Sunday, June 18, 2006

June 25, 2006 - Year B - Pentecost +3

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 or I Samuel 17:57 - 18:5, 10-16 or Job 38:1-11
Psalm 9:9-20 or Psalm 133 or Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

A question of openness continually raises its voice. Just how open are we to that which troubles us?

In each case it hones our appreciation of a mystery we call GOD much more sharply than does our defensive attempts to avoid difficulty or our sense of entitlement to an easier way.

During this week we may take a few steps closer to the realities rather than the ideals of living in the midst of evil.


  1. Mark 4:35-41

    It is very easy to externalize this passage, to have Jesus address the created order to change its doing what it does, rather than to understand this as a parable. One of the dangers of pericopes is that they begin to stand separate from one another (an outgrowth of a chapter and verse numbering system that dissects a passage). This follows on the heels of hearing that Jesus only teaches in parables and elucidates them to an inner circle. This may help us see that disciples need the same parabolic teaching approach, but its surface simply goes after an external miracle.

    This is a fine example of being in a learning mode and then deflecting that learning. A storm rises outside. The disciples bring that storm inside of themselves. They cry out for a resolution of the fear within. Jesus stills the outside storm and wonders about their inside storms. The disciples, instead of reflecting on his question regarding their sense of meaning, their application of faith, deflect the question to focus back on Jesus.

    This is one of the dangers of a Sunday School, fill-in-the-blank, approach to life for adults. We tend to think every question is about Jesus as per this old story: A pastor was giving the children's message during church. For this part of the service, he would gather all the children around him and give a brief lesson before dismissing them for children's church.
    On this particular Sunday, he was using squirrels for an object lesson on industry and preparation. He started out by saying, "I'm going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is." The children nodded eagerly.
    "This thing lives in trees (pause) and eats nuts (pause)..." No hands went up. "And it is gray (pause) and has a long bushy tail (pause)..." The children were looking at each other, but still no hands raised. "And it jumps from branch to branch (pause) and chatters and flips its tail when it's excited (pause)..."
    Finally one little boy tentatively raised his hand. The pastor breathed a sigh of relief and called on him.
    "Well," said the boy, "I know the answer must be Jesus ... but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me!"

    Sometimes the questions of life are about situations around and about us. Sometimes they are about our response to situations and learning better ways of living.

    What question have you been deflecting? Your congregation? Your community/nation?

  2. 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

    Here is quite a list of afflictions. If one took the time I expect we could each come up with examples in our own lives that would illustrate the difficulty listed. Go ahead, give it a try.

    affliction ____________
    hardship ____________
    calamity ____________
    beating ____________
    imprisonment ____________
    riot ____________
    labor ____________
    sleeplessness ____________
    hunger ____________
    dishonor ____________
    ill repute ____________
    treated as impostor ____________
    seen as unknown ____________
    being of no more account than one who is dying ____________
    punished ____________
    poor ____________
    having nothing ____________

    What holds these from being defining realities and allows an alternative action in their midst is having an open heart for others.

    For Paul this openness is not passivity, but an active voice of speaking frankly, honestly, openly. How open is your heart in this regard?

  3. Psalm 9:9-20 or Psalm 133 or Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32

    Individual or nations can get caught in storms. At first they seem lifted to the heavens with the rush of excitement and then it becomes apparent that the blowback of their presuppositions catches up with them and they are headed to Davy Jones' Locker.

    Think about storms for a moment and our theories of pressure fronts. Storms are generated at the edges of highs and lows. If this were to stand for the wars between individuals and nations it might be posited that Psalm 133 is what stands between the other two. Psalm 133 is about living in unity. Note that this is not uniformity, but unity between the differences without having to fight.

    And then it must be noted that storms do bring the rain that brings the flowers. Aargh! If only one image would stand still long enough to hold all the meaning in the world. Well, until then, do what you can to live in a creative unity that allows enough rain to nourish without escalating into a storm that devastates.

  4. 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 or I Samuel 17:57 - 18:5, 10-16
    or Job 38:1-11

    Confronted with overweening force or entrapping questions we have decisions to make.

    Do we do what we can do? Palestinians with stones against Israelis with tanks, occupied Iranians against armored Americans, David against Goliath? Against all reason we claim a place that is not put down and dismissed. We will be meaningful, even in defeat. We will not go into that good night.

    Do we eventually give in, claiming that it took us awhile to get it but now we are willing to succumb to the power arrayed against us. Once having redefined our relationship we can redefine everything else to perceive that war is peace, that we have more now than we ever did, that our new family and circumstance is ever so much better than the old.

    Where is wisdom in these days? How far will we go to hold the integrity of an intention for all to work together for good? How far will we go to care for the least? How far will we go to claim our experience as a viable alternative to everyone else's tradition?

    All too often David would get assassinated by a death squad before even making it to the brook to pick up one stone. All too often it is Eliphaz and Bildad and Zophar that make the big bucks. And so it is difficult to maintain our listening to a still small voice that allows us to go ahead. What implacability are you facing and what are you going to do about it?

  5. 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

    Today is the acceptable time for salvation.

    Now is the only time we have to act to bring wholeness and health to ourselves and others.

    We wish we would have been wiser sooner. We plan to be more helpful. But, we only have this moment in which to actually show, through our endurance, another viewpoint on or way of responding to affliction, hardship, calamity, etc.

    Regardless of the outcome, honor or dishonor, we have this opportunity in which to affect and effect relationships between ourself and ourselves, ourself and others, ourself and G*D/Creation. We don't decide to act on the basis of some hoped for result, but on our best understanding of who we are and the movement of life in the midst of difficulty.

  6. Mark 4:35-41

    Storms come in many forms. There are physical storms with thunder and lightening. There are unseparated religion/state storms with inquisitions and lynchings.

    Last night was the first showing of the new Bill Moyers series, Faith and Reason on the Public Broadcasting System. It is well worth listening to on your computer with streaming video or on the go with a podcast. Go to the Watch & Listen section.

    You will see and hear about storms that lead to questions of care of community (freedom of speech) and faith/fear. Have atheists like Salmon Rushdie also heard the voice of health and wholeness (salvation) saying "Peace! Be Still!" and responded that they now have no more fear in standing up to oppression, whether by storm or fascists? Have you? If so where and when will you stand?


Thank you for blessing us with your response.