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Year C, Lent 2, 2019 – Trust Me

March 16, 2019 / Molly Douthett / Lent

Hey everyone! We’re in Austin, Texas this week! Are we presenting at SxSW? No. We are here for a family gathering and are recording the show on the lovely patio of the house where we’re staying. You *are* hearing birds in the background, it’s not just a special effect. The passages for this week center around trust – the Psalmist writes about God’s trustworthiness, and in Genesis, God and Abram begin the long dance of covenant faithfulness. Paul instructs the Philippians to imitate him as he imitates Christ, and in Luke, Jesus mourns that there are those who refuse to trust him. Trust is easily broken, difficult to mend, and very valuable. Once you have that element in a relationship, it moves with greater ease. If there is not trust, nothing will happen.

Smarts of the Week – [01:58]

Three years ago, we were still in the midst of figuring out how to do this show, which you can see and hear at Year C, Lent 2, 2016. You may find some additional ideas there! Check it out and download the worksheets for this week’s ideas below.

This Week’s Texts

Luke 13:31-35 – [05:55]

This exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees raises eyebrows. Aren’t the Pharisees usually presented in the Gospels as opponents of Jesus? Why are they suddenly taking it upon themselves to warn him about Herod? Is this a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? Are they there at the behest of Herod with the same reasoning? The EYE or MATH smart illustration would be to draw a big triangle with Jesus, the Pharisees, and Herod at the points. The PEOPLE smart illustration, though, would be to explore all the possible relationships drawn among them and the concept of relational triangling.

For SELF smart illustrations, focus on the single point that is Jesus – who knows the motivations for the Pharisees and Herod but is not going to be swayed from going on to Jerusalem. In fact, continuing down that road means he will die and not because of Herod. Consider the determination and commitment he exhibits and illustrate this by asking your congregation to think about experiences they have had standing up to bullies.

  • PEOPLE smart – [11:30]
    • Is Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees an example of triangulating? Are the Pharisees simply stirring up trouble?
  • SELF smart – [07:40]
    • Is Jesus’ attitude in this passage like Harry Potter going to face Lord Voldemort in the middle of Book 7?
    • Or like the conspirators against Hitler in the film Valkyrie?

Philippians 3:17-4:1 – [16:29]

Paul is asking the Philippians to look to him as he imitates Christ. In essence, he wants them to consider him a role model for faith. If it were anyone other than Paul, this would seem to be an arrogant request. But Paul has learned to trust Jesus thoroughly and wants the Philippians to do the same. For a SELF smart illustration, look to the link below about Goofus and Gallant and then ask your congregation to think about their own moral role models.

For PEOPLE smart, help your congregation think about how their behavior reflects their commitment to Jesus and how that behavior is seen by people outside the walls of the church. I have a joke about that linked below. Consider using parts of The Barmen Declaration in your liturgy and, even though the illustration comes from NATURE, talk about an aspen grove as an example of a living organism that has a common root of existence.

Psalm 27 – [25:21]

The Psalm is a song of praise to God who is trustworthy. Of course, the MUSIC smart option is to sing songs and hymns reflecting that. For PEOPLE smart, try using some of the studies in the article from Harvard Business Review, linked below. The studies are about business decisions and why one would trust someone else, but I think there is some application to trusting others as models of faith.

For SELF smart, bring in the characters of Tigger and Piglet. Tigger is a very confident and bouncy fellow; nothing really phases him. He springs from situation to situation without ever losing trust in his ability to bounce back. Piglet, on the other hand, finds it difficult to be brave because he is such a small animal. Yet, he trusts his friends – especially Pooh Bear – and will follow them because they have proven reliable in the past. Reading this Psalm may inspire you and your congregation to find each of these characters in yourself!

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 – [31:07]

Remember when you were a kid and your parents promised you something? Do you remember how excited you were when you first heard the promise? Do you remember reminding your parents that they had MADE the promise? Do you remember ever getting impatient for the promise to be fulfilled or despairing when it looked like it would not? Use these memories as a SELF smart illustration for Abram’s experience hearing God’s incredible promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the night sky.

This story is about God’s covenant with Abram so for PEOPLE smart, encourage your people to think about the many relationships of which they are a part that are covenants. Marriages, business relationships, friendships, memberships in organizations, etc. For a special effect, remind people of vows or oaths taken at important times in life and maybe read some lines from them – marriage vows, ordination vows, oaths of office, and the like.

Image from Pexels, free for use.

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