Year B – Proper 8 – Mark 5:21-43

Mark 5:21–43 NRSV –    When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 5:22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 5:23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 5:24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 5:25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 5:26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 5:27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 5:28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 5:29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 5:30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 5:31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 5:32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 5:33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 5:34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 5:35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 5:36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 5:37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 5:38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 5:39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 5:40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 5:41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 5:42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 5:43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Summary – This passage is one story interrupting another with several parallels. Mark does this to make a contrast. Both of them are about a kind of death, both have authorities, both have “daughters,” and the point is the response of faith. Jairus’s daughter is about to die. She is 12 and Jairus, a Jewish leader, seeks the help of Jesus. This story is interrupted with a woman who has suffered for 12 years with a kind of ceremonial death. Her flow of blood would have made her unclean in the Jewish world so that should couldn’t worship or receive hospitality. She was dead to the community because of her ritual uncleanness. She reaches out to Jesus and touches him for healing. Just as Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well” to her, they reported to Jairus, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” Despite their unbelief and scorn of Jesus, He sits down on the bed and calls this young girl to “get up.” The word, “talitha” is a term that could best be translated, “honey” or “sweetie” “get up.”

Insight – Jairus’s faith was not strong enough to believe on the basis of Jesus’s word alone. He required Jesus to come to his house and touch her personally (unlike the story of the Centurion who told Jesus to just say the word, Mt 8:8). But this leader was surrounded by even more doubt and fear, so much so that “they laughed at him.” On the other hand the woman with the issue of blood had been cut off from the community and no one had helped her. Yet she had faith enough to receive healing from Jesus even without His personal attention on her. The words of Jesus show this contrast: to the woman – ““Daughter, your faith has made you well.” To Jairus – “Do not fear, only believe.” Jesus then took this young “daughter” by the hand and said, “Honey, get up.” This showed his power over death. We must remember that it is not fear that brings life and healing, but faith alone, holding onto Jesus alone.

Catechism – What did Jesus say to the little girl? “Honey, get up.”

Discussion – Why didn’t Jesus become unclean when the unclean woman touched him? How is does this show His power?

Prayer – Father and God, we thank you for the power of life over death in Jesus Christ our Lord who took our death and was raised to life. Give us this life even now as we trust in Him, letting go of our doubts and unbelief. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Year B – Proper 8 – Psalm 30

1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.*
4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment;
his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity,
‘I shall never be moved.’
7 By your favour, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
8 To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
9 ‘What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!’
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my soul* may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

SummaryDavid probably wrote this psalm for the dedication of his own, private house—it was a fitting occasion to reflect on God’s kindness to him.  In this psalm, David recalls a time that he harbored a sinful attitude: self-reliance as opposed to God-reliance, in response to his success (“I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved,’” v.6).  The problem was that God, not David, had established David like a strong mountain (v.7a).  In response to David’s pride, God lovingly disciplined him, hiding His face from him (v.7b), and causing him to become so ill that death seemed likely (v.3 and v.9).  Thankfully, God’s anger is but for a moment, whereas His favor is for a lifetime (v.5): David cried to God for help, and God healed him (v.2), saving him from the grave, restoring his life (v.3).  In response to this, David lifted God’s Name up in praise (that’s the meaning of “extol”) just like God had lifted David’s health up in mercy (v.1). 

InsightGod won’t let you take credit for what He does.  Not very publicly, anyway, and not for very long.  He didn’t let Gideon take much of an army into battle (Judges 7), and He destroyed the king of Assyria for thinking that he was anything more than an axe in God’s hand (Is. 10), and He struck down Herod for not giving Him the glory (Acts 12), and He has elected to salvation mainly those of us who are not very impressive (1 Cor. 1:26-29).  This is all because God is precisely what we should be: God-centered.  Everything is about Him.  Mountains and oceans and flowers and snails are all about God.  And we were made to be about God.  And yes, God is about God: Scripture tells us repeatedly that God does what He does for His Name’s sake, for His own glory, that He may be feared.  Isn’t that self-centered of Him?  Well, there are at least three ways we could answer that:  [1]  Yes, that is quite faithfully self-centered of God!  See, the rule of the universe is not, “Don’t be self-centered.”  That simply isn’t the point.  The rule of the universe is, “Be God centered.”  For us, that means, “Don’t be self-centered;” for God, that means, “Be self-centered.”  [2]  Everything God feels and does is wrapped up in the giving, overflowing, Others-centered love of Tri-unity.  When the Father guards His own Name, He’s lovingly guarding the Name of the Son and Spirit.  When the Son builds His Kingdom, it’s to lovingly deliver it over to His Father.  When the Spirit gloriously manifests Himself, it’s to lovingly glorify the Son.  Since God is Triune, He can’t do anything that isn’t automatically for Others.  [3]  When God glorifies Himself, He’s doing it for our joy!  How could He not?  What could thrill us more deeply than the splendor of God?  We can never find more than finite joy in finite things, but we may find infinite joy in an Infinite Person.  Our truest, deepest, most soul-satisfying joys are in God Himself.  If you take some pleasure in seeing the Poconos, and even greater pleasure in seeing the Rockies, and even greater pleasure in seeing the Alps, what will it be to see God on Mt. Zion?  And so, when God guards and displays His own glory for His own pleasure, He’s guarding and displaying it for our pleasure, too.

Child Catechism
Q:  If you are established like a strong mountain, what has done it?
A:  The Lord’s favor.

DiscussionWhat’s the difference between God’s response to, say, Herod, and His response to David, when they both commit the same sin?

PrayerAlmighty God, You are great, and greatly to be praised.  There is no god like You—there is none beside You.  You will not share Your glory with another, but will jealously guard and display it in the love of Your Tri-unity, and in love toward us whose souls will be restless until they find rest in it.  Grant us a glimpse of Your glory sufficient to eclipse in us any desire for our own, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who always lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.  AMEN.

 

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – Proper 8 – 2 Cor 8:7-15

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you— see that you excel in this act of grace also.  I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written,“Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

Summary – Paul uses the example of the Macedonian Christians in the preceding verses, who generously gave to benevolence needs over and above their means to support other Christians.  Paul in this passage exhorts the Corinthians to “excel” in this area just like they excel in many other things.  Jesus’ example is key here:  though He was rich, He became poor for our sake.  And as the Corinthians started out in this area, they are to finish it as well.

Insight – Did you ever start something and not finish it?  A story?  A painting?  A garden?  Cleaning the toys up?  It seems to be the case that when we leave something unfinished, it is harder to start it again because we have to get into the right mindset again.  It seems easier to start fresh or just not at all.  When Paul is writing to the Corinthians he recognizes that they give generously to people in need.  But starting to do that isn’t enough: they are to “finish doing it” or to finish their growing to excellence in this area.  Start to practice generosity, yes, but practice until you’re really good and don’t give up!  Finish well.

Child Catechism – What should you do to get better at serving God?  Practice every day.

Discussion – What are some ways you can stay motivated to learning to excel at generosity?

Prayer – Lord thank you for leaving your heavenly riches and becoming poor for our sake.  May we who are self-centered learn to set aside our “riches” generously for your church’s work, and for those who need it.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Year B – Proper 7 – 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

Summary – Paul continues his explanation of the apostolic ministry.  Their goal is to make no obstacles for people to accept the Gospel, by their absorption of any possible persecution, which Paul lists out in verse 5.  But also, vs 6, their faithful and fruitful working.  These lists commingle in the following verses.  But his final point in the section is that though they seem to be downtrodden and afflicted in every way, really the opposite is true.  They possess everything, because of their eternal hope in Christ.  The Corinthians are exhorted to expand their affections to encompass a full-orbed love and devotion to Christ.

Insight – Do you ever feel like there are times in your relationship with God that things are going all wrong?  Many people feel this way and, a lot of times, these periods are ones where we feel “distant” from God.  But we should be given hope by this, that even Paul and the apostles went through difficulties: they were beaten, hungry, slandered, and on and on–things we don’t even experience to the same degree–and yet they realized that these things could be dealt with through purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, etc.  Basically the “Fruit of the Spirit.”  Moreover they knew that since they knew the Truth, they were richer than anyone else.  In times when we feel that things are going all wrong, remember not to pull away from God, but rather to press in through the full “Armor of God.”  Even though in the world’s eyes we may be disgraced, God’s eyes (the ones that count) see it differently.

Child Catechism – Who gives you the strength to overcome hard times?  The Holy Spirit working in my life.

Discussion – What is the relationship between the Apostles’ persecution and ours (how are they similar and yet different)?

Prayer – Father thank you that you have given us your Son and your Spirit to redeem us and to live through us.  Give us strength to obey and to look to you even through tough times.  Amen.

Year B – Trinity 7 – 1 Samuel 17:32-49

1 Samuel 17:32-49:  David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

38 Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

41 The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” 45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.” 48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. (NRSV)

 

Summary:  This familiar scene between David and Goliath has become an iconic showdown for all those underdogs pitted against an invincible foe.  But David is not the lone hero of this story (nor would he let himself be); Instead, it was for the Lord’s honor and His glory that David fought (vv45,46).  Probably the age of an older teen at the time, David was nevertheless behaving as the noble and true leader for God’s people—though it would still be years before he was publically recognized as the king.

 

Insight:  Can you image that your parents were once teenagers?  It may be hard to believe, but all of us adults were at one time in your, or in your older siblings, shoes.  Being a young adult is not quite like being an adult, but it certainly feels like you’re not kid anymore.  We’ve been there and so was David.  Despite his youth, he demonstrated a remarkable level of spiritual maturity and wisdom.  His youthful drive and focus was one of humble servanthood and properly placed zeal.  Something we adults, and future adults alike, do well to learn from.

 

Child Catechism:  Why would David fight Goliath?  Because he had defiled the armies of the living God.

Discussion:  Parents, what teenage challenges did you face and overcome with God’s help?  Children (and youth adults), what Goliath-size challenges are your facing in your youth?

 

Father we remember your steadfast love and devotion to your people

In all stages of our life, protector us and stand with us

Our battles are your battles

In the power of your Spirit and the name of the King, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

 

Contributed by M. West

Year B – Proper 7 – Mark 4:35–41

Mark 4:35–41 NRSV –    On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 4:36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 4:37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 4:38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 4:39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 4:40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 4:41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Summary – In this remarkable episode in the ministry of Christ, the disciples and the Lord are on the Sea of Galilee in a small boat. In the previous chapter Christ had been pressed hard by many people and could hardly eat, let alone rest. Finally some peace and quiet in the back of the boat on a cushion. This body of water is known for sudden tempests and it seems that just as Jesus began sleeping soundly a tempest arose. The disciples were in panic mode but Jesus slept. He had no fear of the circumstances. Waking Him they cried out to Him. Famously Jesus calmed the wind and the waves with His command. The disciples were astonished at His power.

Insight – Have you ever been caught in a storm? Do you fear thunder and lightening? It really depends on where you are. If you are inside a nice home with no trees around then there’s nothing much to fear in a thunderstorm But if you are in a small sail boat that is taking on water, then fear is a natural response. But what do we do when we are afraid. A  children’s song by Steve Greene teaches a simple biblical truth, “When I am afraid I will trust in You, trust in You” (from Psalm 56:3). In this case the disciples were afraid, but they didn’t follow the wisdom of the Psalm and “trust in You.” Their fear did not lead to faith but to freaking out. Before Christ rebuked the storm, He rebuked the hearts of the disciples for their lack of faith. Keep in mind that Christ had performed many miracles before them already. God often uses fearful circumstances to reveal our true state of trust.

Catechism – What should you do when you are afraid? Trust in Him.

Discussion – What circumstances in your life make you afraid? How are you handling that fear?

Prayer – O Lord, you calmed the wind and waves with your word, now speak the word of “peace” to our hearts so that we may not live in a storm of fear arising from within. Grant that we may have your peace in our hearts as we trust in you through all the tempests of life, for you are the Master and Commander of all. In your name, Amen.

Year B – Proper 6 – Mark 4:26-34

Mark 4:26–34 NRSV –    He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 4:27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 4:28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 4:29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” 4:30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 4:31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 4:32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” 4:33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 4:34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Summary –  In the first parable, The Parable of the Soil, we have the teaching that the soil produces growth all by itself (literally the Greek word is “automatically” v28). This growth happens “without visible cause.” It does not depend upon men and refers to the work God does (invisibly). The second parable, The Parable of the Mustard Seed, is well known (v31). It teaches that what starts in a tiny way can grow very large. The tiniest seed can produce a giant plant. In fact, the Mustard plant (of this region) could reach a height of 12-15 feet in just a few weeks.  This parable teaches us to expect great growth of the reign and rule of Jesus at God’s right hand.

Insight – Many people get their view of what God is doing in the world and what He is going to do from the newspaper or CNN. Prophecy teachers pronounce “the end is near.” However, the Parables of the Kingdom give us clear images of what to expect regarding Christ’s Kingdom in the world. And what do they teach? A defeated King and a depleted Kingdom? Not at all. This Kingdom is not a result of human works or effort, but the work of God’s Spirit. It will grow to fill all the world. The Kingdom started with a few followers of Jesus and has grown to a billion people. That’s growth and were not done yet. The promise is that it will fill the world and “the world will be saved through Him” (Jn 3:17) so that people from every tribe and tongue and nation will be redeemed (Rev. 5:7).

Catechism – Will Christ’s Kingdom grow to fill all the world? Yes, to every tribe and tongue and nation.

Discussion – What are some reasons people think Christ’s Kingdom will not transform the world?

Prayer – Almighty God, we praise you for your power and all that you have accomplished through sending our Lord Jesus Christ into the world. We thank you that we are part of your vast Kingdom and that the gospel will continue to change the lives of people. Grant that we may be faithful to speak and live out this gospel. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Year B – Proper 6 – 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel. 16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”a 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

 

Insight:  There will be many unforgettable moments in your life; usually these will be life-changing and defining moments that signal a new era, a new development, or a new found role in your life.  Image getting behind the wheel of that car for first time, alone with the road and radio; turning around together, as the pastor introduces you as husband and wife; or with yet another diploma in hand,  smiling as your family proudly gathers around.  This passage tells of one such defining moment in David’s and in Samuel’s lives.  This was also a turning pointing in Israel’s history.  Thereafter, David was seen as the exemplary human king;  and it would be his son who would lead them to victory and lasting peace.  Saul had not been such a good example.  He had been a disobedient king and now the Lord was to name this youngest of eight boys the future king of Israel.  While it is uncertain just how much David and his family understood at this moment.  This occasion was God’s way of setting David apart; and this young shepherd boy would grow to be a man after God’s own heart.

Catechism Question:  What did Samuel use to anoint David?  The horn of oil.

Discussion:  What have been some defining moments in your life?  What were David’s qualifications for becoming king?  What had been some of the reason why Saul was rejected as king?

Your hand is upon your people, O God,
to guide and protect them through the ages.
Keep in your service
those you have called and anointed,
that the powers of this world may not overwhelm us,
but that, secure in your love,
we may carry out your will
in the face of all adversity. Amen.

Contributed by M. West

Year B – Proper 6 – Psalm 20

1May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
3May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
4May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!
5May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
6Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
9O LORD, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.

Summary—King David has just offered pre-battle sacrifices, entreating God’s favor as he prepares to lead his army into war.  As he sets out, the congregation of Israel sends him off with Ps. 20, which is a blessing on him in his mission: a kind of prayer for him, as it were.  The first five verses are sung to him corporately; then, verses 6-8 are called out in liturgical response by a single voice (possibly that of a priest); finally, the congregation calls out verse nine together.  The next psalm—Ps. 21—is a pair with this one, and there are explicit clues in ps. 21 that it is ultimately about Jesus, which means that our psalm today—ps. 20—is also ultimately about Jesus.  So who are we in this psalm?  We’re the congregation singing this psalm to our King—Jesus—as He engages in His mission (namely, His mission to save the world).  What does that mean for you?  It means that you should pray for and expect the success of your King’s mission.

Insight—The first five verses clue us in to at least five ways that we can pray for our King’s mission:  [1] We can pray that God would do again what He’s done before (v.1 is about God doing for David what He did for Jacob).  [2] We can pray that help will come from the heavenly Sanctuary (v.2 says something about the kind of God from whom we can expect help).  [3] We can pray that the King’s sacrifice would “get what it got” (v.3 is about God’s acceptance of David’s sacrifice guaranteeing the success of David’s mission, which typifies God’s acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice guaranteeing the success of Christ’s mission; so, we pray that each day, Christ’s sacrifice would collect more of the worshipers which it purchased).  [4] We can pray that our King would get the desires of His heart (v.4 is ultimately about Jesus conquering the nations with His gospel and taking them captive to His love).  [5] We can pray for our joy and dominion in our King’s joy and dominion.  Finally, verses 6-8 lead us to expect the success of our King’s mission, knowing that God delivers whom He anoints (v.6), and knowing that He delights to deliver through foolish and weak means (vss. 7-8).

Child Catechism
Q:  Why should we pray for the success of King Jesus’ mission to save the world?
A:  Because He’s our King!

Discussion—In v.4, Israel prays that her king would get the desires of his heart.  What are some desires of King Jesus’ heart for which we could pray?

Prayer—Almighty God, You have acted mightily and savingly in history; do so again, drawing the peoples of the earth to Yourself!  Send aid from Mt. Zion, Your Sanctuary, to the mission of Your Son, which is to make the kingdoms of the world His Kingdom, so that He may deliver that Kingdom over to You.  Having accepted His sacrifice, collect this day more of the worshipers which it purchased.  Grant to our King the desires of His heart—the nations, the inheritance which You have promised Him.  May we shout for joy over Your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

 

Year B – Proper 6 – 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

So we are always of good courage.  We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

“[Christians] are unknown, and they are condemned.  They are put to death, and they gain life.  They are poor, but make many rich; they are destitute, but have an abundance of everything.”  —Letter to Diognetus (2nd century AD)

Summary – Having just explained the apostolic teaching on a Christian’s view towards persecution–that a Christian can have hope through troubles since their body will be raised and redeemed after their death–Paul moves to seal up the passage with a motivation to righteousness.  Since the Spirit is our guarantee of eternal life (5:5) we can be of good courage (5:6).  There is a reason for doing good works:  we do them by faith (5:7) to please God with our lives (5:9).  And there is reward or punishment for the things we do with our lives (5:10).

Insight – Has anyone ever told you, “It doesn’t really matter what you do.  You can just do anything you want and there is nothing bad that can happen.”  Does this match up with what the Bible teaches us?  This passage teaches us otherwise.  It is true that we can be forgiven of our sins, but it is not true that what we do does not matter.  St. Paul tells us that we will receive “what is due” for what we have done in our lives.  But we should also remember that the reward for our efforts may not come in this life: we receive “what is due” after this life is over.  This is good reason to be “of good courage.”  Jesus has overcome the world, so we do not lose heart, and can faithfully follow Him in our daily lives.

Child Catechism – What is your goal in life?  To please God in everything I do.

Discussion – When Paul says, “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (5:8), does he mean that our goal is to leave our physical body forever?  Why or why not?  (see 4:14 and 5:4)

Prayer – Lord give us courage to live in ways that please you.  Give us the faith to walk faithfully, even though we cannot see with our eyes what our final reward looks like.  Thank you that we can trust in your grace and your sovereign power.  In Christ’s name, Amen.