Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Proper 9, Year B
July 4, 2021
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
The people of Israel say to David, “Look, we are your bone and flesh.” The people recognize their true king as one of them – as belonging to them. He is not an outsider. God also recognizes David as the shepherd. In this reading, David did the tasks given him to do: 1) He occupied the stronghold. 2) He named the city the City of David. 3) He built the city inwards from Millo. He did not become greater, however, because he did these things. He became greater because God was with him. When God is with us and we do the work God gives us to do, we become greater. We become who we are supposed to be.
What work does God give you to do? Can you see that in doing your given work in the presence of God, God is shaping you to become what He intends?
This is a psalm to the greatness of God. To some extent, God’s greatness is associated or equated with the City of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is surely the holy dwelling place of God. Jerusalem is the “joy of all the earth…the very center of the world…the city of the great King.” God both dwells in this city and protects her. Her magnificence is so great that any kings or armies who might threaten or attack her are immediately overcome with terror and weakness. Israel waits in the temple here in silence. They offer praise to the ends of the earth. Those who come to this place to examine its construction will understand that God is a God of greatness and constancy.
We love our buildings. When we had to pause our gathering in them because of the pandemic, we missed them. Even though we understand that God is everywhere, we also knew and felt in our beings that God is very present in the churches we have built to His glory. It is there that we long to wait for Him in silence – there that we offer praise – there that we acknowledge God as our God and guide. Think about the place where you gather to worship God. Examine its structure. How do you sense God’s presence there?
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
As we walk the spiritual journey, some of us are given special, almost mystical revelations. In the receipt of these, we are tempted to boast and to think that we are especially equipped to proclaim the Gospel. Paul reminds us, however, that Christ’s power is most manifest when it is allowed to shine forth through our weakness. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” If we are suffering hardship, insults, calamities or persecutions, we should rejoice because we are in a perfect place to show forth the power of Christ. We do not need to be specially clothed with knowledge of things that “no mortal is permitted to repeat” in order to do the work of evangelism. God’s grace is sufficient.
With what do you struggle? What weakness or imperfection do you think holds you back? Can you offer thanks to God for this weakness and allow His power to shine through?
We have all heard the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt.” If we are too familiar with something, our familiarity may hinder us from seeing the uniqueness and wonder of that thing. The people in Jesus’s hometown are offended by Jesus. How can this man, who grew up among them, and whose relatives still live with them, be anybody special? He’s just that bratty kid…that son of Mary…that brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon…that brother of unnamed sisters who still live and work among them. How can he do anything special? And in fact, he was not able to do anything special there except to lay hands on and cure a few sick people. If we become too familiar with something, our eyes are blinded to its wonder. The next part of today’s reading presents a different picture. As Jesus moves “out” to teach, as he sends his disciples “out” -- beyond the familiar, wonderful things begins to happen. They go out simply, without the normal preparations of travelers. They are instructed to go only to those who will receive them and not to waste their time with those who take offence or even work against them. And they did wonderful things: “they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”
Bearing the wonder and miracle of Christ into the world does not take massive preparation. While there are people and places who will not receive us and who will refuse to hear us, we must remember that, like He gave to the disciples, Jesus has given us authority over the unclean spirits of the world. We are called to go out simply, without baggage to weigh us down. Christ prepares the way. Are you willing to begin this journey?
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.