Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 26, 2018 - Ephesians 6:10-20 and 1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43

Ephesians 6:10-20 

Fashion Statement

Belt of truth +
Breastplate of righteousness +
Shoes for gospel-of-peace-proclaiming +
Shield of faith +
Helmet of salvation +
Sword of the Spirit =
The whole armor of God.

Put it on to fashion something,
To make a difference,
To build a community,
To produce something worthwhile,
To induce hope in your neighbor,
To construct kingdom of God conditions -
For you, yourself, are wonderfully made.

Don't  keep it under your hat.

Scott L. Barton

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

+  +  +

 1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43

Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication for the Temple
Cathedrale d’Amiens, 1220-1240

Hymn: By Love We Show
(New Policy Statement in a Prayer)
(In Christ There Is No East or West)

A cloud came from that holy place,
The priests there could not stand;
The glory of the Lord replaced
Their ministry, well-planned.

The king, God's promises retold
To Yahweh in his prayer,
Rememb'ring, though, no one controlled
God's how, or when, or where.
Thus Solomon, in royal plea,
Grace to the world declared,
That everyone some day might see
The news which must be shared.

O Lord, the time, we do not know,
When peace will be at hand;
But yours the name by love we show,
And by your power we stand.

Scott L. Barton

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive. “Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 19, 2018 - 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 and John 6:51-58

John 6:51-58

Kind of Disturbed By Some of These Scriptures

No doubt, few Protestants believe -
Perhaps, e'en Catholics can't conceive -
How, when they take the sacrament
That flesh and blood from heaven's sent.
The Zwinglians said, "Represents;"
The Calvinists gave their assent
To "action parallel" that brought
The life of Christ that they all sought.
But in our formulas and prayers,
I wonder if we tend to scare
Some people from the church's news;
Instead of celebrating, bruise.

Perhaps the cart's before the horse.
Here, Jesus did not speak, of course,
Of bread and wine that we partake
Which therefore would our lives remake.
Instead, he bids us to be fed
By him, who Love raised from the dead;
If he's our newsfeed, and our food,
We never on his death should brood,
But know that living as he did
Is what he means, when we are bid
To drink his blood and eat his flesh,
For then his life will ours refresh.

Let not these words make you disturbed;
Partake the life he led, superb.

Scott L. Barton

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

+  +  +

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 and John 6:51-58

 William Blake: The Judgment of Solomon

Way to Pray

I think that we could learn a thing or two,
Consid'ring Solomon, whose point of view -
After he gets established on the throne -
Revolves around not if he'll be o'erthrown,
But if with wisdom over all he'll rule.
He prays. He asks for help.
                                              Is it now cool
To pray this way today? That we might serve?
Or do our prayers just serve to calm our nerves?

When Jesus so bizarrely talks of eating flesh that's bread,
He wisely knows that living in his way, is how we're fed.

Scott L. Barton

Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established. Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

+ + +

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Bonus Poem: What to Give

What to Give

I do not like Fox News one bit,
In fact, I think they're full of... lies;
And if you ask why they exist:
Self-righteousness, the truth defies.

But to Fox News I'd never give
The finger when I disagreed
With what reporters write and say,
Thus, my humanity concede.

So let us not the anger take,
Of neighbors caught up to berate,
But boldly speak the truth, that love
For country someday drowns out hate.

Scott L. Barton

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 12, 2018 - Ephesians 4:25-5:2 and 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Make America Kind Again

The author says to let no evil talk
Come from our mouths, but only what would then build up the whole;
In other words, what's useful - not for self,
But always what is good for every neighbor is the goal.

These days, I think we need a healthy dose 
Of these Ephesians verses all across the public square;
Let's start with all who follow Christ, and then, 
Evangelizing by our talk, our country's life repair. 

Scott L. Barton

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

+  +  +

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Marc Chagall:
David Weeps for Absalom

Five Times

Five times he calls his son.
Five times he names the one
About whom he had spake:
"Deal gently for my sake
With the young man." But he
Died hanging from a tree,
The forest something like
God's will; although the strike
From Joab's men ensured
The kingdom be secured.

Thus David's grief, not brief,
Becomes the new motif
Describing David, king,
Who, living, felt the sting
Of judgment, self-declared,
Though shepherd king was spared.
He knows that Yahweh's choice
Now calls him to rejoice,
Since chosen from above
Means love,

Scott L. Barton

The king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom. So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. The men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.

Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him. Then the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, “Good tidings for my lord the king! For the Lord has vindicated you this day, delivering you from the power of all who rose up against you.” The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.” The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

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.

+  +  +

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.”

+  +  +

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 http://www.progressiveinvolvement.com/progressive_involvement/2012/07/lectionary-blogging-mark-6-1-13.html)

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.