- Special Resources
Writer, Retreat Leader, Resource Creator
Revised Common Lectionary: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 or Ezekiel 2:1-5; Psalm 48 or Psalm 123; Mark 6:1-13; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
The passage from 2 Samuel follows the story of Saul and David. Now David is anointed king over Israel. But it is those verse 9-10 that tell us how Jerusalem finally became an Israelite city, for the Jebusites had lived there first and the city was called Jebus. Jerusalem has always been an occupied city, conquered and taken, and the peoples who lived there before have continued to live on. We are reminded that earthly governments come and go, but it is God who calls us into being God’s people. Naming and claiming a city does not make it God’s will nor does it make it special. What makes a place special is when the people recognize their brothers and sisters in the diversity of the people who live there, that all are part of God’s family.
Ezekiel 2:1-5 is the call of Ezekiel to prophesy for God. God warns Ezekiel that these are a stubborn people. We are again reminded that nations and governments are made by human beings, and are just as frail and faulty as human beings are. God who called forth light out of darkness, life out of nothing, order out of disorder, calls Ezekiel to speak on behalf of God, to try to again re-create order. God knows this is a hard, uphill challenge for Ezekiel. So it is for us, who want to do justice, to speak out for the marginalized and the oppressed, because it is much easier to believe that God is on our side when we are powerful than it is when we are powerless. Nonetheless, we should be seeking to follow the will of God, and not seek ways of justifying our own behavior and actions under the umbrella of “God is on our side.”
Psalm 48 is a song praising God, finding God present in Jerusalem, in Zion. What we remember is that while this has been called the city of David, it is not the earthly king that is worshiped, but God Almighty, the King of kings. God is the one who will be everlasting, forgiving and steadfast with love.
Psalm 123 is a plea for God’s mercy. In contrast to Psalm 48, instead of rejoicing in the city and God’s presence with the people, this psalm recognizes that the people have gone astray, and that the people are being oppressed at this time, and need God more than ever. The psalmist recognizes dependence upon God instead of upon earthly warriors and kings.
Mark 6:1-13 recalls Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth, his hometown–how even his neighbors and friends–even his own family–thought he had gone too far. How could someone they know such as him be a prophet, nevertheless a messiah? What he was saying was scandalous, outrageous. It was too much for them to handle. Jesus ends up leaving Nazareth and sending the disciples out to the surrounding villages to minister to those in need. Jesus warns them that some will reject them. When we are called to be ministers, it is good for us to remember this–there are some who will reject our ministry. There are some who will not believe we are sent by God–and most of the time these are not necessarily the “unchurched” or atheists or others of different religions. Jesus’ story reminds us that we may be rejected within Christianity, within our own denomination, within our own church. There are people who will deny your pastoral authority, your leadership, your God-given gifts and talents. It will happen. But we are called to shake the dust off of our feet and keep going. Don’t let it get you down or stop you.
2 Corinthians 12:2-10 is Paul’s story of a divine vision he received. The purpose of this vision is to remind us that even in our weakness, our frailty, our human faultiness, God will be present in us. Through our stumbles and falls, God will be made known to us and we will know we can rely on God. Paul declares that he shares this vision not to boast, but to show that he is not perfect, and that God continues to be with him, and with us.
We need to remember–whenever we claim that God is on our side, we most certainly have missed the mark. We are human beings. Even David, whom God adored and who is often idolized, had his faults and shortcomings. We are not to put our trust in earthly governments, but to rely on God. Instead of saying “God Bless America,” we might ask, all of us of all different nations, what we are doing to follow God’s ways? Instead of assuming God is on our side and continuing to hold on to that view, we might instead look at where we fall short, where we need God, and seek God’s ways of love and justice in the world, trying instead to be on the side of God, instead of asking God to be on our side.
Call to Worship:
Leader: We praise God for all God’s glorious works in creation!
People: We praise God for all the people, past and present, who demonstrate God’s love and compassion.
Leader: We praise God for all God has done for the world!
People: We praise God for all the ways God’s presence has been made known to us.
Leader: We praise God for all God’s ways of justice and mercy, righteousness and peace.
People: We praise God knowing that we are human, that we have faults and shortcomings, and that God can use us to bring about God’s reign on earth.
Leader: Come, let us enter this time of worship, knowing our Creator is ever-present with us.
People: We come to praise and pray, knowing that Christ continues to lead us. Amen.
Prayer of Confession:
Loving Jesus, we know we aren’t perfect and that we aren’t expected to be. Forgive us, however, when we make our imperfections an excuse. When we believe we’re not good enough. When we think we can’t do it. Forgive us when we allow our shortcomings to overwhelm us, or give us a way to cop out. Call us back into Your ways. Remind us that You called the disciples, an imperfect group of people, to do great things, and so You call us. Forgive us when we stick our fingers in our ears and don’t want to listen, don’t want to believe it, don’t want to trust that You have called us to share Your good news in the world. Forgive us for our foolish ways, and call us back to Your way. In Your name we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon:
If Jesus called a betrayer, a denier, a doubter, a rabble-rouser, a tax collector, and many other imperfect people into his fold, Jesus certainly has called You. You are forgiven. You are loved. You are called Christ’s friends, brothers and sisters in the world. Receive the Good News, and go forth to share it. Amen.
Mystery of Mysteries, we seek Your presence in our lives, knowing You are always near. We ask that You make Your presence known to us in new ways, that we might deepen our relationship with You. Call us away from the ways of the world and into Your ways. We seek Your will in our lives, in the ways of the world, but all too often we want that to be our way. Call us away from temptation, out of the noise of the world around us, and into the still, soft, silence that You encompass. Fill us and mold us, calling us into the new life promised by Your Son, Jesus the Christ. We pray all things in Christ’s name. Amen.