Above: The Right Reverend Keith Whitmore, Assistant Bishop of Atlanta, Celebrating the Holy Eucharist at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, October 31, 2010
Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
Living Wisely, Maturely, and In the Ways of Insight
The Sunday Closest to August 17
Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost
AUGUST 16, 2015
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #1
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 (New Revised Standard Version):
David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.
Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said,
Ask what I should give you.
And Solomon said,
You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him,
Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.
Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the deeds of the LORD!
they are studied by all who delight in them.
3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,
and his righteousness endures for ever.
4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
5 He gives food to those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works
in giving them the lands of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;
all his commandments are sure.
8 They stand fast for ever and ever,
because they are done in truth and equity.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he commanded his covenant for ever;
holy and awesome is his Name.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
those who act accordingly have a good understanding;
his praise endures for ever.
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #2
Proverbs 9:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):
Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servant girls, she calls
from the highest places in the town,
You that are simple, turn in here!
To those without sense she says,
Come, eat of my bread
and drink of my wine I have mixed.
Lay aside immaturity and live,
and walk in the way of insight.
Psalm 34:9-14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
9 Fear the LORD, you that are his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger,
but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.
11 Come, children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Who among you loves life
and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?
13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking
and your lips from lying words.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Ephesians 5:15-20 (New Revised Standard Version):
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 6:51-58 (New Revised Standard Version):
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.
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying,
How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
So Jesus said to them,
Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Proper 15, Year A:
Proper 15, Year B:
1 Kings 2 and 3:
In the Gospel of John, the Last Supper is implicit, but Eucharistic language and imagery pervade the book. The combination of such language and imagery in John 6 and Proverbs 9 unifies this Sunday’s readings.
We read in Ephesians 5 not to “be foolish,” but to “understand what the will of the Lord is.” Likewise, in 1 Kings 3, King Solomon (in a dream) asks God for wisdom. And, in Proverbs 9, we see Sophia, divine wisdom personified, setting her table, inviting people to eat of her bread, drink her wine, and “lay aside immaturity, and live and walk in the way of insight.” Then, in John 6, we read of the imperative to eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus, so that we will have life in us.
I have already (http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/proper-13-year-b/) covered much of the Eucharistic content in John 6. So some other thoughts follow:
- It is not enough to start well. One must also finish well. Solomon started well yet lost his way.
- We must imitate our Lord’s example, his holy life. He came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28). He acted compassionately on many occasions; this was his pattern. And he did not shrink back from confronting those who imposed needless burdens, especially economic ones, on others, especially the pious poor (Matthew 21:12-13, for example).
- It can be relatively easy to identify ancient examples of foolishness and immaturity, but more difficult (not to mention politically loaded) to do the same for contemporary times. I have my list; you, O reader, probably have yours. I share an easy, generally non-controversial item from my list: Televangelists and pastors who give away or sell prayer cloths and/or “healing” spring water, pretend to be able to heal people, and/or teach the heresy called Prosperity Theology. This kind of hokum is a variety of religion which deserves Karl Marx’s label “the opiate of the masses.” And here is another item: I oppose all who use religion to incite or encourage any form of bigotry or to distract people from the imperative to take care of each other in various ways. This post is not a proper venue to name names, so I refrain from doing so.
By grace may we succeed in living wisely, maturely, and in the ways of insight that, after we die, God will say to each us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 6, 2011