87: P26A (Nov. 2) Jesusween or Halloween, which is scarier?


For Sunday November 2. Proper 26A/Ordinary 31A/21 Sundays after Pentecost.  Also known as All Saints’ Sunday, Reformation Sunday, or All Souls’ Day, 

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SHOW NOTES -  11/2/2014
Episode 87: P26A (Nov. 2)
For Sunday, November 2, 2014
Welcome the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the lectionary reading for the week. This is episode 87 for Sunday November 2. Proper 26A/Ordinary 31A/21 Sundays after Pentecost.  Also known as All Saints’ Sunday, Reformation Sunday, or All Souls’ Day,

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Introduction and Check-in

  • #AmyOnPulpitFiction  According to this report, Amy Poehler is producing a new church-based comedy.  Help us get her attention on Social Media and Twitter.  Ask her to be a guest on Pulpit Fiction.  Tweet something like this: @Smrtgrls and @eeshmu So excited about your new project, please go on @pulpitfpodcast to talk about it #AmyOnPulpitFiction
  • All Saints Day/All Souls Day/Reformation Day?

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “Lay Down Lay Low” off their album of the same name. More of their music at www.steelwheels.com, @thesteelwheels.

Primary Scripture - Matthew 23:1-12
Initial Thoughts

  • “Prayer bands on their arms” refers to a phylactery.  An explanation by Encyclopedia Britannica is found here.
  • “Tassels for their clothes” refers to the Tzitzit, which is explained here.
  • Both were part of the Torah.  Notice Jesus does not condemn the wearing of the Tzitzit or the phylactery.  It is the audaciousness that he condemns.  As so often is the case with Jesus, especially in Matthew, he has no problem with the law itself, it is the motivation behind such things that truly matters.   

Bible Study

  • Literary Context
    • Immediately after the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with questions about taxes, resurrection, and the law.  First they bring Herodians to trap him with question about taxes.  The Sadducees asked him about the resurrection, then the Pharisees came back with a question about the law.  Jesus responds with a strange question about David and the Messiah, presumably to show how incorrect their literalist interpretation of Scripture is.  Then he “spoke to the crowds and the disciples…”
    • After this, he comes down even harder “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites!”  The lectionary leaves out these harsh condemnation of the religious experts.
  • Evidence of infighting between Matthean community and Pharisees after the destruction of the Temple.  
    • “The confrontation represented here seems, then, to be the increasingly bitter conflict between the Jewish "congregation" (synagogue) of Matthew's city and the small group of those "called out" (ekklesia) as Matthew's church. Theirs was a family fight, and the name-calling and harsh rhetoric flourished. “ (Sharon Ringe, Working Preacher)
    • Much of the dangerous rhetoric aimed toward Pharisees could be seen as a family fight that took place as much after Jesus’ time than it did during his ministry.  The teachings of the Pharisees and Jesus were not that far off from each other.  
  • V. 1-3 Not yet a total condemnation of the Pharisees.  Can we hear remnants of “You have heard it said... but I say to you…”  It is not so much that the Pharisees are wrong in their teaching, it is in their application of the teaching where they fall short.
    • Admonition for leaders who might teach well, but cannot live up to their teaching.
    • Those that teach are not so much held to a higher standard, but are held to at least the standard to which they claim.
  • Four criticisms
    • They do not practice what they preach.
    • They tie together heavy packs that they do not try and lift.
      • As opposed to Jesus, who provided an easy burden and a light yoke. (Matthew 11:28-30)
    • Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others.
      • Closely related to the Sermon on the Mount, as found in Matthew 6:1-13, and Jesus’ prohibition of public piety.  “Don’t pray like the hypocrites…”
    • The love to sit in places of honor and to be called “Rabbi”
      • Reminiscent of Luke 14:7 where Jesus notices how the guests picked the places of honor.
      • “Possibly, verse 9 alludes to the practice of some Jewish Christians of appealing to Jewish authorities on certain matters such as Sabbath observance instead of depending wholly on Christ who had interpreted for them the will of their Father in heaven.”  (Douglas Hare, Interpretation: Matthew, p. 267)
      • Rabbi: A Hebrew term that means ‘my great one’ or ‘master,’ used as a title of honor for legal experts.  Father: sometimes used as a title of honor for great teachers. Jesus directs his followers and the crowds not to use such titles for each other, since they are all siblings, no one with more status than the other.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is called ‘Rabbi’ only twice, both times by Judas, his betrayer (Mt. 26:25, 49)”  (Common English Study Bible notes, p. 50 in the NT)

Preaching Thoughts

  • Remember, he had just summed up the whole law as “Love God, and love others as yourself.”  If the tassels and fringes are meant to express love and devotion to God, there is no problem.  When, however, they become about setting yourself over and above others, that is the problem.  What do we do with clerical clothes?  Is the collar appropriate?  What about the robe, cassock, or stole?  What is the motivation behind such things?  Should non-ordained wear stoles?
    • “This passage is perennially relevant.  It is not a mortal sin for clergy to be addressed as “Reverend, “Father,” “Doctor,” or “Pastor.”  The eagerness of laypeople to exalt ordained persons by the honorific titles, however, intensifies the minister’s responsibility to work diligently at breaking down the barrier between clergy and laity.” (Douglas Hare, Interpretation: Matthew, p. 267)  
  • Where is the line between an easy burden and cheap grace?  It is not the substance of the Pharisees teaching that Jesus takes issue with, it is the way that they apply it.  It is hard to imagine a heavier burden than the cross (Matthew 16:24).  But the cross is not a burden that Jesus was unwilling to take up himself.  

The Steel Wheels, “Lay Down Lay Low” off their album of the same name. More of their music at
www.steelwheels.com, @thesteelwheels.

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Secondary scripture - 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 - God’s message
Initial Thoughts

  • Pairs well with Gospel
  • Awkward and contextual
  • Might focus on the last verse 13: “We also thank God constantly for this: when you accepted God's word that you heard from us, you welcomed it for what it truly is. Instead of accepting it as a human message, you accepted it as God's message, and it continues to work in you who are believers.”

Bible Study

  • God’s Good news
    • A rare phrase- only used by Paul three times in all his other letters and it is used three time sin this chapter
    • P, S and T are serving the for the sake of the Gospel, not the church, not their own fame or glory or edification.
    • Not simply passed along like a material good, but “they themselves are involved in passing it along, and as a result they become vulnerable and profoundly connected to the people. They give the gospel as well as themselves.” (Grace J I-Sun Kim)
    • Grace Kim - Interesting implications for post-colonial and post-imperial Christianity. Neither require vulnerability- true gospel sharing requires one to be as vulnerable as Christ
  • Pre verse 13 - Paul’s Defense
    • Accused of preaching only for his own gain - like a false prophet
      • Paul is defensive - working day and night, defending himself, Sylvanus and Timothy against unspoken accusations
      • Corinthians rebuked Paul for working
      • A good verse for bi-vocational preachers (like Paul was)
    • Pure, upright and blameless
      • “pure” or “holy” notes appropriate relationship with God- a call back to Paul’s Pharisaic roots?;
      • “Upright” notes appropriate social relationship
      • “Blameless” is not about being sin-free but free of false charge/ innocent
    • A warning against pastor worship or pastors who regard themselves as above the laity
  • Thanksgiving - Verse 13 (Holly Hearon, workingpreacher.com)
    • How to differentiate the word of God from humans? Hermeneutics
      • The lens by which you see or the filter through which you hear determines what is Godly and what is not
      • They are NOT claiming Paul (S &T) are gods.
    • Word of God - words and actions that are filled with God’s Spirit
  • God at work in the church- about community
    • God calls (not called) God is working currently, living, now, present in the community
    • There is no difference between those called and those sent - there is one body and one community in Christ and God is at work in and through the community (Susan Marie Smith, Feasting on the Word)
    • We can no longer ask “Who am i?” but “Who are we?”

Preaching Thoughts

  • Is your church proclaiming the gospel of God or the Gospel of a particular denomination/ local pastor/ church/ political ideal?
  • What does it mean to work for God? How can we explore working for God outside the clergy? This is a great laity Sunday or bivocational Sunday text

Tasty Wafers of the Week!

  • Farty Sheep app - developed by the company of a friend - all proceeds go to a non-for-profit that promotes community building and technology training for children in Southern Wales.
  • Nate Bailey’s blog. - Nate is serving as Global Mission Intern with Global Ministries, (The common witness of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ responsible for nurturing relationships with international partners on behalf of Disciples and the UCC.) Nate is serving in Jordan and working with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem/Orthodox Initiative (OI).  He serves as an assistant for Syrian Refugee Response and Communications.

TY listeners


  • Follow @revlund we will be interviewing her next week on an upcoming Thursday Night Special to discuss her new book, Blessed are the Crazy:Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family and Church. Feel free to send us any questions you want us to ask Rev. Sarah Lund.
  • Dare Stevens @dareimagine Preaching over Matt 22:15-22 today. "Both/And" is a good by-word in today's divisive society. I enjoyed the podcast. “
  • Shannon Stewart @shannonstewart8 “Great episode! Laughing about "Jesusween" - if you're going to go rouge, celebrate Reformation Day.”
  • Will Ryan @GoodWill605 “in the @WorkingPreacher article you used, Dr. Pape's name is pronounced with a long A and a long E @britedivinity
  • @Katie_Kraft, @IntrepidToast, @CSBowles, @sharonlscook, @LFolkwein all tweeted to @smrtgrls to ask her to be on Pulpit Fiction.  #AmyOnPulpitFiction.  Special thanks to Laura Folkwein who coined the hashtag #churchnerdheaven, which is awesome.

Our Featured Musician
The Steel Wheels, “Lay Down Lay Low” off their album of the same name. More of their music at www.steelwheels.com, @thesteelwheels.

Thanks to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Second of May” from their album Live at Goose Creek) and special closing music this week is Richard Bruxvoort Colligan’s song “I Am for Peace”.