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Year C, Ordinary 25, 2016 – Tears, Prayers, and … Praise?

September 11, 2016 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Welcome back to More Than Hearing – we’ve been gone for a bit but are back to share exegesis, sermon illustrations, and ideas for special effects.  Today’s podcast covers the Lectionary selections for Ordinary 25 (Pentecost +18 or Proper 20) Year C. The passages are thick with possibilities for preaching and worship. Jeremiah’s lament over Judah is rich with pathos. 1 Timothy urges disciples to pray for one another and their rulers. The reading from Luke is the parable of the Dishonest Steward, which presents some uneasy questions about honesty and the right use of wealth.

This week’s texts are:  

Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1  [01:59]  – This passage is an example of how Jeremiah got his nickname “The Weeping Prophet.” I have wept profusely in my life and reading these verses takes me back to the pain of the experience. In Eye smart, we suggest some visual special effects that may parallel the devastation that makes Jeremiah weep. In Body smart, we suggest adopting a posture of grief. We have a list of modern laments in Music smart and look at how a good harvest is a sign of God’s providence in Nature smart. In People smart, we ask some questions about how we can be present with one another in times of suffering and in Self smart we wonder if we could be more present to our own sadness.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence
    • MWD – I think the PEI is People smart. This selection is about a broken relationship between God and Judah. As we mentioned in the show, God is like a parent watching beloved children make a mess of their lives. Since humans were created with the capacity to think and choose, God will not swoop in and fix everything – in actual lives, there is no deus ex machina. God could do so, but this would violate our freedom to decide. Jeremiah is connected to God in a profound way and so shares God’s grief at Judah’s coming destruction. If we understand God’s desire for peace and wholeness, we cannot help but weep with them; for Judah and for people we know who are on the edge themselves.
    • D2 – I also think the PEI is People smart. This is a gut-wrenching passage, especially if you read the earlier part of chapter 8. It’s just pure lament over the broken relationship between God and Judah. The language is all raw emotion, so while the cause of the emotion is interpersonal, the intensity of the emotion and its expression could be interpreted as intra-personal, or Self smart. But mostly, I think it’s people.
  • Smarts – Eye [05:13], Body [06:06], Music [06:55], Nature [08:28], People [09:15], Self [11:50]
  • Jeremiah 8 worksheet   


1 Timothy 2:1-7  [12:35] – Using Word smart, we suggest using the Doxology to illustrate praise. We have a couple ideas to illustrate what we think the author of Timothy is teaching about the effectiveness of prayer. Living a godly life sparked some ideas for Body smart, and in Nature smart we wonder if prayer is like a privacy hedge. Finally, for People and Self smart, the 2016 Presidential Election makes an appearance!

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence
    • MWD – Again, I think the PEI is People smart. The author of Timothy wants us to be in prayer for other people, especially those who are in power. While this is a sentiment we can (usually) get behind, it is also radical advice for the people of the time who were expected to worship Caesar.
    • D2 – Molly makes good case that the PEI is People, but I think there is also an introspective thread here that leads me to say it is Self smart. The second half of verse 2 in particular seems to suggest an inward consideration of motivations for prayer and inward awareness of what is pleasing to God.
  • Smarts – Word [13:47], Eye [15:34], Body [17:38], Nature [18:45], People [19:19], Self [19:53]
  • 1 Timothy 2 worksheet   


Luke 16:1-13  [20:43] – The parable in this passage gives preachers a serious interpretive challenge. What does Jesus mean about making friends with dishonest wealth, anyway? In Word smart, we suggest using the story about Saint Thomas and King Gundafar to illustrate another use of unrighteous mammon. We wonder what the confrontation between the rich man and the steward might have looked in Eye smart. We explore the logic of the passage in Math smart and how Jesus upends the usual view of right use of money. Then we think about a friendly game of badminton in Body smart. For people smart, we wrote a reader’s theater script, and we consider the nature of forgiveness in Self smart.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence
    • MWD – I think the PEI is Self smart. This parable with its ups and downs and surprises leads disciples to consider their own journeys. How do we respond to sudden ill fortune – even that of our own making? How do we use the resources available to us to help others – even if we are only looking to save our own skins?
    • D2 – When the protagonist in the parable finds himself in trouble, he does show some self-awareness that supports Molly’s choice. However, it is his “shrewd” course of action, manipulating people to improve his chances, that leads me to think this is a People smart passage. The manager knows just what to do to get the debtors to think well of him. Jesus then directs the disciples to be shrewd in a similar way.
  • Smarts – Word [23:16], Eye [24:58], Math [25:51], Body [26:43], People [27:23], Self [28:14]
  • Luke 16 worksheet   



… in Jeremiah  


… in 1 Timothy 


… in Luke


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