Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Proper 11, Year B
July 18, 2021
2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Until now the LORD has been an itinerant God, moving among the people in a tent and a tabernacle. He has not put down roots. At first glance, it seems like the lack of God’s rootedness is because no one has built Him a more permanent dwelling, as if God is somehow dependent on human hospitality. David seeks to remedy this situation and vows not to rest until he has built a dwelling place for the LORD. But God seems content to wander with His people. He wants to be the one in charge of when His dwelling place will get built and how. Through the prophet Nathan, he speaks to David and promises the following:
- He will appoint a place for Israel and plant them there.
- Enemies will no longer disturb Israel.
- Evildoers shall no longer afflict Israel.
- God will give David rest.
- The LORD will make David a house, not the other way around.
- The LORD will provide David with offspring who will become God’s house.
We are not in control of where God dwells. Even though we build lovely cathedrals and temples as houses for God, God is the One who chooses where He dwells. Sometimes He chooses to wander with the people. Always He is the one providing rest and shelter for the people.
Do you try to control where God dwells in your life? Do you afford Him space in some part of your life while denying Him access to others? Do you want Him to stay put or can He wander with you through your life? Is God building a house for you? Are you providing a dwelling place for God?
This is a psalm of promise – of God’s abiding faithfulness to David.
- God will provide protection from enemies and wickedness.
- God’s faithfulness and love will never be revoked.
- With God, there exists a Father/Son relationship that will never be compromised.
- God’s dominion is vast —“from the Great Sea to the river.”
- God’s connection to David is irrevocable (David’s children might be punished if they forsake God, but God’s connection to David will never be broken).
- The moon stands witness night after night that David’s line shall endure forever and that God does not lie.
Promises. What has been your experience? Do promises made to you get broken? Have you broken promises that you have made? The God who walks beside you every day never leaves – ever. As surely as the moon will rise tonight and the sun tomorrow, God will walk by your side. What will you say to Him?
This epistle describes two groups which are divided by hostility and thus separated from God – Jews and Gentiles, as far away from each other as each of them can get. We tend to think that we are the ones who are close to Christ and that those who are separated are far away. We forget that we were once so far away – without Christ and aliens to Israel – strangers to the promise. Christ is our peace – by his blood both groups are made one and the dividing wall is broken down.
- Christ has made one new humanity in place of two.
- Christ has reconciled both groups to God in one body through the cross.
- Christ has put hostility to death.
- Christ has proclaimed peace to everyone – to those who are far off and to those who are near.
- Christ has made us citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
- Christ has built us together spiritually and made us into the dwelling place for God.
In our fractured world today, full of hostility and division, is God’s healing through the cross available to us or not? Can we see all of us as citizens of the household of God and a dwelling place for God? Christ has already bought our peace and healed our divisions. Our task now is to recognize it and sign on.
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
In last week’s Gospel, we experienced the horror of the beheading of John the Baptist – certainly not Good News. This week we are told of the disciples reporting to Jesus the great deeds of power that they have been able to accomplish in His name. This is indeed Good News! Through the recounting of John the Baptist’s sacrifice, we are reminded of the cost of discipleship. We do the work of Jesus at great expense. We should not be surprised that Jesus calls us to come away to a quiet place and rest a while. Even as Jesus tends to the needs of his disciples, he is pursued by crowds that present as “sheep without a shepherd.” Sheep who have no shepherd will become lost without guidance or instruction. Even though religious leaders and systems were in place, Jesus understood that the people of his day were aimlessly adrift, and he was compelled to guide them. As the story progresses, describing the movement of Jesus and his disciples attending to the work given them to do, we see once again those on the outside attempting to touch even the fringe of his cloak so as to be healed (this should remind us of the woman with the 12 year hemorrhage).
How different is our world today? We have religious leaders and systems in place, but often we are like sheep without a shepherd because our leaders have lost their focus on Jesus. It takes only a little Jesus to heal us. It takes only touching even a garment of His. To what does Christ lead you? What does it cost you to follow Jesus and how do you replenish what you spend? Are there brothers and sisters around you who are like sheep without a shepherd? How can you manifest even the fringe of Jesus’s cloak? Is your own hand touching that fringe?
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.