Above: Statue of Reconciliation, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, England, United Kingdom
Image Source = Rebecca Kennison
Love, Not Theocracy
The Sunday Closest to August 10
Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost
AUGUST 9, 2015
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #1
2 Samuel 18:9-15, 24-19:3 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):
And Absalom chanced to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And a certain man saw it, and told Joab,
Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.
Joab said to the man who told him,
What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.
But the man said to Joab,
Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not put forth my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, “For my sake protect the young man Absalom.” On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.
I will not waste time like this with you.
And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.
…(Joab orders Ahimaaz not to tell David what has happened. Then Joab sends a Cushite to update David and decides after all to let Ahimaaz run after the Cushite. Ahimaaz then passes the Cushite.)…
Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. And the watchman called out and told the king. And the king said,
If he is alone, there are tidings in his mouth.
And he came apace, and drew near. And the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gate and said,
See, another man running alone!
The king said,
He also brings tidings.
And the watchman said,
I think the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.
And the king said,
He is a good man, and comes with good tidings.
Then Ahimaaz cried out out to the king,
All is well.
And he bowed before the king with his face to the earth, and said,
Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.
And the king said,
Is it well with the young man Absalom?
When Joab sent your servant I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.
And the king said,
Turn aside, and stand here.
So he turned aside, and stood still.
And behold, the Cushite came; and the Cushite said,
Good tidings for my lord the king! For the LORD has delivered you this day from the power of all who rose up against you.
The king said to the Cushite,
Is it well with the young man Absalom?
And the Cushite answered,
May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be like that young man.
And the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said,
O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
It was told Joab,
Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.
So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people; for the people heard that day,
The king is grieving for his son.
And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle.
Psalm 130 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
2 If you , LORD, were to note what is done amiss,
O Lord, who could stand?
3 For there is forgiveness with you;
therefore you shall be feared.
4 I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope.
5 My soul waits for the LORD,
more than watchmen in the morning,
more than watchmen in the morning.
6 O Israel, wait for the LORD,
for with the LORD there is mercy;
7 With him there is plenteous redemption,
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #2
1 Kings 19:4-8 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):
[Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush and sat down under it, and prayed that he might die.
Now, O LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.
He lay down and fell asleep under a broom bush. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him,
Arise and eat.
He looked about; and there, beside his head, was a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water! He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the LORD came a second time and touched him and said,
Arise and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.
He arose and ate and drank; and with the strength from that meal he walked forty days and forty nights as far as the mountain of God at Horeb.
Psalm 34:1-8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
2 I will glory in the LORD;
let the humble hear and rejoice.
3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;
let us exult his Name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me out of all my terror.
5 Look upon him and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.
6 I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,
and he will deliver them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him.
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 (New Revised Standard Version):
Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
John 6:35, 41-51 (New Revised Standard Version):
Jesus said to the people,
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said,
I am the bread that came down from heaven.
They were saying,
“Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?
Jesus answered them,
Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
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 by 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.
Some Related Posts:
Proper 14, Year A:
Proper 14, Year B:
2 Samuel 18 and 19:
The reading from Ephesians deserves much more attention from many people.
Two strains coexist in the politics of my nations, the United States of America. One is talk of religion, often the sort bearing the stamp of theocracy or longings thereof. This comes mixed frequently with Nativism, reactionary tendencies, Social Darwinism, and, quite frankly, homophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry. The other strain is anger oblivious to objective definitions. So “Socialism” has taken on meanings far beyond anything the Socialist Party recognizes, and there are people who condemn the very government programs upon which they depend and who do know that these programs are creatures of the government. Hence some want to keep the federal government out of their Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid. These individuals are mad, not rational. These two strains go hand-in-hand.
Yet we read in Ephesians that we ought not entertain resentment or anger. As 5:1-2 (J. B. Phillips, 1972) reads:
So you then should try to become like God, for you are his children and he loves you. Live your lives in love–the same sort of love which Christ gave us and which he perfectly expressed when he gave himself up for us….
Theocracy relies on on coercion, not voluntary action. Thus theocracy is inconsistent with Christian love. May we love one another, encouraging–not coercing–one another toward deeper righteousness.
Here ends the lesson.
Published originally in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 3, 2011