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Year C, Ordinary 3 (Epiphany 3), 2019 – Now Hear This!

January 25, 2019 / Molly Douthett / Epiphany, Ordinary Time

Greetings! Welcome back to the show! Three of the four passages this week are about Scripture. In Nehemiah, the people ask for the word to be read to them and are grieved to discover how far their lives are from the ordinances God set down in Moses’ law. The Psalm writer emphasizes the way God’s law is proclaimed even in nature and how glorious and valuable it is. In Luke, Jesus tells his hometown in Nazareth that a prophecy from Isaiah had been fulfilled in their hearing. The passage about the way various body parts fit together is not explicitly about the law, but is a metaphor for the way the word knits us together to witness to the world.

Here is the podcast episode for three years ago: Year C, Ordinary 3, 2016. For a WORD smart project, we put together a combined reading of Nehemiah 8 and Luke 4. We used this for our snowbound sermon later that week when we got 36 inches of snow and cancelled worship.


Smarts of the Week [01:59]

We take a few minutes to talk about our two smarts of the week in the episode, and here you can download our worksheets for each of them.


This week’s texts:

Luke 4:14-21 – [04:21]

We’re starting with the Gospel again this week with EYE smart. David was struck by Jesus’ proclamation that the hope for the Messiah has been realized at that moment in time which got him to thinking about age progression images. The idea of messiah had been in peoples’ minds for generations and now Jesus is saying, “Here he is, in front of you.” For a special effect, bring in some pictures of you that show your own age progression.

In WORD smart, think about what Jesus left off at the end of the Isaiah passage. He did not read the line about the day of vengeance of the Lord. For people familiar with the passage, that would be like hearing a well known song or speech right up to the last stanza or sentence – and that’s it! No wonder the congregation was looking at him, they probably wondered what was wrong. Three years ago, we were taken with the idea that the verb for “fulfilled” in Greek is the perfect tense, which has some interesting implications for the finality of Jesus’ action in Nazareth.

  • EYE smart – [05:57]
  • WORD smart – [11:29]
    • Some synonym substitutions for familiar words

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a – [15:55]

David thinks using a puzzle is a good EYE smart way to demonstrate Paul’s argument for unity in this passage. If you can find one that has unique pieces or at least pieces that are not too similar, use this to show how each piece fits with all the others to make a whole.

The unity of diverse components is Paul’s point. The metaphor of the body is a very good one and is likely why it has persisted. Yet, there are other options, and using another metaphor will spark WORD smart people


Psalm 19 – [22:07]

WORD and EYE smart frequently cross paths, so as the Psalm is read, encourage your congregation to think of the places where Scripture is read. Use the images in the Psalm to stimulate imaginations and be certain to expand the “space” to all of creation.

Fred Craddock writes that the Psalm has three movements that begin with the heavens singing God’s praises. It moves to a song of praise for the law, and it ends with how the word echoes deep within us and informs our living. We have two quotes about the way nature writes and speaks praise to the Creator. I am intrigued by a special effect idea involving honey sticks!


Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 – [29:21]

Nehemiah read the law of Moses on a raised platform built for the purpose. The image of someone publicly reading Scripture made David think of an annual event that happens next to our county courthouse. Another way to illustrate a public reading of the Word would be to help your congregation visualize an arena or theater where the reading happens.

For WORD smart, understanding what has been read is a key part of the story. Illustrate this with the sudden “ah HA” experience of solving a puzzle or riddle. Comprehension is important and can be illustrated in the negative with Amelia Bedelia’s antics; she was far too literal a thinker to understand the idioms Mrs. Rogers used for household tasks. For a special effect, read a letter from someone who is grateful for what your congregation has done for them.


Image credit: Photo by Melany Rochester on Unsplash. Used by permission.

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