Today we begin the long tale of king David in the Old Testament readings, which will continue into August. In 1 Samuel 8.4-20 and 11.14-15 Israel is a confederation of tribes under local “judges.” The people complain to the prophet Samuel that they ought to have a king like other “real” nations. Samuel thinks it’s a bad idea: kings often abuse their power. But God says, “Go ahead and give them what they ask for. See how they like it.” So Samuel consents and anoints Saul as king.
Psalm 138 exalts God, who is great yet who attends to the lowly. We put the meaning of our lives in the context of God’s desire, praying, “Lord, fulfill your purpose for me.”
In 2 Corinthians 4.13- 5.1 Paul has confidence that God, who raised Jesus, raises us also, so through us grace will continue to spread to more people. Paul looks not to mere visible appearances but to the invisible, eternal truth of things. Our outer nature is dying but our inner nature is being renewed. We have eternal belonging in God, in a “house not made with hands.”
In Mark 3.20-35, Mark tells a story within a story, as he loves to do. 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,” that is, robbed the demonic of its power. This is set in the frame of another story: Jesus’ family thinks he’s gone mad and want him to come home. But—scandalously—he re-defines “family” not as blood relationship but as unity in “doing the will of God.” The two stories express Jesus’ opposition to power structures of family, religion and political systems and the cosmos itself.
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.
Collect / Prayer of the Day
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.
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.
(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.
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.