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Year C, Ordinary 32, 2016 – Shake It Up!

October 31, 2016 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Greetings!! Welcome to More Than Hearing! The lectionary readings for this episode center around the end of things. In the Old Testament, Haggai is calling for an end to languishing and moping. In Thessalonians, Paul gives some instructions about what will happen before Jesus returns. In Luke, the Sadducees pose a question about the resurrection – which they think is ludicrous – in order to trap Jesus. In all three readings, order has been disordered and people are either in despair or confusion as a result. But God (and the Good News always starts that way!) has other plans and will shake things up once again and bring about something new. We are to stand firm and watch and witness to God’s movement in history.

This week’s texts are:  

Haggai 1:15b – 2:9 [02:00]  – In this passage, the word of the Lord comes to Haggai who is sent to officials living in Judah after the exile. Haggai begins his message by pointing to the Temple, which is a struggling rebuilding project, and asking the people who were old enough to see it in its glory days to remember what it looked like. We offer some illustrations and special effects in Eye smart that parallel Haggai’s question. The work is challenging; material and personnel are lacking, people know the rebuilt Temple will never hold a candle to Solomon’s glorious offering, and they are still attempting to get used to living in this strange land called home. In Math smart, Word smart, and Body smart, we look at how God’s promise to be with the people makes a difference. Verse 6, where God promises to once again shake the earth, makes an appearance in Handel’s Messiah, which we recommend for Music smart. In Nature smart, we look at that shaking and God’s intention to bring blessings out of it. We have an idea for a special effect that demonstrates this. In People and Self smart, we wonder how holy, magnificent spaces affect our worship experience, especially when they are damaged.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [03:25] –

{MWD} – Eye:  In my first reading of this passage, when Haggai tells the people to look at the mound of rubble that used to be the Temple and remember its glory, I found this rather cruel. For those who could remember, to see what had become of it must have been heartbreaking. They may have seen it go down, or they may have only heard about its destruction. It’s like going back to a house or a loved building after a fire or flood; you just stand there in shock and grieve what was lost. Yet, time does not wait for excessive mourning; it keeps on keeping on, and we eventually need to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Looking at pictures of crumbled buildings allows us opportunity to mourn what was, thank God for the past, and find resolve to move on. Haggai’s promise in verse four gives us a vision to see what can be in the midst of what is.

{D2} – Eye: All the focus here is on the sense of sacred space that the Temple, old and new, represented. Those high ceilings and long rooms, the artwork and artifacts, whether covered in gold as in the first temple or raw and waiting for adornment in the second, created the place where people experienced the covenant of God and the God of the covenant. And, whether remembering its former glory, grieving over its miserable rebuilt condition, or imagining a glory yet to come, it is the visual intelligence that switches on here.

  • Smarts – Word – [04:17], Eye – [05:00], Math – [06:10], Body – [06:59], Music – [07:42], Nature – [08:35], People – [10:05], Self – [11:20]
  • Haggai worksheet   


2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 [11:55] – For people who look for recipes for predicting the Last Days, I imagine these verses from Paul’s letter are found among others in their apocalyptic pantries. If ever there is a need to understand context in order not to confuse a different time and place with our own, this passage is it!  Rather than letting the Thessalonians be thrown off by those who have told them the day of the Lord has already happened, Paul encourages them to remain firm and live sanctified lives, which we examine in Nature and Word smart, respectively. Paul warns them not to be deceived, and in Eye smart we suggest using magic tricks as an illustration. Fear about what is coming next can be devastating to the health of the body, both personal and corporate, which we address in Body, People, and Self smart. We have a hymn suggestion for Music smart.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [13:26] –

{MWD} – Nature:  I think Paul’s insistence that the Thessalonians stay grounded in Jesus is the key to remaining calm in face of eschatological panic. Nature smart has plenty of illustrations to demonstrate being grounded or rooted that track very well with rooting ourselves in the promises God made in Jesus’ resurrection. For me, starting with the roots and working our way up is a good way to get into this passage.   

{D2} – People: The Apostle has a keen sense of interpersonal relationships that, even across many miles and months, allows him to pinpoint many of the problems that are plaguing the Thessalonian church. He then tries to impart some of that innate wisdom to the flock, encouraging them not to be drawn off by misinformation but instead to remain firm in what they had first learned from Paul and company. So I think this is a People smart passage.

  • Smarts – Word – [13:57], Eye – [14:32], Body – [16:10], Music – [16:43], Nature – [16:50], People – [18:12], Self – [19:16]
  • 2 Thessalonians 2 worksheet   


Luke 20:27-38 [21:37] – In this week’s Gospel passage, Jesus has entered Jerusalem. Since we know the larger story, we understand that his ministry is almost complete. But inside the story, he still attracts the attention of opponents. Since they are all now in one place, the Sadducees approach him in order to discredit him. The Sadducees are strict adherents to the Law of Moses and Torah and do not trust the new fangled theology that has come out of exile and five hundred years of rebuilding the people of God. One of those new ideas is resurrection, which we investigate in Word, Eye, Math, Body, Nature, People, and Self smart illustrations. In Torah, death is death and one lives on afterwards through the sons (and daughters) one leaves behind. To that end, a man is beholden to produce heirs for a brother who should die without a male heir. Keeping all that in mind, the Sadducees ask Jesus a thorny thicket of the thickest relationship question ever, knowing he will not be able to answer it to their satisfaction. Or will he?

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [23:26] –

{MWD} – Math:  This is the last time a group of officials attempt to trap Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. If his opponents had faster communication platforms back in those days, the Sadducees might have had a different question ready for him, because surely someone would have tweeted about Lazarus in Bethany. As it was, they had their assumptions about how life after death operates, and there was no shifting them off that logic. Thinking they had a rock solid case, I imagine their surprise when Jesus demolishes it using their own Scripture against them.

{D2} – Math: We’re going for the Logical intelligence here more than the numbers part. As Molly has pointed out, the Sadducees were working from a preset conclusion when they present Jesus with this doozy of a logic problem. One can imagine them sitting up late the night before working on this test question, rolling it around every way they could think of, each of them taking a turn to poke holes in it, until they had what they were sure was the ultimate trick question. The problem, of course, was that they were challenging the LOGOS, the Word, the Logic of the Cosmos their puny rhetoric. Jesus easily points out the flaw in their premise, collapsing their house of cards. Good debaters know how to think like their opponents in order to outdo them in logic. Anyone who is Math smart will appreciate this passage.

  • Smarts – Word – [23:50], Eye – [24:56], Math – [25:48], Body – [29:11], Nature – [29:58], People – [30:17], Self – [31:29]
  • Luke 20 worksheet   



… in Haggai  

… in 2 Thessalonians 2

… in Luke 20


Image credit: Copyright: damedeeso, 123RF Stock Photo


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