 18, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in   

  • 9-11
  • Star Spangled Banner controversy

    • A Veteran responds Colin Kaepernick : To you the National Anthem means one thing, to Kaepernick it means something else. We are all shaped and defined by our experiences and we see the world through our own eyes. That's freedom. That's liberty. The right to believe differently. The right to protest as you will. The right to demand better. The right to believe your country can BE better, that it can live up to its sacred ideals, and the right to loudly note that it has NOT. The right to use your voice, your actions, to bring attention to the things you believe in. The right to want more for others, freedom, liberty, justice, equality, and RESPECT.
    • King: Why I’ll never stand for the National Anthem

Voice in the Wilderness: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Featured Musician -Ethan Keller “Saints and Sinners” from Goin Down in History Goin Down in Flames.

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  • Linda Goeddel - Robb and Eric, Thank you for sharing your thoughtful conversations about scripture and preaching every week. I am a "third career" Presbyterian minister who works as a chaplain in a senior living community. The hardest part of my job is preparing a sermon every week, but your weekly podcasts always give me helpful ideas (and listening to you in the car brightens my long commute). Because of my commute and on-going family responsibilities, I'm not able to spend as much time as I'd like in community with other pastors; but after listening to you two each week, I feel as if I've had a good talk with colleagues: reminded of the beauty and challenge of our faith, delighted by both new and old perspectives, and encouraged to keep on keeping on. Thank you for the good work you do. May God bless and keep you both -- and Robb, may the comfort and peace of God enfold you and your family as you grieve the loss of your mother.

Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-10 The lost coin and lost sheep
Initial Thoughts

  • These two stories are the first two parts of three stories about lost things. Of course, the third part is the story of the lost son, which is one of the most beloved stories in all of Scripture. The Prodigal son comes to the lectionary in the fourth Sunday of Lent in year C.
  • “GRUMBLING IS A NATIONAL PASTIME, even a universal one. We grumble about political leadership, unless the leader is "our person"; then we grumble about the opposition. We grumble about the actions and morals of the current younger generation. In the church, liberals grumble about conservatives, conservatives grumble about liberals, and moderates grumble about both. Grumbling is a reminder of sin, for sin occurs when God's children are not in harmony with creation and with their Creator.” (Art Ross, Interpretation, Oct 2007, p. 422)

    • “Jesus understands this from the get-go. So, here’s one of the remarkable and heartening things (among many) in this passage: Jesus is engaged in conversation with these men. Unlike the situation of moral outrage we find ourselves in today, where politicians refuse to engage with people from other parties, and people ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ each other on social media over differing opinions, Jesus is aware that the Pharisees and scribes are themselves lost. He is willing to teach (not condemn or ignore) them as well. This is one of the many beauties of the lure of God.” (Nichole Torbitzky, Process and Faith)

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • Previous chapter Jesus had just finished preaching about the cost of discipleship (from last week). Telling people that they must be willing to reject their previous social norms and status. So now, after rejecting familial ties over more important connections based on the Kingdom, he is found with the wrong people.
    • V. 1-2 sets scene as Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors. Pharisees and Scribes “grumbling” (NRSV).

      • To be labelled a “sinner” is not the same as the cliche “we’re all sinners.” This group of sinners would have been labelled as such for a habitual lifestyle. Though not mentioned exactly what the nature of the sin, it seems certain the greater society knew what it was and who they were.
      • Conversely, to be labelled “righteous” was not to be marked as perfect, but as someone who generally lives a life with the law in mind.
    • “Two quick notes on all this. Eating isn’t catching a quick bite at the local coffee house and moving on. Eating -- that is, sharing table fellowship -- is a mark of camaraderie, acceptance, and friendship. And so in eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus is demonstrating a deep and abiding acceptance of those society has deemed beyond the moral pale.” (David Lose, Working Preacher)
    • According to Wesley Study Bible, “these three parables are intended to move the [scribes and Pharisees] from grumbling to rejoicing.” (Wesley Study Bible, p 1266)
  • Lost Sheep. (1 of 100)

    • Shepherd loses a sheep. Searches for it. Finds it. Celebrates.

      • God is actively searching to reconcile, not seeking to punish.
      • God - and the heavens - celebrate when even one is found.
      • Rejoicing is the proper response to God’s love (not grumbling).
    • Heaven celebrates when one sinner repents.
    • Seems to be pointed to the Scribes and Pharisees to celebrate the “finding” of the tax collectors and sinners.
    • Jesus’ rhetorical question need to be examined more
    • Is it true that any shepherd would leave behind 99 sheep, unprotected? Is that really what a ‘good shepherd’ would do?

      • The searching for one at the risk of 99 seems to be frivolous (wasteful, prodigal)
  • Lost Coin (1 of 10. One coin is a day’s wage)

    • Similarities in structure.

      • Something is lost. There is a search. It is found. There is celebration.
    • Woman is the main character, which is a remarkable fact. There is nothing particular gendered about the story other than Jesus says this is a “Woman.” All the more remarkable is that the surface reading of the story places God/Jesus in the role of the searcher - who is a woman.
    • Again, Jesus’ rhetorical question needs to be examined.
    • If you lost a tenth of your savings - or a day'sm’ wage, you certainly would search diligently for it. But if you found it, would you really call your neighbors and have a party?
    • It seems as if the woman would spend the full coin in celebrating finding it. This feels frivolous (wasteful, prodigal).

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • The coin and the sheep aren’t repentant. They are simply found. They take no action, and have no agency. It is the shepherd and the woman who do all the “work,” and then call their friends to a celebration. They are also not involved in their being lost. A coin doesn’t lose itself, nor can a sheep really be blamed for wandering off. Others see the sinners as being totally at their own fault and places blame for their “lostness.” Instead, Jesus shifts to the amazing effort that God is willing to do to claim and celebrate those who are found.

    • “God's message to us, through these parables, is this: "You are mine. You have always been mine. You were created in my image and are therefore connected to me. And because you are mine, I will seek you out wherever you are and try to bring you back home—because I love you so much!" Can we be open to that kind of amazing love? Can we let down our defenses and self-doubts long enough simply to receive it, to be engulfed and swept away by this love?“ (Julie Perry, Review and Expositor, 109, Spring 2012)
  • Both the effort to find the lost sheep and the celebration over the lost coin seem to be overkill. Thus is the frivolous - prodigal - nature of the Kingdom. This is how Jesus characterizes God’s joy over sinners, the ones whom society as completely rejected.
  • These stories are about sin and repentance, righteous and sinner, and grumbling and rejoicing. Who is the one that needs to be found? It seems as if the tax collectors and sinners have already found Jesus. They have done so, and are still considered on the outside. It seems as if it is the ‘righteous’ that actually need to be found. Is it possible to be righteous and still need to be found? David Lose asks:

    • Might the parents who want their children to succeed so much that they wrap their whole lives around hockey games and dance recitals be lost?
    • Might the career minded man or woman who has made moving up the ladder the one and only priority be lost?
    • Might the folks who work jobs they hate just to give their family things they never had be lost?
    • Might the senior who has a great pension plan but little sense of meaning since retirement be lost?
    • Might the teen who works so hard to be perfect and who is willing to do just about anything to fit in be lost?
    • Might the earnest Christian who is constantly asking whether people have accepted Jesus into their hearts be lost?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 14 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

Second Reading: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 Jeremiah sees destruction
Initial Thoughts

  • And the lectionary is jumping around again- and will continue to do so
  • Middle verses:

    • vs. 13-18: Song of describing God’s judgement

      • 18  Your ways and your doings have brought this upon you. This is your doom; how bitter it is! It has reached your very heart."
    • vs. 19-21: Still God’s voice, but the tone shifts to lament

      • 19  My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.

Bible Study

  • Historical context:

    • Babylon is threatening
    • People response if not trusting in God
  • God speaking out in judgement and lament
  • vs. 11- My poor people

    • Bat ammi - poor, beloved, sinful, wounded
    • Not a socio-economic statement, but being morally or faithfully poor - poor in Spirit
    • Does not let them off the hook- God is compassionate and holds the people accountable
  • What is the crime?

    • vs. 22: Foolishness and stupidity. An inability and unwillingness to trust in God
  • What is the punishment?

    • Not the wrath of God - or is it a wind of unmaking instead of uncreation?
    • God is observing what is happening:

      • Besieging armies (v.16-17)
      • The “unmaking of the Earth” -
      • Disaster (v.20)
      • Earth- wasted and destroyed (v.23)
      • Mountains and hills quaking (v. 24)
      • Birds and living things fled (v. 25)
      • Desolation and desert (v.26)
    • vs. 27 -”yet” or “for” ki  in Hebrew indicates a causality

      • “The whole land is a desolation because I refuse to end it”
      • God doesn’t cause these things but refuses to step in and stop the devastation
    • The people need to change, their refusal does not bring about God’s wrath, but rather God’s unwillingness to rescue them from the consequences of their actions
  • Standing by and watching us kill ourselves and creation hurts God (v.19)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • What threats face us today that keep us from “doing good”?
  • How many threats that we face today are of our own doing? Instead of waiting for God to “fix” things, perhaps God is waiting for us to repent - “change our hearts and minds” and until then God will refuse to end the desolation we have caused.
  • When faced with very real threats and fear- where do we place our trust? In God? In fear? In ourselves? What are the consequences of misplaced trust
  • Jeremiah proclaims Babylon as an agent of God. Many preachers use natural and human disaster as a proclamation of God’s judgement. When Jeremiah does this he uses it as a call for all people to repent- instead of telling others what they need to repent from, we need to first look and see what we need to repent from.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners
iTunes Review: Bryan Odeen (Five Stars): “This podcast has quickly become a staple of my internship, as I preach and further learn the rhythms of congregational life. It’s great to get a perspective outside the realm of my denomination and the variety of voices (love the new Voice in the Wilderness segment). Good music, great resources, and my favorite Psalmist in the Field. Thanks guys! Keep up the good work!”


Featured Musician - Ethan Keller “Saints and Sinners” from Goin Down in History Goin Down in Flames.

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”).