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Year C, Ordinary 30, 2016 – It’s Pouring Out

October 21, 2016 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Hey everyone, welcome back! You may have guessed that David and I regularly listen to and read other lectionary resources as we prepare for this podcast. We have a rather lengthy list of “go to” people who illuminate and challenge us. This past week, one of our favorites, Jill Duffield at The Presbyterian Outlook stated that all three passages for this week’s selections deal with pouring out. We have rain, the Spirit of God, service to the Gospel, contempt for others, and a heartfelt need for mercy. What we also have is reconnection to God’s powerful presence through circumstances that are not at all pretty – locust plagues, letters from prison, and unseemly public displays in worship. Maybe we might need some shaking up in order to allow God to work more fully in us. Maybe it is in the pouring out that old systems and ideas are washed away and God’s fresh new life is given room to take root and thrive.

This week’s texts are: 

Joel 2:23-32 [02:00]  – We had such a memorable experience with setting stuff on fire back in Advent and Baptism of the Lord that we suggest trying it again using Eye smart! If that’s too dicey, try a labyrinth walk with your fingers in Body smart. For Music smart, the hymn Spirit is lovely or you can have an indoor rain storm. Rain, locusts, fire, and smoke are natural ways to enter the passage and we have some questions for discussion for you and your congregation in both People and Self smart.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [03:24] –

{MWD} Nature: Images of locust, fire, smoke, and a blood red moon are so very vivid that Nature smart seems to me to be the most apparent way to start examining Joel. Our world can be quite dramatic from time to time and after the dust settles, everything restarts and life re-emerges. If nature can manage to come through upheaval and begin again, the only thing preventing humanity from doing the same is our arrogant assumption that we are special. Nature often leads the way out of disaster if we have the humility to recognize it.

{D2} Nature: The second half of the passage is ingrained in my mind because we hear it every year at Pentecost, but also because I can almost feel the ground shaking and see the sky darkening, imagining the great and terrible day of the Lord! Those sorts of natural images can be very evocative. Add the locust army and the seasonal rains, and there is just no way to get around this as a Nature Smart passage.

  • Eye [04:12], Body [06:02], Music [07:52], Nature [09:08], People [09:46], Self [10:43]

 

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 [11:18] – In Eye smart, we talk about how pouring out can be a power in itself and suggest using visual images of ocean waves and lava flows. For a special effect, get a cocktail shaker and pour out a libation to demonstrate Paul’s understanding of his ministry. For Math smart, Paul’s ministry can be demonstrated with infinity and a Mobius strip. He tells Timothy he has finished his race – we have a video of another contestant finishing a race to illustrate Body smart. Frank Sinatra shows up in Music smart, and God’s will flows through creation as shown in Nature smart. In People smart, ask your congregation to imagine Paul as a contestant in an athletic competition or a game show and ask about the rules of the game. For a Self smart illustration, show that Paul’s confidence in God is like going into a battle in a video game fully equipped to take on the Boss and ask people to consider how God has rescued them for all that evil can do.   

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [12:41] –

{MWD} Self: Paul intends this letter to Timothy to be a primer for discipleship. He warns, reminds, advises, praises, and reveals himself as a person who has fully committed himself to Jesus. I think this letter connects most effectively on a personal level. We can each of us imagine we are Timothy, and if we take Paul’s counsel to heart, we are strengthened and encouraged to continue our own races.

{D2} Self: I agree with Molly that Paul’s words throughout this epistle are intended to engage Timothy’s self reflection. This particular passage, I think, also reveals a great deal of Paul’s internal life at that moment. It’s a soul who is at once lonely, sad, and disappointed, as well as hopeful, faithful, and confident. Heck of a thing, being a human.

  • Eye [13:22], Math [14:51], Body [15:31], Music [16:10], Nature [16:49], People [17:48], Self [18:48]

 

Luke 18:9-14 [20:14] – Sometimes when we read the Bible, we lose meaning in translations. Other times, we lose meaning because we have become overly familiar with a story – or in this case, characters in a story. We think we understand “the Pharisees” and so are not at all surprised when this one turns up holding the short end of the stick at the end of the parable. What we may not understand is what a huge shock this would have been for the original audience. In special effects for Word smart, we suggest substituting the Pharisee and tax collector with contemporary figures so as to make that surprise obvious. In Eye smart, we look at how spaces define people. We have several different illustrations in Math smart. The illustration and special effect in Body smart are related – break out your old cleats or running shoes! We heard the Pharisee’s arrogance and thought of a song by Mac Davis in Music smart. For People and Self smart, we suggest ideas to examine how our words to and about others pour out what is in our own hearts.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [21:03] –

{MWD} People: This parable is – as Admiral Ackbar would say – a trap. We comprehend fairly quickly and thoroughly that the Pharisee has missed the point of righteousness but the second we start feeling salty about it, we realize we have zapped right into his sandals. We also have a tendency to stand off to the side like the tax collector, fully aware of how much we need God’s mercy but disinclined to accept it when it comes – which of course it does and abundantly at that. Maybe the better place to be while listening to this parable is not in either role, but in Jesus’ audience hearing and responding to the story for the first time.

{D2} People: Here is Luke recording Jesus addressing his followers who might be looking down their noses a little too much. While they look down on others with scorn, Jesus looks down on their scorn with an eye toward correcting it. The twists and turns of who is on top and who is on bottom are pretty subtle here. It takes some People smarts to easily sort it all out, take what correction we need, and direct others to what they may need, all while not having contempt for those poor, miserable wretches. 

  • Word [22:32], Eye [22:27], Math [23:30], Body [26:13], Music [27:58], People [28:15], Self [30:16]

 

Links

… in Joel  

  • Fire and columns of smoke – volcano?
  • Sun darkened, moon turned to blood – solar and lunar eclipses

 

… in 2 Timothy

  • American Ninja Warrior – finishing the race!
  • Paul sounding a bit like this?  Or  this?
  • American Ninja Warrior – but this guy doesn’t quite finish the race.

 

… in Luke

  • drawing a line always divides (more than you might think)
  • repentance as bifurcation?
  • The reversal of exaltation and humility in math terms y = 1/x  

 

Image Credit: Free Water Vectors from Clipart.me

 

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