Proper 6B (OT 11)

Image: A Mustard Bush in the Middle East


Featured Musician:Red Molly


Mark 4:26-34

Initial Thoughts

  • This parable is told a little differently in each of the Gospels- look for what stands out in this Gospel

  • Actually 2 parable- don’t lose the first one

  • Let the Season of Kingdomtide reign on!

Bible Study

  • Parable 1: the miraculous harvest

    • How does the seed grow? Farmer may not know, but knows when a good harvest is produced

    • We are asked to sow the seeds for the Kingdom of God, we may not know how they will grow, but we can have faith that the harvest is coming

    • Part of the now but not yet Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is present (seed) but is not yet fully realized (harvest)

    • Are we called to be passive? No- the farmer sows and reaps and actively waits and sees the growing

    • Is the coming kingdom of the work of humans or the work of God? Both!

  • Parable 2: Mustard seed

    • CRAZY story - mustard is a weed in the Middle East

      • Why would you plant a weed?

      • Why would you want it to grow into a large treelike shrub with branches?!

      • Why would you want birds in your field/garden?!?

    • The Kingdom of God is like a place where the least expected are invited, nourished and grow to be a blessing to others

    • The weed/mustard seed- seemingly innocuous thrive in the Kingdom of God

      • who are the ignored and seemingly too small to care about?

    • The Mustard plant/weed grows to be a shelter and blessing to others - does not grow for its own accord, but to help others

    • The Great Mustard Bush- what does it mean that the image for the Kingdom of God is a great bush but not a mighty tree (like in Luke and Matthew)?

Thoughts and Questions:

  • It is very easy to get discouraged by the events of the world and it is hard to be content simply “sowing the seeds” without seeing the harvest. Can we, like the farmer, have faith the harvest is coming and be content not know exactly how that is happening?

  • Who are the mustard seeds that need planting? Perhaps not the Millennials but the seniors and baby boomers (65+ is the fastest growing population in the US and will be for the next 10-20 years) or the working poor who cannot help on committees and can’t make big pledges or the children

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

Initial Thoughts

  • 2 Cor. - Faith not sight. 1 Sam - Heart, not sight.

  • This week and next week can be thought of as “The Rise of David.” Here is his introduction - an afterthought; an insignificant shepherd.

  • Next week David is still in obscurity, but defeats Goliath and rises to prominence.

Bible Study

  • Skips over the monarchy of Saul, but begins with a bombshell of a verse: “The Lord regretted making Saul king over Israel.”

    • Saul, the king that the people demanded, did exactly what God warned he would do - taxed, and drafted soldiers.

    • Lost favor first in ch 13 after he gave burnt offerings when he worried about Samuel’s late arrival. Here, his dynasty was cut off.

    • Saul lost favor with God in chap 15 after giving in to the demands of his army, who wanted the spoils of war. Here, God decides he needs a new King.

  • Grief and Regret

    • Samuel is grieved over Saul and the broken relationship.

    • Grief over lost opportunities, missed chances.

    • Even God regrets making Saul king.

      • If God can regret, was does that mean for the omnipotence of God? What does it mean about the nature of the future? If God knows all - even the future, how can God regret an action from the past?

      • God regrets God’s own action.

      • Samuel grieves for Saul’s lack of faith.

  • God pushes Samuel to move forward. There is a time for grief and regret, but God pushes Samuel to the next thing, and doesn’t allow him to wallow in grief and regret.

    • Saul is no longer of concern to God, but is of concern to Samuel.

    • Anointing a new king while there  is a king is dangerous business.

    • God provides a cover story for Samuel, confident that the next thing is all that matters.

  • David

    • The most important figure in the nation of Israel. The turning point in the story - moving from Law and Patriarchs into Kings and Prophets.

    • The promise made to David is eternal and endures. The Kingship of David is unquestioned - and it is the House of David upon which Jesus builds his kingdom.

    • When we meet David, he is an afterthought. Not first born - not even included in the “Parade of Brothers.”

      • First born is Eliab, who makes a good impression on Samuel. God’s response “"Have no regard for his appearance or stature, because I haven't selected him. God doesn't look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the LORD sees into the heart."

    • Yet when we are introduced to David, narrator can’t help but mention David’s looks.

    • God’s choosing of David does not have immediate effect. It is almost forgotten in ensuing stories, yet it is the lens through which we see the rest of the saga/struggle between David and Saul. From this point on, God is with David, and not with Saul.

Preaching Thoughts

  • What does it mean to worship a regretful God? Not even sure what else to say, I just think the question itself is so profound, it must be pondered.

  • What can we learn of God who regrets? God moves onto the next thing. There may be a time for regret, but then God moves swiftly and decisively to a new thing. God regretted Saul, so God is intentional not to make the same mistake (outward appearance doesn’t matter). When we fail, how much to do we dwell in regret and grief? The next thing is all that matters, with a simple lesson from the last thing to go with us.

  • God judges the heart. There is nothing about David that suggests he should be King. He is a shepherd boy, ignored even by his own family, yet it is upon David that God builds the Kingdom. This is especially good news for those who are not ‘credentialed.’ Those that have no business changing the world are the ones God usually choose to do just that.


2 Corinthians 5:6-17

  • What does “In the body... out of the body”, etc mean? Be faithful to Jesus whether he is present to you or not (which he isn’t because he has ascended)

    • In other words - always act as if you are in the presence of Jesus

  • Crazy for God, Rational for you

    • God is not rational- eye for an eye is rational, hating enemies is rational, sticking with your own tribe is rational - God is none of these things - God is crazy/foolish: saves a group of slaves, calls a boy to be king, lets the boy remain king after committing adultery and murder, repeatedly forgives the unfaithful, sends a savior who calls people that “don’t get it”, allows savior to be crucified, forgives those who crucify him - this is CRAZY! Love is Crazy and Strange!

    • How do we translate the craziness of Grace and Love to the rationality of human minds

  • Look at people like Christ looks at them- brothers and sisters and fellow citizens of the Kingdom of God

  • This is not a small change- following Jesus means changing everything- how you act, how you live, how you see others



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 Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).