The lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures and Gospel are rich this week. Last week the people wanted a king, now they have Saul, and they have sent Samuel out to look for number 2. In the Gospel, we look at one of the parables rich with symbol and metaphor.
- So Israel, you wanted a king, and you got one. But is Saul really who you want? Apparently not. The whole narrative gives the reader the idea that Saul might be just a bit touched, a little violent, and threatening even to his most trusted servants. Samuel is sent to Bethlehem (a good reference point) to find Jesse who will provide a son who will be second in line to the throne. Seven sons are brought to Samuel, but none of them were anointed to be king. Then the last of them, the young one, the one who is out tending sheep, David, is chosen. God rarely makes the obvious choice when it comes to leaders in the Bible. Out of eight sons, some were certainly stronger, more experienced and more capable than the little guy out watching sheep, but God doesn’t think like we do. Thank God for that.
- The Psalm clicks with the theme of anointing from the first lesson. God always comes to the aid of those God chooses. But God’s reign is different than an earthly reign–V. 7-8: Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright.
- The Epistle is a good one to preach as well. (v.15) So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! The ending is in essence the beginning of this passage. Living the Christian life is not easy, it is not without hardship, it is not without death. But Christ has been there, and Christ will make all things new.
- The first of many parables in the lectionary for the summer. Jesus teaches here with a rural bent. A story about seeds and plants makes sense to the folks of Nazareth and Galilee. If you are going to speak about Kingdom things, it is best to speak in terms that folks understand. The parable of the mustard seed is frequently used because it is an example of tremendous growth or tremendous return on investment. A little bit goes a long way. That is the nature of the Kingdom–a little bit goes a long way. Great growth happens from a little input. Jesus taught the public with parables, and explained it to the disciples in private. This is a model of discipleship for the 21st century. We should constantly be speaking a word in public that is inspiring, that takes broad strokes with a wide brush. And, we should be spending time with smaller groups of folks, making sure they understand and know how to apply those broad concepts.