Thursday, July 09, 2009

Now that the sermon work for the 19th is done...on to the 12th!

I was asked by a mentor to work up a submission of exegesis for a website/foundation he is the director of...and was happy to take the challenge on.

Don't know if it worked, but hey, here you go-FWIW:

Introduction

There is a strong, unifying theme in today’s readings that can be extrapolated from the Collect appointed; “Almighty God…you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking.” In perhaps one of the humblest and honest of the Church’s Collects, we acknowledge that though prayer articulates our thoughts, our praise and our needs before God, God does not need us to ask in order to know-and to proffer-that which God intends for us, the Church and the world. Still, the readings remind us that prayerful dialogue with God and each other is an essential and important element of a life of faith. Just because God doesn’t need us to ask or imagine doesn’t obviate the free choice, and joy of deep prayer and discernment. God truly does more for us than “we can ask or imagine.”

2 Samuel 7:1-14a

Now that the war of succession has entered into an uneasy armistice, and a sense of peace has come over Israel and Judah, David begins to look around and take stock of his new role and authority as king as well as to his relationship with God. One of the first things he notes is that the king’s dwelling, a palace, far outshines the simple shelter erected over the ark of the covenant as it sits in his proverbial front yard. He expresses a desire to build a house for God…and while at first the prophet Nathan offers an imprimatur, God rejects the offer. There has never been a need, offers the oracle, for a house to shelter the Divine Presence before. Why should provision be made now? Instead, God confirms the promise to make a house of David himself. God’s sanctuary will be a dynasty of kings drawn from David. God’s physical sanctuary can wait for another generation’s efforts. For now, the tabernacle of God is in the line of David, established both in-and beyond-the desire for David to even the apparent imbalance between his and God’s “living situations.”

Psalm 89: 20-37

Once again, God’s steadfast devotion and commitment to Israel, and now her king, David, is the topic of the Psalmist’s efforts. With the anointing of David and his election as king over Israel, God affirms a covenant with the line of David that will exceed even his successors’ transgressions. The kingship will never pass from David’s line, that much is certain; but there is already a prefiguring of the apostasy and return of the kings and peoples of Israel. God will be faithful and constant, even when people, like grass, wither in the heat of God’s judgment and blow to and fro as the wind of their own will shifts and changes.

Ephesians 2:11-22

How many ways do human beings make distinctions between those who belong and those who do not belong in association with us? Paul defines two categories in the early Church-those who are of the circumcision and those who are not. Jew and Gentile are not, nor can they be, one in Christ as long as that obvious and visible distinction is maintained in the community. For the Gentiles, that reality of being outside the law meant in the first part separation from Christ…but Paul is clear: Christ has sundered that wall of separation. There is, in Christ, now one flesh, one body; and the body is Christ’s. There is now going to be “one humanity, instead of two.” Human divisions have no place in the kingdom, for Christ can be recognized in every individual-Jew or Gentile-who walks in grace. Those who were originally held at arm’s length and seen as alien are now created as fellow heirs and citizens of the Kingdom of God. Christ has torn down the walls of separation and has become the chief cornerstone of a new temple-the Church, to which all are welcome-and included-as members of one body.

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Jesus hears the report of his followers, those who were sent out to proclaim the kingdom, to teach and to heal. They have returned exhausted and exhilarated by what they have seen and experienced. Observing this testimony, he calls his followers into a place of retreat and integration. But this is not the end of their journey out into the world as apostles; it is only the beginning. For even as they draw apart from the crowds to a deserted place, the crowds press in seeking more of these healing acts, salving words and teachings of wisdom. Not noted in the passage are the intervening verses-the feeding of the multitude and the episode of the transit of the sea to Bethsaida. Instead of retreat, Jesus winds up leading the disciples into a deeper and more profound experience of mission. The Good News cannot be contained, and the world is hungry for that holy meal. From now on, the crowds and their needs will be with Jesus and his disciples; they will never depart from them, at least not until Jerusalem. Wherever they go from here, multitudes will follow and press in, seeking a healing touch or wise counsel.

Toward the Sermon

In Philadelphia, a local news affiliate reported on the expulsion of a group of urban youth day campers from a private swim club that their program had rented for the summer. The club’s president cited the fact that the presence of these youth of color altered the “complexion” and “atmosphere” of the club. Sen. Arlen Specter has pledged an investigation into the matter. It seems that even in an era when the United States has elected for the first time as its Chief Executive a man of color, and as the first Hispanic woman prepares for the approval of her nomination to the Supreme Court we continue to live in an era where human beings choose to make distinctions between people on the basis of race, color, class, sexuality, sexual identity or any of a number of other criteria. How is the Church going to respond? What is happening in your local community of faith? Are we striving to live the good news that all are welcome in the kingdom, regardless of their point of origin in this life? Is the mission of the Church seated first and foremost in discerning God’s will for us…or are we persistent in applying our will to God? This sanctuary of Church cannot, in the end, be made with human hands for our human agendas. God has founded and purposed it, the doors are open…it is time for us to boldly proclaim that the Kingdom is at hand and all are welcome. One Body, one Bread, One Cup…for all.

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