80: P19A (Sept. 14) Crossing the Sea of Forgiveness


For Sunday September 14, Proper 19A/Ordinary 24A/14 Sundays after Pentecost. 

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SHOW NOTES -  9/14/2014
Episode 80: P19A (Sept. 14)
For Sunday, September 14, 2014
image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/storiescorner/

This is the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the  lectionary reading for the week. This is episode 80 for Sunday September 14, Proper 19A/Ordinary 24A/14 Sundays after Pentecost.

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Introduction and Check-in

Featured Musician - The River’s Voice, Trish and Richard  Bruxvoort Colligan, “Miriam’s Song” from her album Seeds of Faith. You can find out more about their music at riversvoice.com

Primary Scripture - Matthew 18:21-35 - Forgiveness
Initial Thoughts

  • The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal

Bible Study

  • Final section on living together
    • vv.1-4: Who is greatest
    • vv. 6-10: How to deal with the weakest
    • vv. 15-20: What to do with those who sin against us
    • vv.21-35: What about the really annoying people?
  • When are we off the hook for forgiveness?
    • 77 or 490 (70 x 7)? Doesn’t matter- the point is never - God doesn’t stop forgiving and so neither should we
  • The parable
    • Severity (Lewis Donelson, Feasting on the Word):
      • Great debt- ten thousand talents- greatest number in Greek
      • Selling into slavery- prohibited by Jewish law and rarely done by Greeks or Romans
    • God and us: King and the servant part one
      • Threatened with damnation/ being separated from God
      • Confession and repentance
      • Mercy and Grace
      • Forgiveness and restoration
    • Us and others: Servant and his debtors
      • Threatened
      • Confession and repentance
      • No-mercy
      • Condemnation
    • Cheap Grace: King and servant part 2
      • God does not take kindly to cheap grace
  • Forgiveness isn’t fair or deserved
    • Lord’s Prayer Forgive as we forgive - do we mean the words we say?
    • There is an intrinsic notion of “pay it forward”
    • God forgives us, therefore, out of a spirit of gratitude, we are asked to forgive others.
    • Deserve and fairness has nothing to do with it
      • How many times have we been forgiven by God?
  • Forgiveness and abuse
    • How Can I Forgive? by Joretta Marshall
    • Forbearance is a prerequisite of forgiveness, the end of transgression and the safety of the victim are paramount.
    • Forgiveness IS NOT forgetting - God/King has not forgotten the transgressions of the servant and the servant subsequent actions remove the previous forgiveness.
      • Forgiveness is not a one and done act, but is a long and messy process
      • Relationships take a long time to repair and require sustained commitment, safety and trust
    • Marjorie J. Thompson quoted from Charlotte Dudley Cleghorn, Feasting on the Word “To forgive is to make a conscious choice to release the person who has wounded us from the sentence of our judgment, however justified that judgment may be. It represents a choice to leave behind our resentment and desire for retribution, however fair such punishment may seem…. Forgiveness involves excusing persons from the punitive consequences they deserve because of their behavior. The behavior remains condemned, but the offender is released from its effects as far as the forgiver is concerned. Forgiveness means the power of the original wound's power to hold us trapped is broken.” Marjorie J. Thompson, "Moving toward Forgiveness," Weavings, March-April 1992, 19

Preaching Thoughts

  • Forgiveness is an invitation into the vulnerable power of God. To let go of revenge, anger, and retribution however justified and take a chance on the possibility of either renewed relationship or a release from the oppression of anger and resentment.
  • Forgiveness should never be taken lightly - to do so undermines the severity of it.
  • Are we being honest in the Lord’s prayer when we ask for forgiveness as we forgive? If we don’t forgive then perhaps we are not forgiven.
  • About a spirit of gratitude - the acknowledgement of equal sinfulness before God levels the playing field and aspects of power. We are all condemned and all are offered grace. If we think we deserve grace more than someone else then we begin a slippery slope that leads away from forgiveness and love of neighbor to classism and division.

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Secondary scripture - Exodus 14:19-31 - Crossing the Red Sea
Initial Thoughts

  • Read all of 14 for preparation.  
  • Sea of Reeds or Red Sea
  • A closer reading is important to battle cultural baggage that is brought to this text.

Bible Study

  • It’s not hard to see two writers at work here. Ralph Klein makes a suggestion in Working Preacher.  The Yahwist and the Priestly stories of crossing the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds) are converged to make one, somewhat confusing story (see Noah for another example).   When pulled apart, there are two stories that make more sense independently of each other:
  • Yahwist: v. 19-20, 24-25, 30-31 “God’s messenger, who had been in front of Israel’s camp, moved and went behind them. The column of cloud moved from the front and took its place behind them. It stood between Egypt’s camp and Israel’s camp. The cloud remained there, and when darkness fell it lit up the night. They didn’t come near each other all night. As morning approached, the Lord looked down on the Egyptian camp from the column of lightning and cloud and threw the Egyptian camp into a panic. The Lord jammed their chariot wheels so that they wouldn’t turn easily. The Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites, because the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!”  The Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians that day. Israel saw the amazing power of the Lord against the Egyptians. The people were in awe of the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
    • God works to save both the Egyptians and the Israelites.
    • God’s power intervenes to prevent war
    • Waters parting is not mentioned.
    • Moses is not mentioned.
    • Yahwist Creation story is more concerned with God as a part of the created story - more narrative, more relational.
  • Priestly account: v. 21-23, 26-27, 28-29 “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord pushed the sea back by a strong east wind all night, turning the sea into dry land. The waters were split into two.The waters were split into two. The Israelites walked into the sea on dry ground. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians chased them and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and cavalry. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the water comes back and covers the Egyptians, their chariots, and their cavalry.”  So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Egyptians were driving toward it, and the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea.  The waters returned and covered the chariots and the cavalry, Pharaoh’s entire army that had followed them into the sea. Not one of them remained.  The Israelites, however, walked on dry ground through the sea. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left.”
    • Moses is the great leader, calling upon God’s power to separate the waters.
      • This gives us the powerful image that we are used to in movies, with Moses forming a miraculous canyon through the sea.
    • The Egyptians are thrown into the water, and are destroyed.
    • Priestly account emphasizes Yahweh’s glory and power over and above that of Pharaoh.
    • Yahweh is Warrior God who “Horse and rider, he threw into the sea.”
    • Harkens back to Priestly Creation story, which begins with “God’s wind swept over the waters.”  
    • Priestly creation story is one more concerned with power, control over chaos, and order.  Written during exile to remind people that God is, indeed, powerful and “in control.”
    • Israel’s rebirth - second creation story where God splits the water to give life.

Preaching Thoughts

  • It is debated whether the Yahwist or Priestly accounts came first.  What is clear though, is that both had to be included.  Both the story of God that saves Israel and Egypt, and the God that won a certain victory.  Does this tell us of God’s nature, or about our need to have a clear victory?  The story of God intervening on behalf of peace wasn’t enough, but neither was a purely Warrior God account.  Perhaps this tension is something that should be held still.  
  • Israel’s resurrection story.  Through death, Israel is given new life.  Through the waters of chaos, the people are birthed.  
  • Two responses of God’s work
    • Israelites - Choose faith, and walk through the dry land.  This is a precarious situation, but they come out alive on the other side.
    • Egyptians - Choose death.  Continually pursuing the opposite of God’s plan (unjustly enslaving the Israelites), they are swallowed by the water.

Tasty Wafer of the Week!
Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute with Len Sweet as the keynote speaker

TY listeners

Shout outs:


  • Sally Ward @sallylally37 won the autographed copy of “Kissing Fish,” by Roger Wolsey.
  • Adam Hamilton @RevAdamHamilton “Enjoyed our time together today guys - when does the interview play?  I'll post the link.  Blessings!”

Our Featured Musician was - The River’s Voice, Trish and Richard  Bruxvoort Colligan, “Miriam’s Song” from her album Seeds of Faith. You can find out more about their music at riversvoice.com

Thanks to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Second of May” from their album Live at Goose Creek) and Paul and Storm for our closing music( “Oh No”).