Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Proper 10, Year B
July 11, 2021
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
The Ark of God is returning to Israel. God is resuming His presence in the midst of the people. This is cause for rejoicing, and one rejoices with feasting and dancing…dancing with all one’s might. David does just that – he dances with all his might, accompanied by singing, shouting and the playing of instruments. Michal, the daughter of Saul, does not rejoice however. She looks upon David in his joy and delight and “despises him in her heart.” Why is this, we wonder? Is she ashamed of his unbridled enthusiasm, thinking his demeanor ought to be more restrained? Or is she jealous for her father Saul’s sake, that he was not able to accomplish the return of the Ark as David had been able to? Did she wish that Saul, instead of David, had been the one to feed the people and once again enable to the presence of God?
Have you ever been so joyful that you want to dance and shout and sing? What would cause such unbridled enthusiasm in you? What do you feel when you see such a good thing happen to someone else?
Psalm 24 is recognition that the Earth was created by God, belongs to God and is the dwelling place of God. Those who are able to ascend to the place where God is and dwell with Him are those who adhere to God’s ways – who keep their hands clean, their hearts pure and their ways honest. Those are the people who will receive a blessing and a reward from God.
Our task now becomes to lift our heads and open wide our gates so that the King of Glory might come in. Who is the King of Glory for you? Where do you see Him dwelling in the world? How pure or honest are you willing to become in order to “ascend the hill of the Lord?”
This selection from the Epistle to the Ephesians is like a hymn of praise to God for the gift of His Son Jesus and for His having chosen us through Jesus to become His children. The pure, holy people that Psalm 24 describes as being able to “ascend the hill of the Lord” are who we are through the grace, the blood and the inheritance of Jesus. We are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit and are promised this belonging through Jesus.
As you go through your day, imagine that the seal of the Holy Spirit is prominently displayed on your forehead. What does that look like? (Artists might be tempted to do a rendering). How does that seal set you apart in this world? Imagine that seal upon the foreheads of others whom God has chosen, including those who are different from you. Can you therefore put those people outside your circle or are you compelled to include them as your brothers and sisters?
Jesus’s name has become very well known. His reputation is gaining momentum, no matter where He goes. Herod has caught wind of Jesus’s popularity and is uncomfortable. Of the many possible explanations given for the manifestation of Jesus’s great power and His mighty deeds, Herod has settled on the resurrection of John the Baptist (whom he had beheaded) as an explanation. He doesn’t accept that Jesus might be Elijah or one of the other prophets. Perhaps Herod feels guilty. John had spoken truth to Herod about Herod’s relationship with Herodias (his brother’s wife). Herod felt guilty then; and Herodias held resentment and a grudge toward John. Prior to his beheading of John, Herod held a special place in his esteem for John. He knew John as a holy and righteous man. He protected him. He liked to listen to him but was perplexed by Him. But in the end he could not protect John from himself and from his much reckless vow. It’s interesting to reflect on how the theme of traps is prevalent in this reading. Herod is trapped by his vow. Herodias is trapped by her resentment. John is perhaps trapped by his commitment to honesty and to his vocation. Or perhaps he is the only one who in the end is free. Herod in the end did not do what he ought to have done. John did, but yes, it did cost him his life.
What traps you? Where are you bound to do things that you would rather not do or to think things you would rather not think? How can you receive the truth in your own life so that you are free?
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.