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Year C, Lent 5, 2019 – What’s It Worth?

April 3, 2019 / Molly Douthett / Lent

Hey everyone! Welcome back to the site! We are barreling down on Holy Week – holy cow – and the passages for today all ask us to stop and consider value. In John’s passage, the question is obvious as Judas objects to Mary wasting expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet. Jesus knows the value of what she is doing and tells Judas to back off. Paul tells the Philippians that he once was on top of the heap – a Super Star in his own right – but because he has met Jesus that past life is now junk. The psalmist encourages a joyful response to the way God has restored the fortunes of Israel. Isaiah tells the Israelites that God has provided a pathway for them in the past and God will continue to do so for their present and future. Let’s go see how Multiple Intelligence Theory adds some value to our worship!


Smarts of the Week – [01:58]

Three years ago, we came up with at least one illustration or special effect for Lent 5, Year C, 2016. We had a fun PEOPLE smart skit for the Gospel passage, too! This week, we’re focusing on MATH and PEOPLE smart. The worksheets with links and charts are below.


John 12:1-8 – [06:32]

When I read this passage, I think of the scene in Jesus Christ Superstar when Mary sings “Everything’s Alright”. The musical has changed the venue but the argument Judas presents is the same; we could have sold the perfume and given the money to the poor. Three years ago in MATH smart, we calculated how much money that would have been. This year, we have some information about a denarius including the fact that it is now crypto-currency! We have some charts on the worksheet that would help people understand how money plays into their discipleship – what would you do with a lump sum of your own wages?

For PEOPLE smart, concentrate on the drama of the scene. Three years ago, we wrote a brief chancel drama around this passage. This year, break into smaller groups and discuss the motivation behind the actors, especially Mary and Judas. Why would Mary anoint Jesus? Is Judas really looking to steal the money? What does Jesus mean that the poor will always be with you?


Philippians 3:4b-14 – [16:13]

Paul tells the Philippians that his accomplishments – which are considerable – are nothing more than trash compared to his relationship with Jesus. For MATH smart, put together a chart of things considered valuable assets and status symbols and assign points to them. Tally up the number, and then give “Knowing Christ” so many points that the highest status score is lost in the rounding error to illustrate and demonstrate Paul’s point. You could also break out the balance scales for a physical representation of the relationship.

For PEOPLE smart, think about the dedication athletes devote to becoming proficient in their sport. I have a couple links that speak to the psychology of an athlete and a documentary about the stories behind some African American athletes. For a look at competition taught to children, check out the video below that features Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, and Mr. Rogers. Yes, PBS did a cross-over!


Psalm 126 – [25:09]

This Psalm didn’t immediately lend itself to MATH smart until David thought about what it would mean to lose everything and then have God restore it all. Consider the global meltdown that was The Great Crash of 1929; according to the link below, the market lost $30B in two days. Now, imagine that loss given back by God – restored fortunes, indeed!

Use PEOPLE smart to present this psalm in worship. Encourage your congregation to recall a time when a joyous event happened in their lifetime and to get it fixed in their hearts and minds. Or, bake some bread and allow the aroma to waft into the worship space. Nothing like the promise of good food to make someone happy! Then, use that joy to call and respond antiphonally with this psalm. If you want to get some EYE and BODY smart into this exercise, add something to wave in the air!

  • MATH smart – [29:12]
  • PEOPLE smart – [26:20]

Isaiah 43:16-21 – [32:19]

We have another reversal in this passage. Rather than intangible fortune, we have God reversing a physical path – in a metaphorical way. The people had once passed through water on dry land, and now God is leading them home through dry land with rivers as pathways. Pretty cool, right? To demonstrate this with MATH, get some concave mirrors or convex lenses and play with the way images appear upside down in them. You could also talk about the challenges of navigating open landscapes before the widespread use of magnetic compasses.

Isaiah is reminding the people of who they had been because of God’s mighty acts of deliverance and who they are now because of God’s might act of deliverance. The circumstances and oppressing power might change, but God hasn’t. I found an interesting essay, linked below, that considers what Israel might have been like had they not been in slavery in Egypt or taken into exile in Babylon. The author points out that loss sharpens a people’s attention to that which is prized, and that the moment that prized thing is taken for granted, it is lost. Break into groups and discuss this thought and what “old thing” God is doing in a “new way.”


Photo by Jamie Fenn on Unsplash. Used by permission.

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