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Year B, Ordinary 5 (Epiphany 5), 2018 – Strengths and Weaknesses

January 30, 2018 / Molly Douthett / Epiphany, Ordinary Time

Hey all! Welcome back to the show! Have you ever been asked to enumerate your strengths and weaknesses? I always find myself struggling a bit to find an appropriate response for that. Do I answer the way I think they want to hear? Do I jump in and answer honestly and hope for the best? Do I list every strength and risk sounding arrogant or admit to “areas of growth” and risk sounding like a liability? It’s a tough line to walk, sometimes. In the passages for this week, we see images of strength and weakness. We hear some soaring poetry from Isaiah about God’s strength on behalf of the weakened people of Israel. We hear some puzzling pronouncements from Paul to the Corinthians about his willingness to forego his own strengths and appear like everyone else, even those who are weak. In Mark, Jesus once again reveals the strength of his authority, yet also shows a need to get away and reconnect in order not to be weakened and overcome. 


This week’s texts are:

Isaiah 40:21-31 [01:58]

This entire passage is a MUSIC smart illustration and special effect! Two songs using this imagery leapt out at me, and ironically, we are not using either in the podcast this week! Derp. We began instead with BODY smart thinking about how difficult the journey home to Israel from Babylon would be, especially for the elderly. We illustrate the encouragement in this poem with great coach pep talks! The quote by Melissa Bane Sevier on the worksheet may have some deep connection to people in your congregation who may be struggling with limited physical ability. In NATURE smart, we look at the two extremes of the canopy of heavens and grasshoppers crawling on the ground. Also, when the eagles “mount up,” are they riding thermals? I always thought that’s what that meant. We wonder if modern day experiences of exile would be a good way to connect this passage to your congregation in PEOPLE smart. Finally in SELF smart, is it possible that God’s strengthening comes through our own transformation?


1 Corinthians 9:16-23 [11:17]

Paul continues to reorient the Corinthians to their call as disciples. He uses his own life as an illustration of what that looks like. The passage begins with him saying he has no ground for boasting, which you could illustrate in the negative by using Yosemite Sam’s self descriptions in WORD smart (sort of PEOPLE, too). For a special effect, we have a link to a book that stresses the importance of presence in violent places (also sort of PEOPLE). Paul’s list of people can be illustrated with a Venn Diagram in MATH smart. Paul is not looking to grab power, but to lay it down, which made me think of chemical reactions. We have a correction as to which one in the links below. Whoops. For BODY smart, you could illustrate the contrast of strength and weakness using old Charles Atlas advertisements. Paul certainly seems to be acting like a chameleon so we recommend the link in NATURE smart to compare. In PEOPLE smart, we have a link to an interview with a traveling sales representative who knows a thing or two about meeting customer’s needs. Also, try using Invasion of the Body Snatchers as an illustration, as well.


Mark 1:29-39 [21:34]

After exorcising an unclean spirit in last week’s passage, Jesus is swamped with requests to do it again this week. This prompts him to withdraw to a “deserted place.” So we have some ideas to illustrate what this might look like in EYE smart. We also have some links to photography you could use as a special effect. Simon’s mother-in-law is ill with a fever, and we have a couple ways to illustrate this; one to show Jesus’ fearlessness in the face of illness and another to connect people with the experience of being really, desperately sick. For a special effect, break out the bunny slippers and tissues! In MUSIC smart, we have a link for a blessing for healing and wholeness. It’s is superb; I am planning to use it myself this week. And in SELF smart, illustrate the massive crowd gathering outside the door with some of the examples listed on the worksheet. Can you think of any others? For a special effect, use the commercial linked below to demonstrate how someone lives out his purpose in spite of obstacles and naysaying. I’m not crying, you are! We also have some questions that you can ponder regarding your own need to withdraw to a deserted place.

  • Smarts – Eye [23:22], Body [26:48], Music [29:42], Self [30:16]
  • Mark 1 worksheet
  • Links in Mark


Image Credit: Copyright: 72soul / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.


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