Year C, Easter 3, 2019 – Reboot
Four engineers get into a car heading for a conference. But, the car won’t start. Being engineers, they all have solutions to the problem befitting their areas of expertise. The Mechanical engineer says: It’s a broken starter. The Electrical engineer says: The battery is dead. The Chemical engineer says: No, we have impurities in the gasoline. The IT engineer says: Wait! Let’s all get out and then get back in!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we really could fix problems just by stopping and then restarting? The passages for this week’s Lectionary suggest that a system wide reboot of our lives is not only possible, it is often the very thing that God offers us in order to live fully into our lives. Saul is rebooted into Paul; Peter and the disciples are recommissioned by the Risen Christ. The psalmist and John’s revelation both see God’s power come through even though circumstances seemed beyond repair. We call this reboot forgiveness or a second chance or mercy or grace. It is not always easy to undergo a reboot, as Saul and Peter discovered. We will need to reckon with the fruit of our missteps. Yet, God’s reboot is reliable and we can trust it.
If you would like to see what we did with these passages three years ago, click this link for Year C, Easter 3, 2016. It’s been interesting to see what we emphasized three years ago in comparison to now.
Smarts of the Week [01:59]
This Week’s Texts
John 21:1-19 – [05:32]
This passage is rich in PEOPLE smart! Relationships are on display throughout. The second part of the passage – the heart-to-heart conversation between Jesus and Peter – reminded David of a pastor he worked with once. He would keep asking, “How are you doing?” until you finally told him – not necessarily to get him to stop asking, but because it became clear that he was honestly seeking after your heart and providing a safe place to respond. It’s a lot like a session with a counselor or therapist or coffee with a good friend. Please download the worksheet for a Reader’s Theater script, too!
MATH smart is about logic and an initial reading of this story does not reveal much of it, in my opinion. (Why on earth would Peter get dressed to jump into the water?) However, the sequence of three questions Jesus asks Peter could be examined in the logical terms of coding. It would help to back it up to Peter’s three denials followed by the three questions Jesus asks. Also, the underlying logic of this passage is re-commissioning of both the disciples as people fishers and Peter as the rock on which the church is built.
Revelation 5:11-14 – [17:05]
George Frederick Handel mined Revelation for the final chorus of his opus, Messiah. Chorus 53 is verses 12 through 14 sung over and over, but we aren’t doing MUSIC smart! However, a powerful choral piece will often move an entire crowd of people to reflection and exhilaration. David is reminded of a scene in The Sound of Music when the von Trapp family and the audience sing Edelweiss – much to the annoyance of the Nazis. Do you have any experiences like this? (see the link below)
I locked into verses 12 – 14 for MATH smart because the logic (and the numbers) in these verses benefit from some explanation. The seven attributes of glory and wealth are given to the lamb that was slaughtered. We ordinarily think of the spoils of war going to the triumphant victor, not the bloody victims. Yet, John’s revelation sees just the opposite. This is a great example of God’s logic throwing our logic for a loop. Plus, the number seven is rich in Jewish numerology; it is the perfect, complete number since it is the day the Lord rested from creating all that is good.
- MATH smart – [18:12]
- PEOPLE smart – [21:41]
Psalm 30 – [26:20]
For PEOPLE smart, consider a time when you needed to ask someone for protection or assistance. Was it immediately clear you would receive what you requested? There are people to whom we turn for help that may or may not respond the way you hope. Also, help may come from someone initially considered not at all friendly – see Netflix’s Lost in Space for some examples. For a special effect, invite your congregation to break into smaller groups and discuss a time when they were in a dire situation and got help. How did they express their thanks? Read Psalm 30 for an example!
Verse six led me to wonder about the logic of trusting prosperity or wealth to keep you safe. No amount of money can protect against everything yet we try hard to make it so and then suffer mightily when that wealth is lost. The 1929 and 2008 Stock Market crashes are good examples of how this logic fails. The psalmist also argues with God about how illogical it would be for him to die because then he would not be able to sing praise to God. He is relying on the relationship he has with God to persuade God to help him through his struggles.
- MATH smart – [31:21]
- PEOPLE smart – [27:24]
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20) – [35:32]
For PEOPLE smart, pull out your copy of James Loder’s The Transforming Moment to talk about the conflict Saul encounters on the road to Damascus. As we have mentioned often before, when someone is up against a conflict that person will exert a great deal of energy to solve the dilemma. If there is not an obvious out – or you have been knocked into the dirt by it – you will go away and let it percolate deep in your psyche until a solution presents itself. An example of a system wide resolution of conflict is the way our culture has shifted in regards to LGBTQ acceptance over the last thirty years.
For MATH smart, consider Saul’s logical struggle. As Bill Loader writes: “People’s intensity in resistance tends to rise when they fear what they are resisting is perhaps valid.” Maybe when he witnessed Stephen’s powerful testimony as he was stoned to death, a seed was planted in Saul and had sprouted. His trip to Damascus may have been a way to root it up. Ananias also encountered the Risen Christ in a way that was entirely illogical to him. Yet, in his faithfulness, he validated Saul’s experience and the rest is our story.
Oddly enough, we seem to have switched places a bit with our work on these two intelligences! David’s PEOPLE smart is heavy on logic and my MATH smart is heavy on motivations and relationships! Here is a great example of how the intelligences tend to “borrow” from one another.
- MATH smart – [36:25]
- PEOPLE smart – [41:27]