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Year A, Ordinary 2, 2017 – Behold!

January 4, 2017 / D2 / Epiphany, Ordinary Time

Welcome back! We’ve been in a new liturgical year for over a month now and according to Episcopalians, this is the second Sunday after Epiphany. Other calendars call it “Ordinary Time.” I suppose it just depends on what you choose to emphasize as you preach and lead worship. We have chosen to go with Ordinary Time even though the three passages all have some element of revelation in them. In Isaiah, God’s mysterious servant makes an announcement about his life and mission. Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians by reminding them that their gifts and successes come from the Risen Lord. In John, the Baptist points Jesus out to his disciples as the Lamb of God twice, prompting two of them to follow after Jesus and even bring family and friends to see him. The three passages all proclaim God’s presence and activity in their times. We have ideas to do the same!


This week’s texts are:  

Isaiah 49:1-7 [02:00]  – In this servant song, the servant speaks about his identity and mission for God and God’s people. Yet, even the servant, called and named while in utero, can misunderstand God’s intentions. Thinking he was going to be used as a secret weapon against God’s enemies, he grows discouraged for not having been put to use. But God (and the Good News always starts that way!), has other plans. In Eye smart, we have links to some fabulous pictures of sunlight taken from space to illustrate “light for the nations and salvation to the ends of the earth.” We have some examples to illustrate God’s plan for the servant in Body smart. The call of the servant follows some of the elements found in other call stories in Scripture. We illustrate that process and have some questions for consideration in People smart. And in Self smart, we wonder if you have ever found yourself ready to go but found God has kept you on the bench? You are in good company, apparently!

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [03:18] –
    • {MWD}  People – God calls unlikely people from time to time. The servant in Isaiah is not an unlikely person; full of zeal for God, full of capacity and intelligent desire to do God’s will, this person is ready! Verse four records his confusion at not being used the way he thought he would be. In the following verses, God corrects his misapprehension and sets him on a broader path. Even though this story has strong elements of Self smart, I think it is best explored in People because the call process – as it works for most of us – relies heavily on other people to help us discern God’s road for servants. This is not to say God doesn’t speak to us, but we are reaffirmed and guided when brothers and sisters help us listen and then take the first steps down a road we hadn’t initially seen.
    • {D2}  People – I went with People smart here because of all the relational elements going on, for better or worse, mostly between the servant and the Lord, but also the servant and Jacob (Israel), the Lord and Jacob (Israel), and the Lord and all the rest of the nations. While the servant looks around and sees failed relationships, the Lord looks to the ends of the earth with longing for all the people.
  • Smarts – Eye [04:50], Body [06:01], People [06:42], Self [08:30]
  • Isaiah 49 worksheet   


1 Corinthians 1:1-9 [08:57] – As we were recording the podcast and David was giving a characterization of the Corinthian congregation, I couldn’t help but think of our own hyper-competitive society here in the DC area. I’m not sure when we began to see all of life as a zero sum game, but I really wish we would stop it. [There’s my wish for 2017!] At any rate, Paul attempts to discourage a “me first” mentality in Corinth, which we explore with algebra illustrations and special effects in Math smart. Becoming strong disciples requires workouts so we look at how to illustrate that in Body smart. In Music smart, we offer two clips of a song about call. What songs do you know with a similar theme? We have questions in Self smart that connect with our observations in Word smart (see D2’s PEI below).

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [12:04] –
    • {MWD}  Math – I remember joining my voice to the eternal lament of those struggling to learn math – when will I ever NEED this? Turns out, a lot, actually. Using an algebraic equation to show the Corinthians of our lives that God’s intention for grace, mercy, hope, forgiveness, LIFE spans all peoples and all times is a fantastic way to solve for X!
    • {D2}  Word – I was really struck by the grammar of this passage, as I discussed in the show, that virtually all the verbs Paul uses in referring to the Corinthians are in middle or passive voice. I haven’t checked to see if that happens in his other letters to other churches, but knowing how competitive the Corinthians seem to have been, this was a subtle (or maybe not!) way to level their playing field. It’s this attention to grammatical detail that leads me to believe Word smart rules this passage. Um, in a … non-competitive kind of way, of course.
  • Smarts – Math [12:37], Body [14:56], Music [16:55], Self [17:50]
  • 1 Corinthians 1 worksheet   


John 1:29-42 [18:22] – Biblical scholars say Mark’s gospel jumps in and hits the ground running – I think John’s gospel is a close second. We are still in the first chapter and already Jesus is gathering disciples. It helps that John the Baptist seems to be sending them his way, too! He doesn’t seem to mind that he “loses” a couple of them to Jesus, which we explore in People smart. We probably shouldn’t be surprised that Andrew and another disciple literally follow after Jesus, because John is not shy about stating who he believes Jesus to be. We look at how being direct and obvious makes a difference in Word smart. Many artists who have chosen to paint the Baptist through history portray him with his finger pointing – either at the “sons of snakes” or at the Lamb of God, so we suggest a video clip of other people pointing the way in Body smart. John refers to the dove he saw at Jesus baptism, and we can’t help but be amazed at how willing he seems to be to relinquish followers – we look at both of these in Nature smart.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [20:35] –
    • {MWD}  People – This passage is all about relationships – John with his disciples, John with Jesus, John with God, the disciples with John, the disciples with Jesus, the disciples with their own families and friends. You can’t touch one solitary person in this passage, because each is connected in some way to another, and isn’t that wonderful?
    • {D2} People – Pretty much what Molly said. John the Gospel writer shows us John the Baptist doing all he can to influence and instruct his disciples about Jesus, the Lamb of God, short of saying, “GO FOLLOW HIM!” I think this is in keeping with a theology that says Jesus is inherently attractive, and attraction is God’s model for discipleship. (Hmmm… that gives me some other Nature/Math smart ideas about gravity and magnetism…. hmmm.) Any way, the seemingly awkward scene between Jesus and the two men following him is dripping with People smart, as are the interactions between Andrew and Simon and then Simon and Jesus. The totally out-of-the-ordinary character of all those conversations is likely to light up everyone’s People smart brains.
  • Smarts -Word [21:14], Body [22:42], Nature [24:00], People [25:44]
  • John 1 worksheet   



… in Isaiah  


… in 1 Corinthians


… in John


Image credit: public domain via The Graphics Fairy


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