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Year B, Ordinary 27 (Proper 22, Pentecost +20), 2018 – Decently and In Order

October 3, 2018 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Welcome back! Have you ever wondered where we get the titles for our podcasts? Titles sometimes leap out at us from the material in Scripture, like mice from cupboards. Other times, something about the setting or plot in the story suggests a song or movie title that fits the theme. Sometimes, we have to take the material, bang it on the table, and shake it around to loosen up an idea that may be suitable and other times, we just throw something in as a place holder, like Phil Collins’ Sussudio. The title for this podcast is the unofficial motto of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that speaks to our polity – everything done decently and in order.

I sparked on this thought after reading the opening of David Lose’s blog post for this week’s Gospel. He suggests that the question the Pharisees are raising with Jesus isn’t about the legality of marriage per se, but about order. Structure. Bedrock. What is stable in life and what gives security and safety. The Pharisees are shook up because Jesus seems to be messing with order and inviting chaos into the lives of God’s people. This invitation is rarely welcomed, especially by those whose task or calling it is to keep order. But for the people of the first century, living in politically shaky times, it was likely perceived as an opening to destruction. If we crack the bedrock of order, the Pharisees may have been thinking, what is to prevent outside forces from sweeping in to scatter and destroy us – this time completely? 

That fear of annihilation is just under the surface of much of the tension in the U.S. these days, I think. Fear of losing one’s place in the world is driving a lot of nastiness. But what we forget, and what the Pharisees were too distracted to see, is that the chaos we fear was utterly conquered by Jesus’ death and resurrection. It no longer has any power, except what we give it. I think this is why Jesus calls children to him and encourages us to live as they do – entirely reliant on the powers of goodness in their lives that love them and want them to thrive. Can we live as children do, trusting God is in control and will bring order out of the chaos?

This week’s text is:

Mark 10:2-16 [01:58]

We begin in WORD smart with an interesting study of the Greek words – with great thanks to Rob Myallis at Lectionary Greek (link below). The words “divorce” and “release” are used in English but the Greek words are much more evocative. You may present some new ways of looking at a ruptured relationship by following this illustration. For a special effect, encourage your folks to write a letter to God from their inner child. The passage taken as a whole brings to mind a family unit, so in EYE smart, we have a link to a blog called Art and Faith Matters. Lynn Miller posts artwork relevant to the week’s lectionary passages and has two painting of Jesus with his parents. I wonder if he was thinking of his own upbringing whenever he saw children. The Pharisees ask Jesus specifically about divorce, so for MATH smart, we have a link to divorce law here in the U.S. We put this here rather than in PEOPLE because the language in the law is more logical than relational.

If you have not yet bookmarked the website Singing from the Lectionary, you really should. Of course, there is so much MUSIC out there, that even a compendium like this one only scratches the surface. We each found something you might consider using for a special effect. For NATURE smart, we have some links to the union of celestial bodies – BIG ones! Contemplating how galaxies collide is an interesting metaphor for marriage. What is marriage, anyway? We have a few definitions and questions for discussion as a special effect in PEOPLE smart. We also wonder if Jesus may not have been portraying Moses as an exasperated parent (or cat servant) in his remarks to the Pharisees. And in SELF smart, we have an extensive quote from Richard Rohr’s book Things Hidden : Scripture as Spirituality that works both as an illustration and special effect.


Image Credit: Copyright : Wavebreak Media Ltd. Used by permission.


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