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Year C, Ordinary 6 (Epiphany 6), 2019 – Go? No Go?

February 15, 2019 / Molly Douthett / Epiphany, Ordinary Time

Word came today that the Mars Opportunity Rover has gone irretrievably silent. The science robot’s life of discovery is impressive considering it was supposed to be active for only about 90 days and “lived” instead almost 15 years since 2004. Opportunity may have endured even longer had it’s solar panels not been obscured by a massive dust storm this past summer that powered down it’s processors. Unable to reboot it, NASA pulled the plug. The decision was – depending on who reports it – easy and difficult. It was easy because the rover had gone dark, and efforts to reboot were entirely unsuccessful. It was also a little difficult because “Oppy” had become such a valuable asset to science discovery and had worked far beyond expectations. The yes-or-no decisions that NASA makes may seem to be of little consequence to a life of faith, but I beg to differ. We may not be making yes-or-no decisions about a machine millions of miles away, but every day, we decide if we will live for God in obedience to God’s intention – or not. The consequences of these decisions have immediate impact and far reaching effects.


Smarts of the Week [01:58]

This week, we concentrate on illustrations and special effects using SELF and PEOPLE smart. You can read more about these intelligences at the link to Dr. Gardner’s work in the upper right of the webpage. You can download our worksheets right here. And they’re free!


This Week’s Texts:

Luke 6:17-26 – [06:34]

For SELF smart, I was struck by the phrase Jesus “came down” to be with the people on a “level place.” It made me think of the ways that adults, when conversing with children, will kneel or squat so as to be on an even line of sight. As a child, when an adult does this, you know that the larger person is taking you seriously and it boosts self confidence. Jesus’ incarnation means God takes us seriously; hopefully, we can live with confidence because of this! For special effects, make use of sticky notes and interjections.

In PEOPLE smart, the large crowds surrounding Jesus are similar to the large crowds that turn out whenever Doctors Without Borders or Operation Smile come to a community. For a special effect, exhibit photographs of people that fit the categories Jesus refers to, keeping in mind that each category can be found in a range of human diversity. Invite your congregation to discuss which pictures most moved them and why.


1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – [18:01]

Paul is trying to understand why the Corinthians would doubt the resurrection. For a PEOPLE smart illustration, compare Paul’s confusion to someone trying to understand why anyone would believe the earth is flat. For Paul, the evidence of the resurrection is undeniable and provides the basis for hope.

In SELF smart, we look at how hope is more than just crossing our fingers and waiting to see what happens. Hope is a cognitive state that creates a mood that guides a person’s life choices. We have some links to how hope can affect the perception of pain and how we can learn to diminish negative experiences by rehearsing positive ones.

  • PEOPLE smart – [19:26]
  • SELF smart – [25:10]
    • The Power of Hope and Recognizing When It’s Hopeless, Psychology Today, 2011
    • A placebo is a good example of a hopeful outcome.
    • “A Simple Trick to Improve Positive Thinking” – TED Talk

Psalm 1 – [30:00]

The Psalmist sets up a dichotomy between those who follow and delight in the Lord’s law and those who follow their own leadings and scoff at others. I was curious about the Hebrew word for “scoff” and discovered it can also be translated as “scorn.” This word seems more visceral and suggests a more virulent and toxic level of looking at the other. The special effect for this passage borrows from NATURE smart, but allows for a lot of self-reflection.

In PEOPLE smart, scoffers and scorners may be illustrated by those individuals who made some really poor decisions based on their own wisdom and suffered for it. David has some links to the Darwin Awards; people whose decisions have eliminated their genes from the pool. For a special effect, break into small groups and discuss times when someone gave some really bad advice.


Jeremiah 17:5-10 – [38:57]

Jeremiah also sets up a dichotomy, similar to the psalm, and to illustrate it in PEOPLE smart, David suggests using some comparison commercials. Of course, these commercials are selling a product, but it could be fun to use the over the top narration and video effects to talk about how we choose to live our lives in obedience to God.

For SELF smart, I went looking for the Hebrew again and discovered that the “deceitful” and “perverse” heart may be a heart that has been “tracked by footprints. This is a very evocative image; whose tracks are they? When did this happen? What has been done to the heart because of it? What can be done to counteract the effect? Hand out some heart shaped stickers or candy hearts for people to use as a way to reflect on their own hearts.


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Used by permission.

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