SUNDAY BETWEEN 17 JULY AND 23 JULY
Sunday, July 22nd, 2018
Readings 2 SAMUEL 7:1-14A; PSALM 89:20-37; EPHESIANS 2:11-22; MARK 6:30-34, 53-56
Almighty God, your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence. Give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Holy God of Israel, draw us near to you, so that, in place of hostility, there may be peace; in place of loneliness, compassion; in place of aimlessness, direction; and in place of sickness, healing; through Christ Jesus, in whom you draw near to us. (Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002) alt.)
Compassionate God, from far and near you gather your church into one, safeguard the unity of your flock through the teaching of Christ the Shepherd, so that all your scattered children may find in him the guidance and nourishment they seek. (Opening Prayers (1997))
Prayer over the Gifts
O God, accept our praise and thanksgiving. Help us in all we do to offer ourselves as a true and living sacrifice; through Jesus Christ the Lord.
Prayer After Communion
O God, as we are strengthened in these holy mysteries, may our lives be a continual offering, holy and acceptable in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A READING FROM THE SECOND BOOK OF SAMUEL.
[THE FIRST LESSON IS WRITTEN IN THE 7th CHAPTER OF THE SECOND BOOK OF THE PROPHET SAMUEL, BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.]
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.” But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.
THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD. [HERE ENDETH THE FIRST LESSSON.]
THANKS BE TO GOD. 2 SAMUEL 7:1-14A
Refrain I will keep my love for him for ever.
I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him.
My hand will hold him fast and my arm will make him strong. R
No enemy shall deceive him, nor any wicked man bring him down. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. R
My faithfulness and love shall be with him, and he shall be victorious through my name.
I shall make his dominion extend from the Great Sea to the River. R
He will say to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.’ I will make him my firstborn and higher than the kings of the earth. R
I will keep my love for him for ever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of heaven. R
If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my judgements;
If they break my statutes and do not keep my commandments;
I will punish their transgressions with a rod and their iniquities with the lash; R
But I will not take my love from him, nor let my faithfulness prove false.
I will not break my covenant, nor change what has gone out of my lips.
Once for all I have sworn by my holiness: ‘I will not lie to David. R
His line shall endure for ever and his throne as the sun before me;
It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon, the abiding witness in the sky.’” R
A READING FROM THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS
[THE SECOND LESSON IS WRITTEN IN THE 2nd CHAPTER OF THE LETTER OF SAINT PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS, BEGINNING AT THE 11th VERSE.]
Remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” – a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD. [HERE ENDETH THE FIRST LESSSON.]
THANKS BE TO GOD.
THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT MARK.
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
[THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND WITH THY SPIRIT.
THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 6TH CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MARK, BEGINNING AT THE 30TH VERSE. GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD.]
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.
He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”
For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.
As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat.
When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.
And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST. [PRAISE BE TO THEE, O CHRIST]
MARK 6:30-34, 53-56
Let us pray.
Guiding Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. AMEN.
Have you ever taken on a project? By that I mean a person who became your project?
A very good friend of mine is quite sick – in fact he is dying in hospital in London. I had a chance to visit with him recently. He was awake and quite talkative. We reminisced about the various ways our lives had intersected over the years. His wife and I had worked together for 10 years under a pretty unique set of circumstances. We helped people – we genuinely did. It was possible to measure our effect on the world around us by the number of widows or widowers that secured survivors’ benefits. We walked through some very difficult cases with some really remarkably ordinary people. Folks who were disabled successfully navigated the labyrinth of the pension bureaucracy.
This thing about illness, at least in my limited experience, is that it has the power to reconnect people who have let their relationship slip.
So, I have reconnected, both in person and electronically, with people that mean a great deal to me.
Jesus spoke to us of a flock of sheep wandering without a shepherd.
Here is where I can honestly say my spiritual journey got a boost, as well. I ended up having coffee with my former employer. I had always know he was a dutiful Roman Catholic, never particularly strident, but pious and faithful nonetheless.
It turns out that basically every member of his staff was a project of some sort. He had used his office budget to populate his offices with people that needed a second, or perhaps a third chance. In the example of Jesus, and likely without ever having consciously thought of that being his motivation, he took on the shepherd role for a bunch of sheep in need of some tending.
There were the two single moms trying to feed there kids, the two older women who had recently lost there jobs, and, the foundering twenty-something who was at odds with her family and not really making anything of her great potential and without any means or money to reach for that potential. There was the middle-aged man down on his luck and down to his last nickel.
And then there was me. I was a bit of a misfit – I was a high school student that was not really suited to that place. Few friends, slipping grades, and not fitting in well, at all. I had moved away from home.
After grade 11 I had taken a semester off to attend the Katimavik programme and then withdrawn from it. I was without any useful place to be or useful contribution to make. I was drifting wildly.
I had taken a rather successful co-op education placement with this political office and slipped back into the orbit of this flock of sheep.
I managed, or so I thought, to get myself hired on for a short time.
I discovered lately, in piecing all of this together, that I was a project too. This former employer of mine caught up with basically everyone he knew that also knew me – family and friends – and pieced together that I was capable of higher education and that I had slipped out of the “normal” track through school.
His plan, for me, without being too directive and paternalistic, was to get me stabilized and then back into school.
So, where I thought I was an employee doing a competent job of helping people sort their way through the bureaucracy, I was, in fact, a sheep being led to the path of discovery and higher education, of deep friendship and the creation of lasting relationship, and onto the path of being equipped for a lifetime on discovery.
So while he never once said take this or that subject, or walk this or that path, he steered me in the paths of discovery and learning, while allowing me to believe that I was sorting things out for myself.
As I said earlier, I’ve had a fantastic week in my journey of faith.
I have been graced with the opportunity to examine my life a wee bit. In the midst of impending death, busyness with wedding preparation and execution, and my regular work of building up all of you to do the work of Kingdom of God, I have discovered more clearly the hand of God, the movement of the Holy Spirit on my own life.
To pull back the curtain a wee bit, my role is something like “shepherd of your souls”. I am meant to point to where God can be found, to where the paths of righteousness might be. I am meant to shoo away evil or point out the perils along the path. I am meant to walk with you on this journey of discovery.
But, please know that I too am on the journey with you as much as a fellow traveler as anything. You have invited me into relationship with you to be that person in your life that points out God’s hand on your life, to perhaps steer away from perils, to bring you into an experience of the Sacraments of God – the Holy Eucharist, baptism, marriage, etc.
It occurs to me that I have adopted something of the style of that former employer of mine. I endeavour to not be a dictator, I try instead to work quietly at building you up to see the path of righteousness and to avoid the perils of this world.
So, my invitation to you this week is to spend some time in examining your life. It is amazing what a chance cup of coffee that I nearly didn’t make time to drink can spur you on to.
If its me you need to have that coffee with, please let me know.
But find someone to tell your story to, share only as much as you want to, but have them stop you wherever they see mystery or coincidence or overt shows of providence and have them point that out to you.
Notice where God’s hand has been on your life.
Revel in and celebrate the fact that you are a beloved child of God and that He has walked with you in the hearts, minds, consciences and hands of those who have walked with you or crossed your path on your journey from birth to right here.
Sometimes things slow down a bit in the heat and humidity of Summer. I invite you to take some of the gift, that time, in reflection and in celebration.
The Body of Christ is vast, it is more than just us in this room. It is everyone that has ever been, is now and will ever be a baptised Christian. It almost doesn’t matter, like that former employer of mine, how well anyone thinks they are doing the job of being a Christian – God makes use of His body as he sees fit.
Please know that since the moment of Christ Jesus’ death on that long-ago cross we are not a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Our shepherd walks with us in the people that come across our path.
Our job is to recognise God’s hand on our life and in the words of Jesus to Love God with all our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. Celebrate.
Let us pray.
Holy God of Israel, draw us near to you, so that, in place of hostility, there may be peace; in place of loneliness, compassion; in place of aimlessness, direction; and in place of sickness, healing; through Christ Jesus, in whom you draw near to us.