Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Proper 5, Year B
June 6, 2021
1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20 (11:14-15)
What is it about us that we need someone to tell us what to do? The prophet Samuel served as a high priest and judge of Israel, but now he has grown old. The people gather around him and ask him to appoint a king so that they will be like other nations. This displeased Samuel because he knew that it would displease the Lord. Samuel asks the Lord for guidance and receives the word from God that he should give in to the Israelite’s request. He assures Samuel that the people are not rejecting him (Samuel) but that they are rejecting God, as they have done so many times before when they abandoned their faith to worship other Gods. God gives Samuel permission to appoint a King but counsels him to warn the Israelites about the ways of king so that they will know what kind of relationship they are getting into. Specifically he is to tell them:
· The king will take their sons and make them to be his horsemen and to run with his chariots
· The king will appoint those sons to plow, to reap, to harvest, to make weapons of war.
· The king will take their daughters to be perfumers, cooks and bakers.
· The king will take the best of all their fields, vineyards and olive orchards and distribute them to his courtiers.
· The king will take their male and female slaves, the best of their cattle and donkeys, a tenth of their flocks.
· The king will make the Israelites his slaves. At that time, God will not hear their voice.
In spite of these warnings, however, the Israelites were adamant that they should have a King and so Samuel appointed Saul to be their King, prompting the Israelites to celebrate and rejoice.
Where in our lives do we settle for less than a full relationship with God? Where do we settle for rules, regulations, and dictates about what we are to do in relationship with God rather than for that kind of relationship where we can go to God as His beloved child? Where do we make those who rule over us more important and more endowed with truth than God Himself?
When we are tempted to make the rulers and governors of our Earth more important than they are entitled to be, Psalm 138 is a good Psalm to pray. When we find ourselves wanting to defend a political party or leader at the expense of our relationship with our brother or sister who thinks differently, Psalm 138 is a good Psalm upon which to meditate. This Psalm reminds us of the Source of all power. It reminds us that God is in charge and cares for the lowly. It reminds us that there are no other gods or leaders more important than God Almighty Himself. It reminds us that we belong to each other and should live in harmony and unity.
Take a few moments to pray this Psalm earnestly, reminding yourself that God alone is your King and your governor. Let this Psalm flow through you to sing His praises.
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Paul speaks of the eternal thing which cannot be seen. What is that exactly? What is it that we cannot see? The assurance of our faith is that we believe that Jesus will bring us into his presence where he is. In the days following Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are assured that where he is (in the presence of God) is where He will bring us. We are encouraged because our inner nature is being renewed by the Holy Spirit so as to form us for entrance into that place. We are being prepared for an eternal weight of glory – that which we cannot see. Even though our “earthly tent” is passing away, we have an eternal building to which we look forward, one not made by human, but by heavenly hands.
God is inviting us to live as if we believe that we are being renewed…as if we are already dwelling in the heavenly building right beside God and Jesus!
“The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’” Every time I read this reading I am curious about what “it” is exactly that compelled Jesus’ family to go out to attempt to retrieve him. What is the “it” that they have heard? Is “it” the fact that Jesus isn’t able to eat? Is “it” the crowds that have congregated around Him? Is “it” the things he has been doing? As a reminder for context, I re-read the first chapters of Mark to refresh my memory about the events that preceded the decision on the part of Jesus’ family to execute this intervention. Here is a partial list:
· Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James and John to join Him in His mission.
· Jesus taught in the synagogue and healed a man with an unclean spirit, demonstrating a new authority over evil.
· Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon, restoring her to vocation and community.
· Jesus continued to heal all those who sought Him out both in the house and throughout Galilee.
· Jesus healed a leper.
· Jesus healed a paralyzed man lowered through the roof by his friends. This healing is equated also with the forgiveness of sins.
· Jesus called Levi, a tax-collector, a man on the fringes, into His inner circle.
· Jesus healed a man in the Synagogue with an unclean hand, thus inviting him into the circle of those who could enjoy full worship in the Synagogue.
Compare this list of bullet points with those listed in the reflection from Samuel above. In all of Jesus’ actions, He is inviting people to join Him. He is inviting people in – in from their isolation and loneliness, in from their set-apartness. Instead of taking from others, Jesus is giving to others. His actions are radical and show us what He believes to be the qualities of a true King. A true king heals divisions. A true king does not fight against himself in a divided culture. A true king recognizes that we all belong to each other and should live in harmony. Jesus’ actions were radical. He didn’t fit the mold. He wasn’t doing what people expected and therefore they thought He was crazy. Clearly the people were not looking for a leader who would elevate them to a place of health and partnership with Him. They were used to leaders who took things from them…to leaders who sowed division, not unity. Jesus also presents us with a different idea of family. They are not necessarily the people who lay claim to you by virtue of biology. Instead they are those who join with you to do the work of God and to heal the world.
How are you called to join and partner with Jesus for the healing of the world?
O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.