Sunday, July 22, 2018
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (9th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 11)
The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:
First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Psalm 89:20-37
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:11-22
Gospel Reading: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The liturgical color for the day is: Green
Bruce Metzger’s commentary in the New Oxford edition of the NRSV on Ch. 7 of 2 Samuel says: “David wishes to build a temple, but God wills that he establish an everlasting dynasty.” For those following the First Lesson for preaching this summer, this passage affords ample opportunities for direct links to ministry in our current context.
Like David, we come to think of building the church through the lens of building buildings. There is something about the excitement of building expansion in the life of a church. Many of us are not building new buildings these days. Indeed, many of us are dealing with the reality of aging structures that are grossly oversized for the ministries for which they are being used. Sadly, for too many of us, a hard look at our church buildings says that they were built for an era of ministry that has gone and will not be returning in a similar fashion. Still, we equate growth in the life of the church with growth of buildings, structures, and physical achievements.
What if, like David, God is calling us to build “the dynasty” and not the building? In this regard the dynasty is one of relationship and family. Relationship and family become the “house” that we are called to construct even as we are forced to deal with the concrete and mortar structures in which our ministries are located.
As one brings this passage alongside the Gospel Lesson, an avenue for thinking could be the building of a dynasty of compassion. We are told in Mark 6:34: “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.”
What if we were to understand our charge to build the church as a charge to build a “dynasty of compassion?”
In the New Testament, the word used for compassion is reserved for talking about Christ. It is a characteristic of God. It is what God has for humanity. God, if you will, suffers with us. In the cross of Christ we have been “compassioned.”
God’s heart towards us—God’s spirit towards us—God’s movement towards us is one of suffering alongside of us. God goes with us. God holds us and has us. We have been compassioned. God is at hand.
When we adopt that God-like view of compassion and apply it to our neighbors, then we are building a dynasty of compassion. Such building is the building of the church, yet our challenge is that we, like David, grow to see that building such a dynasty is vastly more important (and timely) than ciders, concrete, and stained glass.
May we build a dynasty of compassion.