Sermons  SSLR  Illustrations  Lenten Resources  News  Devos  Newsletter  Clergy.net  Churchmail  Children  Bulletins  Search


kirshalom.gif united-on.gif

Sermon & Lectionary Resources           Year A   Year B   Year C   Occasional   Seasonal


Join our FREE Illustrations Newsletter: Privacy Policy
Introduction To The Scripture For Ordinary 13 - Year B
II Samuel 1:1,17-27; Psalm 130; II Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43

The following material was written by the Rev. John Shearman (jlss@sympatico.ca) of the United Church of Canada. John has structured his offerings so that the first portion can be used as a bulletin insert, while the second portion provides a more in depth 'introduction to the scripture'.

INTRODUCTION  TO THE SCRIPTURE	
Ordinary Thirteen (Proper 8) B


2 SAMUEL 1:1, 17-27.     David's lament at the death of his king, Saul, and
his close friend, Jonathan, has the majesty of great poetry. Many scholars
have attributed it to David himself. If so it may be one of the earliest
pieces of Hebrew literature dating from before 1000 BC. While it mourns the
king and his son who were killed in battle, it lacks all religious feeling.
It is more of a dirge similar to what one hears when a British monarch dies.


PSALM 130:               This lovely lament also has a permanent place in
world literature. It is one series of psalms identified with the approach of
pilgrims to Jerusalem for one of the great religious festivals, possibly the
Day of Atonement for the sins of the nation.. It ends with a deep expression
of hope in God's steadfast love.


2 CORINTHIANS 8:7-15.    Paul delicately proposes that the Corinthians
complete their collection for the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem. He
has as much concern that the Corinthians learn how to be generous as he is
that they make a large contribution. Gracious giving to help those in need is
based on Christ's own sacrifice for them - and for us.


MARK 5:21-43.            Another crossing of Lake Galilee brought Jesus to
another opportunity for healing. Supposedly the daughter of Jairus, the head
of a synagogue was dying.  While on his way to heal her, Jesus was pressed by
the crowd, but still felt another woman in need seek healing by touching the
hem of his robe. 

The two miracles provide a sharp contrast between the healing of someone who
exhibited faith and another who did not.  To Jesus human need and God's
willingness and power, not the demonstration of good faith, makes the
difference. 
     
This could have a singularly important application for our time when many
political and economic leaders want our national social security and health
systems to be transformed from a basis of need in which all share through
public taxation to a privatized for profit or pay as you go insurance scheme. 

************

2 SAMUEL 1:1, 17-27.  David's lament at the death of his king, Saul, and
his close friend, Jonathan, has the majesty of beautiful poetry. Many
scholars have attributed it to David himself. If so it may be one of the
earliest pieces of Hebrew literature dating from before 1000 BC. While it
mourns the king and his son who were killed in battle, it lacks all
religious feeling. It is more of a dirge similar to what one hears when a
British monarch dies. It might well be read against the background of *The
Dead March from 'Saul'* or a highland lament played on bagpipes which are
so often heard at military funerals.

The site where this battle was fought has become a famous Israeli tourist
attraction. Mount Gilboa is a limestone ridge thrusting some 1700 feet
above the Plain of Jezreel. The more enterprising may climb the ridge by
means of a footpath, but from the valley below even the naked eye can see a
bare tree marking the place where, as 1 Samuel 31:8-10 has it, the
Philistines hung the beheaded bodies of Saul and Jonathan on the walls of
the fortress of Beth-shan. Today, at the base of the mountain in Bet-She'an
National  Park, one can tour the splendid ruins of a Roman and Byzantine
city destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 749 CE. It gives the visitor
a vivid impression of what a death-place this is. 

Vs. 21 of this passage is a curse on the place where Saul fell. The
previous two verses recall the celebration in the Philistine cities along
the Mediterranean coast cited in 1 Sam 31:9. Those who remember as I do the
celebrations of V-E and V-J Days in 1945, understand how poignant is
David's horror at the thought of the Philistines rejoicing. Several years
later I heard a Japanese woman who lost all her family in the bombing of
Hiroshima utter a similar curse and lament for her people at a church
conference on group dynamics at Green Lake, Wisconsin. Are not the scenes
we see televised from the Viet Nam Memorial on Memorial Day or the Canadian
War Memorial on Remembrance Day reminiscent of David's lament? Surely it is
from whatever perspective we experience such moments, we can share the deep
sense of catastrophic grief this lament expresses.


PSALM 130: Some regard this loveliest of psalms as a penitential prayer
rather than a true lament. Yet it has a permanent place in the religious
literature of the world. It is one series of psalms (Pss. 120-
134)identified with either the New Year's festival or the approach of
pilgrims to Jerusalem for one of the great religious festivals. This one
may well have been used on the  the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. The fact
that it omits any reference to atoning sacrifices suggests that it may be a
late composition when such rituals had already lost their significance for
the most devout.

Although the context reveals nothing about its actual circumstances, it
does express a sense of deep devotion as well as the a forthright
confession of the sin. One might speculate whether it was a prayer of a
pious individual or for use by the assembled representatives of the whole
nation. It could also have been effectively used antiphonally.

In vs. 1, the reference to the depths brings forth the image of the
engulfing waters of Sheol into which the dead sink (cf. Isa. 51:10; Jonah
2:3). It also reflects the poet's deep sense of alienation from Yahweh. So
he throws himself on Yahweh's mercy and forgiveness (vss. 3-4) and realizes
that on this alone rests his ultimate security (vss. 5-6).  

Even if this prayer originated from the heart of a singularly pious soul,
it ends with a  plea for all Israel to put its hope in Yahweh's steadfast
love, trusting in Yahweh's power to redeem the sinful nation from all its
iniquities. Many generations in both the Jewish and Christian traditions
have found in it solace for the sin-sick soul. John Wesley's *Journal*
records one of its more significant uses. In Wesley's time, this prayer
entitled *De Profundis* was sung at evensong on the 27th day of each month.
The paragraph in his journal began: "In the afternoon I was asked to go to
St. Paul's." The  psalm in the version from the Book of Common Order
follows. He would have known it by heart. This record is found in the
paragraph immediately previous to the one in which he tells of his
Aldersgate experience when his heart was "strangely warmed."


2 CORINTHIANS 8:7-15. Toward the end of his letter seeking reconciliation
with the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1-9), Paul delicately proposes that they
complete their collection for the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem.
This project had been very close to Paul's heart. He sincerely believed
that as the daughters of the other church, the Gentile congregations had a
duty to help the Mother of all Churches in its time of need. Titus had made
this appeal first to the Corinthians (vs. 6). For some reason they had
withheld their contribution, probably due to their disagreement with Paul
which caused the earlier, painful correspondence. 

[A personal aside: O my! How we Christians still try to control each other
by withholding our stewardship gifts! The very day I wrote this, I received
a series of e-mail messages expressing the fear that if the issue of the
blessing of gay and lesbian marriages is raised in The United Church of
Canada at the General Council meeting in August, many more will withhold
theirgifts to the Mission and Service Fund of our church or withdraw from
our fellowship. Possibly 10,000 members and ordered ministers withdrew in
the 1990s after the General Council adopted a policy accepting gay and
lesbian persons who believe in Jesus Christ as full members and eligible
for consideration as candidates for ordered ministry.] 

After first challenging the Corinthians to follow the example of the
Macedonian churches in Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea, Paul sets before
them the example of Jesus Christ himself. For Paul, the sacrifice of Jesus
did not begin on the cross, nor at this birth. It began when he set aside
his godhead and became incarnate as a humble servant of God in the human
context  of a 1st century Jewish carpenter. (cf. Phil 2:6-8). Gracious
giving to help those in need is based on Christ's own sacrifice for them -
and for us.

Paul has as much concern that the Corinthians learn how to be generous as
he is that they make a large contribution. He cites their previous
eagerness to contribute and asks them to finish what they had begun so well
(vss. 10-11). Many a stewardship sermon has been preached on the text of
vs. 12-14: One's readiness to give has to be matched by one's ability to
give. What one has, not what one lacks, is the only balanced measure of our
stewardship. 

The quotation from Exodus 16:18 in vs. 15 emphasizes Paul's vision of
equality among Christians which requires those who have to share with those
who have not. Such an economic policy is anathema in our crazed profit-
oriented society, yet it also motivates many to contribute generously to
food banks and to send relief to famine- or flood-stricken countries. In
Canada, a modest undertaking in 1999 by Very. Rev. Bill Phipps, then
moderator of The United Church of Canada, attracted considerable attention
to his *Consultation on Faith and the Economy* from those outside the
church fellowship. For instance, he was invited to be the theme speaker at
the annual general meeting of the Halton Social Planning Council, on
Oakville, Ontario, on June 26th. He spoke on *A Moral Crisis: God and the
Marketplace*. In the general federal election in 2000, Phipps ran
unsuccessfully for the New Democratic Party against Preston Manning, the
leader of the right wing Canadian Alliance Party. He was not afraid to take
his conviction into the political arena despite the inevitable rejection of
defeat by in very conservative riding.


MARK 5:21-43.  Mark must have had some special purpose for saying many
times that Jesus and his disciples crossed and recrossed Lake Galilee. In
this passage, yet another crossing brought Jesus two other opportunities
for healing. Supposedly the daughter of Jairus, the head of a synagogue was
dying. While on his way to heal her, Jesus was pressed by the crowd, but
still felt another woman in need seek healing by touching the hem of his
robe. 

Jairus was not a rabbi, but the lay president of the synagogue in his
community. Mark does not identify exactly in which town or village it was
located. The man was desperate about his daughter and pleaded that Jesus
come to his house and lay hands on her. In response to this plea Jesus went
with him and the crowd followed, probably more curious to see another
miracle than to hear what Jesus might have to say. In small communities,
anything unusual draws a crowd. 

One of the people in the crowd was a woman who had suffered from a
menstrual malady for twelve years. Every attempt she had made to get help
from other healers had failed. She was now both desperate and destitute.
Hearing about Jesus, she sought to get close enough  to touch his garment
hoping that it might have the magic that would heal her. When she did touch
him, she was instantly healed. Jesus realized that something unusual had
happened to him too. Looking around at the crowd, he asked who had touched
him, the woman identified herself, but did so in great fear. Jesus had only
compassion for her and sent her on her way with the assurance that her
faith had been rewarded.

Meanwhile, Jairus' daughter had already died, or so her care-givers
thought. Jesus had to reassure Jairus that this was not so and urge him to
let faith deal with his fear. Arriving at the house, he rebuked the
mourners who had already begun their funereal wailing. They derided him, so
he sent them all out of the house, took the parents into the room where the
girl lay, and raised her with a tender word. 

The two miracles provide a sharp contrast between the healing of someone
who exhibited faith and another who did not. To Jesus human need and God's
willingness and power, not the demonstration of good faith, makes the
difference.  The details of these two pericopes should not distract us from
the essential point Mark is making: through Jesus the *shalom* of God has
arrived revitalizing the lives of young and old. Wherever and whenever that
happens, divine compassion for those in need overcomes fear and restores
wholeness to the humblest of human lives. This could have a singularly
important application for our time when many political and economic leaders
want our social security and health systems to be transformed from a basis
of need in which all share through public taxation to privatized for profit
or a pay as you go insurance scheme which many will not be able to afford. 

                         
copyright  - Comments by Rev. John Shearman and page by Richard J. Fairchild, 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these resources.



Further information on this ministry and the history of "Sermons & Sermon - Lectionary Resources" can be found at our Site FAQ.  This site is now associated with christianglobe.com

Spirit Networks
1045 King Crescent
Golden, British Columbia
V0A 1H2

SCRIPTURAL INDEX

sslr-sm