91: Advent 1B (Nov. 30) Happy New Year Apocalypse!


For Sunday November 30. The first Sunday of Advent, Year B. 

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SHOW NOTES -  11/30/2014
Episode 91: Advent 1B (Nov. 30) Happy New Year Apocalypse!
image by Lars Ploughman

For Sunday, November 30, 2014
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the lectionary readings for the week. This is episode 91 for Sunday November 30. The first Sunday of Advent, Year B.

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Introduction and Check-in

  • Advent! Happy New Year
  • #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
  • QUICKFIRE SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 64:1-9
    • Strange how we focus on “we are the clay, and you are the potter” but no one quotes: “All our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag” (CEB)
    • Not arguing against God’s justment, but asking for mercy for both the people’s sake and God’s sake
    • Better to receive God’s wrath than for God to be absent

Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Waiting for You” from his album Stepping In. You can find more about Christopher and his music at  www.christophergrundy.com.

Primary Scripture - Mark 13:24-37 - Little Apocalypse
Initial Thoughts

  • Let’s start the New year off with a BANG!
  • Winter is Coming...

Bible Study

  • Little Apocalypse- what it is referring to?
    • Resurrection?
      • possible- Jesus could simply be referring to his resurrection (cf. 14:62)
      • Curtain of the temple is torn in two
      • Luke and Matthew mention earthquakes and fear
    • Historical- 70 CE - response to the destruction of the Temple
      • Around the time when Mark was written
      • Answers the question of when these things will happen
      • Answers the “this generation” quandary
      • Earthquakes were and are still not that uncommon with major earthquakes occurring roughly every 90 years
    • Been interpreted to be predicting wars, cosmic and geological events throughout human history
  • Daniel - Jesus is referring directly from Daniel and who isn’t familiar with Daniel’s apocalyptic writings?.....most of us.
    • “Coming in clouds” is directly lifted from Daniel 7:13
    • Christopher Hutson (Feasting on the Word) “The basic message of apocalyptic visions is this: The rebellion against the reign of God is strong, as the wicked oppress the righteous. Things will get worse before they get better. But hang on just a little longer, because just when you are sure you cannot endure, God will intervene to turn the world right side up.”
    • 176 BCE the Seleucid Empire banned all foreign religions including aspects of Judaism. Daniel response to this by drawing an analogy between the oppression of the Babylonian Exile and the Seleucid oppression
    • Mark is doing the same thing by using Daniel to compare Roman occupation to the Seleucid occupation
  • Apocalypse - events which are reinterpreted and re-applied in each context - How do we do this faithfully?
    • Hyperbolic accusations undermine true prophetic witness - do not equate minor injustices to grand injustices (see Godwin’s Law)
    • Remember the purpose of Apocalyptic literature is to INSPIRE HOPE not to sow fear
      • Things look (and perhaps are) bad, they may get worse - it does not mean God has abandoned us, forsaken us or “lost”
  • Stay Awake
      • Even Jesus does not know when the end will come
      • Not about watching and waiting passively, but actively bearing good fruit and bringing about the Kingdom
    • Stay faithful in all things
    • God’s coming should be a reason for celebration not fear and woe- Heaven on Earth is coming!
    • Fig Tree- bear good fruit at all times, the busyness of the season is no excuse!

Preaching Thoughts

  • Wake up? If anything people need to rest, not to stay awake during this busy season. Begs the question- what do we need to wake up to? God, simplicity, love, grace, forgiveness, gratitude
  • Jesus is coming! Everybody look busy...No- stay busy focused on love and grace.
  • Active waiting- like actively waiting for guest to arrive

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan’s “Turn and Restore Us” from  the Psalm Project “Shout for Joy”. You can find more of Richard’s great music at worldmaking.net. Follow him on Twitter@PoMoPsalmist

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Secondary scripture -Psalm 80
Initial Thoughts

  • A part of Rethink Church’s “Checking, Decking, and Dashing” Advent series.  This week: Checking into peace.
  • Song of lament seems like a strange way to begin the Advent Season.  Merry Christmas, everything sucks!

Bible Study

  • Lamentation
    • Response to some unnamed tragedy.  Possibly the fall and exile of the Northern Kingdom (New Interpreter’s Bible)
    • Lectionary leaves out the metaphor of the vine being taken out of Egypt, and planted in the Promised Land.  Verses 8-16 retell the history of Israel in this simple metaphor:
      • God took the vine from Egypt
      • God cleared the land of the nations
      • The vine flourished in the protection of the mountains and the river
      • Then God allowed it to be attacked from “the boar of the forest.”
      • Finishes with pleading for God to “have regard for the vine.”
      • Given the strong vine imagery - often in other readings in Advent, it is surprising that this gets eliminated.
    • Current state:
      • God is angry with people’s prayers
      • Fed with bread of tears
      • Tears to drink
      • Scorn of our neighbors
      • Enemies laughing
  • Hope
    • In the midst of the lament, there is hope, and it hinges on the “holy ‘but’”
    • v 17 “But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.”
    • Current state is bleak, but there is hope in a God that acts.
    • Demands of God in verses:
      • 1 Show yourself
      • 2 Wake up your power
      • 2 Come to save us
      • 3 Restore us.
      • 3 Make your face shine so we can be saved.
      • 7 Restore us.
      • 7 Make your face shine so we can be saved.
      • 14 Come back
      • 14 Look down and perceive it
      • 17 Let your hand be with the one on your right side.
      • 18 Revive us
      • 19 Restore us
      • 19 Make your face shine so we can be saved

Preaching Thoughts

  • All of the action in the Psalm is God’s, which contributes to the anguish.  If God has built up and strengthened the vine, allowed it to flourish and grow so beautifully, why would God then walk away and let it be ravaged?  “Put another way, if God is the problem, God must also be the solution. Thus “The prayer concentrates … on the one thing and one thing alone -- the divine Thou.”The congregation must look beyond even its own repentance “to a kind of repentance of God -- his turning away from wrath to grace.” (Nancy Koester, Working Preacher).  Verse 14 calls God to repent “turn again.”  This is a remarkable relationship with God for us to call on God to repent.
  • Christmas season is so often a time of busyness that we seek restoration after its all over.  From what do we need to be restored?  How many pastors take time off on the Sunday after Christmas?  What if we seek restoration in the midst of Advent instead of waiting until the end? Is that even possible? Is it practical?  Is it faithful?  Is it faithful to seek restoration while so many are searching?  

Tasty Wafer of the Week!

TY listeners

Musician:  Christopher Grundy with his songs “Happy New Year” from his album Here in Providence and “Waiting for You” from his album Stepping In. You can find more about Christopher and his music at  www.christophergrundy.com.

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 Paul and Storm for our closing music, “Oh No”.