Friday, July 22, 2016

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 31, 2016 - Luke 12:13-31 and Hosea 11:1-11

Rembrandt: Parable of the Rich Fool

The "Gospel" of Prosperity

The gospel of prosperity
Is sold with such sincerity
And has such popularity
Some fail to see disparity
Between the Lord's plain clarity
And self-serving barbarity!
I hope someday posterity
Will love with regularity
And look back with hilarity
At how "they" missed faith's verity.


Scott l. Barton

Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Hosea 11:1-11

The Real "Old Testament God"

I read a review of the Requiem - Verdi's -
Which spoke of the fear of "Old Testament God;"
I think that ubiquitous term is a pity,
"Advanced" as we are, who "that God" could not laud;
A dose of Hosea would do us a favor,
To hear God described as One yearning for love,
Who lifted the children, with tenderness, kissing,
But then, like a parent, got back-handed shoved;
It makes you just ache, which then turns into anger,
But being the lover, God knows how to wait;
And when there is trouble, the child returning,
And needing the things that this God can create,
Then finds this "Old Testament God" such a blessing,
Who roars like a lion protecting the young,
Whose wrath is directed towards all that would keep God
From being the One to whom praises are sung.


Scott L. Barton

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.

They shall return to the land of Egypt,
and Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
The sword rages in their cities,
it consumes their oracle-priests,
and devours because of their schemes.
My people are bent on turning away from me.
To the Most High they call,
but he does not raise them up at all.

How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.

They shall go after the Lord,
who roars like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come
trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria;
and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 24, 2016 - Hosea 1:2-10 and Luke 11:1-13

Hosea and Gomer: codyfmiller.com
Hosea 1:2-10

Recipe

Hosea gets the bright idea
To utter judgment on Judea;
But God's the real drama queen,
Prescribing what I'd not be keen
To do! And yet, he follows through;
And though, when we, by rights, construe,
The children born were other men's,
Hosea proved that love depends
Not on the unjust ills we've known,
But faithful acts in flesh and bone.

Scott L. Barton

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.”

When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God.” Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”


Luke 11:1-13

Ask and Ask

Let's say you need three loaves of bread
Because you did not plan ahead,
And company arrived at night,
Which gave you such an awful fright
Because your job's to be the host!
What will you do?  It seems the most
That you can do is go next door
And once again that friend implore
For what you need!  You've asked before,
But still, you dare, since your rapport
Suggests that when you would persist,
Your friend next door cannot resist!
It seems that he's a family man,
But you've revealed his bigger plan
That all be fed by human love
Which starts, of course, from God above.

If you would in the Spirit bask,
Then for your neighbor dare to ask -
Christ shows God's not for you alone,
So ask, and ask, that love be grown!

Scott L. Barton
(Also at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/07/tenth-sunday-after-pentecost-july-28.html)

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 17, 2016 - Amos 8:1-12 and Luke 10:38-42


Abel Meeropol cited this photograph 
of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith
August 7, 1930, as inspiring his poem, Strange Fruit.
Strange, Summer Fruit

The summer fruit of which the prophet speaks
Reminds me of a powerful critique
By Billie Holiday, about strange fruit,
With blood on the leaves and blood at the root.
And though it's been now close to eighty years,
The bitter crop of which she sang appears
On Facebook feeds and in this summer's news,
Such that, today, the nation sings the blues.

Scott L. Barton

Amos 8:1-12

This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” says the Lord God; “the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!”
Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.
The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.




Luke 10:38-42

Real Freedom

Oh Martha, oh Martha, you're running around,
Distracted, and worried and tense;
And Mary's no help, and the Lord does not care,
He simply wants grace to dispense.
Yes, that is the thing we find so hard to hear,
There's more to do than there are hours!
We cannot keep up; we resent those who don't;
And wish that we had much more power.
But what Jesus means, when to Martha he speaks,
Is, if his disciple you'd be,
You'll trust him 100 per cent with your life;
Receiving: That's when you are free.


Scott L. Barton
(Also at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/07/ninth-sunday-after-pentecost-july-21.html)

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 10, 2016 - Amos 7:(1-6) 7-17 and Luke 10:25-37


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Who's the Crazy One? (Amos 7, but also 8-9)

If you ask me, this shepherd
was inviting his audience to skin him alive,
especially given his X-rated
vision of Amaziah's wife's fate.
But maybe the one who's plumb crazy
is the One who saves the people
from locusts and fire, while pointing 
to the very center, the ruling class,
who are supposed to watch out for everyone.
There are consequences for all
when the needy are trampled on,
and the poor are brought to ruin.
So "Wake up," calls Amos, still.
But read to the end to remember:
The LORD is crazy about his people,
And will not them pass by.

Scott L. Barton


Amos 7

This is what the Lord God showed me: he was forming locusts at the time the latter growth began to sprout (it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings). When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, “O Lord God, forgive, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” The Lord relented concerning this; “It shall not be,” said the Lord. This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord God was calling for a shower of fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said, “O Lord God, cease, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” The Lord relented concerning this; “This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’” And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees,and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ “Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.” Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’”



Luke 10:25-37

A New and Different View of Self

How easily we turn this text
Into the force of law;
We ought to love the robbed, we think,
But where, in that's, the awe?
Let Jesus get into your head
When what you want's prescription,
Imagine you're the one who's robbed -
Would you throw a conniption
When helped by a Samaritan
You never thought would care?
Oh, no!  You'd love the one who just
Your soul and life repaired!
You'd have a new and different view
Of self - for you were saved
By one who rightly couldn't care
If you were in the grave!
I wonder why the Maker of
The earth and heav'n should care
About poor slobs like you and me
Who haven't got a prayer
Until our unsuspecting God,
And neighbor, don't pass by,
And grace, like oil and wine anointing,
Selflessly apply.

Scott L. Barton

(Also posted at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/07/eighth-sunday-after-pentecost-july-14.html)

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 3, 2016 - 2 Kings 5:1-14; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

(Sorry, I can't find where this was published, except in another blog.)

The following poem is based on the 2 Kings text:

Unless You Change and Become Like Children

The unsung girl, unnamed, enslaved,
Ensured that Naaman would be saved
From what oppressed him day and night,
Despite his military might.
She spoke, which then set into motion
What made in Israel a commotion
With first, the king, then Naaman, too,
Who thought Elisha had no clue
About a high and mighty cure - 
Except, the Jordan made him pure,
With skin just like a little boy's!
Which goes to show, it took no poise,
God's healing power to portray,
Since mighty love is child's play.

Scott L. Barton


The next poem, from 2013, (which you can access from the archives to the right or at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/07/seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-july-7.html) is based on both texts:

Our Salvation's Story

We'd love to see the glory of
God's work performed outright;
Thus Naamann scoffed at what
Elisha offered for his plight;
But flashy deeds and fancy baths
Are hardly Yahweh's style,
Instead, a God in whom we trust
Makes grace a thing worthwhile;
And likewise, when the seventy
Were jazzed at their success
At demon-casting-out, since just
The Twelve had been so blessed,
They learned (and so might we) that
Flashy deeds are not God's glory,
But rather knowing that we're loved
Is our salvation's story.

Scott L. Barton

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the  entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

+++

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the  demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (C), June 26, 2016 - 2 Kings 2:1-14 and Luke 9:51-62

Elayne LaPorta: Elijah and the Fiery Chariot
http://elaynelaporta.com/gallery/index.php?main_page
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[Note: The lectionary omits vss. 3-5 in the Elisha passage, but I leave it in because I think it further illustrates Elisha's anxious state of mind. The second poem below is the one for these texts from 2013, also at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/06/sixth-sunday-after-pentecost-june-30.html.]

In the Wake of Orlando, June 12, 2016

Elisha, all tied up in knots
Because of what would be his lot
Without his master, snapped at those
Who seemed to magnify his woes.

And James and John, when Jesus' face
Was set towards danger, then embraced
Their fears, to take it out on those
Who seemed to be their master's foes.

What is it with a righteous zeal, 
That, armed with power, can appeal
To someone who, with bullets hurled,
Thinks he's about to change the world?

If we had world enough, and time,
We'd patiently decry such crimes;
But let us now do all we can
To stop the madness in each man.

For faith says your anxiety
Should never drive your piety.

Scott L. Barton

+  +  +

How Easily in Trouble

Elisha sure was anxious
When his master had to go,
So in the text he snaps at those
Who snidely tell him so;
I think that the disciples found
Themselves in such a boat,
For Jesus to Jerusalem?
His death that did connote;
And so when they felt dissed by those
Who would not let them in,
Their anxious hearts lashed out at such
Outrageous, blatant sin.
How easily in trouble do we
Trouble only see,
But Jesus stays the course of love,
And just says, "Follow me."

Scott L. Barton

2 Kings 2:1-14

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.


Luke 9:51-62

When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (C), June 19, 2016 - Luke 8:26-39 and I Kings 19:1-18



“Be Careful What You Ask For!”

The demons begged he not dismiss
Them back into the deep abyss;
Instead, they asked that they be sent
Into the pigs, where thus, they went,
Except the next they knew, the swine
Plunged off the cliff into the brine!
I picture Jesus, whose wry smile
Previews his Easter laughing style;
While evil, still, he takes to task:
"You, too, watch out for what you ask!"

Scott L. Barton

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.


Mendelssohn's "Elijah," part III
For "Parts I and II," please see previous posts for 2nd and 3rd Sundays after Pentecost, at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-second-sunday-after-pentecost-c-may.html
and
http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-third-sunday-after-pentecost-june-5.html

I had just about had it.
At the end of my rope.
Doubted I could keep going.
"It is enough! O Lord, now take away my life
For I am not better than my fathers."
Thus Elijah sang.
Three recits and an aria to go.
Plus this one, with that long high D sharp towards the end.
Then, worried, I had a brain fart and sang a note too short.
Thought I'd blown it.
Panicked, I wondered what Stanley, conducting, would do.
He just kept smiling, because I'd lengthened the next note
Without realizing it.
Everything was okay!
And we made it through.
Funny how rare it is that all is lost.
But the best line comes next from the chorus:
"Go, return upon thy way,
For the Lord yet hath left Him seven thousand in Israel,
knees which have not bowed to Baal.
Go, return upon thy way!"
I don't know why the lectionary omits it.
Keep it in this week.
Remind yourself, and your people,
That you - and they - are not alone.
When you're ready to throw in the towel
When you're not sure you can keep singing
This faith business, this grace
That may only appear in the still, small silence,
Keep in mind those seven thousand!
And go on your way, in the strength of the Lord.


Scott L. Barton

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the
mount of God.

At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.