Revised Common Lectionary: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 and Psalm 130; Lamentations 3:22-33 and Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
Narrative Lectionary: Series on Jeremiah, Planting and Building 32:1-3a, 6-15
David mourned the death of Jonathan and Saul in our first selection for the Hebrew Scriptures. David composed a funeral song and ordered that all the people in Judah learn it and preserve it. He sang of “how the mighty have fallen” and praised Saul and Jonathan. David refused to speak a bad word against Saul, for Saul was God’s chosen, even if he fell from God’s ways. David called for the song not to be sung among their enemies so they might gloat, but among those who truly mourned his passing. He called upon the “daughters of Israel” to weep for Saul who brought riches to the people, and he sang personally of his love for Jonathan, a love stronger than his love for any woman. David’s song concludes with a lament mourning the loss of these warriors for Israel.
Psalm 130 is a call for help from God. The singer pleads with God to listen to their cries. However, the psalmist knows that God will answer. They know God’s forgiveness and wait with hope in God’s word. The psalmist calls upon the people to put their hope and trust in God, who will answer and deliver them.
The lamentations of Jeremiah turn to hope in Lamentations 3:22-33. The poetry turns to hope in God’s steadfast love and mercy. For those who wait, who put their trust in God, they will know God’s deliverance. Though they suffer now, God will have compassion and will remember them, for God does not desire punishment for us.
Psalm 30 is a song of praise to God who has delivered the psalmist from their enemies. The psalmist calls upon the congregation to sing praises to God, because they have been saved from death. Though there may be mourning and sadness, joy will come to those who remain faithful. The psalmist gives thanks for God’s deliverance and faithfulness, and sings praises to God.
The Epistle selection continues in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15. Paul turns the attention of the letter to the collection for the church in Jerusalem, whose members have experienced poverty. Paul uses Jesus as an example, who gave up his power to become like us, to live and die as one of us, as an example of giving up power and wealth to those who are struggling and suffering. Paul insists he is not trying to persuade them to do what he wants, but rather that they choose to do the right thing and help those in need with what they can afford.
Jesus heals two people in Mark 5:21-43. Jairus, a leader of a synagogue, met Jesus as he came off the boat, for Jairus’ daughter was sick. Jairus asked Jesus to come lay his hands on her, so Jesus followed him along with his disciples. The crowds pressed in on him, and a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years reached out, touching the hem of his cloak, believing it would make her well. Immediately, (a favorite word of Mark’s Gospel account) Jesus recognized power had gone out from him, and immediately the woman was healed. The disciples were incredulous that Jesus wondered who touched him, because the crowds were so thick, but the woman came forward and told him everything. Jesus called her “Daughter,” and told her that her faith made her well. However, some people came from Jairus’ house while Jesus was still speaking to the woman, and told Jairus not to trouble the teacher, because his daughter had died. Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid, but to believe. Jesus took Peter, James, and John into the room with the little girl and told her to get up. They were all amazed, but Jesus told them not to tell anyone, and to get the girl something to eat. Jesus met the needs of these two daughters, whose stories are intertwined, when others (the disciples, and the people from Jairus’ home) didn’t think it was worth Jesus’ time or energy. He saved and transformed their lives.
The Narrative Lectionary continues its series on Jeremiah. In chapter 32, Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army had surrounded Jerusalem, and Jeremiah was in custody of the palace prison under King Zedekiah. Jeremiah had told Zedekiah that Babylon would overrun and destroy the city, and take the people into exile, but Zedekiah would not hear of it. God spoke to Jeremiah, sharing that his cousin was coming to see him to sell a field, and he was to buy the field. Jeremiah did so—signed and sealed the deed with witnesses, kept an unsigned copy as well, weighed out the silver for the purchase and gave it all to Baruch, his scribe. Jeremiah instructed Baruch to place both deeds in an earthenware jar for safekeeping, as a proclamation from God that homes would be bought and built, vineyards and fields planted again. A promise for a time after exile.
Often, we human beings think that what is important to us must be the most important thing, and obviously, God must think it is important, too. Zedekiah desired winning above everything else. Winning against the Babylonians, playing a game of strategy that would fail him. God spoke through the prophets to warn the leaders years before of their political schemes that would fall apart, but they didn’t listen. Zedekiah refused to acknowledge that destruction and exile were eminent and instead locked up Jeremiah so he wouldn’t have to hear him. His need to win was more important than the needs of survival of his people. Zedekiah believed that survival could only come through his way of thinking.
The disciples couldn’t believe Jesus would be worried about anything so unimportant as a stranger reaching out to touch him, that they didn’t believe him when he knew power had gone out from him. The people in Jairus’ home couldn’t believe that there was anything to be done for Jairus’ daughter, that Jesus certainly had more important things to do if his daughter was dead. Even in death, however, Jesus came. Because our grief is also important. David shows us that grief is part of our faith life in his song for Jonathan and Saul. Even if Jairus’ daughter had not risen, Jesus would have come. Because she was alive, Jesus ordered them to meet her needs first—not to proclaim a miracle had occurred, not to put Jesus on a pedestal—but to meet the needs of this young girl, in the same way Jesus met the needs of the woman who touched him.
God knows our sufferings and our longings. However, our human desire is often for justification: justifying that we were right all along, that our way is the best way, that what is important to us must be important to everyone, and what is unimportant to us is a waste of time for everyone. God proves this wrong again and again—lifting up the poor, the widow and orphan. Raising the voice of the marginalized. Responding to the cries of the oppressed. Jesus proves the disciples wrong by going to the woman who touched him (which would have been scandalous in that time period), and caring about the basic needs of a young girl. We must shift our priorities to God’s priorities.
Call to Worship (from Hebrews 12:1-2)
We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,
Who inspired us by faith to resist sin and evil.
May we journey together the path before us,
Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and protector of our faith.
For Christ endured the cross for us,
And is seated at the right hand of God.
Come, worship the God known to our ancestors,
Whose love is known to us now and always.
Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Almighty God, we confess that our ways are not Your ways, our thoughts are not Your thoughts. We confess that our own lens clouds our view of the world, of others, and of Scripture. Our lens of privilege may keep us from understanding the hardships of others, whether that privilege is race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic privilege, ability, age, or otherwise. Call us into accountability, to do the hard work of removing the lenses that allow us to know only what we want to know, to remove the lens that allows us make judgments based on limited perception. Restore our vision to Your ways, O God, that views one another through love, mercy, and justice. In Your name we pray. Amen.
Blessing/Assurance of Pardon (from Lamentations 3:22-24)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in God.” God’s mercies are renewed every morning, and God’s love is steadfast, never-ceasing, enduring forever. You are forgiven, loved, and restored. Go and share God’s love and mercy with the world that desperately needs it. Amen.
God of Love and Grief, when we grieve it is because we have loved so much. You grieved the oppression of Your people long ago and grieved when they made terrible choices in the wilderness. You grieved Saul, whom You chose as a king for the people but went astray from Your ways. You grieved David, Your beloved, when he went astray. You grieved for the people when they went into exile, and You grieved Your only Son, killed by the empire of violence to maintain a peace for the people. However, we know Your love is stronger than grief, and Your love will see us through our own losses. Remind us that grief comes before joy. That grief is necessary, and it is a sign of strength, not weakness. Help us to remember that grief is a sign of our great love, and the great love others have had for us. For we know that You grieve with us, and You bring comfort to us in the care and love of our family, friends, and neighbors. Remind us not to short-circuit grief, but to allow it to turn, in its own time, from mourning to dancing, from loss into joy, and may we know You are with us in this journey. Amen.