Lectionary Preview study materials: Pentecost 6 (4 July)
(study on 30 June)
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. 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.” 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. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
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.
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
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. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 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, 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. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 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. 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.
Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 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! 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. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 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.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Lectionary Preview Session 6-30 for Sunday, Pentecost 6, July 4, 2021 Service
by Molly Jane Layton
RCL: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-13
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
David’s journey to become king of Israel was long and complicated, which is hinted at here by the Israelites’ admission that, even when Saul was king, David was the one actually leading Israel. But the Lord was faithful to David through all of this: God promised that David would be king, and after he was made king, God was with him. David’s anointing and his later success is all attributed to God, not to David’s leadership abilities or his ambition or even his faithfulness to God in the midst of his difficulties.
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, / their labor is in vain who build it. / Unless the Lord watches over the city, / in vain the watchman keeps his vigil.” The Lord’s presence with us and work on our behalf is essential to our everyday lives. If we live in our own strength, our toil is meaningless; if we trust God, God’s grace and love will uphold us.
- Where do you see God’s presence in your life? How is God working on your behalf? If these questions are difficult to answer, remember that David went through a lot of hardships before he clearly saw God’s hand at work.
This psalm celebrates Zion, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as the seat of the Lord of hosts. While not literally the center of the world, metaphorically for the Israelites this was the seat from which their God ruled. The kings of the earth fled in terror at the sight of Zion; its bulwarks and strongholds were to be lore for future generations. However, a literal historical interpretation of this psalm is inadequate, because the rulers of Babylon did conquer Jerusalem, tear down its temple, and send its people into exile. The truth of this psalm is seen elsewhere.
The greatness of God gave Zion its strength, and it was this greatness to which the Israelite people looked in praise, worship, and trust. This greatness is not threatened by earthly circumstances and rulers; God remains the sure refuge of the Israelites, who wait in the Temple on God’s loving-kindness. God’s presence would be their guide forever. And this promise is not just for the Israelites, because it is from Zion that God’s praise and justice flow to the rest of the world.
- While today we do not look to Zion as the epitome of God’s greatness, we can still see God’s greatness around us in our lives. Think of where you have seen this greatness lately. How is God a refuge for you? How do you see God’s loving-kindness to you? How does God guide you? God’s promises to us make us understand God as worthy of our praise, worship, and trust.
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Paul here refuses to boast, although he has a right to because of the revelations which were given to him (some scholars believe that the man who was caught up to the third heaven was actually Paul himself). Instead of boasting in his strength, he reveals to the Corinthians his weakness, his thorn in the flesh. Whatever this thorn may have been, it made him more dependent on God and less likely to boast about himself, because he saw God’s power make up for his own weakness.
The unexpected aspect of power is that it is “made perfect in weakness,” or, in other words, the completion of power happens when it is actually used to compensate for some weakness. Thus, our weakness gives glory to God because God’s power is completed in it. In our weakness, God’s power can work in our lives and thus realize our lives’ full potentials. God’s power allows us to be content in our weaknesses, since we know that God’s grace is sufficient in the midst of them.
A danger of this interpretation is someone assuming that God wants us to suffer in order to make God’s power perfect, which is not what this passage is saying. Rather, here we see that the inevitable “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” (which are found in the world because of sin) ultimately glorify God because God’s power makes us strong through them.
- How do you see God’s power dwelling with you in your life?
- What are the weaknesses in your life that make you trust more deeply in God’s grace and power?
Here we see Jesus both ministering in his hometown and sending out the disciples two by two to undertake their own ministry. Both encounter some forms of unbelief. Jesus’ hometown cannot accept his teaching because he is too familiar to his friends and neighbors; they only see the town carpenter. The disciples are warned that not all will welcome their message (and they have just seen a clear example of this in Nazareth). The unbelief has consequences in both instances. Still, as the disciples and Jesus travel around to villages, the good news of God’s kingdom is spread widely; people are healed and demons are cast out and repentance is preached. Humanity will resist God’s grace, gospel and healing power, but this does not end God’s ministry. God’s kingdom will prevail even in the midst of our unbelief.
- Where do you see resistance to God’s message and power, either in your own life or in your ministry? How can you trust God to help you overcome this resistance?
- Where do you see God’s power to heal and teach in your life and in your ministry?
Molly Jane Layton is a middler in the M.Div. program at Virginia Theological Seminary and a Postulant for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Before entering seminary, she earned an M.A. in Classics at Cornell University and an M.Ed. in Private School Leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University and taught high school for twelve years.