185: Proper 20C (September 18, 2016)


185: Proper 20C (September 18, 2016)

ImageBalm of Gilead, "Jerusalem: A Medical Diagnosis Exhibition" By Deror_avi

Voice in the Wilderness: 1 Timothy 2:1-7 with Sean Andreas

Featured Musician - New Band: Whym, “Steady“ from their debut album Sing, Doubter

Episode 185 Proper 20C - (September 18, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 185 for Sunday September 18, 2016, Proper 19, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in   

  • 1 Timothy Conversation with Deb Krause (slightly delayed)
  • Thursday Night Special with Michael Slaughter

    • Upcoming: Miroslav Volf, Lisa Sharon Harper and Christian Piatt!

Voice in the Wilderness: 1 Timothy 2:1-7 with Sean Andreas

Featured Musician - New Band: Whym, “Steady“ from their debut album Sing, Doubter

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Gospel Reading:  Luke 16:1-13 Wealth as a Tool for the Kingdom
Initial Thoughts

  • Strange passage- engage, don’t run from it

Bible Study

  • What is this parable about? Seemingly full of contradictions
  • Immediate connection to prodigal son - story of the prodigal Steward

    • “Squanders” - same word in 15:13
    • Connection ends there - manager is not repentant nor is the rich man forgiving
    • Parable is not about forgiveness and repentance
  • Squandering wealth

    • Do not be bound by the desire to keep wealth
    • Steward squanders wealth to “buy” the favor of the debtors
    • Relationship is always more important than wealth
  • Repeatedly cheating the rich man?!

    • Not necessarily- the steward may have reduced the amount owed by the amount his (the steward’s commission), therefore sacrificing his own profit in order to gain favor with the debtors.
    • Having relationships is more important than money
    • Craddock - probably not true because then the steward would not be referred to as dishonest
  • Homes and Tents

  • Why is the manager commended? He uses  what was entrusted to him for a higher purpose - his purpose may have been selfish - what is our purpose?

    • How do your finances, gifts, and talents serve your greater purpose?
    • What is your church’s purpose? What is your individual purpose?
    • “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18)
  • Look at the greater context- v.13 divides this passage from the next- this one about constructive uses of wealth that builds relationship and the next about destructive uses of wealth that prevent relationship

    • Wealth is not evil - the worship of wealth is.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Many Churches are looking ahead to stewardship campaigns - what is the purpose of the Stewardship campaign? To what purpose will the church use the gifts entrusted to them?
  • If all we have is actually God’s (a very different view than many truly believe) - how are we using the gifts entrusted to us?
  • Articulate the vision.
  • Wealth is not bad- the worship of wealth is. How can wealth be used to build the Kingdom?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 4 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Second Reading: Jeremiah 8:18 - 9:1 Is There No Balm in Gilead?
Initial Thoughts

  • The weeping prophet

    • Weeping and Strength - Healthy Masculinity

Bible Study

  • Power of Lamentation

    • “Too often as Christians, we edit our prayers to God. We speak frankly to friends, advisors, and paid professionals, but we don’t speak frankly to God. Jeremiah holds nothing back from God and models a prayer life of both praise and lament.” (Garrett Galvin, Working Preacher)
    • This prayer has been edited in our hymns. United Methodist Hymnal #375 “There is a balm a Gilead.” Listed as an “Afro-American spiritual,” it transforms the question into an answer.

      • The balm in Gilead is the love of Jesus.
    • Image of the summer over, harvest past, and not saved. A terrifying future lies ahead. Without a good harvest, starvation in the winter is a probability.
  • Good News of Lamentation

    • Prophet’s words are also God’s words.  “Much of the power of this text lies in the fact that, as we read the words that convey the prophet’s hurt, we suddenly realize that these same words are describing the hurt of Israel’s God.”  (James Newsome, Texts for Preaching, Year C)
    • The weeping and suffering of God implies that there is another way.
    • Lamentation can spur movement and change.
    • Repentance seldom happens without the pain of lamentation. As long as people are pretending everything is okay, nothing will change.
  • Is there a balm in Gilead?

    • For grief, there is no balm but time.

      • Rush to make things better, or to get people to cheer up is not helpful.
      • People cannot plan their recovery from grief.
      • Even if there are stages, there is not a clear ascending line through them.
    • For injustice, the only balm is justice.
    • Part of the problem of the people is that they look to God only when times were tough instead of keeping faithful through the times of comfort.

      • “Time and again, in response to dire warnings of impending doom, the people of Jerusalem tended to ask not, “What have I done?” but, “Where is God?” But that’s way too easy an out! It is too easy for us to blame God when something goes wrong in our world. If there is no ‘balm in Gilead,” no restoration of peace and justice in our world, no healing from the wounds of violence and greed and selfishness and dishonesty, it is not for lack of compassion in God!” (Alan Brehm, The waking dreamer)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • You be the balm in Gilead

    • "Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world, when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid He may ask me the same question." Anonymous
    • The balm in Gilead

      • Awareness
      • Education
      • Activism
      • Faithfulness
  • “Jeremiah forces us to confront idolatry in our own lives. We can easily laugh at the Israelite worshiping wooden idols, but what really controls our life? Are we obsessed with the latest technology and consumer goods? We can see Israel’s unhealthy obsession with Zion here, but what do we fail to see in our own lives? I was recently at a children’s soccer game with many parents on the sidelines, but then I noticed about half the people were looking at their smart phones instead of their children.” (Garrett Galvin, Working Preacher)

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Out in Scripture - Excellent resource from the Human Rights Campaign - short lectionary based exegesis and devotional for every Sunday in the RCL

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    • Christina Auch - On the podcast for 9/11 you asked what folks are doing. For the past several years, the ELCA has designated the second Sunday of September as a churchwide service day, "God's Work. Our Hands. Sunday".(GWOH) Congregations have the freedom to shape it however we want and move it if it suits our context. That said, because it officially falls on the 2nd Saturday of September and this year, that day is also the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attaches in D.C., New York and Pennsylvania, congregations are being encouraged to honor first responders (police, sheriff, fire, EMTS, etc.) in this year's GWOH projects.

Our congregation participates in GWOH each year, the timing works for us, and I serve as a volunteer chaplain with our county sheriff department, so we ran with the suggestion. During worship, the memorial of 9/11 will be part of prayers of the people and separately, I will offer anointing prayers for anyone who   wants to participate. After worship, we are cooking for and feeding employees, officers and staff at the       police and sheriff departments in drop-in/open house style on September 11 and 12. Volunteers will prepare food and also stay for fellowship and to say thank you.
Finally, the chaplains have organized a "Shield a Badge" initiative here in the county and I am encouraging members to participate with a one year pledge to pray for a person from the sheriff, police or fire departments who has requested prayer.
While in the past two years, I haven't encouraged more than prayerful remembrance of 9/11, this Sunday's emphasis is not on nationalism, terror or even grief but on thanksgiving for the servant leadership of the people both in our community and in our congregation.

Featured Musician - New Band: Whym, “Steady“ from their debut album Sing, Doubter

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist, Patreon). 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”).