Ep. 46: Who invited John? or Second Sunday After Epiphany A


For Sunday January 19, 2014, Second Sunday After Epiphany A

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SHOW NOTES -  1/19/2014

Episode 46: Who invited John?  

Opening Music: “I Am the Light of the World” by Jim Strathdee

For Sunday, January 19, 2014

Episode 46

Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the lectionary reading for the week.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins. (Howard Thurman)

This is episode 46 for Sunday January 19, the second Sunday after Epiphany, Year A:


Primary Scripture - John 1:29-42 - John’s Witness

  • Initial thoughts:
    • Who invited John?
      • John is inserted every year for 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
      • Weird insertion of John into the lectionary- between Matthew's account of the Baptism (Jan 12) and Matthew’s account of the calling of the first disciples (Jan 26)
    • Epiphany - the manifestation of God as human
      • epiphaneia (Gk) - from “to appear” mean “manifest” or “appearance”
      • Acknowledged by Kings - Matthew 2 (Western Church)
      • Acknowledged by God - Baptism
      • Acknowledged by humans - John the Baptist and disciples & Wedding of Cana (Eastern Church)
      • David Toole (Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year A, Volume 1: Advent through Transfiguration.) - Epiphany and the following Sundays are the celebration of incarnation - birth, baptism, miracles. The baby in the manger is not enough of a case for incarnation, we need Epiphany.
        • This string of Sundays that we encounter in the lectionary as "after the Epiphany" serves to remind us that a baby in a manger is not enough to support our theological claims for the incarnation. We need more than Christmas, even if we wait patiently for the arrival of the magi. We need to see Jesus walk into the Jordan. We need to see the clouds part. We need to hear the booming voice name Jesus a beloved Son. We need to hear Jesus himself ask us, as he asks Peter and Andrew in this passage from John, "What are you looking for?" (John 1:38).
    • Very different portrayal of Andrew and Peter
      • According to John, Andrew and the other disciples were originally disciples/students of John the Baptist, but left John to follow Jesus
      • Very different from being fishermen in Galilee
      • Simon is given the name Peter right away without any declaration of faith
  • Bible Study
    • Description of the Baptism of Jesus and the calling of the disciples
    • Only time the phrase “Lamb of God” appears in the Bible
      • “the Lamb” is referred to in Genesis, but never as “Lamb of God”
      • The Lamb is usually interpreted to be the passover Lamb (In John Jesus dies when the Passover lamb would have been killed, but while Passover and the Lamb of passover have clear salvation implications, there is no reference in Exodus to the removal of sin). Jim Brownson
    • “Son of God” - bad translation. Gk is actually: “A rich Christological term with lots of layers of meaning.  Could be a genitive of possession (The chose one who belongs to God) or a genitive of source (the chosen one who came from God) or a subjective genitive (the one God chose.)” Jim Brownson
    • No description of Jesus Baptism other than by John
    • “What are you looking for?” - the first words of Jesus in the Gospel of John
      • Come and see - actually the Gk says “Come and you will see” no question- it is the future tense. (Again Jim Brownson)
      • Moves us into the next weeks- calling of the disciples and the Sermon on the Mount (until  Lent)
      • Called together- not as one, but as a community. John tells the two disciples, Andrew tells his brother - how are we sharing the good news?
      • Are we willing to say “We have found the Messiah!”?
  • Preaching Thoughts and Questions:
    • “What are you looking for?” - what are we looking for in a Christ/Messiah/Savior? Are we looking for or prepared to hear the challenge and comfort of the sermon on the mount?
    • Are we willing to say “We have found the Messiah!”?
    • From Batman the Dark Knight: Is Jesus the Messiah we deserve? the Messiah we need? or the Messiah we want?
    • Epiphany is about the incarnation of God in Christ - how is the church the incarnation of christ in the world? Are we?
      • WWJD or WWJBD (What would John the Baptist Do?) We need to remember that while we are not Jesus, we are asked to follow Jesus in community
      • Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ's compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

Transition Music: Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean

Secondary scripture -1 Corinthians 1:1-9 - Greetings and Thanksgiving

  • Initial Thoughts
    • First of six weeks in 1 Corinthians. Reads most of first three chapters, but stops there.
    • There’s not a lot here, but it sets the tone for the rest of the letter.
    • Much of the letter is critical, but criticisms should be seen through the lens of the intro.
      • Two things are mentioned in intro that come up again later:
        • Knowledge
        • Spiritual gifts
      • Knowledge, wisdom, and division are important themes in readings for next few weeks.
    • This reading will also be an Advent reading in December.  RCL makes it Epiphany 2A and Advent 1B (which is same calendar year).
  • Bible Study
    • Corinth (according to Richard Hays in Interpretation: 1 Corinthians)
      • Before Christ:
        • Prosperous commercial cross roads city.
        • Hosted Isthmian Games, an athletics festival that rivaled the Olympics.
        • Destroyed by Rome, and rebuilt
      • A growing, upwardly mobile city re-colonized by Rome within a couple generations of Paul’s visit.
      • Laws of Corinth were particularly favorable to upward mobility (e.g. Freedmen could have important roles in government)
      • Housed a large Temple to Athena (goddess of wisdom)
    • Paul (according to Richard Hays in Interpretation: 1 Corinthians)
      • Left city in 51 CE.
      • Established church in Gentile community, included slaves, freedmen and some rich merchants.  
      • Letter probably written 53-55 CE.
      • Received a report from “Chloe’s people” about divisions (1:11).
      • Received a letter from the Corinthians seeking guidance (7:1f).
      • Paul “sees the members of the Corinthian church as standing… at a moment of crisis and testing. Will they heed Paul’s words and recover… Or will their community disintegrate” (p 6)
    • Intro to the letter tells community that they have enough.  There is enough grace, knowledge, and spiritual gifts.
      • “The entire letter is focused on building the community into the testimony it has already received, strengthening the Gospel witness in its midst.” Dirk Lange.
      • All the divisions and trouble that Paul will talk about for the next 16 chapters have their solution in the first paragraph.
      • “God’s grace was given to you in Christ Jesus.” (v. 4)
      • Because of God’s grace, “you aren’t missing any spiritual gifts while you wait” (v. 7)
      • “God is faithful, and you were called into partnership with his Son” (v. 8)
  • Preaching Thoughts and Questions:
    • Paul “sees the members of the Corinthian church as standing… at a moment of crisis and testing. Will they heed Paul’s words and recover… Or will their community disintegrate” (p 6)
      • How many of our churches are sitting at similar crisis moments?
      • Are we going to recover or disintegrate?
    • In what ways are we partnering with God through Jesus?  How are we doing the “Work of Christmas”
    • Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, or on divisions that tear us apart, can we focus on what holds us together - the grace of God, which empowers all gifts.  Put the grace first, then the gifts.

Transition Music: Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2

TY: listeners
Opening Music: “I Am the Light of the World” by Jim Strathdee
Transition Music: Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean
Transition Music: Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2
Theme Music: Dick Dale and the Deltones “Misirlou”
Closing music, “Oh No” by Paul & Storm

Contact us/ Leave comments:

Shout outs:  

  • Suz Cate- A thought or two about this: first--yes to reclaiming our worthiness that comes from God! Second--why be so binary? Can we reclaim the sanctification without dealing with sin and the need for cleansing? I recently came across a quotation from MLK that I've been using a lot (it resonates with my predilection for both/and rather than either/or!): “life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.” (Strength to Love page 1)
  • Adrienne Schlosser-Hall 
  • James Buckley - Referred us to an excellent new resource by Dr. Jim Brownson, NT Prof at Western Theological Seminary. Dr Brownson recently started a lectionary blog on the greek text. Check it out here!
  • Jacqueline Stober - new listener from the UK

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