Revised Common Lectionary: Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22); Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 7:23-38; Mark 10:46-52
Narrative Lectionary: God Calls David, 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 51:10-14 (John 7:24)
Job responded to God at the beginning of chapter 42, recognizing that he was speaking without thinking, accusing God without understanding who God is and what God was up to. Job repented, and he was restored. In this restoration, all of Job’s brothers and sisters and neighbors gathered and showed him kindness and empathy. He also had more children, and in this story, God’s restoration of Job also caused Job to right a societal wrong. Instead of Job’s sons being named, all three of his daughters are named. Job gave them an inheritance just as he gave his sons. Job’s encounter with God has shown Job that what matters in the world is living out God’s intention for us. God’s restoration of Job spurred Job into the work of restoration in his own life, among his family, and the greater community.
Psalm 34:1-8 was also the second Psalm selection for the Revised Common Lectionary on August 8th. The psalmist begins by praising God and calling the congregation into glorifying God together. The psalmist speaks of how God has answered their prayers when they were suffering, and God has delivered those in need. The psalmist then calls upon the listener to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” to know God’s goodness in all our senses, but especially in the food and drink that nourishes us. Vs. 19-22 contain assurance that God will restore the righteous and rescue them from evil.
The prophet Jeremiah speaks good news from God to the people of Israel who were taken into exile long ago, as the people of Judah prepared for their own fate. In the midst of Jerusalem’s siege, Jeremiah proclaims that God is a parent to them, one who will comfort and console them and will lead them back gently. God makes sure that it isn’t only the strong who survive, but children, women who are pregnant, those who are blind and disabled—all people are included in this remnant that God will make sure returns home.
Psalm 126 is a song of praise for God’s restoration. The people have returned to their homes and worship has returned to Jerusalem, to the holy city. Those who left in mourning will return rejoicing, their arms full from the harvest. It will be told among the nations what God has done for the people of Israel.
The author of Hebrews continues the proclamation that Jesus is both high priest and final sacrifice. In 7:23-28, the author writes that because Jesus rose from the dead and lives forever, he is the only high priest needed, for he will never die. Because he offered himself as a sacrifice, there is no need to offer sacrifices on a daily basis. The author declares that as both high priest and sacrifice, Jesus intercedes on behalf of us, and there is no more need for the sacrificial system for atonement of sins for those who believe in Jesus as Christ.
Jesus heals Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. Bartimaeus was a known beggar who was blind and sat on the side of the road. When he called out to Jesus, calling him Son of David, others ordered him to be quiet. However, Jesus heard him, and asked Bartimaeus what it was he wanted Jesus to do. He asked Jesus to be able to see again. He once could see, but had lost his sight, which was probably the reason why he begged. Jesus tells him that his faith has made him well, and at once Bartimaeus regains his sight. We must be cautious as we read the healing miracles of Jesus to not conflate healing with curing. Healing is about wholeness. Bartimaeus is now able to participate fully in society and has restored what was once taken from him. Healing is not curing and taking away someone’s disability. Healing is about restoring people to society because of society’s norms that keep people marginalized and outcast.
The Narrative Lectionary focuses on God’s Calling of David in 1 Samuel 16:1-13. The prophet Samuel first anointed Saul as king, but Saul has failed to live into God’s ways. In the previous verse, God regretted making Saul king, but now, God wants Samuel to move on and anoint a new king. He sends him to Jesse in Bethlehem, who has eight sons, under the guise of offering a sacrifice so as not to tip King Saul off that he’s about to lose his job. Jesse has seven of them come before Samuel. The prophet is sure God is choosing the oldest, or the strongest, but God does not see the way humans do. Once the seven sons pass before Samuel, he asks Jesse if he has any other sons, and Jesse calls for the youngest, who was out keeping the sheep. This youngest is described as having beautiful eyes and being handsome—perhaps he was teased for looking “cute” by his older brothers. Nonetheless, despite being the youngest and seen as unimportant by his father and brothers, Samuel anoints David as king, and the Lord’s spirit comes over David.
Psalm 51 has traditionally been attributed to David. The whole psalm is a prayer for help and confession of sin, but verses 10-14 ask God to create a clean, new heart inside the psalmist, to be delivered from violence, to be pure before God and to have God’s Holy Spirit dwell within them.
Jesus teaches the crowds in John 7:24 to not judge by appearances, but to judge with right judgment. David was seen as small and unimportant, but his knowledge of caring for the sheep turned him into being a shepherd for the people. In John’s Gospel account, Jesus is arguing with the crowds who are upset he healed on the Sabbath and accused him of having a demon—when he did something good and right.
Far too often Christians have viewed faith and belief in Jesus Christ as a ticket into heaven. As a way of surviving this world and being with God forever. Instead, the scriptures, from Job to Jeremiah to the Gospels, invite us to build up God’s reign on earth. To right the wrongs of society. To include those the dominant voices have pushed to the margins or forgot about. To lift up those whom we might not look to for leadership—searching for wisdom and insight instead of strength and might. When Job’s fortunes were restored, he took it as an opportunity to right some wrongs of the traditions of his day. The storytellers of Job include his daughters in the inheritance, to make sure their names were remembered. The Gospel writer of Mark made sure that Bartimaeus was remembered when others wanted him to keep quiet, and that he was restored to society. Samuel was certain God would call up another strong leader for Israel, but instead, it was the little shepherd boy, probably teased by his brothers for being cute, the one his father seemed to forget, whom God chose to be king. While we are offered eternal life, God also offers us the opportunity to participate in Christ’s reign on earth. We can choose to continue to live in a hell on earth while waiting for heaven, or we can work to build heaven on earth.
Call to Worship (Psalm 34:1-3, 8)
I will bless the LORD at all times;
God’s praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
Let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt God’s name together.
O taste and see that the LORD is good;
Happy are those who take refuge in God.
Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
God of All People, we confess that we still turn to those with the most worldly power to lead us. We turn to the rich and watch them make strides into space. We turn to the famous to see what they share on social media. We turn to the loudest voices and listen to them, either to praise them or to complain about them. Forgive us for not turning to You. Forgive us for not remembering how Your Son Jesus came to become last of all and servant of all. Forgive us for not learning the lesson to look to the children, the weak, the disabled, the widows, the poor, the sex workers and tax collectors, all those despised and rejected by society. Forgive us for our failure to remember how You died as a common criminal, executed by the justice system of the dominant worldly power. Call us back to Your ways. Help us to hear the cries from the side of the road for healing and to answer them. Guide us to listen to the voices of those we often leave out and forget. Remind us that we are leaving this earth for the next generations and we must value their lives by caring for this earth You made. Forgive us and guide us into Your way, Your truth, and Your life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer of Blessing/Assurance
Psalm 34:4 reads, “ I sought the LORD, and God answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” God hears our prayers and answers us by providing us with one another, the body of Christ. May we turn and lift up one another. May we open our hearts and minds to listen when another is in need, when another is suffering. May we be the answer to prayer by sharing Christ’s love with one another in word and deed. May we know the forgiveness of Jesus Christ when we forgive others, when we work to repair and restore what has been broken, to right the wrongs in our society, and build up God’s reign on Earth. Amen.
Weaver of the Stars, we know Your work in creation and Your work in our lives. Threads are woven together, binding us to creation and to one another in community. We impact the ecosystem, and the environment impacts our lives, and it can be harmful to the most vulnerable among us. Remind us of our interconnectedness and to care for creation, for by doing so we care for community and for one another. And while we only know Your weaving here on earth, we can see Your weaving in the stars beyond us, in the galaxies far off. Who knows what You are weaving inside us, in the tiny atoms that give us life and make us who we are? May we pause and take into our hearts all the work of Your loom in the world, and do what we can to be part of Your glorious, beautiful pattern in this world and the universe. Amen.