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Year C, Ordinary 21, 2016 – God Rules

August 20, 2016 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Greetings!! Our family really likes to play board and card games. We don’t do it often but when we do, it’s a lot of fun. We have a particular game called Anomia, which is the term for having a particular word “right on the tip of your tongue” but not being able to call up the file. The rules are simple; you all have categories printed on the card in front of you laying face up on the table. The card also has a symbol on it. As you go around the table taking turns drawing cards and laying them face up before you, you pay attention to see if your symbol matches anyone else’s symbol. When they do, you must blurt out a word that fits the category of the other person’s card BEFORE they do the same with your card. If you are successful, you get both cards. Play continues until the entire deck is gone and the winner is the one with the most cards. The rules make the game fast, loud, and hilarious as you watch someone work very hard to access words in their mental files as quickly as possible.

In the passages for this week, we are reminded of God’s rules, particularly for the Sabbath. Isaiah’s words to the exiles-returned-home urges them to remember the ethical and theological reasons for keeping the Sabbath. Hebrews states that God is the judge of all and offers a contrast between Mt. Sinai, where the rules were given, and Mt. Zion, where the rules are fulfilled. In Luke, Jesus and a synagogue leader clash about how one is to keep Sabbath.


This week’s texts are:  

Isaiah 58:9b-14 [01:57]  – Isaiah’s words to the exiles returned from Babylon sound a lot like advice given to contemporary believers. I am pretty sure every believer in every age has said this; conditions of oppression and injustice don’t ever seem to go away. Yet, in this selection, we are given clear methods to examine our times and our lives, to see if we have in any way participated in oppression and injustice. Using Math smart and a U-tube manometer, show your congregation how pressure (oppression) subjugates people and experiment with actions that could alleviate it. In Nature smart, we compare dogged self centeredness with a beagle and God’s promised providence to a watered garden in an arid land. In People smart, we look at some options to actively work on behalf of the hungry.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [02:45] – {MWD}  People {D2}  People
  • Smarts – Math [04:37], Body [07:52], Nature [08:26], People [09:40]
  • Isaiah 58 worksheet   


Hebrews 12:18-29 [12:38] – The author of Hebrews sets up contrasting visions and meanings of two important mountains in Israel’s history; Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion. Sinai is where the people received God’s rules, and Mt. Zion is the city on the hill where the world will find its ultimate redemption in Jesus. In Word smart, we use the dictionary to define shake or shaking, and in Eye smart, we offer some truly startling images of fire – both of which the ancient Hebrews witnessed and experienced at the foot of Sinai. The selection is divided into three parts – past, present, and future – and God’s judgement is central to the entire thing. In Math smart, we look at the logic of God’s rule and suggest a game to be played with children as a way to illustrate it. In Body smart, we offer a US army veteran’s memory of R&R in Hong Kong and several musical clips for Music smart. In Nature smart, we compare the two mountains with a graphic and examine the benefits of a wild fire. And just so you know, Nibiru is not coming to get us.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [13:50] – {MWD}  Math {D2}  Eye/Nature
  • Smarts – Word [16:14], Eye [17:06], Math [18:14], Body [19:29/20:57], Music [21:53], Nature [22:47]
  • Hebrews 12 worksheet   


Luke 13:10-17 [24:57] – Sometimes, rigid black and white demarcations of what is in and out of bounds need to be shifted a bit. Not because moving boundaries will make them crumble out of existence, but because someone is caught under them. Jesus sees a woman he intends to heal; he does so and the leader of the synagogue where this happens is offended. He does what he can to put a stop to anyone else getting any Sabbath breaking ideas, which Jesus addresses by explaining the small ways the Sabbath rules are stretched in order to show humane treatment to animals. Isn’t a Daughter of Abraham worth at least as much as someone’s donkey or ox? We use Eye smart to give a taste of the woman’s experience – which also ties into Body smart. We both thought the Primary Expressed Intelligence was the logical argument Jesus uses to counter the synagogue leader’s outrage and we discuss ways to illustrate that in Math smart. (We also have a link to a story in the New York Post on our Facebook page that we found after we put together this podcast. Check it out!) Chris Tomlin has a lovely re-arrangement of Amazing Grace that we link to below, and in People and Self smart, we have some questions you could use to encourage your congregation’s empathy and imaginations.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [25:29] – {MWD} Math {D2} Math
  • Smarts – Eye [30:42], Math [25:45], Body [31:54], Music [34:02], People [34:11], Self [36:52]
  • Luke 13 worksheet   



… in Isaiah  

  • Building a manometer
  • Beagles following a scent
  • A watered garden
  • See, “The Forgotten Meaning of NEPES in Isaiah 58:10”, Victor Avigdor Hurowitz, Vetus Testamentum XLVII, E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1997, pg 44 – 52.


… in Hebrews


… in Luke

  • “Amazing Grace: My Chains Are Gone”
  • NYPost article
  • Questions about the bent-over woman
    • What might she have been thinking and feeling (1) as she came to synagogue (2) when Jesus called her over (3) when she was declared free (4) when the synagogue leader rebuked the crowd (5) when Jesus rebuked the leader? Can you identify with any of those? Are there modern situations when people in need of healing might feel as she did?
    • Consider the same for the synagogue leader.
    • Let your congregation discuss these in small groups.


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