Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Proper 14, Year B
August 8, 2021
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
This Scripture portrays dramatically the death of David’s beloved Son, Absalom. David did what any parent would do – he tried to protect his son in dangerous circumstances. He tried to protect Absalom even in battle by attempting to orchestrate combat tactics. But there were other circumstances afoot. This is an ominous sentence: The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.” We are given no explanation as to what that means, but we do see that in the end, even though Absalom was killed by weapons of Joab’s armor bearers, the forest did indeed have a hand in the events that precipitated that killing. So in the end, we could say that in spite of David’s attempts to protect his son in battle, he could not protect him from the forest which ultimately claimed him. Through his armies, David has won this battle and in fact the war. However, he cannot focus on celebration because of his grief for Absalom. His grief over Absalom is so strong that he cannot celebrate the victory of his people. Our attachments to our children are strong perhaps unassailable. As much as we try to orchestrate well-being for their lives we cannot control the “forests” which might claim them as victims. Their own choices take them down paths over which we have no control and where we cannot even go.
What are you trying to control and/orchestrate in your life? Is it more important than your attachment to God? Can you imagine and focus on your connection to Him as the provider of all that you need?
This psalm is a plea to God to note the vast chasm that exits between Him and us. It is an acknowledgement that we are steeped in sin and that we cannot stand worthily before God. Because God has the forgiveness, mercy and redemption that we need, we should wait for him – wait in anticipation with every fiber of our being.
Sometimes, instead of waiting with expectant hope, are we tempted to throw in the towel and sink into the abyss? How can you focus on the God who has everything you need?
In this portion of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul exhorts the church to speak the truth to its neighbors. He points out that we are empowered and are obligated to speak this truth because “we are members of one another.” This means that we can speak the truth because we belong to each other. Paul does not condemn anger, but cautions against anger that leads to sin. Anger is a natural emotion, created by God, as a signal that something is off balance. Anger that leads to sin is anger that settles in, becomes toxic and does harm. Anger that is given space (hospitality) within us overnight, for example, becomes sin. While we must make room for (be hospitable to) each other, we must not make room for the devil. The reason that thieves should work for what they get is so that they will have the means to give to the needy. We must be watchful over the words that we utter and utter only those words that build up and give grace. If the words do not do that, then they should not be uttered. We bear the mark of the Holy Spirit and should act accordingly. Such action should look like this:
· All bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander and malice should be put away.
· We should be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving.
· We should remember that we are children of God and should imitate Him who gave Himself up for us.
Focus today, and each day this week, on incorporating these characteristics into your being.
John 6:35, 41-51
Sometimes we find it difficult to accept the power and authority of God if it has become too familiar to us. Familiarity in relationships may cause us to take things for granted and to cease to recognize the transformative energy that is available to us, particularly in our relationship with God. In Jesus’s day, bread was a fundamental requirement in daily life. It was eaten every day and was understood to be a foundational requirement for a flourishing life. But it can become familiar. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is foundational for us. Jesus can take the foundational things that we require in order to flourish and transform them into abundance.
What are the familiar, fundamental things in your life that Jesus can take, bless, break and transform? Do you see Him as the complete source of these things?
Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may be you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.