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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Lectionary Scriptures: II Samuel 1:1, 17-27 or Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24, Psalm 130:1-8 or Psalm 30:1-12 (optional with Lamentations 3:23-33), II Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43 TRUTH IN ADVERTISING DISCLAIMER: What I write here may or may not have anything to do with Pastor Rick’s Sunday sermon. Not even he knows at this point what he will say. We know that it will inspire and/or provoke us. Thank you, Rick, for what you bring to us each week. THIS WEEK’S COMMENTS: I once preached a sermon with an awkward title that went something like, “What Do You Cry About in Your Pillow at Night?” I also remember a clergy conference I attended where we were asked to think about the things we wanted to cry about. We were then instructed to sit on the floor and mourn aloud with vigor. The grief was almost overwhelming. Most of the scriptures for this Sunday have to do with mourning. In the midst of the mourning, however, there are words of hope. Death is not God’s final word; “joy” and “life” are what God is about. David, in II Samuel, chapter one, cries out about the death of Saul, and Saul’s son Jonathan, deeply loved by David. We could wonder about the relationship between David and Jonathan, mentioned in another recent blog. Whatever else it may or may not have been, it is a story that represents a deep level of friendship and commitment. David, remembering Jonathan, says (in II Samuel 1:26), “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan, greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” We could also see a theme here about the destructiveness and futility of war. Three times we hear the words, “How the mighty have fallen!” (II Samuel 1:19, 25, & 27) “How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” Certainly war and the losses associated with it—sometimes very personal to us—always personal to someone, a mother, a brother, a child. Many of the Psalms are laments, reminding us that it is okay to cry out in despair and frustration. Psalm 130 begins with the words, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” The alternate Psalm (#30) and the optional reading from the Hebrew scriptures (Lamentations 2:23-33) intertwine hope with the weeping. However one views various emotions attributed to God, the emphasis here is not on “negative” emotions, but on positive. “For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11) God’s mercies “are new every morning.” (Lamentations 2:23—the verse from which we get the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”) The conditions, the circumstances, about which we weep will not last forever. African-American preaching in particular has emphasized that it is darkest before the dawn. Such an insight has led to sermon titles like “It’s Midnight, but Morning’s Coming” and “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming” referencing Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Gospel lesson is also about death and life. Our modern minds have difficulty get around stories of resurrection. There’s an intriguing reference to the fact that Jairus’ daughter was “not dead but sleeping.” (Mark 7:39) When we go through life half-asleep, out of touch with the injustices around us, are we as good as dead? The story, and the story of the hemorrhaging woman that’s tucked into the middle of it, equate life and faith. To have faith is to be alive. (Mark 5:34) To even come near to Jesus is to draw life from his Spirit. (Mark 5:28) Along the way, though, there’s a lot of weeping and wailing, more of that mourning before the dawn (morning) comes. (Mark 5:38) So, what stirs our hearts so deeply that we cry out in frustration, in grief, even in anger? Personal things? Social things? Political things? Cry! Cry loudly! And don’t forget that joy comes in the morning, that God stands on the side of life, not death!

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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