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Year A, Ordinary 23, 2017 – Back to School!!

September 9, 2017 / D2 / Ordinary Time

Greetings!! We are just starting another academic year here in the US. Many public districts in our area have been open since the last week of August while a few held out for the traditional post-Labor Day start time. Either way, the result is increased traffic on our roads, and I can now mark time by when school buses pass by the house. The three passages assigned for this Sunday each have an element of “schooling” in of them. In Exodus, Yahweh instructs the people to cook and consume one last meal in their homes in Egypt; be ready, something is about to happen! In Romans, Paul continues to instruct Roman Christians to love as selflessly and fully as Jesus did. In Matthew, Jesus teaches disciples how to deal with inevitable conflict in a way that builds up the body and leads to reconciliation and wholeness. Each lesson is as basic as A-B-C, and as vital as 1-2-3. Let’s go see how using multiple intelligence theory can aid our learning.

This week’s texts are:

Exodus​ ​12:1-14 [01:58]

As with many of the selections in Genesis, this passage is part of a much larger story. These verses instruct the Israelites to begin marking time from this particular point so we wondered what other significant events have had a similar influence on people throughout history. Where is that point of no return where everything was different on the other side? Right now, there are millions of people who are marking time before and after Hurricane Irma, for example. For a special effect, bring in a cookbook or some other type of instruction manual. Lamb’s blood on the door posts and lintels set aside particular houses for protection, and we have a couple links (below) that connect this to other culture’s practices. The Passover story (like the story of Jesus’ last supper) are seminal events that echo in time to the present day. It’s like a gong struck thousands of years ago that is still reverberating (bonus illustration!). Celebrating these events around a dinner table is to cement them into our lives and to nourish each generation with the promised Presence. To that end, the food itself is symbolic; bitter herbs, flat bread, and fire roasted lamb all eaten while wearing your traveling clothes. For a special effect, wear your hiking boots or track shoes for this service! People will make the connection for sure! Finally, we have some questions about days of remembrance for you, personally.


Romans​ ​13:8-14 [10:30]

The first verse in the passage can be twisted around to suggest Paul is advocating a Lone Ranger lifestyle – a rugged individual who needs no assistance from anyone. This misreading has not only damaged many lives by needlessly erecting barriers but totally misunderstands the culture in which Paul lived. Kyle Fever, writing at Working Preacher, reminds us that people in Paul’s era lived with obligations to everyone. Yet, Paul – that radical – is telling Roman Christians to owe nothing but love. (Check out Fever’s commentary linked below for a fuller exposition.) To that end, try rearranging the furniture in your worship space in order to demonstrate the new mind set Paul advocates. Also, give some of the math a try! For BODY smart, we have some ideas about waking up and putting on our Christ-like nature. (If you still have your Big Shirt, bring it back into worship!) Paul actively encourages believers to love one another, putting our lives into it. This made me think of plants growing fruit; they dedicate their entire lives to producing seeds for the next season. It’s late summer here, and the apples and peaches are delicious, so bring some in and share them as a special effect.

  • Smarts – Math [12:04], Body [14:34], Nature [17:34]
  • Romans 13 worksheet
  • Links in Romans


Matthew​ ​18:15-20 [18:23]

Since churches are full of people, there will be conflict. That’s just the truth, and there’s nothing to do about it, except be adults and deal with it in healthy ways, which Jesus lays out in these verses in Matthew. We began in WORD smart by defining some Greek terms for “sin” and “listen” that give a deeper understanding to the type of conflict Jesus may be addressing. In MUSIC smart, we have a list of popular songs about reconciliation and forgiveness, topics that are rich for exploration in the arts. The goal of reconciliation is growth, and so in NATURE smart we have some ideas to illustrate this using compost. Finally, in PEOPLE smart, we address the final step in the process – making the offender like a Gentile or tax collector. Bill Loader (link below) had some good insight about this. We remember the basic discipline policy advocated by a youth ministry program we have been part of for many years (see GenOn Ministries).

  • Smarts – Word [19:34], Body [21:52], Music [22:46], Nature [23:44], People [25:05]
  • Matthew 18 worksheet
  • Links in Matthew 


Image Credit: Source: Back to School Chalkboard Vector Free from Used by permission.


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