Tag Archives: destruction

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 10B

Track 1: Set Free in Christ

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Psalm 24
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29

It was a time of great celebration. The Ark of the Covenant was at one time in the hands of the Philistines, but now King David had rescued it and having it carried into Jerusalem for the first time. David was so joyous that he was dancing before the Ark. But not everyone was celebrating. From the Second Mood of Samuel we read:

David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.   (2 Samuel 6:12-16)

The glory of God radiated from the Ark of the Covenant. David’s wife Michal did not see the glory. She saw her husband the King acting in an undignified way. He was not conforming to the accepted norms of the day.

The Apostle Paul wrote about conforming to this world:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.   ().

David had little awareness of what was going on around him that day. He was celebrating the presence of the glory of God.

We are treated to the wonderful Davidic psalm today:

Lift up your heads, O gates;
lift them high, O everlasting doors;
and the King of glory shall come in.

“Who is this King of glory?”
“The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.”

Lift up your heads, O gates;
lift them high, O everlasting doors;
and the King of glory shall come in.   (Psalm 24:7-9)

David knew the Lord as the King of Glory. He was in love with an awesome God, a God of majesty and glory. And David also realized that we are invited by God to partake of his glory. Paul wrote about the honor of being selected to live in the glory of God:

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.   (Ephesians 1:11-14)

When we attend a sporting event do we get emotionally excited by the play and for our team? No one needs to tell us when to cheer and when not to cheer. If it is alright to become emotional at a sporting event, why are we not allowed to cheer and celebrate the glory of God. At a sporing event we may have a passion for the game. David had a passion for God.

God is calling us into a passionate relationship with him. He is calling us out of this world. We may still be living in the world but Jesus said that we would not be of this world. Our present world has put us in an emotional straight jacket, so to speak. We must say and do this. We cannot say and do that. Many will despise our passion for God. They will despise our lively praise and worship. God does not despise us. He loves us and wants to share his love with us. Do we want to get to know him as David did?

Which do we choose – listening to God or the falsehood of this world – eternal life or eternal damnation? Paul wrote to the church in Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.   (Galatians 1:3-5)

 

 

Track 2: Truth or Self Justification?

Amos 7:7-15
Psalm 85:8-13
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29

Today we read about King Herod who allowed himself to be placed in a difficult position. He has arrest John the Baptist. He liked to listen to him preach. He knew that there was something special about John, but now he was forced to make a difficult and unpleasant decision. From today’s Gospel we read:

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.   (Mark 6:17-28)

Herod beheaded John the Baptist even when he knew it was wrong. Why did he do it? Perhaps he did not want to lose face. He made a promise and his guests might be upset if he did not keep it. He did not want to look bad in front of others so he did something very bad. Does the world dictate our behavior today? It does if we need to justify ourselves. We may need the approval of others to feel that we are accepted. This is the trick of the Devil, of course. He tells that we will not be accepted unless we do certain things. And then when we do those things he accused us for doing them.

There is no real peace in the world. We cannot really get approval from the world. Justification and approval comes from God alone through the blood of Jesus Christ.

To whom are we listening? The psalmist wrote:

I will listen to what the Lord God is saying,
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.   (Psalm 85:8-11)

We have a choice to make. Do we listen to the world around us and value what people will say, or do we listen to God. One way leads to destruction and the other way leads to eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. In his sermon on the mount Jesus clearly explained our choices:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”   (Matthew 7:13-14)

What advantage do we gain for doing what the world considers correct when it is actually wrong. God determines truth and correctness. His way is correct. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” If we choose his way, truth will spring up from the earth. We will understand what is right and what is wrong. Moreover, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. But we must first chose him over this world

At a time of great falsehoods how much we need the truth today! The truth is that God loves us and that he has approved us because he has taken all our sins away. They were nailed to the cross of his Son Christ Jesus.

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year B

First Sunday in Lent, Year B

The Covenant of Baptism

As we begin the Season of Lent, we have an account in Mark’s Gospel of the baptism of Jesus:

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”   (Mark 1:9-11)

Mark’s Gospel is short, direct, and to the point. Fortunately, we have some wonderful commentary on the baptism of Jesus from the other appointed scriptures. Someone has said that the scriptures make very good commentary on the Bible.

Let us examine baptism from both an Old Testament perspective as well as a New Testament one. Reading from Genesis:

God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.   (Genesis 9:8-15)

God made a covenant with Noah and his family. What is the context of this covenant? The earth was full of evil people whom God has destroyed by the flood which covered the whole earth. He did so in order for humankind to have a fresh start in serving and worshipping their God. God gives something and God asks something from those who participate with him in the covenant. The covenant is a holy agreement with God and his people which must be honored by all participants.

How does this covenant with Noah and his family compare with the Covenant of Baptism? From 1 Peter we read:

Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you — not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.   (1 Peter 3:18-22)

Do we notice the similarities? God eradicated the sin in evil people by the flood. Now God has eradicated sin altogether by the blood of Jesus. We can now have a good conscience before God. Thus, we have access to God by our baptismal covenant.

Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan. It was more than a baptism of repentance because Jesus did not need to repent. It was a baptism of empowerment by the Holy Spirit. We may wonder why Jesus needed power from on high to begin his ministry. He had given up all his divinity and heavenly power to become one of us in every way.

Jesus set an example in his baptism for us to follow. In Romans, the Apostle Paul further illuminates the Covenant of Baptism:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.    (Romans 6:3-8)

If we have confessed our sin and embraced Jesus as Savior and Lord of All, then our baptism is meaningful to us and to God. We have entered into a covenant with God. We have died to sin so that we might receive a new life, absent from sin. All this is by the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to us in baptism.

Have we now arrived? Mark’s Gospel did not elaborate on what baptism means, but it wasted no time in telling us that Jesus was immediately tested after his baptism:

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.   (Mark 1:12-13)

After Baptism we have begun a journey. Jesus had a wilderness experience right after his baptism. He was directed into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is ready to direct us as we observe a Holy Lent. Even though we go through difficult times, Jesus is still with us as he has promised to be. Lent is a dress rehearsal for those times. Thanks be to God that during such times we grow closer to God, empowered by his Spirit to serve him in newness of life.

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, Lent, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year B