Year A, Ordinary 11, 2017 – Pretty Basic
Our son is living with us this summer as his future unfolds and every once in a while, he decides he will make dinner. (YAY!) He will hunt down a recipe on the internet, scope what’s on hand, and make something that is not too fancy; it’s “just pretty basic.” We appreciate that he takes this task on, and his “just pretty basic” meals have been quite tasty! Sometimes, pretty basic is pretty wonderful. It can be just what we need just when we need it. In the passages for today’s lectionary readings, we see some pretty basic stuff; God re-iterates the promise of a child through whom the covenant would come to fruition. That this child will be born to people in their very late years is brushed aside by God who says, “Is nothing too wonderful?” In Romans, Paul gives the basic foundation for living a justified life; that it builds from suffering is just part of the plan, according to him (and his own experience). In Matthew, Jesus sees his own people living harassed lives and is moved with compassion for them. He gives them the basics and then calls his disciples to go and do the very same. Peace, hope, endurance, grace, mercy, compassion, wholeness – just the basics for a life of faith. Combined in the right quantities at the right time, the result can be astounding!
This week’s texts are:
Genesis 18:1-15 (21:1-7) [01:59]
It’s a hot day, and an old man is sitting in the entrance of his home when he looks up and suddenly sees three men standing in front of him. Great start to a story, right? It is, but the story has been going on for a while now. Twenty five years, actually. Still, we wonder with the old man, “who are these guys?“ As the passage continues, we all discover that they are messengers from God – and one of them may even BE God – or they all THREE may be God – coming by to visit Abraham and Sarah and to give word that the long-awaited promise is going to be fulfilled. In one year’s time, Sarah will have a son. Sarah is skeptical and later amazed. Her astonishment might be like people who wonder how a magician did a trick, which we explore in EYE smart. We do not for a minute believe that God worked magic to make Sarah a mother, and we look at this collision of reason and God’s capacity to create in MATH smart. Three guys dropping by for a meal signaled a massive change in the couple’s lives, and we think about how Abraham’s actions and Sarah’s laughter are important parts of the story in PEOPLE smart.
- Smarts – Eye [03:33], Math [05:13], People [06:52]
- Genesis 18 worksheet
- Links in Genesis
- EYE smart –
- PEOPLE smart
- SELF smart –
Romans 5:1-8 [09:34]
Paul has already written about why Jesus is so important to a new way of living in the first four chapters of his letter to the Romans. Now, he begins the turn into why this makes a difference in the lives of those who trust Jesus. He begins by speaking of being justified by faith in Jesus. Usually, when we hear the word “justified” we are really thinking of the word “vindicated” as in we have been proven to be right in our actions or words. This is not justification as Paul understands it. For him, justification is like being set back to the starting point; everything that has come before is now gone, and the chance to start over is bright and shining new. We consider this “set back” to be like a board game and have some ideas how to illustrate and demonstrate this idea in MATH smart. For BODY smart, we look at the Greek word we translate as “access” (which we also discuss in MATH smart) as less a pass code than being physically brought into the presence of God. Which made me think of ushers and how we walk differently when being shown to a seat or just going and sitting down on our own. We stick with this idea of justification in SELF smart with a quote from William Loader.
- Smarts – Math [11:32], Body [15:42], Self [18:17]
- Romans 5 worksheet
- Links in Romans
- SELF smart – William Loader‘s commentary on this passage
Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 [20:05]
At the end of chapter nine, Matthew shows us Jesus going about the countryside meeting the needs of his people. This made us think of our own political leaders going out to see the devastation left behind after storms and natural disasters in EYE smart. Jesus sees just how much need there is and so calls disciples to pray for workers for the harvest. The surprise twist is that those workers are they themselves! We look at how basic ministry can be done by ordinary disciples in MATH smart. Jesus calls for these harvest workers and commissions the disciples to do this work because he is greatly concerned about the harassed and helpless state of the people, which we explore in BODY smart. Matthew uses an analogy of sheep to describe the people’s condition. We have some video of lost sheep for NATURE smart. We also wonder about the sort of harvest Jesus expects and the sort we plan for in churches. Are we going after the same crops or is one of us talking about weeds?
- Smarts – Eye [21:30], Math [22:45], Body [24:58], Nature [27:06]
- Matthew 9 worksheet
- Links in Matthew
- EYE smart –
- Jesus going about the countryside might be like a president touring a disaster area
- MATH smart –
- Isn’t there a statistic somewhere that suggests people come to church when someone they know invites them? Rather than an ad campaign, or a team knocking on doors, or a famous preacher/pastor? Apparently, yes. Item 2.
- BODY smart –
- NATURE smart –
Image Credit: Just a word in a jpeg.