The great unwashed

30 August 2015
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 17B (RCL)
Song of Songs 2:8-13
Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10
James 1:17-27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

It is easy for us to think that the Pharisees are getting hung up on trivial matters, and that Jesus is scolding them for their triviality. Washing hands and cups and pots can seem like small matters, but in fact these sorts of rituals structure the social universe. I learned this the hard way on one of my trips to the Diocese of Lui, in South Sudan. Among the Moru, one does not eat without washing hands. In our guest compound, there was a pot with a spigot sitting on a table, where we all washed our hands before coming into the payat to eat.

However, Continue reading “The great unwashed”

To whom would we go?

23 August 2015
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

The passage from 1 Kings recounts Solomon’s renewal (change?) of the covenant with God at the completion of the Temple. This passage gives us about as clear an expression of the Temple/King mythology as can be found. It is interesting to note how the terms of the covenant have shifted with the covenant God made with David. When David wanted to build God a house, Nathan reminded him that all the time God had gone with the people in the wilderness and through the time of the judges, God had lived in a tent and had not asked for a house. Instead, God would make of David a house, as long as his descendants walked in the way of the Lord. The covenant was still attached to a people and their representative; not to a place.

Solomon’s covenant changes the terms dramatically. Continue reading “To whom would we go?”

Gnawing flesh; drinking blood

16 August 2016
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

Our Old Testament reading raises the question, “Who didn’t David sleep with?” But seriously, to read this passage, one would think that David was the most morally upright person Israel had ever seen. I find it intriguing that the editors of the tradition saw fit to keep both aspects of the tradition; pro and con. Even Solomon prays for wisdom at the high place of Gibeon: worship later forbidden. The editors of this tradition could have easily expunged this fact, but chose not to. We are given the history in all its complicated messiness. Neither David nor Solomon is presented as a plaster god.

This week’s Gospel reading Continue reading “Gnawing flesh; drinking blood”

For the life of the world

9 August 2015
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

Nathan’s prophecy to David in last week’s reading comes home with a vengeance in this week’s reading. The sword does not depart from David’s house. We’ve leapt over a lot of material in the story of David’s house, including Absalom’s rebellion. David had been declared king of Israel as well as king of Judah (and Samuel had warned the house of Israel of the consequences of having a king). Now, Absalom has won the loyalty of the men of Israel, and David goes to war against Israel with his own men, his mercenaries and the men of Judah. After the death of Absalom, David will resume the crown of Israel. I am sure the relationship with Israel will be difficult, despite the gauzy filter history will apply. Continue reading “For the life of the world”