MESSAGE: 8th Sunday after PENTECOST B 18th July 2021
THEMES: The House of God and the Good Shepherd –
these are the two ideas that combine to challenge and inspire us in this week’s Lectionary.
In a world where so many of us seek to domesticate God to our own agendas, the Scriptures reveal a God who will not be tamed, and who calls us into a diverse, inclusive community in which people are cared for, protected and filled with God’s Spirit in order to live in the world as caring shepherds to all.
Cedar house- stone building with Cedar panelling (very expensive, imported from Lebanon, like the Redwood panelling in the Newport Mansions).
Contrasted with the “curtains” which denote that God is still in a tent
“…the King was settled in his house:”- Does God ever settle?- perhaps the rest of the story pinges on this first verse. Humans settle, but God doesn’t settle.
David’s reflection on the homelessness of God comes from a good place, but he comes to the wrong conclusion.
Confines God who cannot be confined (not by a building or a name)
Limits God to one place
Patricia Tull “It will not be David who establishes God, but God who establishes David”
“The royal apparatus is not able to make Yahweh its patron.” Brueggemann
God is the one who will legitimate David’s kingdom, not the other way around. God is not to be used by Kings. Instead of what David “will do for God”, God is the one who will protect Israel, make David’s name great, appoint a place, and give David rest (v. 9-11)
The House – Double meaning
The House = David’s lineage and monarchy
The House = The Temple in which God will indwell
God is constantly moving in this text (vv.6, 7, 8, 9)
Life with God is a journey- not a settling in
Jesus is also homeless and constantly on the move and moving others with him
God moves with us through life- through the valleys and the mountaintops
But there is still a temple vv.10-14
God provides for God’s people. God provides a house. God provides safety. God provides security. Any house for God is given out of thanksgiving, not to define who God is.
Israel will be “planted” it is a living, growing and thriving community- not a set building
God is going to establish a “house” for David, God’s promise is much more lavish than a cedar panelled palace.
Everlasting Kingship (v. 13)
Clearly not true – this does not happen- so what does it mean?
Perhaps it is about God dwelling with God’s people- when a King is no longer needed (or wanted)
Much is made of Jesus being of the lineage of David and Jesus teaches more about the Kingdom of God than anything else. Perhaps this is God
Unlike the promises to Saul, God covenant/promise to David is unconditional – God’s hesed/steadfast love will not be taken away, even though Solomon and David’s descendants (and David himself) will be unfaithful
Psalm 89 as a whole is both a song of praise and an honest wrestling with God over how Israel’s history played out. This particular section sings of the promises God made to David in 2 Samuel 7 and reflects on them with faith and hope.
It understands those promises as constituting a “covenant” (vv. 28 and 34) that God will not break.
ph 2:8-10: “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of.
Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.”
Through baptism into Christ, we become heirs of the “covenants of promise” (v. 12) and “members of the household of God” (v. 19).
Everything promised to David and finally fulfilled in Jesus is granted also to us through our union with Jesus, begun in baptism and nourished and strengthened through holy communion.
And in him, we are being built “into a holy temple in the Lord” (v. 21). God’s presence in the world, once specially concentrated in the ark of the covenant and housed in temple and tabernacle, is now in us (!) who are in Christ.
Through the Holy Spirit, it is both already true and will become even more so what John the Revelator writes: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3, ESV).
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Sheep without a shepherd need a place to belong and someone to care for them. This is the heart of the Scriptures we read this week. In the Gospel of Mark, we read of Jesus looking out at the crowds who follow him and recognising that they need compassion and good leadership. They have been betrayed by their leaders and they are “like sheep without a shepherd.”
And so, filled with compassion, Jesus heals and feeds them
Two implications arise from this for us. The first is that we are the sheep who need the good shepherd to care for us and create for us a place of belonging. Jesus has offered himself to us as exactly this, and has welcomed us into God’s household. The second implication is that we, too, are called to be good shepherds of those for whom we care and with whom we live. We, too, are to welcome others into God’s household and create for them a place of belonging.
This Gospel story begins with the disciples coming back together again with Jesus after a time of separation. Some time before, Jesus broke up the band, sending the disciples out two at a time to proclaim repentance, free those captive to demons, and heal the sick.
He sent them without much notice and with no special equipment or preparation, other than knowing him and witnessing what he did when he went out on the road. They didn’t know what to expect from that unusual time, and often they missed the company of the other disciples. But they got through it.
Here’s what happens when they get back together:
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”
I’m struck by the way Jesus welcomes the disciples back into community here: he listens.
The stories pour out of them—some of the disciples may be elated and proud of what they were able to do, some are carrying the weight of the more difficult moments they experienced on their journey, and some (or maybe all of them) are sorting through a jumble of mixed emotions as they reflect on what they have been through. They need to talk about it all. So Jesus, the teacher and storyteller, gives them the floor and listens.
After listening to the disciples’ stories, Jesus invites them to take time together for some holy rest.
Finally, Jesus’ plan for the disciples to rest and reflect together for a while doesn’t come to pass in the way he seems to have intended. They end up surrounded by crowds of people seeking healing and nourishment—and Jesus rolls with it. He doesn’t push the crowds aside in order to stick to his plan; he teaches and feeds and heals whoever shows up. As your congregation returns to in-person gatherings, who do you think might show up seeking healing from your community? How can you be attentive to unexpected needs that arise and ready to respond with compassion, like Jesus?
We can trust that Jesus will be with us, gathering us in, listening to our stories, inviting us to rest, teaching and healing and feeding us, and sending us out all over again.