Proper 16 – Year B (8/26/12)

18 Aug

 Assigned Scripture for today –

1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43 or Track 2 Psalm 34:15-22 & Joshua 24:1-2a,14-18

Ephesians 6:10-20

John 6:56-69       

Psalm 84

No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.

 

Opening Questions

  • Is it possible (and if so, how) for someone who has found salvation to lose it?
  • What are the minimum requirements for living our salvation in order to maintain it?

 Appointed Passages[1] (RCL)

 1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10, 11) 22-30, 41-43

1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.

6 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim.

10 And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. 23 He said, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 24 the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. 25 Therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, “There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26 Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David.

27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! 28 Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O LORD my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, “My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.

41 “Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name 42 –for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm–when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, 43 then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.

{Montreal Commentary:  The King asks God’s attention to his and the people’s “plea”, and gives seven illustrations:

  1. by being just (v. 32);
  2. when they “turn again” (v. 33) to him after God has punished their waywardness by an enemy defeat;
  3. when he punishes them with drought (v. 35);
  4. when he does so with famine and various plagues (v. 37);
  5. to respond to a foreigner’s pleas when he or she seeks and finds the God of Israel (vv. 41-43) – so that people everywhere may know God and hold him in awe;
  6. when they battle an enemy and pray for success; and
  7. when they “come to their senses … and repent” (v. 47) and seek freedom, after their sin has caused God to have them exiled.}
  • What is the significance of moving the Ark of the Covenant (10 commandments) to the permanent temple?
  • Is there a physical place that you deem to be sacred in terms of the presence of God?  Describe…

Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

  • How is being a righteous person the same as living with integrity?
  • While armor can protect, it can also prevent experiences that may be helpful in shaping perspective.  How should we decide when to wear it?

 

 

John 6: 56-69

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.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Caper’naum.

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

  • How does “the spirit” manifest itself in giving life?  What should we look for in others that we might recognize as the demonstration of spirit?
  • What perspective in the disciples was Jesus aiming to identify when he asked, “Does this offend you”?
  • How do we live our lives in a way that shows we choose not to “go away” (v.67)?

 

Comment:

I read from today’s scriptural passages the admonition that Christianity may start with a decision, but is only achieved by our actions in relationships with others (i.e., our communities).  We abide in Christ by living his teachings.  We learn to give of ourselves as spiritual bread to others in the same way that Christ gave of himself – and continues to do so daily – to those who listen for his voice and follow his direction.

That is not to say that we should give others easy lives.  Part of the challenge for all of us in evaluating our relationships with others is the continuing assessment of the inner core (beliefs, motivations and intentions) of both those who are close to us and those whom we wish to help. We look for appreciation, shared enthusiasm for hard work and personal growth in character and spirit, as well as the crucial capacities for empathy and humility.  While we might have to live the example at first, ultimately, others need to grow in character as well to continue to earn our contributions to the relationship.  Assessing people’s underlying motives is not easy, but it is important.

It seems to me that we also have a responsibility to follow Christ’s example when he takes action against those who corrupt the message (i.e., when he overturned tables and drove away the money changers and corrupted officials at the entrance to the church).  We obviously expect people to be human, and sometimes make mistakes as well as need support.  However, we also have reason to expect they can and will learn and improve to earn a position of shared appreciation of the value of their relationships with others.  If someone continues to only take and never give, shouldn’t we ultimately conclude that they have made a personal decision to focus on their own needs and wants to the exclusion of friendship and community?  Deciding how much (in time and content) we should give of ourselves as the relationship building process unfolds is never an easy clear decision, but it is important to periodically evaluate.

I look back at my formative years with fond memories of how my family and community recognized and appreciated the respect and dignity that arose from hard work and earning “relationship legitimacy” by meeting or exceeding contributions to it.  We seemed to intuitively ascribe “character” to those who actively made contributions of themselves to relationships with others. 

I pray for all of us to contemplate the value of shared spirit in not only giving of ourselves, but holding others responsible for the shared human development that makes our community stronger.

 

Quotes for Today: 

 Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.

Booker T. Washington

 

Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being.

David Steindl-Rast

 

The Roots of Violence:

Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principles.

Mohandas K. Ghandi

 


 

[1] All NRSV

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