Jul 22

9th Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 17B] (Year B)

2 Samuel 11:1-15
  • David may be one of the biggest heroes of the entire Hebrew Testament, but he isn’t a saint.  David it, perhaps, a perfect example of what happens when we think that since we were “chosen” by God that we have special privileges.  The David we meet in this passage isn’t where he’s supposed to be (he’s being a couch potato, when he’s supposed to be leading his troops into battle), and he isn’t keeping to the commandments (adultery, false witness, murder).  It is as though David has decided that since God has promised to never break the covenant with him, he (David) can do whatever he wants and get away with it.
  • Since David took notice of Bathsheba while she was taking a bath, you may want to include bath-related items in your worship display: wash basin, pitcher, bars of soap, back scrubber/brush, towels…
Psalm 14
  • Who are the fools?  The sad reality: we all are.
  • If you are looking for the “hope” in this passage, you can find it in the last sentence.  The psalmist writes “When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people”; it is important to note the “when” (not “if”).
  • Preaching on this passage?  You may want to use a jester’s hat in your worship display (which is an interesting visual reminder of the word “fool”).
Ephesians 3:14-21
  • In this passage, Paul offers a prayer for the Church.
  • Without much (if any) alteration, this text could be used as a benediction, charge, and/or blessing.
  • With the repeated references to prayer (I pray…I pray…), you may want to display images of people praying, hands folded in prayer, and/or hands lifted in prayer.
John 6:1-21
  • Every time I read the story of the feeding of the 5000, I notice something new.  Of course, each Gospel writer puts his own spin on it (as you may have noticed in the “hidden” verses from last week’s lesson from Mark), so that gives us a little bit of variety to work with as we explore this text again and again.
  • Did you notice that John has this miraculous event take place at the time of the Passover?
  • This is a great text to use to talk about stewardship.  There is a beautiful transition that happens, moving from want to plenty (all centered around Christ, Communion, and Community).
  • The scripture talks about 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, so…why not use that in your worship display?
    • The “safe” route would be to just use the bread.  I suggest using loaves of bread that are large enough to make a real visual impact in your worship space (tiny loaves of bread on a huge table will get lost).  Remember – this is a story about abundance
    • The “not-so-safe” route would be to use bread and fish in your worship display.  To do this, you really need to know your context – you, and you alone, will know what will work or not work in your worship community.  That said, there are a lot of options for using fish in your worship display.  You could simply use plastic (fake) fish, which you may be able to find in craft stores (or, maybe, toy stories).  Or, you could use fish that you can actually eat (this is a great day to have an interactive display).  You could cook some fish, or you could use dried/cured/smoked fish.
    • If you are going to offer fish for people to eat, you need to be mindful of people in your congregation who may be allergic to fish.  The same goes for those who may have gluten allergies (with the bread).  Again…know your context, and use your head.
  • Another possibility for your worship display: 12 basket “full” of leftovers.  I’m not sure that I would bother with the fish if you do this.  You will need 12 baskets – the larger the better (though, you want them to fit your worship space).  Since the baskets in the story are filled with leftovers, you will want them to look like they are filled with leftover chunks of bread – so, fill each basket with balls of newspaper before topping it with large chunks of bread (with the crust on it, so it has some “texture” that has more visual interest).
  • The last few verses of this passage tell us of Jesus’ walking on the sea (in the dark, while a strong wind is blowing).  I am particularly fond of the last sentence, that seems to say that just as the disciples decided to let Jesus get in their boat…the boat reached the shore.
  • If you are focusing on the “walking on water” portion of this passage, you may want to have an actual boat in your worship display.  Draping water-colored fabrics (blues, greens, etc) can also help set the scene for talking about Jesus’ trek across the sea.

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