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Year B, Ordinary 28 (Proper 23, Pentecost +21), 2018 – How Do You Plead?

October 11, 2018 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Greetings!! We’re back on our old track for this podcast! We had been limiting ourselves to just one passage per show while David was on sabbatical these past three months, but now we are going back to the former structure of inspecting the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons for ways to utilize multiple intelligences. We’ll do this until the end of the liturgical year. We have a plan for when we get into the new liturgical year, so keep watching this space!!

At first glance, there does not seem to be much holding these three selections together. As David mentions in the introduction to the Job reading, you can stick your finger anywhere in the first 40 chapters of the book and find what we see here – Job protesting his innocence in light of all the calamity that has befallen him. He has done nothing to deserve the misfortune he has met. In the Gospel lesson, a wealthy man has a list of righteous acts that he thinks should be a ticket into eternal life. The author of Hebrews is urging disciples to continue confessing Jesus as Lord. As we worked on them, we saw the passages don’t interact with one another as much as run on parallel tracks. In each, someone is either pleading righteousness (Job and Mark) or being urged to hold onto righteousness (Hebrews). We have some interesting illustrations and special effects that we think might be helpful for drawing out this theme. 


This week’s texts are:

Job 23:1-9, 16-17 [01:59]

The Lectionary Committee cuts verses 10-15, a fact which we ignore for MATH smart. In verse 10, Job is confident that he will both find God and be judged innocent. We have an illustration about a disturbing trend in US courts in recent years. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers published a paper regarding the “trial penalty”; the substantial difference between a sentence offered in a plea deal or pursuing one’s Sixth amendment right to trial. (We tend to put legal stuff in MATH because of the logic side of it.) If Job were on trial in the US, he would be urged to plead guilty in order to avoid a much stiffer sentence if his case went to trial and he lost. As a special effect, write a first person sermon or skit that puts him in our courtroom. Job wants to find God to prove his righteousness but at the same time, he is terrified of coming before God. The Hebrew word can be translated as “palpitate” so to illustrate this in BODY smart, talk about the sensation of fear we get when we lose a child in a public place. For a special effect, “fill your mouth” with marshmallows! We have a link to a part of Robert Frost’s A Masque of Reason for MUSIC smart. We go back to verse 10 for a NATURE smart illustration and special effect using smelting – Job insists he will come through this trial like gold. For SELF smart, we have a meditation from Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation that might help explain why Job could not find God.

  • Smarts – Math [04:41], Body [06:41], Music [08:46], Nature [09:25], Self [10:30]
  • Job 23 worksheet
  • Links in Job
    • MATH smart –
      • In the United States, more people plead “guilty” to charges to avoid the greater risk of harsher sentencing if their case goes to trial and is lost.
    • MUSIC smart –
    • NATURE smart –
    • SELF smart –
      • Here is a meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation on the topic of God’s nearness.


Hebrews 4:12-16 [12:46]

The verses selected for this passage start with a visual that jumps off the page – a sharp, double edged sword that does some serious damage by the time we get to verse 14. What kind of actual blade might the author of Hebrews had in mind, I wondered, so I went looking and found a link to different types of swords with two edges for an EYE smart illustration. I think there are two likely candidates on that page – what are your picks? To demonstrate the cutting edge of these blades, try cutting up some chicken! Or show pictures of the process; that may be the friendlier option. We have some ways to illustrate being naked and laid bare in BODY smart. Jesus as the Great High Priest functions as the mediator of the new covenant, so for PEOPLE smart special effect, bring in someone who is a probate lawyer or an advocate for children to talk about the work they do on behalf of others. For a SELF smart illustration, talk about those dreams where you walk into a room and are not properly dressed or dressed at all. Is this what the author means about no creature being hidden?

  • Smarts – Eye [14:14],  Body [16:34], People [12:46], Self [19:02]
  • Hebrews 4 worksheet
  • Links in Hebrews


Mark 10:17-31 [19:59]

Some commentaries note that Jesus includes “do not defraud” in his list of commandments, even though it isn’t in the Big 10. Much head scratching happens with this odd addition, but maybe it is a literary device. We are going that route, and for WORD smart we suggest trying your own paralipsis as a special effect. In EYE smart, some WORD smart sneaks over in the translation of two Greek words; look around and look at. The different prepositions give the verb “blepo” much different views. One is like a wide angle lens and the other is the telephoto lens. For MATH smart, we have some calculations for the eye of a needle and a camel. SPOILER: The camel won’t fit. More WORD smart interpretation of the Greek gives us an alternate reading for the man going away because he’s sad in NATURE smart. He may be literally “clouded up”. Do his possessions obscure his vision? If he had been more warmed by Jesus, would he have been able to see? Try some of the experiments we have linked below for a “gee whiz!” special effect!


Image Credit: Copyright : hafakot. Used by permission.


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