189: Proper 24C (October 16, 2016)


189: Proper 24C (Oct. 16, 2016)

Voice in the Wilderness: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 with Scott Maderer

Featured Musician - The River’s Voice (Richard Bruxvoort Colligan and his wife Trish), “Forgiveness Waltz” from their album Seven Year Kiss

Episode 189 Proper 24, Year C - (October 16, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 189 for Sunday October 16, 2016, Proper 24, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

Voice in the Wilderness: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 with Scott Maderer

Featured Musician - The River’s Voice (Richard Bruxvoort Colligan and his wife Trish), “Forgiveness Waltz” from their album Seven Year Kiss

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Gospel Reading:   Luke 18:1-8 Persistent Widow
Initial Thoughts

  • I hate this story.
  • Surface lesson: Eventually God will get annoyed with your complaining and help. Maybe, so just keep complaining and maybe you’ll wear God down.
  • Meda Stamper, Working Preacher: “The parable of the widow’s persistence is introduced as a parable about prayer and not losing heart, then moves into a story about justice, and ends with a question about faith.”

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • An extended answer to the question found in Luke 17:20 “Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom was coming.” and he replied “God’s kingdom isn’t coming with signs that are easily noticed. Nor will people say ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ Don’t you see? God’s Kingdom is already among you.”
    • Jesus then tells the disciples of the coming trouble, and the mysterious nature of the coming of the Son of Man.
    • “This story then, comes as a word of encouragement after a fairly long lesson about the difficulties that lie ahead.” (Meda Stamper, Working Preacher)
  • The Story

    • Reason for the story: “The need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged.
    • Widow: No social standing. Nothing to back her but her own persistence. We know nothing of the petition or the case, but it can easily be assumed that this is a financial matter with a male family member. In this case, she would have no recourse. This is why the Scriptures remind us over and over to care for the widow - because they are powerless.

      • Luke also uses widows as prophets - speaking God’s truth to power

        • “But in addition to being vulnerable, widows also appear as prophetic, active, and faithful; certainly the widow who gives her last coins is not only vulnerable but also a model of faithful generosity. The first widow of the Gospel is Anna (2:37), a prophet, who spreads the good news of Jesus’ birth. Jesus in his inaugural sermon at Nazareth mentions the widow of Zarephath (4:25-6), who feeds Elijah from her meager supplies in a famine and whose son is returned to life by the prophet, an act Jesus replays in the raising of the only son of the widow of Nain (7:12).” (Meda Stamper, Working Preacher)
      • Compared to the people crying out for help
    • Judge: Unjust. Only in it for self-interest. “one with power who does not “fear God or respect humanity” is one who has no sense of accountability for serving justice rather than one’s own self-interests.” (Left Behind and Loving It)

      • Compared to God, who will eventually answer
    • Lesson: Remain faithful and persistent in calling to God for help.
  • Problematic: Is this how God really works?

Lia Scholl in The Hardest Question: “Unfortunately, though, this passage is often interpreted to mean that we should petition God for the things we want. And that if we annoy God enough, we’ll receive whatever it is. So there’s the rich pastor pestering God for more riches. There’s the young woman worrying God for a lover or spouse. There’s the cancer sufferer insisting on God’s intervention and healing.
“So, if I wear God down, will God fix everything?
And if not, how does this interpretation work through our congregations? If you believe that if you just ask enough, God will make you rich, what does your poverty say? If you believe that if you just ask enough, God will give you the desires of your heart, what happens when your heart is broken? And if you believe that God will heal your body if you only ask enough times, what happens as your body wastes away?”

  • “Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice quickly.” (v. 7)

    • Then will God not produce the vindication of his elect who cry out to him day and night, even bearing patiently with them?” (Left Behind and Loving It)
    • Instead of two separate questions, D Mark Davis makes the greek “kai” the word ‘even,’ which creates a different tone to the interpretation.
  • But when the Human One comes, will he find faithfulness on earth? (v. 8)

    • I say to you that he will produce vindication to them in quickness. When the son of humanity has come will he find faith in the earth? (Left Behind and Loving It)
    • “Another way to read this parable: The demand for justice is often wearying and seems futile, because the powers that be often act with impunity – as if there is no moral order to the universe and as if there is no respect that one ought to have for humanity. However, persistence can be effective even in advocating for justice. Unlike those powers that be, God vindicates swiftly and suffers long with the elect who cry out to him day and night. “  (Left Behind and Loving It)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • This isn’t a story about God. It is a story about us. We have a problem with the story when we interpret it as the way that God treats us. Instead, it is a reminder of how we should relate to God.
  • What if the parable isn’t about God as the Judge. It is a reminder that the judge is actually pretty common. The unjust judge is the way of the world - we are to model our prayer AND action in the world after the widow. And God will be patient with us. The “coming of the Son of Man” is the time when the persistence is rewarded and justice prevails.
  • Framed in light of Jesus’ previous remark that “God’s Kingdom is already among you,” this parable is about our faithfulness to persevere. It is about seeing God’s justice being enacted all around, even if it is not yet fulfilled. We are to be the widow maintaining the voice of the prophet - not to God, but to the unjust rulers of the day. The question is not if God is hearing us or if God will eventually be worn down. The question is, will we still be doing the work of justice when we are needed?

Psalm Nugget:  Psalm 19 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist, Patreon)

Second Reading: Jeremiah 31:27-34 The New Covenant
Initial Thoughts

  • Last reading in Jeremiah (until Christ the King)

Bible Study

  • Jeremiah’s Book of Comfort (chapters 30-33)

    • Focus on God’s saving intent for those in exile
  • Prophet’s Purpose

    • Reiteration of Jeremiah 1:9-10 (cf.31:28): Then the LORD stretched out his hand, touched my mouth, and said to me, "I'm putting my words in your mouth. This very day I appoint you over nations and empires, to dig up and pull down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant."
    • Much of Jeremiah’s focus has been the first 4 verbs: dig up, pull down, destroy and demolish
    • Focus now changes from destruction to cultivation - building and planting
  • The days are surely coming

    • Promise for a coming change
    • Not a promise of when the change will come
    • Donald Musser - “The eschaton is not just any future; it is a future of hope and meaning, brimming with promise.”, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 4: Season After Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ).
  • “Says the LORD”

    • Message of Hope is from God
    • God is still speaking to God’s people- even in the midst of despair
    • God’s justice (judgment) does not mean an end of relationship
  • “New” Covenant

    • Unconditional (similar to Genesis 9)

      • No requirement of repentance or agreement- this is happening whether you like it or not
      • Everlasting (Jeremiah 50:5)
      • Rooted not in the creation of a nation, but in the forgiveness of God
      • Like Genesis 9- this covenant is made in full realization of how awful and unfaithful people can be- God still chooses to be in relationship with us.
    • Written in our hearts- not in stone

      • The law is transformed not into something we follow, but who we are
    • Focus on relationship, not the law
    • Faithful living is how we are the people of God, not how do we follow the law

      • HOWEVER - the law is there to help us be faithful to God
  • A Forgetful God?

    • Not a command to forgive and forget- rather God is not a “grudge-holding God”
    • Time of reconciliation in which we do not hold the past against one another

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • The Prophetic Voice is often focused on tearing down and demolishing systems of oppression and injustice. Do we claim the prophetic voice which calls us to build and plant for the future?

    • The Prophetic voice must contain a message of hope, not solely judgement
  • What is the time right now? A time to dig up and destroy (in preparation for Nov 8) or a time to build and plant (for Nov 9 and beyond)?
  • This passage has MASSIVE ramifications for those who hold to original sin. If we cannot be blamed for the sins of the previous generation(s) and are responsible from this moment on, then we cannot be held responsible for original sin. If however, we are each individually responsible to be faithful to God and neighbor, then salvation is not about overcoming original sin, but rather on how we remain in relationship with God.
  • How often do you and your church remember this eternal covenant?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:


  • Thank you listeners


Lee Saylor:
Howdy guys,
I want to express my sorrow for the family struggles that you have both experienced over the past couple months.  I hope that God's wisdom, grace, and peace have been present for you in the midst of some deeply anxious and emotionally thin times.
I wanted to add a comment/question for you guys to discuss.  I really enjoyed the work done with Psalm 137.  Its rawness, its unabashed feeling was amazing to hear and wonderfully spoken and opened up the text in a new way to me.
But there was a point that was made that, if possible, I would like to hear you guys speak on.  Richard mentioned the fact that this was a crying out passage and that it was important to note that they were crying out for retribution as they were being afflicted, and the fact that they did not retaliate, but cried out for someone else to serve the Babylonians with the same treatment that was served by the Babylonians to the Israelites.  And the fact that the Israelites did not try to retaliate, but cried out, was seen as healthy and faithful, trusting in the Lord.
And here is where my question comes in.  Because Jesus would later say in Matthew 5:21-30 about the act of thinking being the same as committing the act.  How can we square these two passages that both appear to be faithful, yet have such seemingly polar opposite sentiments behind them?
I would love to hear your opinions as I am trying to wrestle with that question and have been since I heard the 10.2.16 podcast.
Keep up the amazing work as best you can.  You have created a podcast of blessing for so many of us, and we are thankful.

Featured Musician - The River’s Voice (Richard Bruxvoort Colligan and his wife Trish), “Forgiveness Waltz” from their album Seven Year Kiss

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”).