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Year B, Advent 1, 2017 – Watch This Space

November 30, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Advent

Happy New Year!!  Also, Happy Third Anniversary to More Than Hearing! We’re into the home stretch and have been pondering what we will do with our podcast this time next year. We have some ideas, so keep watching this space. Which, by the way, seems to be the theme for our passages – keep watching! In Isaiah, the prophet has been watching and with dismay calls out to God to come deal with the misery he sees among the exiles. By the end of the passage, despair begins to turn toward hope, which is the traditional theme of the first Sunday in Advent. Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians knowing full well the mess they’ve gotten themselves into but doesn’t start there. Instead, he looks back to their beginning in Christ as a way to set the stage for the rest of his letter. And in Mark, Jesus redirects the disciples’ wide-eyed wonder at the splendor of the Temple to the work of God in times that are horrible. Can any human built edifice compare to the glory of the Lord’s return? Keep watching to find out!


This week’s texts are:

Isaiah 64:1-9 [01:58]

 The passage begins with a plea for theophany – show up, Lord! In WORD smart, we talk about the things we do to get people’s attention. Usually, we do this to let them know something is about to begin, which Isaiah fervently hopes is true for his time and place. His desire is for something big and eye catching, and in EYE and NATURE smart, you can illustrate how volcanic eruptions do just that! For MATH smart, we compare Isaiah’s focused attention on God’s appearance to SETI. The prophet suggests that the people are living in spiritual squalor and uses images of contamination and hopelessness that we explore in BODY smart. This selection from Isaiah is a lament, and we have a link to illustrate lament in MUSIC smart and a suggestion for a special effect that could be truly powerful. We did not include SELF (or EYE or NATURE) smart in the podcast, but do have some thought provoking commentary in a link below and on the worksheet. Check them out!


1 Corinthians 1:1-9 [12:43]

Paul’s letters dwell in two worlds; the world to which he wrote with particular people and particular issues and our world where his timeless affirmation of Jesus as Lord still rings loud and true. His letter to the Corinthians and their struggles to incorporate a way of life as disciples into their sophisticated, metropolitan surroundings is very familiar to those of us who live in privileged places today. We can glean a great deal as we watch what Paul says to them. He begins his letter the way all letters of the time started. In WORD smart, we have many links to letters, two of them pretty lighthearted! In EYE smart, we suggest ways to illustrate and demonstrate Paul’s initial argument that the Corinthians all share a common faith in Jesus who is the center. (We did not use NATURE smart, but we have two links to natural adhesives – Jesus being the glue that holds this congregation together, as per Paul.) In her commentary at Working Preacher, Carla Works thinks the factions in Corinth may have been expecting Paul to jump into the fray on one side or the other, and he does nothing of the sort. Rather, he takes them back to the basics, which we explore with PEOPLE smart special effects. As usual, PEOPLE and SELF smart have blurry boundaries, and with this topic of relatedness in Christ, we have some thoughts in the latter category that did not make it into the podcast but are worth a look.


Mark 13:24-37 [21:48]

At the beginning of chapter 13, Jesus and his disciples are leaving the temple, and one of them comments on the grandeur of the structure. We can only speculate what it must have looked like, but based on artists’ renditions, it must have been spectacular. Jesus seems unimpressed, though. Rather than join in adulation, he takes that energy from the unnamed disciple and turns it toward looking for things that have eternal significance. We did not use WORD, EYE, or MATH smart in the podcast, but there are some interesting interpretive nuggets you might want to see. We began the segment with BODY smart and think you could illustrate part of the parable Jesus tells about the man who goes away leaving his staff to tend his home in his absence. The doorkeeper had a particular role, and we think the person’s physical stature could have played a key part in making that job successful. We have more to offer in MUSIC smart! Not only do we have a poem about life blooming out of despair, but the whole passage moves in three parts that could be given over to an orchestra! Or just point them out, if you are fresh out of violins. We have SO MUCH in NATURE smart – mostly because of the cosmic allusions. We cannot stand to pass up any opportunity to talk about the solar eclipse in August, but we also include some other heavenly light shows and explosions in the links! We did not include PEOPLE smart in the podcast, but recommend the commentary offered in the link below. The SELF smart illustration comes from commentary below and the special effect is a question or two about what the author mentions.

*This intelligence was not used in the podcast.


Image Credit: Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.


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