94: Advent 4B (Dec. 21) “You put your Luke in my Year B!”


For Sunday December 21. The fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B.

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SHOW NOTES -  12/21/2014
Episode 94: Advent 4B (Dec. 21) “You put your Luke in my Year B!”


For Sunday, December 21, 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 21. The fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B.

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  • Yes Please, by Amy Poehler.  Worth getting as an audio book.  Although the print book has many pictures and fun stuff, the audio book is read by Amy and her friends, with cameos by Kathleen Turner, Seth Meyers, and others. 

Introduction and Check-in  

QUICKFIRE SCRIPTURE: Romans 16:25-27  and 2 Samuel 7:1-16

  • Romans
    • End of the book of Romans
    • Good News - a “secret revealed” - share the secret!
  • 2 Samuel
    • Do not build a temple for God
    • When did Jesus ask us to build churches?

Featured Musician - Sara Kay, “The Place Where Advent Starts”.  Her album, “On the Way” is available at Amazon. This song is not on that album.  More of her music at Sara Kay Music. Follow her @Sara_Kay_Music

Primary Scripture - Luke 1:26-38 Let it be, Let it be
Initial Thoughts

  • Mary Sunday! Weird for Protestants, probably comfortable for Catholics
  • This is the passage the Beatles “Let It Be” was based on

Bible Study

  • The Nature of Mary
    • Perfect and sinless
      • Catholic interpretation
      • Immaculate conception refers to Mary, not to Jesus. Mary had to be sinlessly conceived in order to be without original sin
      • Eternally Virginal (apparently Jesus’ brothers and sisters were conceived by the Holy Spirit as well)
    • Ordinary and faithful
      • Priesthood of believers
      • God makes the ordinary extraordinary
      • Mary is our relatable model of faithfulness (as opposed to Jesus who was sinless)
    • Manipulated and subjugated...raped?
      • Mary does not seem to have a choice in the matter - Gabriel informs her of her fate, but does not ask
      • Overshadowed by Mary’s response “Let it be” but her acknowledgement of being in an “impossible” situation does not mean she condoned it.
      • Could this (has this) been used as an example of a male figure (God) imposing his will on a woman without her knowledge or consent - seems shady…
  • Virgins
    • Not simply a misinterpretation - yes regarding Isaiah 7, not here - Greek literally says, “I do not known a man”
    • Typical of stories in ancient literature detailing the sons of God
      • gods and demi-gods born of virgins:
        • Maia, mother of Sakia
        • Yasoda, mother of Krishna
        • Celestine, mother of the crucified Zunis
        • Chimalman, mother of Quexalcote
        • Semele, mother of the Egyptian Bacchus
        • Minerva, mother of the Grecian Bacchus
        • Prudence, mother of Hercules
        • Alcmene, mother of Alcides
        • Shing- Mon, mother of Yu
        • Mayence, mother of Hesus,
  • Not about sex? about relationship with God.
    • Without a relationship with God, just peace, the Kingdom of God, love- all these things are impossible
    • They are only possible through a relationship with God. Jesus models that relationship for us.
    • Mary opens herself up to being in relationship with God
  • How can this be?
    • The question echoed by every person in the congregation at some point in life
    • Can be both positive or negative - honestly does Mary even know at this point?
    • Whatever this is - the “power of the most high” will overshadow you - God will be with you

Preaching Thoughts

  • Don’t strip this story of its miracle. You can explain the historical, but only insofar as you retain the mystery
  • Cynthia L Rigby - Just as Mary was incapable to conceive (because she was a virgin), we are incapable to accomplish God’s will alone.  “We are all, in this sense, virgins”. In order to bring about God’s will, we need God. a kingdom of justice and peace without God is impossible, but “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)

Music - Sara Kay, “Mary’s Song” is found on her album “On the Way.”

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Secondary scripture -  Luke 1:39-56 Magnificat (with Visitation)
Initial Thoughts

  • Official UM lectionary reading uses this passage in place of the Psalm, and includes only verses 47-55.  For study and preaching purposes, we will be talking about the entire visitation.
    • Picks up immediately after the Gospel reading, which ends at v. 38.  
  • Rethink Church Advent theme is “Dashing to Others with Hope”
  • “You are Highly Favored” blog post from The Fat Pastor

Bible Study

  • the Visitation
    • The idea of Mary going to visit her older Aunt because she’s “in trouble” feels remarkably current.
    • The first public announcement of Jesus was a baby leaping in the womb, noticed only by the mother.  The pregnant Elizabeth makes the first public declaration about Jesus.
    • Even in the womb, it is clear that Jesus is superior.  Despite John being first born, and the one who baptizes Jesus, Elizabeth makes it clear that Jesus is Lord - even before his birth.
    • It is not the angel’s message to Mary that made her sing.  It was the words of encouragement from her Aunt that did it.
  • The Magnificat - Mary’s Song
    • Praise for what God is doing for her, and for the world.
      • Deeply personal song of praise that is tied to the action of God in the world.
      • Looked highly upon on the lowly servant.
      • Only small portion is autobiographical. Rest is all about the poor, powerless, and oppressed of the world.
      • Parallels to Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, another response to a miraculous conception.
      • Sets tone for rest of Gospel, and Jesus’ ministry.  He came to set the first last, and the last first.  This a preface to that work.
    • Tense is interesting.  There is no future tense.  Even though she is still pregnant, and couldn’t help but be thinking of what is to come, she sings only of things that have happened, or are in the process of happening.  
      • Mary speaks of God having already done these things.
      • He shows mercy
      • He has shown strength with his arm.
      • He has scattered the arrogant.
      • He has pulled the powerful down
      • Lifted up the lowly
      • Has filled the hungry
      • Has come to the aid of his servant, Israel
      • Remembering his mercy

Preaching Thoughts

  • An unmarried, pregnant girl from a backwoods town is about as lowly as it gets.  Think of a 12 year old girl you know.  Now think of her scared, away from home, looking at the very real possibility of a death sentence.  Now re-read Mary’s Song.
  • Mary sings of hope because of what God has already done.  There is no future tense.  Is she thinking of the history of Israel, and historic events that she can point to, like the promises made to Abraham, and find hope in the God that keeps promises.  Or is it that all of these things have been accomplished by the very act of visiting Mary.  When God chose her, a girl of such low stature, he already accomplished the scattering of the arrogant, and the filling of the hungry.  Or is it holding together the paradox in which we still live, in that God’s victory is won, but there is still Kingdom work to do?
    • “This particular use of the past tense (aorist) of the Greek language here expresses what is timelessly true: past, present, and future without differentiation.  But we should also consider the past tense as a way of expressing the confidences and the certainty as though they already were.  So sure is the singer that God will do what is promised that it is proclaimed as accomplished fact” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation: Luke, p. 30)

Tasty Wafer of the Week!

TY listeners

Musician:  Sara Kay “The Place Where Advent Starts” available on her website (http://www.reverbnation.com/sarakay) and “Mary’s Song” from her Album On the Way. Follow her @Sara_Kay_Music   

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”.