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Year A, Lent 4, 2017 – Seeing is Believing

March 20, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Lent

Hey everyone! Welcome to the podcast for the 4th Sunday of Lent! The time is rushing by, as usual. We pray that your worship preparations for the remainder of this season are filled with the Spirit’s guiding and God’s blessings, much like the story of Samuel’s trip to Bethlehem to anoint a new king in the Old Testament passage. In Ephesians, Paul uses the word “light” four times and exhorts the believers to live in it and bear fruit that reveals it. And in John, a man receives vision, people can’t believe their eyes, and the those who refuse to see what God is doing in Jesus are revealed to be living – if not working – against the kingdom that has come. What have you seen that you can’t believe?

This week’s texts are:  

1 Samuel 16:1-13  [01:59]  

In the context of the book 1 Samuel, this story drops us into the middle of some political intrigue. We may need to back up a couple chapters to refresh our memories about what has happened and to learn the reason God has rejected Saul. As the chapter begins, Samuel is charged with going to find a new king. You can do so much with this passage with all the intelligences, but we decided to concentrate on four. In Eye Smart, we wonder how being tall affects others’ perceptions; Samuel thinks Eliab surely must be the Lord’s anointed because of his stature. God says, “Not so fast.” In Math Smart, we consider how frequently God turns primogeniture on its head, doing so yet again in this story by choosing the youngest of eight to be the new king. Saul and Eliab are tall and David is ruddy, so in Body Smart we visit the cultural inclination to attribute leadership qualities to people who are physically large and attractive. This thought leads naturally into People Smart where we wonder if looking at “safe” and “secure” options are really the best when making important decisions. Where does God’s Holy Spirit lead us – to the same safe place or a less obvious choice we don’t see because of our culturally conditioned vision?


Ephesians 5:8-14 [12:25] 

This passage is near the end of the letter, so Paul is exhorting the Ephesians to “live like they mean it” in these verses.  They have received the gift of light in Jesus, Paul argues, so go bear fruit in that light. The contrast between light and dark works very well in Eye Smart, and we have a fun illustration and special effect with a mirror to demonstrate Paul’s idea. In Body Smart, we think reminding your congregation of how their bodies feel when they are in motion would bring verse 14 to life. Verses 14-15 would also work well as a chant for a Music Smart experiment. The abrupt switch from dark to light reminded us of cockroaches scattering when the light is turned on, and if you want to pursue that further than we did, this would be an interesting if creepy Nature Smart. And in Self Smart, Paul speaks of shameful things, which got David to thinking about what powerful psychological motivation shame holds over people. Or used to, anyway. Check out the link below for some meaty thoughts about this.

  • Smarts – Eye [13:38], Body [15:09], Music [18:16], Nature [19:14], Self [19:35]
  • Ephesians 5 worksheet
  • Links in Ephesians 5  
    • Rhyming schemes in poetry – Greeks did not use it even though this couplet rhymes! (Incidental or is Paul having fun?)
    • Maybe it has more to do with the meter?
    • Here is a fascinating column on the loss of shame in our culture.


John 9:1-41 [21:06] 

We limited ourselves to five of the nine intelligences for this passage – this story is truly a treasure trove for exploration. We begin with Body Smart since this is a story about a physical healing and may lead your congregation to feel it in their own bodies. They may also feel the frustration of the man who insists throughout that he is the same guy everyone knew as the beggar. Many of us may recognize this frustration, which we consider in Self Smart. In the course of witnessing to Jesus’ healing, the man gives us a song cue (verse 25) so you may want to use “Amazing Grace” as a Music Smart. Spit and mud are not in most modern pharmacies, but we wondered if they have some palliative properties and so went looking in Nature Smart. We discuss the relationship of sin and ill health in People Smart and wonder if there are individuals in your congregation whose health or well-being was a cause for concern for everyone else. Or not.


Image credit: Copyright: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo; used by permission.


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