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June 19
Power of God

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49;Psalm 9:9-20;2 Corinthians 6:1-13;Mark 4:35-41

After last week’s surge of optimism, even with our deepest wishing that it were so, we find ourselves sinning against the Holy Spirit, doubting the power of God.

We need this week’s scriptures.

We begin with the ancient and beloved tale of David and Goliath. It is an ill-matched battle, as you can imagine. The contest begins with the usual exchange of compliments from the warriors. Goliath promises to give David’s flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.

David replies, "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied." David continues, "so that all the Earth may know that there is a God in Israel."

David, a shepherd lad, prevailed over an awesome warrior.
By the power of God.

The psalm celebrates that power. "The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed." But the psalm, with the realism of Hebrew religion, acknowledges that the events may not always bear this out. While the psalmist sings his faith that God will not forget the cry of the afflicted, this is no Pollyanna refusal to look at the affliction. There is trouble in the world. But it is not the last word.

The gospel underscores this. The last word is God’s. "Peace, be still."

This is a beloved story. Does its attraction for use suggest we sense the words are addressed to us? "Lord, do you not care?" we cry. It is an act of faith. We are in frightening circumstances. We have no resources to help ourselves. We cry out to the only One who can. Has it not been said human extremity is God’s opportunity? Can it be that in the most desperate of circumstances, we are reminded that the last word is God’s? Peace, be still.

The power of God is demonstrated most gloriously in changed human lives, and what better example than Paul of Tarsus. Our New Testament scripture is an excerpt from one of Paul’s letters to a group of people called by his work among them to be saints. As we read the account of what is meant for Paul to continue in his ministry, we have no other explanation for his power to continue than the power of God.

VERNA J. DOZIER is an educator and lay theologian in Washington, D.C. She is the author of The Dream of God: A Call to Return (Cowley Publications) and The Authority of the Laity (The Alban Institute).

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