93: Advent 3B (Dec. 14) “Jesus’s on the Main Line”


For Sunday December 14. The third Sunday of Advent, Year B. 

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SHOW NOTES -  12/14/2014
For Sunday, December 14, 2014
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the lectionary readings for the week. This is episode 93 for Sunday December 14. The third Sunday of Advent, Year B.

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Introduction and Check-in  


  • Job description for the Messiah:
    • Good news to the poor,
    • Bind up the brokenhearted
    • Release to prisoners
    • Comfort those that mourn
    • Proclaim the day of the Lord’s favor
    • Proclaim the day of vengeance for God.
  • Promise of coming Kingdom is the possibility of a new future.
  • God is able to transform lives and communities

Featured Musician - Heatherlyn, “Be the Light” from her album  Storydwelling. More of her music at heatherlynmusic.com. Follow her @heatherlynmusic

Primary Scripture - John 1:6-8, 19-28 Testifying to the Light
Initial Thoughts

  • Still no birth story
  • Star Wars...the light and the darkness - ancient themes reaching far back before the Gospel of John and even raised up today
  • Not anti-Jewish
  • what to do with verses 9-18? The lectionary focuses on John. Verses 9-18 are focused on Jesus. Depends on what you want your focus to be- I think you could easily go either way on this one, but be careful you don’t try to fit too many sermons in one.
  • John has been regulated to Advent and Jesus has been regulated to Christmas. both have a place in each season - do not pigeon hole John in Advent or cut Jesus out entirely

Bible Study

  • Separated John from Jesus (this was a major issue for the early church)
    • Both preached about the coming Kingdom
    • Both preached about repentance
    • Both were killed by the political authorities
  • v. 6-8: Connects the prologue of John (and the eternal pre-existence of Jesus as the Word) with Jesus as the Word made flesh (v.14)
    • Contrast vs 14 with v. 6
    • Jesus = Word made flesh
    • John = man sent from God
  • v. 19-28: John’s testimony
    • John is not Jesus, John is not the Messiah, a prophet or Elijah - John IS the voice.
    • John is always pointing to Jesus, to the light
    • John knows who he is and who he isn’t - this is an important lesson for pastors or people who are trying to be everything to everyone
  • Advent Pageant (Barbara Brown Taylor)
    • One man show - John (who isn’t even baptizing or saying much of anything in this Gospel)
    • John has nothing but himself and his witness
    • Meister Eckhart, “God is found in the soul not by adding anything but by subtracting.” (Quoted by BBT in Feasting on the Word)

Preaching Thoughts

  • Are we called to be Christ or to be John? Are we to be the light of the world- allowing the divinity within us to transforming those around us or are we called to point to the light of Christ when we see it at work around us? Why not both?
  • What does it mean to be a voice preparing the way of the Lord? How do we testify to God enfleshed among us? If we are the body of Christ, then are we not also the Word become flesh? Can we see and proclaim the presence of the divine in one another?
  • In Jesus is true (or eternal) life - see verse 4. John is testifying to what it means to live in the light of Christ. How do we witness to our transformation in the light - see 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 (or just look below in the show notes). Be the Christ in Christmas - let the light shine through you

Music - Heatherlyn, “Peace On Earth” from her album Storydwelling. More of her music at heatherlynmusic.com. Follow her @heatherlynmusic

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Secondary scripture - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 Rejoice always
Initial Thoughts

  • Great stuff for Joy Sunday - Gaudete Sunday.  Gaudete is Latin for “rejoice.”  
    • Gaudete Sunday was designed to be a pause from the penitence of the rest of Advent.  While the rest of Advent was for prayer, fasting, and penitence, Gaudete Sunday was a reprieve to celebrate the joy of redemption.

Bible Study

  • Oldest Text in the New Testament (ca 51) Undisputed Paul.
    • In 1 Thes 4, Paul asserts that the coming of the Lord is near.  Like many Pauline epistles, this is dealing with the fact that the coming of Christ has been delayed.  So the question remains: “How shall we live?”
    • Very early in the church, so it is not thoroughly developed theologically as some other letters.  Most of the letter deals questions about those who die before Christ comes again, and how to live in a time of expectancy.
  • Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks to God in everything.
    • There is no time to pause from rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks.  
    • Proclaims a total shift in attitude, lifestyle, and mindset - not just a schedule for the day.
    • Provides a way to wait - Active waiting that is not just about passing the time until Christ comes, but includes an actively countercultural way to live.  
    • These are the marks of the Christian community.  The ability to rejoice, pray, and give thanks marks not only the life of the followers, but also forms the model for worship as a community.  It is both a personal way of life and a model for how to be the Church.
    • The sign that the Holy Spirit is with the people is in their ability to live joyfully, pray, and give thanks, as seen in the breaking of the bread and sharing the love feast.
  • Sanctification
    • Wesley Alert: Sanctification is one of Wesley’s three facets of grace. It is the grace that moves us “onward to perfection.”  It is the grace that moves us toward generosity, kindness, and peace.
    • v. 22 “Avoid every kind of evil” or “Abstain from every form of evil” has been used to justify legalism.  This is part of the basis for historic abstention from cards, dancing, drinking, movies, and all sorts of other things.  
    • Daniel Wallace concludes that despite this traditional understanding of the text, that Christians should have a “ robust faith and a life of enjoyment of God and of the good gifts he bestows on us.  In conclusion, 1 Thess 5:22 is apparently talking about staying away from false teaching and has nothing to do with lifestyle per se.“
      • The reminder to “do not despise the words of the prophets, but test everything, hold fast to what is good,” sounds like a word of encouragement to a people hearing many messages.
      • In a cacophony of false teaching, it is important to use the Holy Spirit to discern what is true.
      • Suggests that there were many preying on the new community - possibly surrounding issue of delayed parousia.  As a response to these teachers, some might have shut themselves off from any teachers.
    • Teaching of Paul is to live life joyfully, not to close yourself off to the world, but to be a part of the world, but transformed by Christ.  The power of God in the Spirit is on display in the way people live with one another.  
    • In other words - do not cut yourself off from all joys, but also do not allow yourself to be depraved in every craving.  Either side of the extreme falls short of God’s intention for the life of a believer.

Preaching Thoughts

  • Be Christ in Christmas.  The best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to be Christ in Christmas for others.  Rejoice, pray, give thanks.  If this is your mindset, there is no way that Christ can be taken out of your Christmas.  “Nothing can take Christ out of Christmas as long as I strive to Be Christ in Christmas.”
  • The prophets and the teaching of Christ go hand in hand.  Discerning the truth is done in community, with the Holy Spirit.  Discerning false prophets is no easy task, but should be done through the lens of “The God of peace.”  “The working of the Spirit in the form of prophecy is not to be quenched, but neither is it immune to scrutiny” (Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Interpretation: First and Second Thessalonians, p. 85).

Tasty Wafer of the Week!

TY listeners

Heatherlyn, “Be the Light” and “Peace on Earth” both from her album  Storydwelling. More of her music at heatherlynmusic.com. Follow her @heatherlynmusic

Our opening featured a segment of the new Star Wars trailer. 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”.