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Year A, Ordinary 24, 2017 – The Big Picture

September 11, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Welcome back! Do you know what your Myers-Briggs personality type is?  I am an ENFP. I know there is a smorgasbord of information about these personality types out there, including what kind of cat, Harry Potter character, and superpower your type indicates. Whatever. What I am interested in is the fact that people who are “N” types have a tendency to connect information received with overarching meaning and interpretation. As I read these three passages for this Sunday, I see a bigger picture of God’s presence, concern, and love. In Exodus, God moves between Israel and Egypt and takes decisive, scary action to save the people. In Romans, Paul acknowledges different practices but does not think they divide believers as much as others think they do, because we are all one in Jesus. In Matthew, Jesus demonstrates the overwhelming character of forgiveness with some advice and a parable. In all three passages, the big picture is that God is present, God is concerned with our faithfulness, and God forgives us. Always.


This week’s texts are:  

Exodus​ ​14:19-31 [01:59]  

This passage starts out with the angel of God moving around, which connects with EYE smart. To illustrate this movement, we talk about chess, football, and war. The angel “lit up the night” like those incredibly bright lights road crews use to work at night. For a special effect, we have several links to movies that portray the parting of the sea. In the next chapter, Moses’ sister Miriam will take up her tambourine and sing praise to God, and we are jumping in ahead of her with a suggestion from John Michael Talbot in MUSIC smart. For NATURE smart, the “strong east wind” makes an appearance, and we have a book review for an illustration and a video for a special effect. For SELF smart, we have a few questions in special effects that would work well as a devotional.


Romans​ ​14:1-12 [10:52] 

One commentary I read for this passage suggested that the ongoing argument between Paul and Peter and James about Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles bleeds over into this advice to the Romans. Paul addresses that issue obliquely with his advice about eating meat and marking festival days. We thought a Venn diagram would work well to demonstrate Paul’s underlying premise in MATH smart. For MUSIC smart, we wrote an extra verse for the song “They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love.” Keeping with Paul’s idea of identifying categories of believers, we thought using taxonomic ranking would work well as a NATURE smart illustration. We illustrate Peter’s and James’ objections in PEOPLE smart and have a suggestion for your next potluck dinner as a special effect. Finally, for a SELF smart special effect, study the Venn diagram and consider where you draw divisions and how they may need to be reconsidered.

  • Smarts – Math [12:32], Music [14:20], Nature [15:34], People [16:38], Self [18:26]
  • Romans 14 worksheet
  • Links in Romans  


Matthew​ ​18:21-35 [18:51] 

In the middle of the parable Jesus tells, the other slaves witness the hypocritical behavior of the forgiven slave. They go and “report to their lord,” which I thought could be illustrated in WORD smart as whistleblowers and eye witness testimony. In EYE smart, we have links to a documentary and movie about forgiveness and starting over as illustrations, and we have a fun suggestion for a special effect! When this Gospel selection rotated up three years ago, we wrote a skit for our youth to use in worship that pays special attention to the number 490 (7×70), so we included it in MATH smart. (If you choose to use it, you will need to adapt the location specific references we used to your own landmarks.) For MUSIC smart, we have a long list of hymns that illustrate forgiveness. In PEOPLE smart, we looked to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa and a scene from the 2005 movie The Interpreter as illustrations. For a special effect, you might adapt some of the group discussion questions written for a youth group as a special effect. And finally, the slave seems to have a real problem learning his lesson, which we illustrate using Baby Groot.


Image credit: Copyright: hkeita / 123RF Stock Photo. Also, NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope photo of galaxy NGC 2683. Used by permission.


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