Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), July 29, 2018 - 2 Samuel 11:1-15 and John 6:1-21

2 Samuel 11:1-15

Checks and Balances

One cannot help but be appalled
At how the king of Israel called
The shots for his own benefit,
E'en to the point that he'd commit
The crimes of treason, rape, and kill -
Because he could? Because with skill
He might avoid the judgment, keep
His winning name, and get off cheap?

It seems top dogs can cheat and lie,
And with impunity defy
The moral life most try to lead.
But here's the thing that they should heed,
Which gives us cause to celebrate:
When kings and other heads of state
Betray the trust of those they lead,
They cannot hide fore'er, indeed.

The truth will always be revealed,
Nefarious deeds ne'er be concealed,
No matter who sits on the throne;
Thus, later, Nathan, with backbone
Called out the king, and said God knew;
And so it always will be true
That those who would attain things right,
Will have, for truth, an appetite.

Scott L. Barton

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.” Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”

+  +  +

John 6:1-21

Jesus Mafa: Jesus Multiplies the Loaves and Fish

Uncrowned King

He would not do the things they thought
Appropriate for one who taught
And healed with such extravagance
They also thought improvident.

You really have to hand it, though,
To Andrew: It was apropos,
He thought, to indicate the boy
Whose food, perhaps, they might deploy?

"But no," - he quickly hedged his bets -
Like Philip, who declared to get
The cash for such a crowd? "No way!" -
But Jesus, cast their doubts away.

They sailed, although the king, uncrowned
Had wandered off to higher ground
Until their need he might assess,
And once again, disciples bless.

Scott L. Barton

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’

 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), July 22, 2018 – Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 and Ephesians 2:11-22

(I'm sorry I have no source for this except

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56


There is no indication that
His followers complained
Of all the work they had to do,
Of all their stress and strain;
It’s Jesus who looked out for them
And bade them turn aside
When hearing all they’d done and taught;
Thus they were fortified –
Not by their break, but by his care.
Thus it will always be
That those who love and then return
To him, in him are free.

Scott L. Barton

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

+  +  +

Ephesians 2:11-22

Good Thing

Sometimes it's hard to remember
That the point of his life and death
Was to unite, not to divide.

If he knew what we do in his name,
He would turn over in his grave.

Good thing for him he's not there.

Scott L. Barton

So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), July 15, 2018 - 2 Samuel 6:1-6, 12b-19 and Mark 6:14-29

Marc Chagall: David Saved by Michal from The Bible (1960)

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19


The text does not think ill of David, 
Dancing in his skivvies;
The crowd with him, all shouting, singing,
Cheer the ark's delivery;
For here's the presence of the LORD,
Who rescued them from slavery;
And now with David as the king,
There's surely cause for revelry.

But why is Michal in this tale,
In window all despising?
Is it his nakedness she chides
In what seems moralizing?
Or would she rather still be wed
To Paltiel, who loved her,
And grieved corrupting earthly power
Left her the one uncovered?

Another time, another window 
Showed the love for him she had,
When David, by her cunning courage,
Fled from Saul, her father, mad;
But time and fortune make their mark,
Til Michal, window dressing,
Would rather that he loved again,
And be, for her, God's blessing.

Scott L. Barton
(See 2 Sam. 3:14-16 for the reference to Paltiel; and 1 Sam. 19:11 for Michal's earlier rescue of David from her father, Saul.; and 2 Sam. 6:20-23 for the conclusion.)

Here's a poem about Michal by the late Thomas John Carlisle, a friend from way back in Northern New York, whose prolific poetry surely helped inspire what I do in these poems each week

And Still I Wonder

And still I wonder
if his bringing me back
was just a power play
to reinforce
his right to the throne
since I was daughter of Saul --
or was there still
a spark of that deep love
he felt for me
and I for him back when
we both were young
and our experience
was meager but so full
of romance and of hope.

Thomas John Carlisle
Eve and After: Old Testament Women in Portrait

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lordhad gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

+  +  +

Mark 6:14-29

Gustave Moreau (1826-1898): The Tattooed Salome

One Wonders Where the Good News Lies

One wonders where the good news lies
When Herod's daughter won the prize
Of John the Baptist's head! I think -
Could Herod have, with less to drink,
Been prone to let John be released,
With words like, "Now desist, and cease
From your disturbing of the peace"?
Or, should we guard what, with caprice,
We swear? - because we might regret,
Like Jepthah, what our boasting gets?
Or does this warn of what will be
When truth to power is decreed?
Presumably, the end of John
Meant Jesus knew he could count on
Our inhumanity to reign
When threats, our better natures, drain.
And so he knew the course he'd take
Would end like John's, but he'd remake
The message -  not brimstone and fire,
But grace that might the world inspire,
So even when his dance would end,
His love, his people would extend.

Scott L. Barton

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), July 8, 2018 - Mark 6:1-13

Jesus Sends the Apostles, Duccio, c.1300

The Sacrament of Failure

"Just who does he think that he is," they all said, 
"This Jesus who does such great deeds, so widespread?"
They took such offense, all these neighbors so shrill,
The chances they had for their healing were nil.

The lesson he gave to his friends was to leave,
Move on, when it's clear good news won't be received;
Not taking your marbles away in a huff,
But trusting God's grace will go on, is enough.

You won't change the world, and not always succeed,
He sent then his friends out to do what good deeds
They could! But when failing, he told them to shake
The dust from their feet, that their spirits not break.

Some call it, of failure, a sacrament, now,
A physical sign that God lives, despite how
We're tempted to think that it's all up to us:
In God's time, not ours, will the whole world be blessed.

Scott L. Barton
(Revised from 2015)

(Leonard Sweet's sermon, "The Sacrament of Failure" has stayed with me since Colgate Rochester Divinity School/BexleyHall/Crozer's commencement service in 1976.)

[Jesus] left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), July 1, 2018 - Psalm 130; Mark 5:21-43

(John Moore/Getty Images)

Psalm 130

Today's Psalm

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice!
Now at our border, tears are daily poured by those who have no choice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
Oh, hear the voices of the children, and their parents' lamentations!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
Do we, O Lord, know just how blessed are we by this great land?
But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
For by your love and care alone, O God, have we been reared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
I will not give up the fight, or throw in the towel just to cope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
I stand with those who cry to you, for in your love for them is my warning, your love for them is my warning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
O America, hope in the Lord! For in our treatment of those whom God loves is our esteem.
It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
And our greatness will spring from all our sympathies.

Scott L. Barton

+  +  +

Mark 5:21-43

Ilya Repin: Raising of Jairus' Daughter (1871)
Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

When Jairus and the Woman Heard

When Jairus and the woman heard
Of Jesus, there was nothing that deterred
Them both from bowing low before the one
Who'd heal where they had come undone.

Who knows where else they'd gone to find
Not only healing, nor just peace of mind,
But someone with the kind of love that saves,
Not that which just attention craves.

This little girl just twelve years old,
This woman, who, for twelve years unconsoled,
This girl, though dead, the Lord not loathe to touch,
This one who touched, and risked so much;

These two reborn, both at twelve years,
Reveal propriety is far less dear
To God than we, called like the Twelve, surmise;
Great grace is always such surprise!

Scott L. Barton

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”

So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), June 24, 2018 - Mark 4:35-41 and 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Rembrandt: Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) 
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Boston, stolen 1990
Two poems, the first on just the Mark text, and the second on both the 1 Samuel and Mark texts. The first poem can be sung as a hymn. There are many D possibilities, but the two I think fit best are Beach Spring and In Babilone.

Even Jesus Used a Pillow

Even Jesus used a pillow;
Maybe someone put it there,
Helped to make his nap more restful,
Knowing all he had to bear.
Noticing, he sidled sternward,
Thinking he might lend a hand,
Tenderly, the head he lifted,
Moved to act with love unplanned.

Soon the wind came up in danger,
Strong the threat to do them in,
"Don't you care?" they soon demanded,
Wet with fear for kith and kin.
Jesus woke, rebuking quickly
Wind, and to the sea, "Be still!"
"Even wind and sea obey him!"
Cried his mates with awe so filled.

Jesus and his pillow bearer
Acted quickly, seeing need,
Empathy's a thing that strikes you,
Voice that calls, with love, you heed!
Lord, compassion never fails you,
May we trust you notice still,
And, when human need next moves us,
May we boldly do your will.

Scott L. Barton
(Frederick Buechner proposed the idea that someone may have been moved to put a pillow under Jesus's head in his page called "Jesus" in Peculiar Treasures, and later in Beyond Words.)

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

 +  +  +

Identifying with Those Once Stirred

Oh, how exciting, these two tales to tell!
The danger and the dialogue propel
Us forward, like a stone that from a sling
Is slung, and soon it all comes to a head!
In story one, Goliath falls down dead,
And we (with Israel's army) cheer and sing
Because in God this David put his trust.
In story two, the waves and blowing gusts -
Which would destroy - are calmed with just a word,
And those who were afraid are filled with awe.
How easily, by such emotions raw,
We can identify with those once stirred
By One who gave such courage to a lad,
Whose word of peace so strong, it makes us glad.

Scott L. Barton

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!” Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them.

Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine. The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

+ + +

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), June 17, 2018 - 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13) 14-17; 1 Samuel 15:34 - 16:13

John August Swanson: Peaceable Kingdom  
Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13) 14-17

Question and Answer

It was the best question
Anyone had asked me
In four call interviews,
Plus two for interims. 
"What's your favorite
Bible verse?" asked Jeff,
The smart P.N.C. chair. 

It didn't take me long. 
"If anyone's in Christ,
There's a new creation. 
The past is finished, gone;
Everything is brand new."
It's what it's all about;
The crux, I think, for Paul.

From nothing God creates
For the sheer love of it. 
Stars flung across the sky,
Womb knitted D.N.A.,
Barren couple have child,
Slaves made a free people,
Nation, exile, return. 

Glad tidings to Zion:
From virgin's womb, God's son;
From desert, a calling,
Fishers, then disciples;
From death, resurrection,
Disarrayed fear, then church;
From oppression, vision. 

In love, it's all brand new;
There's nothing can stop it.
No terror strong enough.
No illness deep enough.
No failure wide enough.
No question hard enough.
This is the crux for me.

Scott L. Barton

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. 

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

+  +  +

1 Samuel 15:34 - 16:13

Synagogue interior wood panel.
Dura Europos, Syria. 
300 B.C.-257 A.D, in current eastern Syria.
Source: Gill/Gillerman slide collection.

When Samuel Sought the Choice of Heaven

The LORD told Samuel not to grieve
When Saul to Yahweh didn't cleave;
Instead, he said, another king
He'd choose from Jesse's male offspring.
To Bethlehem, thus, Samuel came
To see which son the LORD would claim.
From Eliab to number seven
Old Samuel sought the choice of heaven
To be the next anointed one;
But of all those, the Lord chose none.

"Make something of yourself," some say,
As if such making could display
The thing that makes a life worthwhile;
And yet before our work, or style,
Or how we put ourselves to use,
Is something we could ne'er induce
Ourselves - quite simply, that we are!
Such recognition is, by far,
The thing to turn a life around,
And all anxieties confound.

Thus Samuel took his horn of oil,
(Which made, perhaps, the brothers boil)
And witnessed to the faith he knew,
That what we are is not our due,
But outright gift, to me, to you.

Scott L. Barton

Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.