October 18 – Twentieth after Pentecost

October 18 – Twentieth after Pentecost



Lectionary readings from Vanderbilt Divinity Library online



Job 38:1–7, (34–41)

God’s rebuttal to Job’s complaint.

Psalm 104:1–9, 24, 35c (VU pgs. 826–827 parts 1 and 2)

With Wisdom, God created the earth and all its creatures.

Hebrews 5:1–10

Christ learned obedience and was made perfect.

Mark 10:35–45

James and John request to sit on Jesus’ right and left.


On a flipchart, in dark felt pen, draw a colouring-book style outline of a Pharisee and the tax collector. Pharisees were known for their “obedience to the law.” In bright colours, colour in the picture being careful to colour outside the lines. Draw pictures or symbols of justice, mercy, compassion—elements involved when we break the rules in the name of love. (The picture can either be prepared and placed in the chancel before the service, or coloured in during the sermon as an illustration of the different things you feel God is passionate about.)

With Children

Can you think of a time when one of your parents or grandparents, teacher or caregiver asked you to behave? Obedience is important because it keeps us safe. We learn not to touch a hot stove so we don’t get burned. We learn to hold hands with an adult when we cross the street so we don’t run in front of traffic. Later, as we learn to cross the street on our own, we learn to wait for cars to stop and still to look both ways. God also asks obedience of us. He asked it of Jesus, and Jesus asked it of his disciples.

While it might feel like there are a million rules in life, in the Bible we learn that the most important way that we can behave is to remember God! When we pray, when we tell God our fears and our sadness, when we offer thanks to God for things that are good in our lives, or for people that we love, this is the best way to be obedient to God.

Sermon Starter

This week the texts are about obedience. In Job, God demands recognition of the power of God to create life, the eternal nature of the God who has created all of creation in love, and calls us to obedience in gratitude and praise. The psalm responds to the text from Job with praises and honour to the God who is all-powerful. While the voice of the Holy in the text from Job demands fidelity and respect, the New Testament lessons through the epistles and the Gospel of Mark are much more troubling.

The Hebrews text, which glorifies the suffering Christ on the cross, has long been used by forces in church and society that seek to dominate and oppress, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Feminist theologians Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker, in Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us (Beacon Press), address the question of the oppression of women who face abuse and are told that good Christians must “carry their cross” in obedience as did Jesus. Likewise, much of the triumphalism in Christ’s suffering through obedience, even to the cross, is present in the colonial mindset, which viewed Christendom as “superior,” thereby granting permission to beat into submission or “obedience” anyone who was different. We see this most graphically depicted in the Canadian experience of the Indian Residential Schools, a shameful legacy we all share.

If the focus of these texts is obedience, even to the extreme of the Passion of Christ, then we must ask: what is God’s passion for life today? How do you speak of the passion of God or of holy desire? To what does it refer? What does God desire?


Hebrew Scripture

VU 509            “I, the Lord of sea and sky”

MV 138           “My love colours outside the lines”


MV 135           “Called by earth and sky”


VU 348            “O love, how deep”


VU 601            “The church of Christ”