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Year C, Ordinary 28, 2016 – Grounded

October 5, 2016 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Hey all! Welcome back to More Than Hearing! We have some interesting ideas for the passages for this coming Sunday. In the Old Testament, Jeremiah sends a letter to the leaders and priests and exiles recently carried off into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah’s letter encourages the people to learn to live in the new place in which they find themselves. In a way, God has grounded them. “You sit there and think about what you’ve done,” might be what God tells them. Yet, at the same time, God expects them to become grounded – this is their new home and will be for a while. Make the best of it and pray for your captors. In the Epistle, Paul tells Timothy to stay grounded in Jesus’ resurrection and his understanding of its power. In the Gospel,  Luke shows disciples that to be grounded in Jesus’ authority and grace means they will need to learn to respond appropriately to their new experiences, just like their ancestors in Babylon.


This week’s texts are: 

Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7 [02:00]  – I am amazed that the letter Jeremiah sent to the exiles was not a big, fat TOLD YOU SO or any other type of correspondence that pointed out to them that if they had only listened to him they would still be home. At any rate, here they are, and God’s word to them is to settle down into the land, because their time there would be long. In Eye Smart, we consider their displacement by imagining what the ancient city of Babylon looked like, and wonder what places we give sacred meaning to. Jeremiah’s letter comes from a long distance and goes right to the heart of the exiles’ existence, so in Math Smart we suggest using parabolas and Nerf guns to illustrate that. The exile was not going to be diverted, much like raging flood waters which we offer in Nature Smart. In People and Self Smart, we suggest some questions about God’s intention in exile that you and your congregation may work through together.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [03:18] –

{MWD} People/Self – I think this passage is most readily entered into through People and Self Smart. The entire book of Jeremiah is a long slow dance of call, challenge, promise, warning, and God’s intention for God’s people. We know how it all works out; we know the steps and the music and rhythm but even knowing it, we still feel the devastation and grief of people losing everything. Maybe we can feel it so well because we have seen so much of it coming out of Syria in recent years or other places in the world where large numbers of people find themselves on the other side of disaster. Using inter- and intra-personal cues, preachers and worship leaders can place congregations in the dusty shoes of ancient and contemporary refugees.  

{D2} Eye/Spatial – At the heart of this passage is the sense of space for Jeremiah’s audience. They are made aware – probably painfully aware – that they are far from their homeland, and that where they are is where they are going to stay. It only makes it more acute for them that this message comes from Jerusalem, the space they want to inhabit but cannot.

  • Smarts – Eye [04:19], Math [06:04], Nature [07:40], People [08:54], Self [09:34]
  • Jeremiah 29 worksheet   


2 Timothy 2:8-15 [10:42] – The last two verses of the passage gave us some ideas how to use Word Smart. Plus, there is a chiastic poem right in the middle which serves both Word and Math Smart. Paul reminds Timothy about the power of Jesus’ resurrection and we look at this in Eye Smart. In People Smart, we link to a method of active listening and encourage you to take some time to try it with your congregation. Risky, but worth it if people can learn to be vulnerable, trust each other, and commit to trying. And in Self Smart, we have some questions for you and your people asking you to put yourselves in Paul and Timothy’s place.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [12:19] –

{MWD} Word – I realize that it is a bit too easy to suggest Word Smart is the most readily accessible intelligence for a letter, but Paul himself gives some reasons why, too! At the end of this passage, he encourages Timothy to guard against a mis-use of words and to use his own words well. We would also be wise to heed this advice; to cut gossip off and refuse to entertain whispers and innuendo in our fellowship, in our lives, and in our culture. In addition, we cannot build up the kingdom unless we can connect with hearts and imaginations of people looking for a meaningful home.  

{D2}  Math/Logic – Maybe it’s more rhythm than Logic, but the passage has an internal structure that both reinforces the message and has a sense of poetry. Paul writes to Timothy first to remember Christ, then about his behavior and commitment as an apostle. Later he tells Timothy to remind others of Christ, then to behave honorably and live with utter commitment as a servant of the gospel. That parallelism, plus the repeated parallels in the poetic middle section, seem to me to reinforce the logic of the message – be faithful to Christ, no matter what.

(By the way,  “Rhyme scheme” for vss. 11b-13, the poetic middle, looks like this to me:

A => A’, B => B’, C => C, D => (-D)

we A => we A’, we B => we B’, we C => he C, we D => he (-D)

  • Smarts – Word [13:04], Eye [15:43], People [16:39], Self [17:26]
  • 2 Timothy 2 worksheet   


Luke 17: 11-19 [17:47] – Some stories in Scripture can honestly make interpreters scratch their heads, wondering why the story is there and why the characters act as they do. Usually, the confusion can be laid at the feet of losing meaning in translation – both language and context. I think this passage is a good example of that. We read that Jesus healed ten lepers and only one said “Thank you.” Isn’t that what you were taught in Sunday School? Be sure to say Thank You to Jesus, children! Not that this isn’t a valuable lesson, but there is so much more to it! In Word Smart, we look at Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem as a literary hero and ask preachers to make a distinction among three words that could open some interesting interpretive doors. In Eye/Spatial Smart, we think about where this story takes place – between two regions and near the site of another healing long ago. David found a statistical anomaly that we use in Math Smart, and we suggest the physical acts of reaching up in praise and bowing down in thanks for Body Smart. The lepers cry out MERCY, and so we have a few Music Smart offerings for Kyrie Eleison. We encourage you to put your congregation into the place of the ten lepers in People Smart and then into the place of the tenth leper in Self Smart. Ask them, why go to the priests?

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [18:51] –

{MWD} Music – I will admit to pushing this as the Primary Intelligence a bit mostly because I love music. But, I also think that by singing and listening to Kyrie Eleison, we have a different ear open for the Spirit. The three clips below offer very different versions; the first is Gregorian chants, the second is a more folk or pop version and the third will blow your speakers out if you are not careful. If you do not find any of these helpful or appropriate, please go to YouTube and do a search. You may even want to look for music that is not specifically using the word “kyrie elesion” but have a sound or feeling about them that express longing and hope. You can never go wrong with music, in my opinion!

{D2}  Self – The dynamics of this passage seem to me to be primarily internal. The lepers, isolated from their communities and desperately aware of their own suffering, beg for mercy from Jesus. The realization of being cleansed must have had tremendous internal impact on each of the ten, and each had to decide what to do next. The Samaritan chose to show his gratitude. Jesus also showed us some of his internal work — surprise that only 1/10 of his work got any acknowledgment. The story holds up a mirror for us to consider which path we would have chosen.

  • Smarts – Word [19:30], Eye [20:48], Math [22:05], Body [23:32], Music [24:09], People [24:44], Self [26:09]
  • Luke 17 worksheet   



… in Jeremiah 29  


… in 2 Timothy


… in Luke 17



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