OT 10 – PE +3

June 9, 2024

Lectionary texts

1 Samuel 8.4-20, 11.14-15 — Samuel anoints Saul as king.

Psalm 138 — God is great yet tends to the lowly. “Lord, fulfill your purpose for me.”

2 Corinthians 4.13- 5.1 — God, who raised Jesus, raises us also…. We do not lose heart….We look at what can’t be seen… We have a house not made with hands in the heavens.

Mark 3.20-35 — People accuse Jesus of having demons…. Jesus has “tied up the strong man….”
“My family is whoever does the will of God.”

Preaching Thoughts

       Today we begin the long tale of king David in the Old Testament readings, which will continue into August. The story of Samuel anolnting Saul is one of those stories in which God does not issue decrees, but works with us. God shares Samuel’s doubt that Israel’s having a king will go well, but says, “OK, let them have one. See how that goes.” It’s an interesting backdrop to the rest of the Hebrew bible that continually longs for a king like David (who was clearly a mixed bag). The people want a king so they can be like other nations, yet their Covenant specifically sets them apart as not like other nations. And they want a king though God knows how kings abuse power. (Sure enough, by the way, Saul ends up a disappointment…) Though the idea of democracy was flourishing at this time in Norway—yes, seriously—oh, and also famously in Greece—it was unknown in Israel. So the choice wasn’t between a king and an elected official: the status quo was local divinely anointed judges. Still, the story does raise interesting questions about the idea of a theocracy… which, like a monarchy, doesn’t usually go well….

2 Corinthians
Paul raises a series of contrasts: inner and outer (”though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”), present and future (“this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure”), seen and unseen (“we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen”) and temporary and eternal (“what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal”). I think they’re all the same contrast: between surface appearance, which is fleeting, and inner reality, which is unchanging. This theme is repeated throughout scripture.
      Paul seems to have more emphasis than Jesus on the whole “pie in the sky” thing. Jesus wasn’t interested in the afterlife, lovely as it may be, but in this life. When we are in harmony with Real Life, that is, God, we participate in something infinite, which you can call eternal, but what makes it valuable is not that it’s long-lasting (even if you have to wait for it), but that it’s deep, and it’s right now, and it can’t be taken from you, even by people’s judgments, even by your sin, even by suffering or even death. It’s absolute. All you have to do is be in harmony with it. But that’s the trick, since it isn’t like the outward appearance the world tries to convince you of.

Mark loves to tell a story within a story. People accuse Jesus of having demons but he says the only way he can cast out demons is if he has already “tied up the strong man,” robbed the demonic of its power. This is in verses 22-30. It’s set within the frame of another story, in verses 21 and 31-35: Jesus’ family thinks he’s gone mad and want him to come home. Jesus’s parable of thieves entering a house and tying up the strong man is partly a logical rebuttal to the accusations against him. He’s healing people! How could Satan possibly want that? But even more profoundly it’s a glimpse of his whole mission: he has entered the power structure of evil itself and bound up its powers in love. He is free to “plunder” the evil empire because love has overpowered the force of evil. This is why it’s always the demons who recognize him (“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God….” 1.24. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” 3.11) You bet, he has come to destroy them, and they know it. His healings are evidence of that— part of undermining evil itself. This sense that Jesus has already “bound the strong man” is in parallel to Paul’s confidence that though evil seems rampant in the visible world, in the unseen reality love has already conquered.
       The story then gets back around to Jesus’ family. And alarmingly Jesus re-defines family, not as blood kin but whoever shares in doing God’s will. Kind of a slap in the face to his blood family, no? (“Whoever does not hate mother or father…”) This is pretty radical in a culture that considers family to be just a half-shade less holy than God. But again, Jesus is not denying the importance of family; in fact he’s making it more important, because it’s not just the happenstance of birth: it’s about intentional community. It includes whoever chooses to be in it, including the orphan, the childless, the single, the widowed—those who get left out of our existing social structures. Jesus rejects biological destiny, that our birth determines our fate. In Luke 11.27-28 someone says “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” No, you’re not saved by being a mother. You’re saved by being a disciple. Families, Jesus says, are made, not born.

Call to Worship

People of God: Christ, our sibling, calls us as a family.
We gather as one, made family not by genetics, but in your Spirit.
Our bonds exceed our bounds.
We are one with followers around the world.
God of Love, Jesus calls us to hear and do your will.
Open our hearts to hear, and to follow.
We worship with open ears and a willing spirit.

Proclaim the good news!
Though we are beset by the forces of evil and injustice,
Jesus has invaded the halls of power and bound up the strong man.
Love reigns supreme!
Though our own loyalties are divided, Jesus calls us his own.
Love claims us, and draws us in.
We renounce the works of oppression,
in the street, in the boardrooms, and in our own hearts.
Love, we worship: in humility, in gratitude, in unity,
that we may hear you will and do it,
that we may love our neighbors and do justice in the name of Christ.

3. [Psalm 138]
Leader: I give you thanks, O Love, with my whole heart.
All: When my heart cries out, you answer.
Though I walk through trouble you preserve my life.
In the face of what I fear, your love sustains me.
O Lord, fulfill your purpose for me.
May your steadfast love endure forever.


God of love, we proclaim that Jesus has overcome the powers of evil. All our divisions of family and race, class and religion are erased in your love. Bless us that we may surrender our small loyalties and join the family of your love and justice, in the name and spirit of Jesus our savior and our brother. Amen.

Holy One, we come to listen for your voice, to hear your Word in our hearts and to live it out with grace. Bless us that we may hear and be changed, and that we may live by your Spirit in us as siblings in Christ. Amen.

God, we praise you. The forces of evil that frighten us you have undermined. The demons that haunt us you have overpowered. The strong man of injustice you have bound. By your grace help us trust, and be people of healing, not fear. By the power of your Spirit help us be among those who do your will, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to intercessions)

We look not at what can be seen, but what cannot be seen.
We listen in the silence for your Word that cannot be heard,
yet may be known.
Spirit, you who raised Jesus, raise us now in your love.

(Adapted from Ps. 138)
Leader: I give you thanks, O Love, with my whole heart.
All: When my heart cries out, you answer.
Though I walk through trouble you preserve my life.
In the face of what I fear, your love sustains me.
O Lord, fulfill your purpose for me.
May your steadfast love endure forever. Amen.

Christ, you have entered the house of our hearts.
The demons we are afraid of are still,
for your have overcome them.
In peace we listen for your voice.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

        We delight in you, God, Eternal Source of all. You create us as one family in your love.
        We follow you, Jesus, Messiah, head of our family of love and justice. You have broken into the house of human powers of domination and you have bound the strong man; you have plundered the powers of evil and oppression. Though the powers had you crucified, you have overcome, and have bound up death itself.
        We live by your love, O Holy Spirit. You are the breath of God in us, granting us forgiveness, raising us to new life, uniting us as one family, and empowering us to resist evil and injustice. By your grace, O God, we give you our thanks, and we give you ourselves, that we may do your will. Amen.

      We give our hearts to you, God, creator of all, giver of life. Though our bodies are dying and the circumstances of our life are passing, your grace in us is eternal, and you are always re-creating us.
      We follow Jesus, your Christ. He taught and healed; he loved and blessed all people. He gathered a community of radical inclusion and kinship that upended all forms of domination and exclusion. He invited us on the journey of death and resurrection. For his witness he was crucified, but you raised him from the dead, and he lives among us, our Beloved, our sovereign, our companion.
      We live by your Holy Spirit, your eternal presence, your infinite love overflowing in us.  By your spirit in us, though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. By your spirit we live lives of love and courage, of healing and blessing and justice.  Trusting in the grace of forgiveness, the power of nonviolence, and the mystery of resurrection, we live and serve as one body to do your will, in the name of Christ, for the healing of the world. Amen 

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. At your table you make of us one family, one Body. Send us into the world in the unity of your love to bear your blessings to all our sisters and brothers in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Jesus, you who have broken the powers of evil, bind up our own evil and set us free. Holy Spirit, you who make us one family, send us forth to do your will, in the name and the company of Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Song

Do Justice (Original song)

Do justice, love mercy,
walk humbly with your God.
O, help us humbly live your justice,
your love, your mercy.

Leave a comment

Your Cart
  • No products in the cart.