194: Proper 29, Christ the King (Nov. 20, 2016)


194: Proper 29, Christ the King (Nov. 20, 2016)

Voice in the Wilderness: Colossians 1:11-20 with Rev. Sarah Renfro

Featured Musician - Whym, “Beside Me” from their debut album Sing, Doubter

Episode 194, Proper 29, Reign of Christ, Year C - (11/20/2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 194 for Sunday November 20, 2016, Proper 29, Reign of Christ Sunday, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Christ the King Sunday - 1925 Pius XI

    • 1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas, 32).
    • 2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas, 31).
    • 3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33).
  • Election aftermath

    • Voter Turnout

      • Did Not Vote: 99.8 million
      • Trump: 59.8 million
      • Clinton: 60.0 million
      • Johnson: 4.2 million

Voice in the Wilderness: Colossians 1:11-20 with Rev. Sarah Renfro

Featured Musician - Whym, “Beside Me” from their debut album Sing, Doubter

Gospel Reading: Luke 23:33-43 King of the Jews
Initial Thoughts

  • Interesting passage in light of the recent elections - who do we choose to follow?

    • Presidents or Jesus?

Bible Study

  • “father forgive them”- v. 34

    • not included in earliest manuscripts
    • echo of Stephens prayer in Acts 7:60
    • Characteristic of Jesus who often to prayed to God as “Father” and the theme of forgiveness is definitely consistent.
  • Escalating violence

    • leaders make fun of/scoff
    • soldiers ridicule/mock
    • criminal blasphemes/derides

      • questions Jesus as the Messiah

        • is concerned only for his physical life
        • he doesn't understand grace
        • grace is not a ticket away from judgement, but through
        • doesn’t want to pay for his crimes
  • Bandits - most likely social bandits (not highway robbers)

    • Protesters against the Roman Empire
    • Not that different from Jesus - they also wanted liberation from Rome, but most likely for Jewish liberation not necessarily the Kingdom of God
    • Usually think of the “good” bandit and the “bad” bandit, but they are both just people

      • First Bandit - aren’t you the Messiah? Yes. Save yourself? No. Save us? Yes - but not in the way you think
      • Second Bandit - He is innocent. No Jesus isn’t innocent. Jesus is guilty of sedition for preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God. Jesus remember me
      • Neither Bandit quite “gets” it - One wants salvation in this life and the other wants salvation in the next- Jesus is the Way to both
  • Kingdom of the world

    • “save yourself”
    • Beaten, mocked, humiliated
    • anger
    • vengeance
    • outrage
  • Kingdom of God

    • “give yourself”
    • forgiveness
    • forbearance
    • patience
    • empathy
  • What is the Kingdom of God like?

    • Bless those who persecute you and curse you (6:28)
    • a wasteful son returning to a father’s loving arms
    • a shepherd searching for one lost sheep
    • a weed grown in a garden to provide shelter for the birds
    • a rich man’s feast opened to the poor and the lame
    • “We would rather have had Jesus say that God loves the people we like and the people we say we are like, and that God does not love the people we do not like and the people we say are not like us. We would prefer if God did not love the crackheads and addicts, the adulterers, the thieves, the prostitutes, the rebellious teenagers, and the disgruntled employees. We would prefer it if paradise were exclusively for the nice people, the clean people, the polite people, the well-behaved people, the right people.” - Nancy Lynn Westfield, 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).

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Jesus refused to let Rome crush the humanity or the divinity out of him. He remains faithful to God’s way of love and forgiveness up to the very end. Will we be as faithful? What would it take for us to turn to violence and anger? A disappointing election?
  • Christ is King - how does that statement make you feel? Is it comforting or challenging? Why?

    • If Jesus is King, then why doesn’t Jesus make everything right? Perhaps Jesus’ sense of power and what is “right” is vastly different from our own
    • If Jesus is King, then there is no ethical or theological justification for not following his way of love and forgiveness
  • Forgiveness if perhaps the most challenging part of Jesus (and one of the most consistent). How will your church be an agent of forgiveness and reconciliation in the midst of great division?

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Second Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6 The coming of a righteous king
Initial Thoughts

  • Omitting verses 7--8 removes the passage from historical context. Without these verses, it is easier to universalize the text. With those verses, it is about a particular time and plane - the end of the exile. No longer a people of the Exodus, but a people of the End of Exile.

Bible Study

  • Particular historical context and political intrigue, according to James Newsome:

    • This is a denunciation of Judah’s rulers at time of King Zedekiah

      • King Zedekiah was the last of Judah’s monarchs to exercise political power from Jerusalem.
    • Some believed that the rightful ruler was Jehoiachin, the grandson of good King Josiah, who had already been taken to Babylon after the insurrection of 597 BCE. This was an insurrection mounted by his father Jehoaikim.
    • After Jehoaikim’s death and Jehoakin’s exile, Johoaichin’s uncle Mattaniah was installed on the vacant throne by the Babylonians and renamed “Zedekiah,” which means “Yahweh is righteousness.”
    • Zedekiah - not the rightful king - decided to rebel again against Babylon. Jeremiah opposed this. He did it anyway, and this was the second exile.
    • The name of the righteous king that Jeremiah names will be “The Lord is Our Righteousness” is a play on words from Zedekiah.
  • Shepherds and Kings

    • Part of a much-repeated metaphor that compares shepherds to king, and flocks to the people of Israel.
    • Good Shepherds: Keeps the flock safe, tends to the needs of the flock, and keeps them together.
    • Bad Shepherds: Allow flock to be predated, ignores the needs of the flock, scatters them.
    • Good/Bad Shepherds are the same as Good/Bad Kings.
  • Three-step plan for restoration: 1. Get rid of old leaders. 2. Bring back people. 3. Pick a new righteous leader.

    • Scatter the bad shepherds who do not take care of their sheep.
    • I will gather the remaining sheep, bring them back to pasture, where they will “be fruitful and multiply”

      • Restoring the original divine promise/mandate
    • Raise up a new shepherd.

      • Righteous
      • Line of David

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • This is a deeply political text - especially in the immediate aftermath of the election, there are a lot of directions you can go. Remember that there are probably good people in your congregation who voted for Trump, Clinton, Johnson, someone else, or not at all. A text about a prophet railing against an unrightful King, and calling on God to replace him with a righteous one is fraught with pitfalls on any given Sunday, let alone one just a few weeks after an incredible contentious election. You know your context. Tread lightly.
  • This text defies tired cliches like “God is in control,” and “leave it up to the true King.” This text reveals that leaders matter. There are bad leaders, who scatter their flocks and don’t tend their sheep. There are good leaders, who care about the marginalized. Saying “God is in control” and stepping away from any kind of activism is not supported by this text.  

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Pulpit Fiction Academy interview with Dr. Warren Carter of Brite Divinity School. With Year-A quickly approaching, the gospel focus will shift from Luke to Matthew, we decided to seek out an expert on Matthew to talk about the book as a whole, and some themes to consider as we enter a new lectionary year. Dr. Carter’s scholarly work has focused on the gospels of Matthew and John, and he has focused on the issue of the ways in which early Christians negotiated the Roman empire. In addition to numerous scholarly articles, he is the author of ten books including Matthew and the Margins (Orbis Books), Matthew and Empire (Trinity Press International/Continuum), The Roman Empire and the New Testament (Abingdon). This was a great conversation, one which we will probably refer back to several times over the next year.

Thank you listeners

Featured Musician -  Whym, “Beside Me” from their debut album Sing, Doubter

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”).