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Year A, Lent 2, 2017 – Unpredictable

March 8, 2017 / D2 / Lent

Greetings!! This week we’re looking at come very familiar texts about situations that are unpredictable. That is, no one could have seen that coming. Abram could not see what was in store for him when he left Ur but something in God’s promise compelled him to leave. Paul reminds his Roman readers that Abraham simply trusted God and that it was counted as righteousness. Who expects such grace or such trust? In John, Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night to try to unravel some of the mystery of what has been happening and discovers even more mystery. Isn’t this often much like our own lives of faith? We may be enlightened on the way, or we may find ourselves going down paths that are difficult and full of harsh opponents. It’s all very unpredictable. We cannot know what awaits when we set out, but God’s promise to be with as we go is enough to motivate that first step.


This week’s texts are:

Genesis 12:1-4a [01:59]

Four verses. That’s all we have to work with this week. Four verses. At first look, this seemed meager pickings, indeed.  Then, we thought about what this long journey was like. We don’t get any detail in these four verses (or in the verses that follow) about road conditions or emergencies or delays, but we know from our own road trips how things can go off the rails. We consider the unpredictable nature of journeys with illustrations and special effects in Eye, Body, and Music Smart. This story is a call to an individual and like all the call stories in Scripture, the one called must make a decision to respond. Abram decides to trust and obey, and we explore the implications of obedience in Word and Self Smart. 

  • Smarts – Word [03:16], Eye [04:23], Body [05:11], Music [07:38], Self [08:17]
  • Genesis 12 worksheet
  • Links in Genesis
    • Obedience is fine until one gets specific. Here’s an example! “End of the Log


Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 [09:16]

Often we read Scripture passages with the intention of distilling the one nugget of truth it contains that we then may pocket and go on about our business, safe in the knowledge that we have our talisman or treasure in a safe place. This is nothing new for our age as Paul seems to be calling his readers to task for doing this very thing with their understanding of Abraham. In this section of his letter, Paul is encouraging his readers to go back to their source material and give it another look – they might be surprised at what they find! I thought of misheard song lyrics as a Word Smart illustration and we have some links for a special effect. After readers go see the account of Abraham’s faith and notice where their understanding has been blurred, Paul then urges them to adopt a different perspective, which we look at in a Math Smart illustration. Paul was writing to two distinct groups of believers who he wanted to unite as one so he used the phrase “our ancestor.” I have a story about how this can be misunderstood in People Smart. Finally, we have some questions about spiritual ancestors for consideration in Self Smart.

  • Smarts – Word [11:20], Math [14:36], People [16:14], Self [17:50]
  • Romans 4 worksheet
  • Links in Romans
    • misheard lyric from Elton John’s Philadelphia Freedom. 
    • And this one from Prince’s Little Red Corvette
    • Mick Jagger would probably even sing this one, he seems to have a good sense of humor.
    • An illustration about looking right from Lucy Lind Hogan at Working Preacher.


John 3:1-17 [18:36]

We are back to stories about traveling with the Gospel passage. In Eye Smart, David illustrates the confounding nature of not seeing well in the dark (like Nicodemus). We have an idea for demonstrating this with a simple special effect. We stick with Nicodemus’ confusion with two Math Smart illustrations and wonder if being plagued by questions about Jesus’ identity is what kept him up late at night in Body Smart. The discussion Nicodemus finally has with Jesus is nothing that he could have expected and looks very much like two people talking past one another; Nicodemus is operating on one level of understanding and Jesus is dimensions away from him on another. We consider how missing out on the basics can make deeper appreciation most difficult in Music Smart. 


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