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Year B, Lent 5, 2018 – The Common Denominator

March 16, 2018 / Molly Douthett / Lent

I apologize that this week’s episode is so late. My hard drive crashed over the weekend, and it’s been a challenge to rebuild my digital environment, including recovering files and applications for producing the podcast. The episode is on the long side and the sound may be off a bit because of the chaos and running out of time. Thanks for your forbearance. –David

 

Hey all! Welcome back to another episode of the show! Often when putting together these show notes, the connection among the three passages is sitting right there, waving at me. This week, it seems to have jumped off the table and gone into hiding. After much pondering, I think I have recognized a coherent theme – you may not agree, and if you don’t, please say why in the comments. I think the common denominator is God’s continual grace. In the Old Testament passage, God has decided that the best way to impress the law upon the people is to write it on their hearts. In Hebrews, the author goes to great lengths to reveal Jesus as the high priest who intercedes with us and relays God’s grace through his death and resurrection. In John, some Greeks come looking to find Jesus – for reasons that are unclear – and Jesus launches into a proclamation about his coming fate. In each passage, God’s intentions are for humanity to be saved and gathered in to God’s embrace. Follow me to the texts, and let’s test how that works out.

 

This week’s texts are:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 [01:59]

We begin with Jeremiah announcing to the exiles that the old covenant made with their ancestors as they left slavery in Egypt has been broken by faithlessness. So, rather than try the same thing and hope for a different outcome, God is going to inscribe the law within the people. This is a good idea, really. Large stone tablets are difficult to move, and even when placed in a golden box for safe keeping, that box can be stolen by enemies and then eventually broken up and lost to time or buried in a warehouse somewhere. Writing the law on internal organs that travel everywhere keeps it much closer! In WORD smart, we offer an illustration of writing on organic tissue using a scene from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. If that is too gruesome, use tattoos as an example. For a special effect, hand out water-based markers and make your own tattoos! Parental supervision may be necessary. In EYE smart, the Lord speaks of making formerly divided people one again, and we have some geographic examples of this. The old covenant is not null; it is simply entering a new form, which a painting by van Gogh may convey. We have a quick MATH smart illustration about knowledge, and in BODY smart, that knowledge in people’s hearts may be like a potter fashioning clay or like developing muscle memory to play a sport or to play an instrument. In MUSIC smart, God’s intention to re-write the law within the people might be like playing music in a different key. 

 

Hebrews 5:5-10 [11:06]

The author of Hebrews may be writing to a fellowship that is struggling to determine its future identity as followers of the Way. Much like the gospels of Matthew and John, this writing calls up people and practices from Israel’s history and knits Jesus into them. In these verses, the author uses the figure of the high priest, reminding the people how that role functioned in worship on behalf of the people. As this comparison draws on, the author deconstructs the image and places Jesus inside it, revealing a bridge to God that will always be open. In WORD smart, we have a story about how words and images get deconstructed. In MATH smart, you can illustrate the compare and contrast strategy of the author with educational examples in the link below. The high priest functioned as a bridge between God and the people, and in BODY smart, we have some fun ways to demonstrate that! I found a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that we suggest for a MUSIC smart illustration. And in SELF smart, we stick with the image of a bridge and offer some ways to reflect on its strength.

 

John 12:20-33 [23:35]

As we began introducing this passage, we realized we have never been certain to whom Jesus is speaking in these verses. We are still not entirely sure but it’s possible he is speaking to the Greeks who came looking to find him. At least, through verse 26, anyway. If this is the case, it’s also possible he has included them in the crowd to whom he is speaking in the second part of this selection. Jesus is using this opportunity to teach what is going to happen to him and why it matters. For EYE smart, we think you could demonstrate Jesus “drawing all people to him” using a magnetic paperweight. We have a couple examples in the links below. Jesus says he will be lifted up, and we have some ideas to illustrate that in BODY smart. For NATURE smart, Jesus refers to the natural process of seed germination, so try illustrating it with the links we’ve provided. We have a lot to offer as illustrations and special effects in PEOPLE smart. I would recommend the TED Talk by Brene Brown.

 


Image Credit: Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.


 

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