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This Week's Commentary

Proper 10
July 12, 2015
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 | Amos 7:7-15 | Ephesians 1:3-14 | Mark 6:14-29 | Psalm 24 | Psalm 85:8-13
Leslie A.

The lesson in Samuel continues the celebration surrounding David’s assumption of the kingship of Israel. The celebration takes on a particularly ecstatic form as David and others dance with all their might. Several times it is mentioned that they do this in the presence of the ark. There are sacrifices and a sumptuous common meal. Such common meals seem to be a transcultural phenomenon—an expression of hospitality, of gratitude, a sharing and nurturing of life. It is also expressive of the unity of the people. This unity is able to affirm diversity, as can be seen in allusions to shrines of the Northern Kingdom (we need to remember that the Kingdom split into two, the Northern ,Israel, and the Southern ,Judah, after the death of Solomon, David’s son; the theologies that grew out of these kingdoms reflected their different contexts with the North emphasizing their shrines and the tribal confederacy with no need of an earthly king if YHWH is king while the South focused on the royal covenant with David and his descendants as well as the centrality of Jerusalem, the City of David).


Psalm 24

There is some potentially useful material for process theology, some eco-theology in this psalm.

“The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;

24:2 for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.”

There is a strong sense of the world being God’s creation and the need to treat it as such, highlighting human responsibility for creation. On the other hand, we need to ask ourselves whether or not this passage conveys a sense of the earth being inferior to its owner who rules over a world that is inferior.

Then comes a striking a passage, an invitation to live with the one God:

“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?

24:4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false,

and do not swear deceitfully.24:5 They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation.

24:6 Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.”

Thus, those who are pure in the worship of the one God will live in the presence of the Holy One of Israel. While in many ways a beautiful passage, does it lend itself to exclusivism?


Amos 7:7-15

At the end of this reading, Amos asserts that he is no professional prophet but “a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore tree.” This helps in having fewer things getting in the way of proclaiming God’s message. That prophetic message is typically one of a combination of judgment and hope, the judgment seeking to bring a correction of behavior. Amos is an exception to this pattern—there is no hope of redemption although the plumb line suggests the constancy of the presence of God. Nevertheless, his message is one of doom.

Psalm 85:8-13

The heart of this psalm is the vision of the confluence between the “hesed,” the ever present, unbounded, “steadfast love “of God and the response of faithfulness to which humans are called. “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” Righteousness, being right with God in one’s heart manifest in the pursuit of social justice, shares intimacy with “shalom,” the peace and wholeness of the ever present yet ever luring , beckoning Commonwealth of God.


Ephesians 1:3-14 

 This is another passage that is moving in the beauty of its description of the love of God in Christ Jesus and how we are made children of God. A number of questions will nevertheless arise to process thinkers. One question deals with whether or not we are children of God strictly on account of Christ and members of Christ’s body. Are not all humans, in fact all creatures, children of God by virtue of being creatures of God? Secondly, the text contains several references to predestination: “he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Instead of taking this as predestination, process thinkers might claim that in ”the fullness of time,” “the Kairos,” “the ripe” or “right” time are those times when all things are gathered together in love, in the creative transformation that is Christ. To preachers influenced by process thought, this passage can be read in an incarnational way, emphasizing the coinherence of all things in Christ. It might be interesting and helpful to see this in light of Teilhard de Chardin’s notion of the coinherence of all things in the lure of the Omega Point. With regard to this understanding of coinherence, it might also be interesting to note further the work of French Teilhardian process cousins like Claude Tresmontant who developed the idea of a “theologie de energie,” “a theology of energy”—the divine love energy that hold all things, all energies together in love.


Mark 6:14-29

The story of the execution of John the Baptist is a flashback that keeps fresh accounts of conflict and tension between Jesus and the authorities. It also points to the importance of discipleship fro Mark. We saw last week that one purpose of “the Messianic secret” as a literary device is to point to Jesus and his crucifixion as the prototype of discipleship. John the Baptist points to Jesus—not himself for those who might think that he is the Messiah--and thus provides another model of and lure for discipleship.

A possible theme to develop in the sermon is about discipleship, exploring similarities and differences between John the Baptizer and Jesus. One can build on the Whiteheadian notion that all entities, moments of experience receive into their being other moments of experience. Literally, we become members of another. Following Bernard M. Loomer and his concept of “size,” one might develop the idea of how as individuals and communities we might take more and more of the world and its sufferings into ourselves without losing our integrity. Or, in Patricia Adams Farmer’s words, t o grow “fat souls” as a way of discipleship. 

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