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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday, June 7, 2015

1 Samuel 8:4-11, 16-20
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35

On First Reading:

  • Read all 3 texts through one after another (texts are included below). If yours is an oral culture by nature, why not read out loud to yourself?
  • Re-read these texts. Place yourself in the text – not as a central figure, but perhaps as one of the slaves (in the first story), as one whose earthly tent has been destroyed (in the second) and one of the crowd whose family member, perhaps, is possessed by inner demons (in the third).
  • Reading from this kind of perspective, what do you see in the scene before you? what do you hear? think? feel?


1 Samuel 8:4-11, 16-20

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

10 So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots;

16 He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Israel’s Request for a King Granted

19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Living by Faith

16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Mark 3:20-35

20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan?24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

The True Kindred of Jesus

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

First Thoughts:

From 1 Samuel:

The storyline focusses our attention on Samuel’s relationship to the ‘people of Israel’ and to God. The issue at stake is Israel’s desire for a king. Notice how they wish to be like ‘other nations’. Israel will be given a king; they wish to have a king who will lead them into battles; in so doing they will turn away from the kingship of God. The people are warned what a king will be like. They will lose their slaves, their best cattle, flocks, donkeys. The people will become like slaves to the king

What might be the background experience of those who wish to have a king (to lead us in to battle and to be like other nations) have been like? What is it that might lead them to refuse to hear the prophet’s alternative counsel?

What might be the experience of migrants, those from ‘other nations’ who know what war in their midst is like? What have those who flee from such slavery to say to those whose way of life has not been like that and who call for ‘strong government’?

In the telling of this story where might someone from a minority culture situate themselves and why?

From 2 Corinthians:

Corinth was a great port city. It was at a crossroads and there would have been many people from different cultural backgrounds.

This reading is one of hope. There are signs of decay about – whether that be personal and bodily, or the uprootedness of life (a loss of home and work). Here the hope is in the power of the God who resurrected Christ. Paul is looking beyond this life and its ‘momentary afflictions’ to the hope of being raised like Christ has been raised. His hope and confidence here is expressed through a resurrection faith.

We know that many people leave behind their first homelands for all sorts of reasons: sometimes it is due to war and the need to find a safe refuge. Sometimes it is an act of sacrifice for the sake of ensuring a better future for children. This act of moving to a new society is not easy. It can be as if that ‘earthly tent’ is destroyed. What is it like then to live in that time of ‘momentary affliction’? What is it like to have one’s ‘earthly tent’ uprooted? How can that experience be captured in prayer and song (like the Black African American slaves were able to do in their spirituals)? Where are the signs of hope and first hints of resurrection?

From Mark.

Our attention is, of course, rightly on Jesus and his relationship to God and God’s purposes for him (for our sake). Imagine this is your family – your mother, and your other brothers are concerned for this son/ elder brother who seems, to them, to have lost his way. Imagine the discussions at home, the talk among family members, the grief of seemingly losing one of their own and maybe, just maybe the shame. What is it like for our family to be on the receiving end of the village / town gossip? They say he’s mad: they say that he is Beelzebul; he is ‘out of his mind’. One of your own (your own ethnicity, your own tribe, your own family) is looked upon as strange, a threat .. and you wonder if they are right.

What is it like for one of yours to be stereotyped, made into a caricature, made into someone he or she is not? Who in your culture represents the outsider, the one on the edge of the village or culture who has no place?

There is a second movement in this story. Jesus proposes a different way of thinking about family and those most intimate of relationships which bind us. For him the family (mother, brother, sister)is composed of those who do the will of God.

For those who migrate, who grow up second generation, for those in a minority – what might it mean for us/you/them to be one of this strange company following someone who is reckoned to be ‘out of his mind’? How does that seem like a good ‘lifestyle choice’ compared with cultural conventions and expectations as well as the threats and opportunities of living in a land where one might sometimes feel like a guest and not quite belonging?

Re-read the texts again:

Take a look at these texts again.

  • Read them, first of all, as if you are one of the dominant group in the text. What do you see? notice? this time?
  • Read the text one more time as a minority, a refugee, second generation, someone who does not speak the English language …. you choose …… what do you notice this time?
  • Why not jot down 5 or 6 simple points you noticed? Why not share them with others on line?


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