Flesh and Spirit

26 August 2012
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 16B (RCL)
1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43
Psalm 84
Ephesians 6:10-20
John 6:56-69

Our last week of bread for a while! In this Gospel passage, it seems like John takes back everything he has said for the last few weeks: The Spirit gives life, the flesh is useless (or in Greek, owes nothing). Wait, what? Whoever does not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood has no life — but now the flesh is useless?

If this chapter is a midrash on Continue reading “Flesh and Spirit”

Eating flesh, drinking blood

19 August 2012
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 15B (RCL)

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm 111
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

I’m always suspicious when one of our readings leaves out verses. The conclusion of chapter 2 in 1 Kings provides a list of all David’s enemies whom Solomon had killed. Joab, Shemei, Adonijah (Solomon’s own brother). Joab he had killed, even as Joab clutched the horns of the altar. He sent the priest Abiathar into exile. All of them had backed Adonijah as the heir to the throne. Only after all these things is Solomon’s sovereignty firmly established. Kings (and the rest of us?) only feel comfortable when our enemies have been destroyed. There is no thought of living in community with them. And this is the king who prays for wisdom and understanding. He didn’t have to pray for the life of his enemies — he’d already taken care of that!

The reading from John for this week is (or should be) a real shocker. The language is very graphic. The Continue reading “Eating flesh, drinking blood”

Whoever believes

12 August 2012
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 14B (RCL)
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Psalm 130
Ephesians 4:25 — 5:2
John 6:35, 41-51

In the reading from 2 Samuel, David gets just exactly what Nathan said at the end of last week’s reading. Of course, we leave out all the naughty bits: Amnon’s rape of Tamar, Absolom’s murder of Amnon, Absolom’s revolt against David (and sleeping with his concubines on the roof of the palace). So, while Joab’s actions may seem precipitous besides being contrary to the royal will, Joab knew full well that if Absolom lived, the kingdom would be ungovernable. So, the moral of the story is, if you want to be king, expect opposition and violence. I suspect the deuteronomistic editors intended exactly that moral.

And in John, we get more bread (and more and more in the weeks to come). In this week’s reading, we move from misunderstanding Continue reading “Whoever believes”

Food that lasts

5 August 2012
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 13B (RCL)
2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13a
Psalm 51:1-13
Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35

We get more of the story of David this week. Nathan tells a wonderfully ironic story, in which David at last recognizes his sin. Don’t we always see others’ sins more quickly than our own? The punishment Nathan announces fits the sin. David took what wasn’t his — others will take what he took.

The narrative in the passage from John’s Gospel is carried forward by John’s favorite device of misunderstanding and misdirection. The crowd ask Jesus, “When did you come here?” They are puzzled of the when and how of his presence. Jesus replies, “You followed me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Not Continue reading “Food that lasts”