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Year A, Ordinary 4, 2017 – Flip Flop

January 25, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Epiphany, Ordinary Time

Hey all! Welcome back! What was your first thought when you read the title of the episode? If you are in the depths of winter with ice, snow, cold winds, dry air, dark overcast days – I’m depressing myself – “flip flop” may make you think of lovely summer days at the beach or strolling in the park with friends and family. Or, you might think of “flip flop” in terms of its colloquial use here in the US to describe someone who changes their position on an issue frequently and often. In spite of the negative connotation, we’re using the second image for this week’s title because each of the passages for this Sunday has a reversal. In Micah, God is bringing the beloved people to trial! Paul insists that what the Corinthians value is not as valuable as they think. And in Matthew, Jesus offers blessings for people the world would consider quite unfortunate. However, God is always turning life upside down in order to bring grace, mercy, and a restored relationship.


This week’s texts are:  

Micah 6: 1-8  [01:59]  – Micah presents a juicy legal drama in these verses. God is perplexed by the people’s behavior and forgetfulness and has decided to get their attention by suing them. The first verses show the mountains and the foundation of the earth being summoned for jury duty and the people being directed to stand and plead their case. We wondered in Nature Smart if the mountains are simply a lovely literary device or if they refer to Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, actual mountains that are part of Israel’s history. As God presents evidence of God’s own great faithfulness and mighty acts of salvation on behalf of the people, Micah asks them what they could possibly offer as compensation for their misdeeds. In Body smart, we have a suggestion to use the rising and standing to plead one’s defense and the bowing to offer a sacrifice with your people in worship. We have a question in Self Smart about the difficulty of offering oneself to God and in Math Smart, we explore how God reverses the expectation of punishment.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [03:02] –
    • {MWD}  People – We frequently read the last two verses of this passage as a personal quest to “do better” in our own discipleship. But the pronoun “you” is plural; God expects the people to “do better” together. They fell away from following God as a people and God wants them to return as a people. In my opinion, loving kindness, doing justice, and walking humbly with God is more likely to happen when we have a travel buddy or two to help us through the difficult spots and hold us accountable when traveling is easy.
    • {D2} People – As with so many parts of scripture, this one is all about the relationships. In this case, the relationship between God and the people has been stressed and strained, but God continues to show desire to restore it, even to the point of courtroom drama to make the point. Feelings of longing, betrayal, and remorse fill this text, and the People Smart person will be vibrating by the end, ready to take that humble walk with God!
  • Smarts – Math [04:15], Body [07:11], Nature [10:32], Self [13:05]
  • Micah 6 worksheet   


1 Corinthians 1:18-31 [14:25] – Paul expands his argument against the Corinthians in today’s verses. They have not only divided themselves into favored factions, but also they are chasing after values that run counter to the Good News of the cross that Paul had already proclaimed to them. It is not the first time, nor the last time that people would do such things. In Eye Smart, we look at the Vitruvian Man as a symbol of humanity’s tendency to center the world in the self. We think the reversal in this passage can be explored with some questions in People Smart. The pivot point of the reversal is the cross, and in Self Smart, we wonder what shocking item of humiliation would represent the ugliness of the cross for Paul’s audience in our day.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [15:55] –
    • {MWD}  Self – We all wear crosses, and many of us have more than one. We know what they mean; that God loved us so much that God would sacrifice God’s own son on our behalf. What we don’t usually think about when we look at our crosses or admire someone else’s cross is that it was an instrument of torture and humiliation, used by the Roman empire to quell political uprisings. For us to wear them around our necks and hang them on our walls and by and large allow them to become a piece of the furniture would likely surprise our ancestors. Intrapersonal intelligence would recognize the dissonance.
    • {D2}  Math/Logic – This passage is loaded with talk of wisdom and foolishness, and to me those fall under the rubric of Logic. Paul is also challenging the very definitions of wisdom and foolishness, claiming that God’s action in Christ reverses them, like a convex lens (OH! That’s an Eye Smart illustration of why this is Math Smart! WHAT?). Trying to follow Paul’s argument definitely takes a bit of Math/Logic Smarts.
  • Smarts – Eye [16:27], People [19:15], Self [20:36]
  • 1 Corinthians 1 worksheet   


Matthew 5:1-12 [22:22] – God’s reversal is on full display in Jesus’ most famous sermon. What is blessed (or honored) about being poor in spirit or hungry for justice or persecuted for your faith? We have some charts to help understand this logic in Math Smart. For Music Smart, we have a few hymns and anthems using these verses, as well as a chant and choral reading. For People Smart, we have a homework project special effect, and in Self Smart, we have some questions that have a connection to Body Smart.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [23:43] –
    • {MWD}  Music – People who find expression through music and rhythm could be intensely involved with this passage. The verses themselves have a cadence (which David has put into a chant, see the links below), and the images of reversal offer opportunities for melody and harmony with altering dynamics and maybe even time signatures! Use different translations to get a different sound and practice reading the verses in ways that present the poetic nature of the words.
    • {D2}  Self – Molly makes a good point that the Beatitudes have a natural rhythm. Still, I’m going to say the overall effect of the collection is introspection around the question and condition of blessing. Do I feel blessed? Is it because I am poor in spirit? Do I hunger and thirst for righteousness? If not, why not? Are these blessings I should seek, or do they just come if you’re miserable like this? All that pondering is just what the Self Smart person does on naturally.
  • Smarts – Math [24:29], Music [27:37], People [28:38], Self [29:24]
  • Matthew 5 worksheet   



… in Micah  


… in 1 Corinthians 1

  • Vitruvian Man
  • Axis mundi
  • Commentary by ~Bill Loader
  • Bonus! Eye Smart: Not on the show or the worksheet, because I just thought of it! Paul suggests to the Corinthians that the world’s view of wisdom and foolishness are actually reversed images, like when you look at things through a double-convex lens. Everything is flipped upside down!


… in Matthew


Image credit: The featured image is … wait for it… flip-flopped flip flops on a flip chart! – D2


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