Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Sunday 8th July 2018

My apologies for being late in posting these reflections this week and also that they are a little scrappy. Sometimes one’s life circumstances can be a hindrance to this work. Also I have to change my style and start trying to do them several weeks ahead.

2 Samuel 5:1 – 5, 9 – 10

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2 For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.

We reflect on:

  • the story of Saul and David. How David was anointed by Samuel, but Saul continued as King until his death. The process of David becoming king of Israel is now completed.
  • God’s call in our life and the purpose that God has anointed us for.
  • How God’s anointing can take time to fulfil.
  • The covenants, commitments, we make in our lives.

In this passage the process of David becoming king of Israel, is formally fulfilled. Although, he was the effective leader of Israel for some time, during Saul’s reign; this is now acknowledged and he becomes king of Israel.

We need to look to the experiences that we have in our lives, where we could say that God has anointed us for a particular task, and how that comes to fulfilment. There can even be times, for some people, where the anointing never really finds outer fulfilment. But whether we have a formal role that is a fulfilment of our anointing, there is always a spiritual role that goes with it, whether it is outwardly acknowledged or not.

It is important that we live our lives based on the anointing that we have from God.

2 Corinthians 12:2 – 10

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3 And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6 But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep1  me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.2  8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power3  is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

We reflect on:

  • experiences that we might have had that we can never really speak about or are difficult to speak about.
  • The danger of spiritual pride
  • whether we have a thorn in the flesh, which weakens us and makes life more challenging.
  • How we react to adversity and whether we accept adversity as part of our life calling or see it as some form of punishment or rejection from God.

Some time ago I heard of a Rector of a Roman Catholic seminary, who said he needed candidates for ordination that were weak enough to be priests.

One of the challenging aspects of ministry in modern Western culture, where strength and power are given so much emphasis in leadership, is the power that comes through weakness. For often it is through our weakness, that we have great spiritual strength.

Similarly, in times of adversity, we can often feel that God is rejecting us, rather than seeing the adversity is making us spiritually strong.

Mark 6:1 – 13

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary1  and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense2  at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

We reflect on:

  • just as God’s grace being experienced in weakness, is sometimes difficult to see, so familiarity with one another can prevent us from seeing each other’s true potential.
  • How this limits God’s effectiveness in our lives
  • what the ministry of the twelve reveals to us about the foundations of ministry, of doing God’s work.

The twelve, as they are described in this passage, the apostles came from various walks of life. Some of them were fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector. When Jesus called the disciples we are told that he said to the fishermen ‘come and I will make you fishers of men’. Many of the mainline churches, with their emphasis on degrees and other churches with their strong biblical emphasis, seem to have missed a fundamental truth. God uses the strength and abilities that we develop through our, what we might say ‘secular’ life (but no life is really secular), for our spiritual service or ministry.

Similarly, the twelve, were sent out to minister simply on the basis that Jesus had authorised them to do so. They acted in his authority. The one sent represents the one who sends. This is a simple foundation to ministry, that some more Pentecostal churches have, except for their emphasis on the biblical tradition. Here the twelve do not take Scriptures with them, they are able to do Jesus work because he had given them the authority and the power to do so.

Bible passages from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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