Monday, July 16, 2018

Proper 11B (9 Pentecost 2018) Readings & Commentaries

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,

1st Reading (Track 1):  2 Samuel 7:1-14a
At this point in the biblical story, the promise made to Abraham has been fulfilled in many ways. They are a people and they have settled in a land, including a capital, and a royal palace. Now King David wishes to “settle” God as well. It is time, he thinks, to put the tent away that has housed the Ark of the Covenant.  The prophet Nathan agrees, but God does not. God neither wants nor needs a house. David and his descendants are all the house God intends on establishing. It will fall to David’s son Solomon to build the Temple.

7:1 Now when [King David] was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 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.” 3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.” 4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:  5 Go and tell my servant David:  Thus says the Lord:  Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6 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. 7 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?” 8 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; 9 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. 10 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, 11 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. 12 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. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

Psalm 89:20-37 (Track 1)
Psalm 89 begins with a royal hymn of praise (vv. 1-18). Verses 19-37 are a poetic version of the Lord’s covenant with David found at 2 Samuel 7:11-17.  It emphasizes the eternal and unalterable nature of that covenant.

20   I have found David my servant; *
              with my holy oil have I anointed him.
21   My hand will hold him fast *
              and my arm will make him strong.
22   No enemy shall deceive him, *
              nor any wicked man bring him down.
23   I will crush his foes before him *
              and strike down those who hate him.
24   My faithfulness and love shall be with him, *
              and he shall be victorious through my Name.
25   I shall make his dominion extend *
              from the Great Sea to the River.
26   He will say to me, “You are my Father, *
              my God, and the rock of my salvation.”
27   I will make him my firstborn *
              and higher than the kings of the earth.
28   I will keep my love for him for ever, *
              and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29   I will establish his line for ever *
              and his throne as the days of heaven.
30   “If his children forsake my law *
              and do not walk according to my judgments;
31   If they break my statutes *
              and do not keep my commandments
32   I will punish their transgressions with a rod *
              and their iniquities with the lash;
33   But I will not take my love from him, *
              nor let my faithfulness prove false.
34   I will not break my covenant, *
              nor change what has gone out of my lips.
35   Once for all I have sworn by my holiness: *
              “I will not lie to David.
36   His line shall endure for ever *
              and his throne as the sun before me;
37   It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon, *
              the abiding witness in the sky.”

Or this

1st Reading (Track 2):  Jeremiah 23:1-6
Jeremiah 23 begins with an indictment against the leaders of the nation, using the images of shepherds and sheep, which are found frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures.  The Lord promises to raise up faithful servant leaders, and, in particular, one ruler of the “righteous branch” of David.  “The Lord is our righteousness” could also be translated, “The Lord is our justice.”  Christians have often interpreted this righteous ruler to come to be Jesus, though Jesus did not seek to be a political leader.

23:1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people:  It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord. 5 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called:  “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Psalm 23 (Track 2)
This most beloved of psalms, Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann says, “invites us into a world of deep trust and lean desire.”  By “lean desire” he means that the trust we put in the Lord who is the shepherd is a trust that focuses and simplifies our needs.  This is a psalm not only of protection, but also of perspective.

1     The Lord is my shepherd; *
              I shall not be in want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures *
              and leads me beside still waters.
3     He revives my soul *
              and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
4     Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
       I shall fear no evil; *
              for you are with me;
              your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5     You spread a table before me in the presence of those
                                          who trouble me; *
              you have anointed my head with oil,
              and my cup is running over.
6     Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
                                          of my life, *
              and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

2nd Reading:  Ephesians 2:11-22
The writer of Ephesians (perhaps Paul, or someone from the next generation) makes an eloquent statement of the unity of peoples which Christ makes possible.  Alienation, hostility, and division are no more, reconciliation has been brought about by Christ and peace—well-being for all—is the result.  Two images for this new reality are used:  all are saints (“holy ones,” here meant to mean all united in Christ, not only some with special gifts), and all are members of the household of God—an image we use when we welcome the newly baptized (BCP, p. 308).

2:11 So then, 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—12 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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 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. 15 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, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Gospel Reading:  Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The disciples have returned from their “mission trip,” and Jesus seeks to find them some well-deserved rest.  He is unsuccessful, for the crowds follow him wherever he goes (verses 35-44 tell of the feeding of the 5,000 and verses 45-52, Jesus’ walking on water).  They are received well in Gennesaret (in Gentile territory), far better than they were in Jesus’ hometown.

6:30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 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. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 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. 53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 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.

The Scripture readings (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.  The Psalm translation is from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2018 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for congregational use with this attribution.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Proper 10B (8 Pentecost, 2018) Readings & Commentaries

Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

1st Reading (Track 1):  2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
David continues to enhance his prestige by bringing the sacred Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  It is done with great rejoicing.  The verses skipped include the death of Uzzah when he reaches out to steady the Ark.  David may have the power to move the Ark, but the Ark and its Lord are not to be trifled with.  David enters the city dressed with a priestly ephod, but apparently only that!  Perhaps his wife Michal is unhappy that David is making a spectacle of himself, or perhaps she is mourning the death of her father, who was also possessed by the Spirit (1 Sam. 10:5-6) in the same way that seems to be affecting David.

6:1 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. 3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4 with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. 5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 12b So David went and brought up the ark of geGod from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; 13 and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. 16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. 17 They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts,19 and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

Psalm 24 (Track 1)
Psalm 24 is a hymn for use in worship. It begins with the claim of God’s sovereignty over the entire creation (1-2), then goes on to give criteria for accessing the Temple (3-6).  Verses 7-10 seem to be an entrance ritual.

1     The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it, *
              the world and all who dwell therein.
2     For it is he who founded it upon the seas *
              and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.
3     “Who can ascend the hill of the Lord? *
              And who can stand in his holy place?”
4     “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, *
              who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,
              nor sworn by what is a fraud.
5     They shall receive a blessing from the Lord *
              and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”
6     Such is the generation of those who seek him, *
              of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
7     Lift up your heads, O gates;
       lift them high, O everlasting doors; *
              and the King of glory shall come in.
8     “Who is this King of glory?” *
              “The Lord, strong and mighty,
              the Lord, mighty in battle.”
9     Lift up your heads, O gates;
       lift them high, O everlasting doors; *
              and the King of glory shall come in.
10   “Who is he, this King of glory?” *
              “The Lord of hosts,
              he is the King of glory.”

1st Reading (Track 2):  Amos 7:7-15
The prophet Amos was sent to the northern Kingdom of Israel to draw attention to injustice and warn of the Lord’s coming judgment.  More than once he reminds those to whom he speaks that he is no prophet, but a “dresser of sycamore trees.”  Nevertheless, he speaks what he is told.  Jeroboam II ruled Israel from 786 to 746 b.c.e.  He was the last king of the line of Jehu.  20 or so years after his death, the northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrian Empire.

7:7 This is what the Lord God showed me:  the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; 9 the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” 10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’” 12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” 14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”

Psalm 85:8-13 (Track 2)
Psalm 85 as a whole is a communal lament, urging God to restore the people.  This theme may date this psalm from the time of the exile in Babylon.  The portion of the psalm below praises God’s mercy and the assurance of the restoration of the covenant, characterized by love, truth, justice, and peace.

8     I will listen to what the Lord God is saying, *
              for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
              and to those who turn their hearts to him.
9     Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *
              that his glory may dwell in our land.
10   Mercy and Truth have met together; *
              righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11   Truth shall spring up from the earth, *
              and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12   The Lord will indeed grant prosperity, *
              and our land will yield its increase.
13   Righteousness shall go before him, *
              and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

2nd Reading:  Ephesians 1:3-14
We will spend the next seven weeks reading through the Letter to the Ephesians.  Attributed to Paul, who spent much time in Ephesus, its language places it in the second generation, probably written a few decades after Paul’s death.  Our reading today is a blessing prayer, whose phrasing is hymn-like, using repetitions such as “in Christ” and “for the praise of his glory.”  There is also a strong reference to Baptism, i.e., that “you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.”

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Gospel Reading:  Mark 6:14-29
Our Gospel reading begins with speculation about Jesus’ identity.  King Herod fears that Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead.  We then get the story of John’s death.  Herod is shown as weak and easily manipulated, allowing for his illegitimate wife to exact her revenge.  The story foreshadows Jesus’ arrest and death, particularly in the weakness of Pilate (Mark 15:15).

6:14 King Herod heard of Jesus and his disciples, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23 And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

The Scripture readings (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.  The Psalm translation is from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2018 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for congregational use with this attribution.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Proper 9B (Pentecost 7, 2018) Readings & Commentaries

1st Reading (Track 1):  2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Jesus as a child in Jerusalem (Jesus MAFA)
The first five chapters of 2 Samuel tell the story of David consolidating his power, and finally being accepted as king by the elders of Israel.  At the time of this acceptance, Hebron was Israel’s capitol. (Hebron is about 20 miles south of Jerusalem).  Jerusalem was still held by a Canaanite tribe called the Jebusites.  David conquered it and claimed it as his capitol.  This was strategic in that it was neutral territory, not previously held by the Israelites, and stood between the two groups of tribes that had emerged, Judah and Israel.

5:1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2 For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. 9 David occupied the stronghold [of Jerusalem], and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

Psalm 48 (Track 1)
Psalm 48 is a hymn of praise to the God who dwells in Zion (Jerusalem).  Mount Zion is one of the hills on which Jerusalem is built.  The heathen may attack God’s city, but it will not be overthrown.  The psalm ends with the call for a procession around the great city.

1     Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; *
              in the city of our God is his holy hill.
2     Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion, *
              the very center of the world and the city of the great King.
3     God is in her citadels; *
              he is known to be her sure refuge.
4     Behold, the kings of the earth assembled *
              and marched forward together.
5     They looked and were astounded; *
              they retreated and fled in terror.
6     Trembling seized them there; *
              they writhed like a woman in childbirth,
              like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.
7     As we have heard, so have we seen,
       in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God; *
              God has established her for ever.
8     We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God, *
              in the midst of your temple.
9     Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end; *
              your right hand is full of justice.
10   Let Mount Zion be glad and the cities of Judah rejoice, *
              because of your judgments.
11   Make the circuit of Zion;
       walk round about her; *
              count the number of her towers.
12   Consider well her bulwarks;
       examine her strongholds; *
              that you may tell those who come after.
13   This God is our God for ever and ever; *
              he shall be our guide for evermore.

Or this

1st Reading (Track 2):  Ezekiel 2:1-5
Ezekiel was called to his ministry as a prophet when many of the people of Judah were being sent into exile in Babylon.  This passage indicates God’s judgment on the people; they are “a nation of rebels.”  The word “nation” in Hebrew is an insult. The word used is Israel’s word for the pagan nations that surrounded it (it is sometimes translated “gentiles”).  The prophet proclaims they are no better than them.

2:1 The Lord said to me:  O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. 2 And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. 3 He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. 4 The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” 5 Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

Psalm 123 (Track 2)
Psalm 123 is one of the Songs of Ascents (psalms 120-134), songs sung by pilgrims on their way to worship in the Temple at Jerusalem.  Psalm 123 is a prayer for deliverance from one’s enemies, including the scorn of the rich.

1     To you I lift up my eyes, *
              to you enthroned in the heavens.
2     As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, *
              and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
3     So our eyes look to the Lord our God, *
              until he show us his mercy.
4     Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy, *
              for we have had more than enough of contempt,
5     Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich, *
              and of the derision of the proud.

2nd Reading:  2 Corinthians 12:2-10
In much of Second Corinthians Paul is dealing with the Corinthians having been taken in by a group of rival missionaries who are very critical of Paul, calling him weak and ineffective.  Paul defends himself vigorously, especially in chapters 11 and 12.  As this passage begins, Paul refers to someone who had an incredible spiritual experience.  We can assume Paul is speaking of himself.  In Paul’s day there were thought to be three “levels” of heaven, the third being the highest, the experience of pure ecstasy.  But it is not this experience in which he will boast. He boasts only in his weakness because it is this very weakness that is his sharing in the power of Christ.  This passage includes his well-known comment on the “thorn” in his flesh, an ailment about which there has been much speculation, although there is no way of knowing what it was.

12:2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3 And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows—4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6 But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Gospel Reading:  Mark 6:1-13
In our Gospel reading Jesus returns home to Nazareth and is not well received. He is too well known to be taken seriously.  He then teaches in nearby villages and, for the first time, sends the twelve disciples out on their own.  Given his own experience in Nazareth, he warns them to expect rejection, but to simply move on when they do.  They are successful in exercising his authority to heal. Note the ancient use of oil in prayers for healing, a practice we continue to this day.

6:1 Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

The Scripture readings (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.  The Psalm translation is from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2018 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for congregational use with this attribution.