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Year A, Ordinary 6, 2017 – What’ll it Be?

February 7, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Epiphany, Ordinary Time

Hey everyone! Welcome back! Whenever our family goes out to eat, we always send our server away at least twice to give David plenty of time to decide what he wants to order. We will make our choices, drink water, talk, laugh, and generally ignore how hungry we are as we wait for him to make a choice. To say that this is a defining characteristic of my husband is a bit of an understatement. I have already told him that when he dies, I’m inscribing his headstone with the question: What are my options? The passages for this Sunday urge decisions and coming to terms with one’s relationship with God. Moses gives one final address to the Hebrews before they cross the Jordan into the land promised by God. Paul continues to correct the Corinthians presumptions and assumptions about themselves, and Jesus gets very pointed with his interpretation of the law during his Sermon on the Mount. In each passage, people are presented with an option to make a decision about how they will live as God’s people.


This week’s texts are:  

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 [02:00]  

Isaiah gives way to Torah for this week’s Old Testament reading, and in it we join the story of the Exodus as it concludes. The people have travelled about on the other side of the Jordan River long enough forget to be slaves in bondage and learn how to be a free people following the God who saved them. It’s been a bit rocky, and Moses takes the opportunity to remind them, one last time, about what God has done and how God will continue to be with them and bless them and give them long, prosperous lives. In Eye Smart, we suggest using an either/or prompt as a visual aid. Moses’ plea for the people to choose God reminded David of countless ballads beseeching the beloved to choose the suitor, and so we have a link to such a song in Music Smart. Once again, the earth is called to take part in a court case, but this time as a witness and as evidence of our choices. Finally, in Self Smart, we wonder what kinds of images might help individuals remember to dwell in God.


1 Corinthians 3:1-9  [09:25] 

As the letter to the Christians in Corinth continues, Paul pushes them both 1) off center by challenging them to look closely at the nature of their discipleship, and 2) to make some changes in their self-perception and Jesus-perception. I imagine this did not go over well with some members of the congregation, but it may have been just what others needed to truly grasp the meaning of the cross. Paul points out that he wants to give them deep insights into the nature of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, but they are not ready because their understanding is still not mature. He informs them that his teaching is like mother’s milk; easily digested for undeveloped digestive systems. Playing off this idea for Body Smart, we suggest bringing in some food “stages” – a bottle of milk, toddler friendly snacks, and adult food. Paul again brings up various allegiances to different teachers and blows that factionalism out of the water with a gardening allegory. We pursue this in Nature Smart. We have a suggestion for examining factions in your congregation in People Smart, and in Self Smart, we have some questions about autobiographies and diets.

  • Smarts – Body [11:24], Nature [13:43], People [15:39], Self [18:00]
  • 1 Corinthians 3 worksheet
  • Links in 1 Corinthians  
    • Show a goal to a Type A person, and it can become irresistible.


Matthew 5:21-37 [18:58] 

Last week, Jesus told his disciples that he had not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. In this passage, he gives four examples of the law with a fuller, deeper interpretation. In Word Smart, following Jesus’ lead, we look at the power of words. Jesus teaches that one can kill with angry, abusive language, and we have an idea for a special effect demonstrating it. For Eye Smart, Jesus’ teaching is like sharpening a pencil to a dangerous point or being superfluous with lens uses. To illustrate the logic behind Jesus’ teaching, we have a formula in Math Smart that shows how a mere one degree of variation can have huge consequences. Jesus wants his disciples healthy, and we offer some ways to illustrate that in Body Smart. Finally, in People Smart, Jesus’ instruction to be reconciled is put to very good use by Delmer Chilton’s story about an Appalachian worship practice. It sounds really powerful!


Image Credit: Copyright: kbuntu / 123RF Stock Photo

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