190: Proper 25C (Oct. 23, 2016)


190: Proper 25C (Oct. 23, 2016)

Voice in the Wilderness: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 with Cheryl Kerr 

image: Publican and the Pharisee by Ted
Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt , “Whale” from her album Seven Songs

Episode 190 Proper 25, Year C - (October 23, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 190 for Sunday October 23, 2016, Proper 25, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

Voice in the Wilderness: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 with Cheryl Kerr

Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt , “Whale” from her album Seven Songs

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Gospel Reading:   Luke 18:9-14 Two Men Go To Pray
Initial Thoughts

  • Interesting placement right before welcoming the little children and the question of the rich young ruler- “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Bible Study

  • Karl Barth & The depravity of humankind

    • God the creator vs humanity the sinful creation
    • Both men pray to God about what they have done

      • Pharisee - fasting, giving
  • sin of pride, arrogance and hypocrisy
      • Tax Collector - sinning (though undisclosed what his sin is)

        • Humbles himself before God
    • Justification: how are we made right before God

      • Tax collector is justified because he recognizes his total depravity and relies on God’s mercy
      • Pharisee is not because he relies on his own actions

      • The Pharisee does recognize God as is exemplified in his prayer of thanksgiving. His prayer may be misguided but it is still focused on God
  • Psalms

    • Pharisee prays Psalm 17:3-5 “If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress. As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.”
    • Tax Collector prays Psalm 51:1 "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions”
  • Problem with Pride

    • “Greatest sin”
    • Confuses who has done the “good deeds”
    • Places ourselves above others or even God
  • Perception of others

    • About how we view others and how we view ourselves
    • We cannot earn God’s grace - we can only accept it and give thanks for it

      • Pharisee is condemning the sinning of the other man as one who has not received God’s grace (when he really doesn’t know)

        • The redemption of ZACCHEUS NEXT WEEK!
      • Pharisee somehow thinks he has earned God’s grace when it is freely and joyfully given to all
    • Discipleship is seeing others as beloved children of God- balancing love of God and love of other
  • The problem with equality

    • We constantly want to exalt some over others or humble some below others. However- if the humbled are exalted and the exalted are humbled- isn’t this the great leveling foretold by Isaiah 40:4?

      • Call back to 13:30 - some will be first, others will be last, but all get in eventually
    • Both progressives and conservatives fall into the trap of the Pharisee:

      • Thank God I am not that godless, pc, unrealistic liberal…
      • Thank God I am not that close-minded, judgmental conservative…
    • God does not pick and choose. God welcomes and loves all.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Ask your congregation who they are- the tax collector or the Pharisee? Why do they think that? Who do they view as the other? Why? Do they feel they deserve to be exalted or humbled?
  • How might you approach this text in light of the deep division in our world and nation? Are we able to see the Spirit alive within all people- then those who we thank God we are not?
  • Humanity is constantly trying to order ourselves regarding power and worth. The challenge of the Gospel is all people are beloved and that challenge is lived out in the Beloved Community (& the Kingdom of Heaven). In what ways are we humbling and exalting others or ourselves in appropriate (leveling) ways and inappropriate ways?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 65 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist, Patreon)

Second Reading: Joel 2:23-32 Peter’s Plagiarized Sermon
Initial Thoughts

  • What is this doing here? It’s not Ash Wednesday or Pentecost or Thanksgiving.
  • Only other time Joel is in lectionary is the passage previous to this on every Ash Wednesday and on Thanksgiving. In Episcopal and Lutheran lectionaries, also used on Pentecost.
  • This is also the sermon that Peter draws from in his Pentecost sermon.
  • Lectionary dabbles in some “Table of Contents” books.

    • Oct 30 - Habakuk
    • Nov 6 - Haggai (All Saints)
    • Nov. 13 - Isaiah
    • Nov. 20 - Jeremiah (Christ the King)

Bible Study

  • Background of Joel

    • Hard to place historically. Is it an ecological disaster or a response to an invading army?

      • 1:4 Describes a terrible locust plague.
      • 1:6 Describes a nation has invaded the land.
    • “The breadth of the prophet’s vision is cosmically expansive rather than historically specific. Many scholars propose that the strong apocalyptic elements featured in the second half of the book suggest a late rather than early dating.” (William P. Brown in the notes on Joel in the Discipleship Study Bible, p. 1242).
    • “The theological center of Joel is found in the motif ‘the day of the Lord,’” which is marked by judgment and salvation, and destruction and restoration. (ibid.)
    • “Joel’s message, in short, dramatically moves from repentance to the explosive possibilities of new life and worship.” (ibid.)
  • In the aftermath of disaster - natural or man-made, ecological or militaristic (for all options are a possible reading of this text)

    • God will restore all things.
    • There will be a time of plenty and abundance.
    • Repeats: “My people will never be put to shame.”
  • V. 28 Spirit upon everyone

    • The healing of the people and the land is a remarkably universal healing.
    • Sons and Daughters
    • Young and Old
    • Slave and Free
    • This is a wonderful picture of God working through all people.
  • V. 32 But

    • There is also suffering. The restoration is marked with “blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.”
    • “Those who call upon the Lord” are saved. Sort of undoes the great universality of the previous couple of verses.

“…why does there always have to be a big but? But…then we come to verse 30—32 and all of a sudden our vision of inclusive—hope filled—dreams are made dark with apocalyptic images of blood, fire, darkness and terrible days. I guess we can’t have our cake and eat it too! Someone is going to have to suffer and endure the days ahead. Top it all off only those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved…”
All this brings to mind my younger days sitting in front of a fired up revivalist selling the fear of hell as the ticket price to heaven. “Turn or burn!” “If you died tonight would you go to heaven?” Whatever happened to “All” and the power that comes through God’s grace and redemptive action on our behalf?
I guess, I wonder at what point did this eschatological vision of hope and God’s gracious outpouring on all flesh turn toward doomsday darkness and the need of self justification?” (Roy Terry, The Hardest Question)
Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • There is ecological good news, especially if you include verses 21 and 22. God is telling the soil and the animals “Do not fear.” This is good news not just for Israel, but for all creation. Part of our act of repentance that God calls for is to remove the fear from the soil and animals as well. Good news for Israel is good news for all of Creation.
  • Female ordination and inclusion is still an issue - not for mainline Christians, but for a large part of Christianity. Even within mainline tradition, where women have been ordained for decades, how many of the “First Churches” in our conferences are pastored by women? The Spirit poured out on “all flesh” is an important concept as women continue to be denied a voice (#Repealthe19th). It is also applicable concerning matters of ordination for LGBT community.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:


  • Thank you listeners


Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt , “Whale” from her album Seven Songs

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”).