Episode 51: Bob Costa’s Sinning Eye or After Epiphany 7A


For Sunday, February 23,  2014, the Seventh Sunday After Epiphany

                                                          notes after break

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Episode 51: Bob Costas’s Sinning Eye or After Epiphany 7A

Opening Music: You Are Welcome Here from Pilgrims to a New World by Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

For Sunday, February 23, 2014
Episode 51
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the lectionary reading for the week. Does Bob Costas have an an infection? Is he embracing his pirate heritage? Or did he gaze lustfully at a woman and faithfully try to rip out his eye? These questions and more on episode 51 for Sunday February 23, the seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A:


Primary Scripture - Matthew 5:38-48 - Love your enemies

  • Initial thoughts
    • Some of Jesus’ most difficult, countercultural, and ignored teaching.
    • There’s so much here, be careful to only preach one sermon.
    • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Bible Study
    • “Jesus does not adjust the law of retaliation to make it more humane… It is not the improvement of this world’s system he is about, but the vision of a new world, the depicting of human conduct that becomes the sign of God’s rule of peace and justice” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year A, p. 153).
    • Christian response
      • Insult: Turn the other cheek
        • The strike on the right cheek would almost certainly refer to a backhanded slap, which is a sign of insulting, not pure physical violence.
        • Still counter-cultural, “Un-Manly”
        • Strikes in the face of “Be a Man” culture. Watch the trailer for “The Mask You Live In” From the producers of Miss Representation, this documentary takes a look at modern understandings of American masculinity.
          • “The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘Be a man.’”
      • Lawsuit: Give him your cloak
      • Impressment: Go the second mile
        • The Roman term “milion” is used instead of Greek “Stadion.”  Douglas Hare asserts this is a direct allusion to Roman occupiers (Interpretation: Matthew, p. 57).
        • “Resistance to Rome was futile, and the nourishing of bitter resentment was self-destructive.  By going a second mile, one could demonstrate to the oppressor one’s inner freedom from oppression” (Hare).
      • Beggar: Lend money freely
        • Largely ignored, but Jesus doesn’t tell people to check the beggar’s income, or make sure that they won’t use it on casting lots or drinking wine.
    • “Love your enemy”
      • Frederick Buechner “If people hurt us or cheat us or stand for things we abominate, we're less apt to bear arms against them than to bear grudges. We stay out of their way. When we declare war, it is mostly submarine warfare, and since our attacks are beneath the surface, it may be years before we know fully the damage we have either given or sustained.”
      • It is easier to hate someone when you think of them as enemy, or other, or alien, or movement, or faction, or party.  
      • It is much harder to hate someone when you think of them as son, or father, or hurting, or created in the image of God.
    • “Be perfect”
      • Wesleyan concept of Christian Perfection often misunderstood.
        • Not about mistake-free. It is about motivation.
        • Christian perfection is about living through the lens of love.
        • Moving onto Christian perfection isn’t about not sinning, but in accepting the grace that Christ offers to make you perfect, and to continue to grow in grace.Moving onto Christian perfection isn’t about not sinning, but in accepting the grace that Christ offers to make you perfect, and to continue to grow in grace.
        • FromJohn Wesley’s Sermon, Christian Perfection.
          • “Christian perfection, therefore, does not imply (as some men seem to have imagined) an exemption either from ignorance or mistake, or infirmities or temptations. Indeed, it is only another term for holiness. They are two names for the same thing. Thus every one that is perfect is holy, and every one that is holy is, in the Scripture sense, perfect.”
          • “So that how much soever any man hath attained, or in how high a degree soever he is perfect, he hath still need to "grow in grace," [2 Pet. 3:18] and daily to advance in the knowledge and love of God his Saviour. [see Phil. 1:9]
      • David Lose’s “Perfect” on Working Preacher:  
        • “When we hear that command, most of us hear an injunction to a kind of moral perfectionism. But that's not actually what the original language implies. "Perfect," in this case, stems from telos, the Greek word for "goal," "end," or "purpose." The sense of the word is more about becoming what was intended, accomplishing one's God-given purpose in the same way that God constantly reflects God's own nature and purpose.”
        • He prefer’s Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message: “You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity.”
  • Preaching Thoughts and Questions:
    • “These statements are uncompromising and shocking.  Misunderstood, they can be easily dismissed as utopian. When taken legalistically and made the standard for community life, they have rarely been productive… They describe very unnatural responses, and in effect assail the consciousness of the reader, forcing the contemplation of something other than business as usual.” (Cousar, p. 154. Emphasis added)  
      • It then, is the task of the preacher to not compromise too quickly, nor reprimand those that struggle with the command.  Instead, it is to help people contemplate what the end of “business as usual” means.
    • Every ordained United Methodist minister had to answer the question, “Do you believe it is possible to attain Christian perfection, and do you expect to in this life?”  How do you answer that question?

Transition Music - Middle: Make Way from Pilgrims to a New World by Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Secondary scripture - 1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23 - You are God’s Temple

  • Initial thoughts
    • verses 12-15 - seems like a Pauline tangent...but it isn’t
      • It is connected but is a separate point and may distract from the message of God as the foundation, we as the temple
      • Christ is the foundation - we are the temple - how we build our lives must be worthy of the temple it is build on
      • GRACE - even if it isn’t, if the temple is burned away - the builder is not destroyed, v.15
        • What a message of grace, when the fires comes it refines and burns away, but does not condemn
  • Bible Study
    • Three Thesis
      • Foundation of the Church is Jesus
      • The Community of Faith is the dwelling place of God
      • Everything is under the sovereignty of the Church which is under Jesus and God (not subservient to the World, only to God)
    • Temple of God - where God dwells vv.16-17
      • Ezekiel 37:26-27, “26 I will make a covenant of peace for them. It will be their covenant forever. I will grant it to them and allow them to increase. I will set my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling will be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
      • Destroy (phtheiro) the temple - also translated as defile, corrupt or ruin.
        • How do we defile or corrupt the temple of God?
          • Corinthians - division, self aggrandizement, etc
          • i.e. not loving God and neighbor
        • Word of grace looking back to v 15?
      • Paul’s major points in the builder metaphor (J. Paul Sampley, NIB Commentary X)
        • The Corinthians belong to God (as opposed to Paul to Apollos)
        • Each believer is expected to build good works
        • The only suitable foundation is Jesus Christ
        • The works, i.e. how and what they build, will be evaluated on judgment day (cookies and beating to commence)
        • Potential destruction for any individual
        • The Corinthians are a place for the Holy SPirit, so they must be holy
        • The Spirit resides in them
      • YOU is plural… NOT SINGULAR
        • The Temple is built in community
        • Perhaps this has nothing to do with how we treat our bodies, but how we treat one another…
    • Wisdom and Foolishness vv.18-25
      • Reorders our thinking - what matters? Belonging to God
      • When belonging to Christ and God is our focus- the rest does not matter
      • Star Trek TNG - the pursuit of “bettering oneself” not acquiring things
      • Don’t deceive yourself - Serenity Prayer
        • Do not think you can achieve more than you can
        • Do not think you are unable to achieve anything
  • Preaching Thoughts and Questions:

Transition Music - Closing: Christ Emerging from Pilgrims to a New World by Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Special Thanks

TY: listeners

Opening Music: You Are Welcome Here from Pilgrims to a New World by Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Transition Music - Middle:  Make Way from Pilgrims to a New World by Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
Transition Music - Closing: Christ Emerging from Pilgrims to a New World by Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Theme Music: Dick Dale and the Deltones “Misirlou”

Closing music, “Oh No” by Paul & Storm

Shout outs:  

  • Suz Cate - comments on the blog:
    • In fact, I'm convinced that taking the three commandments in this passage from Matthew one by one misses the point completely. I think that these three commandments make the very point of the "law and prophets" fulfilled in that the fulfillment of the law described in these three examples is its integration into our moral fiber. I'm thinking of God's promise to put the law in our minds and write the it on our hearts.
      • Excellent point - move away from the specific into the Spirit of Jesus’ teaching
    • Pharisaism in the discussion of Matthew 5:17-37. The Chapter called "Stereotyping Judaism" is a great resource for peeling back the hermeneutical layer that the church has overlayed on the context of first century Judaism.  That particular layer is of great concern to me because of the tragic history of anti-Semitism in the "ecclesial baggage" that gets thrown into the trunk of the Gospel car. I had to spend a good bit of time last week with my "Reflectionary" Bible study groups debunking "bad old Pharisees" canard. It is my prayer that someday that part of our past will be more transparent.
      • Another good point and can be a slippery slope. Christians should always be wary of falling into supersessionism theology or always casting the Pharisees as the Anti-Jesus or Antagonist of the Gospels

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