Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 5, 2018 - John 6:24-35 and 2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:13a

John 6:24-35

Photo by Eric Enstrom, 1918, colorized by his daughter, Rhoda Nyberg (d. 2012)
Designated the official picture of the state of Minnesota in 2002

Food and Drink

It did not cross the people's minds
That Jesus could have walked across the sea;
But way back as an infant born,
The wise men had gone home another way.
Thus, what it means to follow him
Is from assumptions you would fain be free;
And trust the very love of God
Which is your food and drink both night and day.

Scott L. Barton

So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

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2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:13a

Rembrandt: Nathan Admonishing David (c. 1652-53), 
The Clark, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Less Sheepish

"The man who's done this ought to die!"
Thus David, his own sin, espied,
Just as he'd watched Bathsheba bathe,
Her beauty such, he could not breathe
Until he had her! Now, he learned
The tendency of power to yearn
For more and more, despite the score
That Nathan told, of gifts all poured
From Yahweh to his chosen king!
And David saw that there's one thing
You cannot do, and that is pull
Over the good LORD's eyes the wool.
And yet, the sentence he declared
For one like him who had so erred,
The LORD refused to carry out -
Less sheepish being grace than doubt.

Scott L. Barton

When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.

But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD, and the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’

 Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the LORD; I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’ David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan said to David, ‘Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.’

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.