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Year A, Ordinary 27, 2017 – Like a Michael Bay Explosion

October 4, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Hey, welcome back! We have a couple good friends – neither of whom live anywhere near us anymore – who really like movies. We used to rely pretty heavily on one of them to decide whether we would carve out the time and money to go see a movie when our kids were young. We decided that if Don recommended a movie, we’d go see it. If he was not enthusiastic about it, we would not. Our friend Barry filled that role in later years and keeps up with us via social media with his recommendations. They have wide ranging tastes, but both of them like a good explosion in an action movie. If Michael Bay were to direct the visual effects at the end of the Exodus passage, there would be lots of rumbling and fire and smoke and – well, it’s Michael Bay –  BOOM! The parable in the Matthew passage where tenants rise up and overthrow the representatives of their landlord shows them blowing up their security for short term gain, however hard they worked for the harvest. Writing to the Philippians to show them how much value a life in Jesus has, Paul explodes his own past achievements to demonstrate how even intangible things like reputation have little value next to a saving relationship with Christ. In each passage, someone’s world is blown up; the Hebrews understanding of the God of their ancestors, Paul’s assessment of his past success, and the life of self-centered, too-snug-for-their-own-good religious leaders. Let’s explore how using multiple intelligences can shake us out of our own complacency. BOOM!


This week’s texts are:

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 [01:58]

This passage begins as God speaks words to the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai. It ends with them cowering in fear as the words explode the world around them. These powerful words become the foundation for a written covenant that we know as the Ten Commandments. In WORD smart illustration, think about what other foundational stories you know. For a special effect, ask the congregation to make a list of words they associate with God and compare them with their neighbors as the story is read. For MUSIC smart, we have a list of songs, both sacred and secular, about freedom. Why freedom? Because the first words God speaks remind the Hebrews that they are free – and God is the one who broke their chains. We tend to gloss over that in our rush to get to the list.  Another element we don’t often pay much attention to is what happens as the words are spoken, and how the Hebrews react to it. In NATURE smart, we have a movie clip for a special effect and links to studies showing the connection between immersion in the natural world and our mental health. SELF smart has some links to psychological studies that center around the word “don’t” that might explain why Jesus later re-interprets some of the commandments positively. 


*This smart is not used in the podcast but the link(s) are provided.


Philippians 3:4b-14 [12:47]

This selection begins with Paul extolling his accomplishments. He has a lot, and there is much to recommend him if you were a first century head hunter looking for the “best” candidate for leading the people of Israel. Paul seems to agree with that assessment until we get to the middle of verse eight where the English translators use the word “rubbish. Paul actually uses a much more common word. In a way, he blows up his curricula vitae in this verse, because he knows that it doesn’t mean a thing next to what he has received from Jesus. In MATH smart, we use a story attributed to Fred Craddock to illustrate the sudden reassessment of what is valuable. For BODY smart, we suggest using a montage to illustrate Paul’s determination to finish what Jesus called him to do. We have some MUSIC illustrations that might be used with this idea. Use some jewelry for a PEOPLE smart special effect. 


*This smart is not used in the podcast but the link(s) are provided.


Matthew 21:33-46 [21:22]

The chief priests and Pharisees hear a parable that they eventually figure out is directed at them. In EYE smart, use your own worship space as a set piece for the vineyard. We have links to what a first century vineyard looked like to help you out. The tenant farmers in the parable act violently toward the landowner’s servants and son. In BODY smart, we have some suggestions as to why. For NATURE smart, we look at how fruit bearing plants are not just surviving to the next generation but are feeding surrounding animals, birds, and insects. We also have a suggestion to demonstrate the cornerstone. In SELF smart, the sinful attitude of the tenants comes from their greed and selfishness, which brings about a response from God not unlike that of a parent with a stubborn child. If you continue down this path, you will blow up your life!


*This smart is not used in the podcast but the link(s) are provided.


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