Proper 15 – Year B (8/19/12)

11 Aug

Assigned Readings for today –

1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14 or Track 2 Psalm 34:9-14 & Proverbs 9:1-6;

Ephesians 5:15-20

John 6:51-58       

Psalm 111

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; 

all those who practice it have a good understanding.

Opening Questions

  • Do you believe that your personal spirituality needs nourishment?
  • What sort of spiritual diet is appropriate and why?

Appointed Passages[1] (RCL)

1 Kings 2: 10-12, 3: 3-14

10 Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. 11 The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in He’bron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

3:3 Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4 The king went to Gib’eon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gib’eon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

  • What do you suppose an “understanding mind” describes?
  • What do you think were Solomon’s motives and how do they distinguish his leadership model?
  • To discern good from evil, should we evaluate the act, the motivation/intent, or both?

Ephesians 5:15-20

15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • What makes days become evil (v.16)? More importantly how do you make them good?
  • Does pursuing the spirit bring wisdom or are additional actions required?
  • Is it possible to be excessive in giving thanks to God?  If so, how do you asses limits and what are the consequences of exceeding them?

John 6: 51-48

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

  • Is receiving the Eucharist (communion at church) the only way to receive the flesh and blood of Christ?
  • What else (other than Eucharist) is required to “abide” (v.56) in Christ?
  • Is active participation in a community of fellow Christians necessary to maintain your relationship with Christ?  If so, what are appropriate measures of success?

Comment:

Using the analogy of food and drink for our faith is appropriate, because of what it represents.  The phrase “you are what you eat” comes to mind.  The daily requirements for minimum nourishment are perhaps at one end of the spectrum, but you can also imagine food and drink, depending upon content, surroundings, and those present to represent extravagance, elegance, pleasure, comfort, class, warmth, community, quiet contemplation, austerity, humility, responsibility, and perhaps community.

Food and drink are ingested and become part of us.  They perhaps become habits that we don’t think about, but if someone examined carefully (and objectively) what, when, with whom, and how we eat, I suspect they would know a great deal about each of us.

Perhaps Jesus is using that sense of food to suggest that we become part of him and he of us by living our relationship with Christ on a daily basis.  It is easy to think of how a modest prayer before each meal is a healthy reminder of his presence, and how it may be folded into our routines and actions.

We ingest Christ and enhance our relationship with him every time we think about his teachings – and how our lives can incorporate the best of what we learn.  The Eucharist at church is a tangible and real reminder of God’s presence in our lives and the shared community of other believers within which we live our faith.  But sharing the spiritual presence of God is always an option in our daily routines.  

I think it is important to think of faith in God as not only individual, but lived as reality through all the relationships that emerge through our various communities of involvement.  The realization of a well lived life inevitably must include some measure of the quality of relationships we have with others.

If we knew that our admission to heaven included a review of the scorecard containing a batch of information assessing the quality of our relationships with others, perhaps we might spend more time thinking about improving each of those relationships.  And what better teacher can we find about relationships than Jesus?

Quotes for Today: 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Francis of Assisi

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection.  ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

Thomas Paine

George Gray[2]

I have studied many times

The marble which was chiseled for me —

A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.

In truth it pictures not my destination

But my life.

For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;

Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;

Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.

Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.

And now I know that we must lift the sail

And catch the winds of destiny

Wherever they drive the boat.

To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,

But life without meaning is the torture

Of restlessness and vague desire —

It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.


[1] All NRSV

[2]Excerpt from Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology (Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022)

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