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Year C, Ordinary 33, 2016 – The End! (Or Is It?)

November 7, 2016 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Greetings!! Welcome to More Than Hearing! We have made it – one whole year of the lectionary cycle – with a couple skips here and there due to life catching up to us. Whoot! When we started this project a year ago, we had no idea how much fun or work it would be. We both think that our preaching has been energized by these ideas, and we truly hope that you have given one or two of them a spin for your own preaching or leadership. This week is the final Sunday in the ordinary lectionary; next week is the culmination of the year – Chris the King. This Sunday, we are wrapping up with some evocative texts about “the end.” Malachi sees a bright burning sun dawning, bringing healing to the people. Paul is doing his best to redirect a misapplied understanding of Jesus’ coming again to the fellowship in Thessalonica. And Luke presents his version of the Little Apocalypse. All three texts see God in action in the history of time – they also see that time fulfilled, filled with industrious people, and a fulfillment of promises made a long time ago.

This week’s texts are:  

Malachi 4:1-6 [01:59]  – The day of the Lord is coming says Malachi. While there is warning about the powerful havoc this day will bring on those who are evil doers, the aftermath of that day will bring hope for the people who have remained steadfast in their trust.  We look at how the rising sun portrays stupendous, magnificent power in Eye smart. Now that we have astrophotography that our ancient ancestors lacked, we can see some spectacular images of Sol! The burning that is promised in the first verses provides some ideas for Body smart illustrations and special effects. For Music smart, we have Handel’s Messiah, the third verse of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, and a poetic form of the passage written by David as illustrations. We have many illustrations and special effects suggestions for Nature smart. We look at old advertisements in People smart and wonder what the healing in God’s wings would look like in Self smart.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [03:10] –

{MWD} – Nature:  Chapter four begins with intense images of judgement fire and uprooting evildoers like a field that has been slashed and burned or left in ruins after a natural upheaval. It continues with images of the sun rising on a new day and the people being let out like cattle being loosed from their stalls. The ashes of the wicked will be trampled underfoot. I think Nature smart is all over this passage and is a fantastic way to talk about how destruction and hope are near neighbors.

{D2} – Nature:  Pretty much what Molly said!

  • Smarts – Eye – [04:20], Body – [05:18], Music – [06:36], Nature – [07:42], People – [10:10], Self – [11:41]
  • Malachi worksheet   


2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 [12:20] – As we began looking at this passage in depth, we saw how it could be used in a way that brings harm to brothers and sisters who are in financial straits and may be struggling to feed themselves and their families. There is no social commentary about nutrition programs in these verses; in fact, these verses are aimed at a specific group of believers in a specific time. This is not to say we cannot have theological discussion about the role of government and hunger programs, but these verses do not apply. That being said, we look at the Greek form of the verb “work” and have some fun with an English noun in Word smart. In Eye smart, we wonder where places of work and rest differ and how. We do not have an illustration for Math smart, but think the logic of interpretation has a home here. In Body smart, we wonder how our work ethic effects our bodies and the Body of Christ. David has a limerick in Music smart and in People smart, we consider just who the “idlers” are in this letter. Finally, in Self smart, we ask how we may be a good example of faithful living as Paul was for the Thessalonians.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [13:49] –

{MWD} – People:  I went with People smart for the Primary Expressed Intelligence because of the interpersonal relationships Paul is addressing in the passage and how we as congregations and disciples can learn from this situation. In the previous chapter, there were people in the area or even in the fellowship who were stirring up trouble by hinting to the Thessalonians that they had missed the coming of Jesus. Nice, guys. Paul addresses this misunderstanding, but the Parousia still seems to be on the mind of some in the group. The ethos seems to be that because Jesus is returning soon, why bother working? But he has been delayed long enough that people still need to eat. Do you see the dilemma? Let those who work, eat.

{D2} – People:  Again, I agree with Molly. Paul is working to shape the practical theology of the Thessalonian congregation, that is how their beliefs shape their actions. That takes some interpersonal skill and promotes healthy interpersonal relationships. Any People smart folk will pick that up quickly and feel at home, I think.

  • Smarts – Word – [14:13], Eye – [15:15], Body – [15:34], Music – [17:08], Nature – [17:39], People – [18:25], Self – [20:18]
  • 2 Thessalonians 3 worksheet   


Luke 21:5-19 [20:36] – The Day of the Lord is an ambiguous topic upon which to preach. It can be and has been used as behavior modification in sometimes manipulative and destructive ways. Yet, it is also a day filled with hope and the promise of God’s presence with God’s people. There has always been an element of judgement to it, hence the destruction both to those who are evildoers and those who are perceived to be such. But for those who endure, the dawning day will be glorious. Jesus is well steeped in the mythos of The End – he knows the Book of Daniel. But he is in touch with God’s mercy and grace and encourages disciples to hold on to that dimension of God’s character. We look at some words Jesus uses about that day in Word smart; we suggest a poster for a special effect in Eye smart; and in Math smart, we have an illustration about preparing for debates. In Body smart, we look at pursuit, and in Music smart, we suggest a favorite children’s song. In Nature smart, we wonder how a different preposition lends a sense of history to the passage. In People smart, we spend some time with Jesus’ advice to remain firm and not be led astray. Finally, in Self smart we suggest thinking about Jesus as the best defense attorney ever.

  • Primary Expressed Intelligence [22:18] –

{MWD} – Self:  Jesus tells his disciples to disarm themselves if they are pressed into defending themselves. I remember reading this as a child and thinking that Jesus was telling me I would only need to open my mouth, and he himself would speak through me. I found that a bit disturbing – I did not really want to be taken over like that. Now, I understand that Jesus is saying to me, “Know me and my ways so well, be so deeply attached to my Spirit, that if you ever find yourself needing to defend your trust in me, the only thing you would need to talk about is how I have made a difference in your life.” I like that idea a whole lot more!

{D2} – Self:  While the passage is about geopolitical, global, and even cosmic upheaval, it seems most to resonate inside one’s own heart and mind. What will become of me? How will I make it through the end? Jesus, like any good mentor, is giving the disciples an honest view of the trouble to come and a list of the tools and resources they have within them to succeed. (I’m thinking of Yoda telling Luke to mind what he has learned, that save him it can, in Star Wars: Episode V.) Jesus is building their inner confidence so they will be strong enough in their spirits to endure to the end.

  • Smarts – Word – [22:55], Eye – [24:02], Math – [25:03], Body – [25:35], Music – [26:08], Nature – [26:18], People – [27:19], Self – [30:32]
  • Luke 21 worksheet   



… in Malachi 


… in 2 Thessalonians 3

  • After Work by John Maloney
  • A limerick about this passage, by David:

There once was a Christian named Fran,

Who believed Judgment Day was at hand.

She gave up on work

And was sort of a jerk.

That’s what the Apostle would ban!


… in Luke 21


Image credit: Copyright: hydognik / 123RF Stock Photo


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