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Jul 09

7th Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 15B] (Year B)

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
  • The ark of God – the Ark of the Covenant – is where God “sits”.  This is God’s throne.  It represents the very real presence of the Holy One.
  • While the RCL suggests that we skip over verses 6-11, I think that we miss a lot when we pass over those 6 verses.  I urge you to read the entire passage.  Is the death of Uzzah a strange story?  Definitely.  But I think it gives us a dramatic illustration of why it is dangerous to try to “protect” God.  The Holy One doesn’t need protecting.  We are not called to be bodyguards for the Almighty.
  • Reading this text in The Message can help folks understand the importance and significance of the names that are used.
  • When David dances before the ark of the Lord, he wears only “a linen ephod”.  That’s right, friends… David is dancing in his underwear.  I do NOT recommend doing that in your worship service.  Liturgical dance?  Definitely.  Liturgical dance while only wearing undies?  Definitely not.
  • If you have a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, you could use that in your worship display.  Also, artistic depictions (pictures, paintings) of the Ark of the Covenant could be displayed or projected.
Psalm 24
  • When the Psalmist sings about “those who have clean hands and pure hearts”, I’m not convinced that the Psalmist is singing about us.  Who is it that fits this description?  Christ.  Jesus is the one who “ascends the hill of the Lord” and “stands in his holy place”.  We are in “the company of those who seek him”.
  • If you aren’t already humming the musical setting of this text from Handel’s Messiah…well, I’d like to know how you managed that.  I can’t read this passage without having that tune start running through my brain.  It would be a great Sunday to have the choir sing it – or, play a recorded version before, during, or after worship.
Ephesians 1:3-14
  • Why is it that we typically read the first few verses of this passage and think that we are supposed to “strive” for being “holy and blameless” – as if we are even capable of such a feat?!  God has not chosen us because we are holy and blameless.  God has not chosen us in the hopes that we will shape up and get our acts together so we can start being holy and blameless.  We are made holy and blameless through Christ – it is all about grace.
  • Redemption isn’t redemption if we have to save ourselves.  Grace isn’t grace if we have to earn it.
  • God has “destined us for adoption”…  I read an interesting article on the Huffington Post this past week that made me think about how we talk about children who have been adopted.  God doesn’t call us “adopted children” – God adopts us and calls us “children of God”.
  • We have “obtained an inheritance”… an inheritance that is defined by grace, forgiveness, redemption, and love.  And as a sign of good faith, God has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit – a pledge and down-payment on our inheritance.  Having received this amazing gift, how do we then live?  Paul writes that we are given all these things that we “might live for the praise of his glory”.  I would argue that we do that best when we are extending the same radical grace (that God extends to us through Christ) to others.
  • We were “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit,” so it is a great idea to have the baptismal font at the front of the worship space.  You may even want to have a renewal of the baptismal covenant ceremony during the service.
  • You could use images of adoption paperwork in a variety of ways.  Images could be projected as you read the scripture.  Or, images could be printed on the front of the bulletin.  Can you imagine what the adoption form would have looked like if God had to complete it for the whole of creation (Christ intends to “gather up all things in him”, after all…)?
Mark 6:14-29
  • This is an interesting scripture – and probably one that will take a few people by surprise on Sunday morning.  Let’s face it – most folks probably don’t expect to hear about anyone getting beheaded at a birthday party when they come to worship.
  • I really like the way that Eugene Peterson has presented this narrative in The Message.
  • Be careful what you say you will do.  Don’t make open-ended promises — you just may lose someone else’s head.
  • If you have a large platter, you may want to use it in your worship display.  You could include a sword in that display, too.  I would not suggest using a human head.  Seriously, folks…we do need to draw the line somewhere.  Of course, there are artistic depictions of this story that you may want to project or display.

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