Proper 14B (OT 19)


Voice in the Wilderness: Melissa Myers

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Featured Musician:

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

John 6:35, 41-51

Initial Thoughts

  • Yes- begins with the end of the last week

  • Verses 36-40 is skipped

    • A brief comment by Jesus about not losing anyone but keeping all things to the last day

    • Response to the problem of irresistible grace. How can anyone have said “no” to Jesus? John’s answer: they didn’t. They were chosen by God.

    • Gospel of John is very Calvinist.

  • Including verse 35 - which was the last verse shared last week, reminds people of the context of the rest of this conversation.

Bible Study

  • Shifting crowds

    • Last Week’s Crowd of John 6:24-35

      • Chasing Jesus

      • Looking for Jesus

      • Demanding to know more about Jesus

      • Want to see signs

      • They are uncertain about Jesus

    • This week’s crowd of John 41-59

      • Named in NRSV as “The Jews”

      • CEB uses more helpful term “Jewish Opposition.”

      • The “grumbling” reminiscent of “grumbling in the Wilderness during the Exodus, when people “grumbled” over lack of food in Exodus 16.

      • Don’t want to know more about Jesus

      • Don’t accept the bread of life

      • insiders (John 6:59)

      • The “Church people” can’t see who Jesus really is

      • They are certain about Jesus - Mary and Joseph’s son.

        • He’s clearly not from heaven - we know his parents.

  • “Drawn by the Father”

    • Augustine - “…our preaching is only noise to the ears unless listeners are drawn by the Father's love to hear it.”

    • O. Benjamin Sparks - “You just don't come to faith by yourself, through your own deduction, reasoning, and insight alone. You are wooed, invited, even cajoled.”  - Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).

    • We are saved by grace alone

      • There is nothing we can do to deserve God’s grace and nothing we do can keep us from being offered God’s grace.

    • “Jesus answers the ‘complaint’ of the authorities with a simple command not to complain. He does not present a long argument, nor offer a demonstration or proof. Apparently, there is no way to ‘argue’ them into accepting that Jesus comes from above. The closed world of the authorities is impervious to the claims of Jesus. Only if they cease ‘complaining’ can they be open to hear and be taught.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year B., p. 463.)

  • Nature of the Bread

    • Similar to Manna from heaven in that it is a gift from God

    • Different in that it is eternal.

    • Belief in Jesus is the living bread that lasts forever.

    • There is an eschatological imperative here. To believe in Jesus is to have life eternal, and to be lifted up on the last day.

    • Connected directly to Jesus’ death

Thoughts and Questions

  • Paradox of belief and grace

    • “On the one hand, invitations are given to which humans can respond. On the other hand, those who respond are drawn by the divine power, for nothing else can produce faith. As it is put earlier in the dialogue, belief in Jesus is the work of God.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year B., p. 463.)

    • Prevenient Grace - the grace that precedes all things and allows us to believe.

    • Process Theology - We are “drawn by God,” not coerced or forced into grace. God’s power is that of yearning love, drawing us to God by Grace. This means we can resist, which means that God is not all-powerful, but allows God to be all-loving. The power of love is never coercion. Love is always resistible. Love is always vulnerable to rejection. God’s love is pulling us so that we go through a process of falling back in love with God.

  • “Eating is believing.”

    • There is another element of the bread that will be explore more next week - and that is that the bread is tied directly to Jesus’ crucifixion. The last sentence of this passage becomes the conflict for next week, and the leaders wonder what it means to eat Jesus’ flesh. This is a chance to dip into this concept, but resist going too far or preach next week’s sermon also.

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Initial Thoughts

  • Last Time:

    • Nathan confronts David with the evil of what he had done, we are told that “What David had done was evil in the Lord’s eye.”

    • David is told that he won’t die, but that his son will.

  • What did we skip?

    • “The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne for David, and he became very sick.” (12:15b). David fasts, prays, begs for child’s life before it dies.

    • Through Joab, David defeats Ammonites at Roab.

  • Saga of Absalom

    • Amnon plots to rape his half-sister Tamar, then sends her away in shame.

      • She begs mercy, but she is shown none.

    • When Absalom, her brother, discovers what happens, and takes her in and hates Amnon for what he has done.

    • David does nothing.

    • Two years later Absalom kills Amnon. Then flees for three years.

    • While in exile, Absalom gains followers due to his good looks and wise and kind rule from Hebron.

    • Absalom returns to Jerusalem, and David flees. There is much espionage and intrigue before the armies actually meet on the field of battle.

    • David tells his troops and commanders that they are not to harm Absalom, but he is killed in battle.

Bible Study

  • Death of Absalom

    • The lectionary tells us that David doesn’t not want Absalom killed, but gives no reason or context.

    • Absalom “was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the tangled branches of a large oak tree. Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair while the mule under him kept on going.”

    • One man saw Absalom stuck in a tree, but didn’t kill him, because he knew David didn’t want him to.

    • Joab and his men kill Absalom while he hangs defenseless. Then he sends someone else to tell David.

    • David mourns the death of his son - even though he was an enemy on the field of battle.

  • Aftermath

    • “The victory that day was turned into mourning.”

    • Joab reprimands David for “love those who hate you and hating those who love you.”

    • Rest of Samuel is uprisings and wars.

    • Next week is the death and last words of David.

  • Endearing Mourning Father or Despotic Leader Getting What he Deserved?

    • “On one level it is the story of the consequences of human sinfulness, but on another it is a profoundly moving portrait of natural human grief.. The reader is both attracted to and repelled by the text, for it speaks volumes not only about what human life ought to be, but also about the manners in which we sinners actually shape the contours of our days and years.” (James Newsome, Texts for Preaching: Year B, p. 455. Emphasis added).

    • “David’s cry is an anguished review of all that could have been and was not, of dreams so feebly enacted, of caring so selfishly limited, of pride so cheaply expressed. The specifics of the past are much too deep and too painful to utter.” (Walter Brueggemann, Interpretation: 1 and 2 Samuel, p. 323).

Thoughts and Questions

  • Life is messy. It is not always easy to draw easy lines of cause and effect. “Everything happens for a reason” is seldom a helpful way of understanding God. Why did Absalom die? Was it because of Joab’s ruthlessness, David’s ineffective leadership, Amnon’s lust… How far back do we go? Is it because of David’s lust after Bathsheba? Was it because David himself rose to power because of killing Goliath? How far back do we go?

  • Why is David mourning? The death of his son? The death of son Absalom? The rape of his daughter? The death of his infant son? The loss of the allegiance of his people? It is a moment of deep despair in the moment, but it carries with it the weight of many failures.

  • Family systems tells us that every moment is loaded with our past. Every moment is pregnant with open possibility, but influenced by what has come before.

  • Eric Whitacre, “When David Heard” excerpt from Water Night, featuring the Eric Whitacre Singers, London Symphony Orchestra, Julian Lloyd Webber and Hila Plitmann, conducted by Eric Whitacre

Ephesians 4:25 - 5:2

Initial Thoughts

  • What about the inbetween?

    • vv. 16-25 sets up today's passage and connects last week to this week

    • “Don’t act like the gentiles” - can be taken as discriminatory (i.e. that lack all sense of right and wrong, ignorant, dark thinking, etc)

    • Instead of using this as a description of how bad they are- this passage seems to keep in line with how not to act

    • Clothe yourself with the new person created in God’s image

    • In other words be transformed- don’t continue to live the way you used to - you know better now.

  • I would start today’s reading at v. 22 - it flows better. Today passage is a description of what the new life looks like.

Bible Study

  • Connection to last week’s reading: Stripping away the old and building the new connects us to our new lives in baptism

  • We die to the old and are born to the new way of Jesus Christ which is love, mercy and forgiveness

  • This is not a to-do list but rather the evidence of a transformed life - is we are truly changed by virtue of our baptism then we will:

    • Strip away bitterness, anger, wrangling and slander

    • Be kind to one another, compassionate and forgiving

  • Telling the truth

    • We tell the truth because we are one body and to lie to someone is to lie to ourselves

    • Truth-telling provides and foundation for relationship and authentic community

    • However, it is impolite, inconvenient and take time and energy

  • Anger

    • “Be Angry” - This is not an imperative but an acknowledgment of reality; The question is not if we will be angry but how to respond to anger

    • Deal with anger- don’t avoid it (don’t let the sun go down)

      • Different from “don’t go to bed angry” address anger as it arises, but sometimes you can’t resolve an issue and you need sleep

    • A Christian community is a reconciled community - not a community that denies or avoids anger and conflict

  • Stealing

    • Thieves shouldn’t steal, not because of a violation of personal property, but in order that they might have something to share with those who are in need

    • Stealing either ignores or creates need by focusing on taking the personal property from someone for someone else. Personal property doesn’t matter, those in need DO matter.

    • Property only serves to ensure that everyone has enough - not that some have more and others less

  • Speaking

    • Like stealing, speaking should not be used for evil but for the building up of the community

    • Like anger words have the power for creative good or destructive evil

    • Words matter and their effects matter as well.

  • Why do we do these things?

    • We are a new creation

      • We are shown a new way to live and to resist sin

      • We are no longer bound by sin, we do not have to choose the least of evils or the evils means for a virtuous end- rather a way of love, forgiveness and full life is given to us

    • We are part of the body of Christ

      • We don’t do this alone but are one part of the interconnected body of Christ

      • We tell the truth, encourage, learn from and help one another

      • The Holy Spirit encourages us to grow in the likeness of Christ: forgiving as we have been forgiven

    • We do not wish to cause God grief

      • Because we have received so much from God we choose to act  and live in a manner which is pleasing to God

Thoughts and Questions

  • This passage reminds me of the “Family Rules” lists that have become quite popular. These are the family rules for the church - the family of God and the body of Christ. We don’t to these things because that is not how our family acts. Others may act that way (vv. 17-24), but as Christians we do not act this way.

  • Anger is a human emotion that can be healthy and righteous but can also cause unimaginable destruction. Too often we dismiss anger or regard it as an evil emotion as opposed to addressing how people of faith respond to the natural human emotion of anger.

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.