Scripture Introductions

Proper 14 August 12. 2012 Scripture Introductions by Stewart Clarke
The first reading leads us toward the closing of the story of David. Absalom, David’s third son, was strong, handsome and very popular. He was sure that he should rule, and sold himself to the people that way. He gained enough following to start a civil war against his father. So David was under siege from his own son, but he retains a love for him that sounds to me like the Prodigal Father in Jesus’ parable. (Could this story have been in Jesus’ mind when he told the parable? The Father acts counter to all expectations. David’s attitude was so far from expectation that his general couldn’t follow the request, and is the first to strike the helpless Absalom. Then he orders a trumpet call to stop the battle. Now they have a problem. David must be told of the victory, but who will tell him of his beloved son’s death? Finally, they send a slave..) (David’s reaction to the news of Absalom’s death gets repeated by parents and loved ones, even today. ) (“Absalom” means “Father is peace.” Joab was Commander-in-chief; he was so powerful that David felt he would be a threat to Solomon’s rule! Abishai and Ittai were among David’s “mighty men” and his companions in battle. ) Let’s listen to the climax of the story as it is told in 2 Samuel 18: 5 – 9, 15, 31-33 (You may wish to reserve your acclaim until after the Gospel, or use traditional words, or say something like: May we hear the value of love, even in times of conflict. Amen.)
The Psalm speaks from grief and despair such as David knew, with an assurance of God’s grace, and a message of hope. As a Song of Ascents, it would be sung by pilgrims on their way to the holy city. Let us…. . Ps. 130, VU 852-3 Or: The first reading takes us into the conflict between the worship of YHWH,( Adhonai, the Lord), and the Ba’alim, with Elijah as champion, of YHWH (The Lord) against Jezebel, wife of Ahab. She was a princess of Tyre, and her marriage to King Ahab would have been with a guarantee of free worship (of Ba’al!). In one episode, Elijah arranges a contest in which The Lord’s side wins handily, and Elijah commands the slaughter of the prophets of Ba’al. Ahab has to be the one to tell his queen. She vows revenge on Elijah, who flees for his life, all the way from Israel, in the north, to Bathsheba, the largest city in the south, sometimes called the Capital of the Negeb, the southern desert. He reaches Mount Horeb. According to one tradition, this is where God gave Moses the Commandments! (The story shows Elijah as a very human hero, and deserves to be read to the call of Elisha. RSC) I Kings 19: 4 – 8 May we be attentive when God speaks. Amen. The Psalm sings faith and hope. It is traditionally “of David,” from the time of his hiding from Saul. Ps. 34: 1 – 8
The Epistle reading is full of “good advice,” recognizing our human tendencies but wanting them channelled or under control. The advice leads to a reminder of God’s love in Christ, with a hint of God’s perfection being Grace, beyond mere unconditional love. Let’s listen closely, as the author cautions and encourages us in: Ephesians 4: 25 – 5:2 May we be helped to live and grow in love, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
In the Gospel reading, ”John” pictures Jesus speaking of himself as nourishment for his followers. {“I am” can be seen as part of the personal name of God, YHWH, “I am who I am.” (NRSV). Its use is a powerful summary of John’s faith in Jesus Christ. The exchange with the Jewish leaders highlights John’s view: manna was short-lived food, but Jesus is eternal. } Let us rise to honour and be open to the Good News for us in: (Or: Let us listen closely for the Good News for us in:) John 6: 35, 41-51. May we be nourished, and give God thanks, service and praise. Amen. It is appropriate to follow the readings with thanks and praise. (Comments to Stew at