Proper 10

July 16, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Reading 2: 
Psalm 24
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 1:3-14
Reading 4: 
Mark 6:14-29
By Marjorie Suchocki

The Texts
2 Samuel recounts David's moving of the ark of the covenant, and the disastrous effect when Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark when it begins to fall. Psalm 24 praises the “King of Glory,” or God's presence in the temple at Jerusalem. Ephesians bespeaks the lavish kindness of God, and Mark 6 tells of the beheading of John the Baptist.

Process Themes: Ephesians 1:3-14
This is a rich text, leading into the unit that encompasses the first three chapters of Ephesians. The problem being addressed is the strife within the church between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Since the Gentiles had not been circumcised, they were considered inferior. And since all Christians in the earliest church were also Jewish, the uncircumcised Gentiles were “newer” Christians. The burden of Ephesians 1-3 is to claim that all divisions between Christians are of no account, for Christ has broken down the walls that would divide us from one another. And all of us are embraced within the lavish kindness of God toward us. The lectionary text details the kindness of God. In process perspective, God's own character is the everlasting unification of all possibilities ordered toward the maximum good of all that is. In this text, God chose us in love, predestined us in kindness, and freely bestowed the riches of grace upon us. Indeed, God lavishes this grace upon us, and makes known to us the mystery of the divine will that all things should be united in Christ in the fullness of time. And all of this is to the praise of God's glory. God's glory, then, is precisely God's grace. And God's grace, in turn, is God's lavish kindness toward us. We are embraced by God. Since we are thus embraced by God, we in turn are called to be “lavishly” kind to one another, open to one another beyond those differences that would otherwise divide us.

Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki is Professor Emerita, Claremont School of Theology, co-director of Process Studies, and the author of several books, including Divinity and Diversity, God Christ Church, and In God's Presence. She is the director of the annual Whitehead International Film Festival, held in Mudd Theatre during Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend and also teaches a Faith & Film class during this event.