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Jul 18

8th Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 16B] (Year B)

2 Samuel 7:1-14a
  • David means well, but he’s pretty clueless.  He’s feeling comfortable and safe, and he gets the brainy idea that the ark of God needs a fancier place to stay.  So, David tells Nathan the prophet that he wants to build a house for God.  God’s take on this idea: “Thanks, but no thanks.  It isn’t your job – and it isn’t your place – to build a fancy box for me to live in.  That’s not how I roll.”
  • In what ways do we try to fashion houses for God to live in today?  What are the sizes and shapes of the boxes we use?
  • Ultimately, David isn’t the one who builds a house for God.  Instead, we see that God will build a house for David.  The last few verses of this text point to Christ.
  • You may want to use a variety of building materials in your worship display — items like hammers, nails, wooden boards, and blueprints…
Psalm 89:20-37
  • If we operate with the “traditional” notion of who wrote the Psalms (David), then I have to say that David seems like a bit of an ego-maniac in this particular passage from Psalm 89.  And, if we consider all of his shenanigans that we’ll read about next week…that idea might not be that far off the mark.  That said, if you are wanting to preach on this passage, it will probably be helpful to read the entire Psalm.
  • Items such as a crown or a flask of anointing oil could be used in your worship display.  Also, since there is mention of the continuing lineage of David, you may want to create/display a family tree (either with or without names).
Ephesians 2:11-22
  • For those who are uncomfortable with using the word “circumcision” in worship, you will want to read this scripture from The Message.  (Yes, I have had people mention that they were concerned about that kind of “graphic” language being used in worship.  The fact that it is in the Bible in several places doesn’t seem to matter when there are a few kids or others who squirm when words like “circumcision” are used.  Bottom line: know your context and pick your battles.)
  • This passage should be mandatory reading for each and every church in each and every denomination.  Seriously.  Verses 14-16 should be read at the start of each and every denominational meeting (and, I think, read again before each and every vote).
  • Jesus “has broken down the dividing wall”.  You could make an interactive worship display that invites people to work with Jesus to break down the dividing walls between us.  Cover boxes with craft paper to create “bricks”, and label them with all the things that cause division (hate, disrespect, mistrust, lies, rumors, judgments, etc).  Build a “wall” at the front of the worship space – perhaps between the Table and the people.  Prior to Communion (or, following the proclamation of the Word), invite the congregation to help knock down and dismantle the wall.
    • If you want to take it a step further, distribute markers and invite folks to cross out the divisive word and write a word that describes how God calls us to serve together (love, trust, respect, truth, honor, grace, peace, compassion, etc).  When the new words are written, use the “bricks” to create an altar or table.  If it is large enough, you could place a board on your creation and use it as the Table (and celebrate Communion).
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
  • The theme of “Sabbath” is hard to avoid with this text — which is probably a good thing, since it is such an important topic to consider.  Where do you enjoy your Sabbath rest?  (You do enjoy Sabbath rest, right?  It is one of the Commandments…just sayin’…)
  • Did you notice how excited the people are to find Jesus and be where he is?  I wonder, sometimes, if we are ever that excited to engage the Lord.
  • Once again, the folks that put together the RCL decided to skip over several verses.  If you aren’t thrilled with the selection they are suggesting, you may want to check out the “full” version of the text.
    • Of course, if you use the “hidden” verses, you should know that the feeding of the 5000 shows up in the Gospel reading next week.  That said, it could be interesting to study that narrative from Mark this week and from John next week.
    • The other part of the “hidden” narrative (verses 47-52) presents Jesus walking on the sea.  It is one of the most interesting versions of this story, I think.  Here’s what happens: the disciples are struggling against the wind, Jesus walks out on the sea toward them (though, apparently, he intends to pass by them), the disciples freak out (thinking that they need to call Ghostbusters), Jesus gets in the boat, the wind dies down, and the disciples are confused (not about Jesus’ walking on water or calming the winds, but about the whole miracle of the loaves thing that happened just a few verses earlier).  This text raises a lot of questions, and they may be fun to explore in a sermon (or two, or three).

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