Year B – Proper 5 – Psalm 130

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.

Summary— Guilt before the Judge is a deep pit—you can’t climb out; a sinful habit is deep quicksand—you can’t claw yourself out; discouragement about guilt and habitual sin is a deep ocean—you can’t stop sinking.  So it’s from “the depths” that the psalmist cries to God (v.1).  All he wants is to know that his cries reach God’s ears (v.2).  Which, of course, would be pointless if God kept record of our sins—if He did that, which of us would be left standing? (v.3)—but God doesn’t keep record of our sins: He forgives us for Christ’s sake, and in response we feel grateful reverence (v.4).  The psalmist wants to get to that place again, so he’s hoping in the promises and precedents of God’s Word (v.5) while waiting for Him more longingly than those who live through hellish nights wait for the morning (v.6).  And the psalmist is not content to be alone in his hope: he calls on the whole nation to long for and hope in God as he does, knowing that God has love and redemption not only for him, but for all others also (v.7-8).

Insight— If your head’s just been under water, while ankle weights dragged you down, and you’d known that you couldn’t do a thing about it, and you’d cried out, sure that nobody could hear your cries under water, and if God has just reached down and plucked you out and set you on a rock, because He actually could hear you under water, well, then you’re feeling grateful reverence (v.4).  If we don’t feel that way—if we don’t feel the reverence that comes of being rescued from an otherwise hopeless situation—it’s because we don’t grasp how nightmarishly terrifying our situation really was without God’s forgiveness. 

Child Catechism
Q:  Why does God forgive?
A:  So that He may be revered.

Discussion—What are some things that keep us from realizing how desperate a situation sin is, with the result that we do not feel the grateful reverence which overwhelms those who’ve just been rescued (v.4) from the depths (v.1)?

Prayer
Out of the depths we cry to You, O Lord.
Lord, hear our voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
to the voice of our supplications!
If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
so that You may be revered.
We wait for You, our souls wait,
and in Your word we hope;
our souls wait for You
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O LORD, our family will hope in You!
For with You there is steadfast love,
and with You is great power to redeem.
It is You who will redeem our family
from all its iniquities.  AMEN.

 

Contributed by Scott Cline

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Year B – Trinity 2 – Mark 3:20-35

Mark 3:19–35 NRSV –   3:20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 3:21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 3:23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 3:24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 3:25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 3:26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 3:27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. 3:28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 3:30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” 3:31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 3:32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 3:33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 3:34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 3:35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Summary  –  In this passage of Mark we have the teaching of Christ’s new authority as a new Adam in the world (casting out Satan).  This set in the midst of an encounter with Jesus’s own biological family (his mother and half-brothers and half-sisters). They were trying to keep Jesus from embarrassment or themselves from shame. “For people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.'” The Scribes said He had a demon. It is in just this setting that we have a one of the strongest statements of Jesus’s authority to bind Satan and take the rightful place of the True Ruler of the World. Christ reigns and those who do the will of God are His brothers and sisters and mother.

Insight – In this season of  Pentecost the Gospel texts show our empowerment to accomplish God’s will in the world. In the previous Gospel readings of John 16 and John 17 Christ promised and delivered judgment on the former “Ruler of this World.” Satan had authority in the world prior to Christ. His authority came through deception and lies at the Fall of Adam and Even (Gen. 3). He was legally in a place in which He had authority since Adam yielded authority and power to Satan. As Mark 3:27 makes clear Christ came to “tie up” or “bind” the Strong Man, Satan so that “the house can be plundered” (v27). See also Hebrews 2:14-15 – He rendered “powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” and Colossians 2:15,  “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” Because of this we have the authority in Him to accomplish the mission God has given us in the world. We must believe that  Christ has now “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:19) and no demonic or Satanic force has authority. Though Satanic forces have some power through temptation, they have no  rightful authority.

Catechism – Who are the brothers, sisters and mothers of Christ? Those who do the will of God.

Discussion – How much authority does the devil have in the world today? How much power does the devil have in the world?

Prayer – Almighty Father of our Lord Jesus, you sent Christ into the world that the world might be saved through Him. Through His sinless life and death for sins, you provided an atonement for all the fallen race of Adam and through His resurrection and glorious ascension you placed Jesus as the supreme Lord and King of all heaven and earth. Grant that we may trust Him and not give power to the defeated dark forces in the world by our unbelief. In the name of the only King, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Year B – Trinity 2 – 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.  For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Summary – This passage falls in the context of one of Paul’s discourses on the ministry of the Apostles.  The Apostles preach the plain truth of the Gospel (4:2), the substance of which is “Jesus Christ is Lord” (4:5).  Because of this, they are “afflicted” (4:8) in every way and even given over to martyrdom (4:11).  But Paul uses this subject to explain the outcome of Christian death.  Picking up on Psalm 116 in 4:13, he acknowledges the fleshly affliction they are sustaining, but incidentally Psalm 116:15–not quoted by Paul but no doubt in mind–says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”  Adopted as sons and heirs, and with perseverance in suffering (Rom 8:17), we will be raised from the dead to be with Christ (4:14), clothed with a more physical body than we have now (5:4) which is our eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (4:18).

Insight – I remember camping in tents with a couple friends one time when I was younger.  We came back to our camp at one point only to find that wind had blown through while we were away and uprooted our tents and sent them rolling into a nearby tree!  Or maybe you have built a tent at home using blankets and chairs.  Those are pretty easy to tear apart, aren’t they?  See, there is a reason most people don’t live in tents on a long-term basis.  They just don’t last as long as solid, permanent houses.  Not even close!  Our bodies are like tents.  They will not last forever.  But St. Paul teaches us in this passage that though our bodies won’t last forever, we do not lose heart.  That is because we can have hope that our bodies will be raised and we will be transformed into a new body.  Compared to our current bodies which are like tents, those bodies will be like strong, permanent houses.

Now we get sick.  We break our bones.  We get tired.  But in the hope of putting on a new and better body, we are to “increase thanksgiving” for God’s glory.

Child Catechism – Will your body last forever?  No.  But one day it will be raised to life and changed into one that will.

Discussion – Open your Bibles to Psalm 116 and read it through.  How many parallels between it and this passage can you find?  How do the two relate?

Prayer – Our Father, who has raised Jesus Christ from the dead and set Him in the heavens, we thank you for your promise that you will likewise raise us and bring us into your presence.  By your Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, help us to humbly accept our present afflictions in the hope of resurrection, that we might increase our thanksgiving to you for your grace.  Accept our thanksgiving that your Triune name may be glorified.  In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.