This week’s texts are great for the storytellers among us. The first lesson is the story of David and Goliath, and the Gospel Lesson has Jesus asleep on a boat in a storm. The Old Testament lessons during the summer tend to flow together, and the New Testament lessons run parallel. I personally find no reason to blend all four into a sermon during this time of the year.
- David and Goliath is one of those “children’s stories” that is more of an adult story when you look at it in depth. A few insights from the text: 1) Take a look at the size of Goliath…9.5 feet tall according to the scripture, his armor was super heavy (but the fact that he has armor means that he is vulnerable), and his spear was worthy of note 2) Goliath calls out the army of Saul and offers a challenge–a taunt. 3) David comes in from the pastures to offer his self in battle–but Saul discourages him. David will not be stopped. 4) David in the armor of Saul is a humorous picture…reinforcing the idea that David was still a child. 4) There is more trash talking–David gets into it too, but he comes in the name of the Lord. 5) The close of the story is one of those unforgettable pieces of Biblical legend. The boy and a small stone take down the huge Philistine. God’s enemies are not invulnerable. There is plenty to explore in the story theologically–war and violence in the scriptures, God’s people as underdogs, God using the most unlikely and unexpected folks to get the job done. Can you do the passage justice in 20 minutes?
- The Psalm accompanies the first lesson well–some of the key verses: 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 9:15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught. 9:19 Rise up, O LORD! Do not let mortals prevail; let the nations be judged before you. (This Psalm is very singable.
- The Epistle for this Sunday is from the second letter of Paul to some difficult folks in Corinth. It is apparent that Paul and his companions have been treated poorly by the Corinthians, but by others as well. Paul is asking them to be open to his ministry. In spite of all the obstacles that have been placed in their way (it is a very extensive list), Paul refuses to put obstacles between him and the Corinthians. It is a plea to open their hearts. This may be a great text for a congregation in conflict.
- The Gospel is a great text from Mark. It is early in the book and the disciples are still getting to know Jesus. They realize for certain that Jesus is different. One who can sleep in the middle of a storm, and then has the ability to calm the storm ( “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”) His words to the storm- “Peace-be still.” There are plenty of storms raging around us in the 21st century. There are plenty of opportunities to be anxious. Jesus shows us that he remains calm in the midst of the storm, and still speaks a word of peace. May we come to understand that peace in the midst of of the storm.