Year C, Lent 2, 2016 – Do It God’s Way
Lent is turning out to be gray, cold, damp and sloggy in this part of the world. Heaps of snow still stand in shadows, and we are currently receiving rain that is melting them but then freezing into blocks of ice at night. We aren’t sure if it is the weather outside affecting our creativity or the challenge of the passages themselves for this Sunday in Lent, but we struggled to find illustrations and special effects this week. Maybe it was the odd dream that Abram had in Genesis or the unusual conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees in Luke, but we spent some time scratching our heads before finally diving in. And here is the challenge with using this theory – sometimes the passages open up like a flower fully in bloom, ready and willing to give ideas to eager preachers buzzing around them. Other times, the passages are like a hard nut sitting in the cold ground that require perseverance and sharp teeth to crack the hull. Either way, I can’t wait for spring.
On a technical note, this week are adding timestamps [in brackets like this] to the show notes so it will be easier for you to find the material in the audio file. Let us know if there are other improvements that would help by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.
Smart of the Week [02:08] – People Smart
Rather than include the Psalm for this Sunday, we decided to add our special feature, “Smart of the Week”, this time highlighting People Smart. We’ve done a lot with this intelligence throughout this podcast, mostly because of the ease of having a group of people sitting right there in the pews. The challenge of using this built-in test sample is to find ways to engage this intelligence that are not too high risk (keeping in mind the introverts in the group), or too easy (so as to offer an “opt out” mentality). Illustrations and special effects that use contemporary groups your people encounter frequently and situations in which they regularly find themselves put the Scripture text onto their lives – trying it on for size, so to speak. Using this intelligence creatively can spill over into fellowship and study opportunities outside of worship, reinforcing ideas presented in the sanctuary. This particular smart is a great way to offer your people a chance to practice their lived-out theology with one another and gain confidence to practice it out in the world.
This week’s texts are:
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 [04:48] – “Are we there yet?” Do you hear the impatient frustration in that question? Do you remember asking it? Do you remember answering it? Long, drawn out road trips can be trying to everyone – we left a bazillion years ago, and we have been cooped up in this car forever, and we only stop for emergencies, and I’ve read this book before, and she’s touching me, and I know there is a destination in mind but Good Grief how much longer must we endure all this – I suspect that Abram might have been feeling a bit of this as God comes to him in a vision and tells him not to fear, his reward will be great. Abram has been in a relationship with this God who called him from his homeland for a long time and the promise of offspring has not yet come to pass. Being an older man, he knows that the clock is ticking and the time for realistically having a biological child with his wife Sarai is quickly coming to an end. How much longer God? So, God takes him out to look at the night sky (which in those days must have been spectacular since there was no light pollution) and tells him to count those stars, if you can. I can hear a gentle laugh in God’s directions – God knows how many stars there are, and God knows how much longer until the destination is reached. “We’ll get there when we get there.”
- Smarts: Eye [06:47/08:43], Body [09:36], Nature [10:09], People [11:27/12:24]
- Genesis 15 worksheet
Philippians 3:17-4:1 [13:00] – If Paul were with us today, he would have this coffee mug on his desk in his office. And, he would give one to each of the Christians in Philippi, too! I think that for Paul, the past is a strong foundation on which we live as we look forward to Jesus’ redemption of all our time. In this selection from his letter, he warns his beloved flock that holding too tightly to the customs of the past can derail the present journey. Keep moving, he seems to be saying to them and us. Know who and whose you are but don’t let the past be an anchor that stops momentum. Keep pressing on! I also suspect that if Paul were with us today as a coach, he would have a few champions he could take credit for! In what ways can you encourage your congregation to tread lightly with their traditions so as to keep God’s Spirit in Jesus flowing freely in your life together?
- Smarts: Body [14:49/16:09/17:37], People [18:41/19:37]
- Philippians 3 worksheet
Luke 13:31-35 [20:43] – The Greek verb thelo is used three times in this passage (see link below). Jesus hears from the Pharisees that Herod wants to kill him. Jesus wants to gather Jerusalem in a loving embrace similar to a hen gathering her chicks. Jerusalem wants nothing to do with Jesus. Desire motivates humans all the time, and sometimes, we get what we want. (Other times, we get what we need.) Yet, underlying all our desire is God’s desire, present from the beginning, that we belong to God. How we react to this desire depends on many factors, including our readiness to be wanted. In the people smart illustrations and special effect, we present ways to explore how being open to God’s intended desire does or doesn’t happen in life. What other smarts can you tap into to explore God’s consistent desire for us and our willingness to receive it?
Addendum: This is way too late for the podcast itself, but we got to thinking about how a catalyst in a chemical reaction can be an agent that assists in boding two other agents. This is analogous to God’s constant desire and our hit-and-miss response to it. What do we need to make the connection?
- Smarts: Body [21:47], Nature [23:44/25:24], People [25:54/28:01]
- Luke 13 worksheet
- Mirror, Mirror – Lucille Ball and Harpo Marx