Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sermon -- 5 Pentecost 2012

5 Pentecost 2012

Today we continue with our readings from the books of Samuel. We see David at the moment of Saul's death. David was very close to King Saul. He knew him intimately He knew he was corrupt. He used to play his harp and sing songs to him when the King could not sleep, when he was quite mad on those difficult nights.

At a point Saul tried to kill David. Jonathan, Saul's son and the presumptive heir to the throne, saved David's life. David had a chance to kill Saul when Saul was pursuing him with murderous intentions. David chose not to kill Saul because God had anointed him as king.

Now Saul and Jonathan, his dear friend, are killed in battle. And what is David's reaction? He could have sung this song:

Oh, that corrupt old Saul is gone. Good riddance.
I've won. Thank God. How great I am.
Corruption got its just deserts.

But this was not David's reaction. Instead he talks about how great Saul was. He sings about how much the nation and he himself benefited from Saul. He says, remember Saul and remember the glory he brought Israel. Don't let the pagan world hear of anything except how wonderful he was.

Our Collect today brings us back to the time of Israel and of the early church. It reads: Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you.

Israel, and the church today, is to be a holy temple built and knit together for God's glory. But Israel did not do what God asked of them. Israel was not being the way the God wanted them to be. So they were sent into exile. They lost their Temple. They were stranded and destitute in a foreign land.

Yet in the midst of this exile in Babylon God restores the nation once again. They return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. This is not an easy task, this Temple building. Even in the days of the rebuilding, the days of the prophets Nehemiah and Ezra, there is difficulty, discord and strife. Yet they carry on with one pure goal in mind, to rebuild the Temple, to restore the glory of Yahweh because this is what they are called to do.

In Jesus' time we find Israel fallen again. Why is this picture so bleak? We are constantly falling away from the teachings of the prophets and the apostles. We are weak. Our perspective on life is narrow. We are sinful. And so we are constantly called to renewal and revival.

God is calling to us, always to renew us. This is what our Gospel stories are about today. Here we have Jairus. He is the leader of the local synagogue. The system of local rabbis, trained as leaders, was not yet established. Jairus was a layman, just a regular person who had taken on the mission of leading the local group of worshipers. He comes to Jesus and falls at his feet. “My daughter is very ill,” he says.

The woman, a woman, even this young women, in the Gospel represents Israel. Israel is a woman. Israel is the spouse of God. Israel is very ill. Israel is about to die. The local leader of Israel falls at Jesus' feet and pleads to him for help. Picture this gesture.

In the midst of this story another woman comes to Jesus with a great issue of blood. Nothing has helped her. Even the doctors have made her worse. Yet she thinks, “If I could just touch the hem of his garment, I will be cured.”

Numbers are very important when they are mentioned in the gospels. Here the woman has been suffering for 12 years. How old was the little girl? 12 years old. This may seem trivial and off the mark but it is central to the message of our gospel today. How many tribes were in Israel? 12. How many apostles? 12.

We are constantly being called back to the restoration and healing of Israel and of the the church, which is built upon the foundation of the prophets and the apostles. In our OT story, David sees how, despite the corruption and chaos, God was working through King Saul to establish and restore Israel. David saw this and this is why God could use him, despite his weaknesses and faults, to lead Israel. David listened to the prophets and so was able to see the big picture.

In our gospel, Jesus enters the corruption, chaos and death of this world to offer ongoing healing and life. He raises the young girl, Israel, the church, to new life. He heals the bleeding of the woman, of Israel, of the church. This new life is built on the foundation of the prophets and the apostles with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. He is the Lord of life, the author of risen life, life in the midst of impossible death, bleeding and chaos.

In our Gospel story today Jesus is laughed at and dismissed by some, worshiped by others.

And this is the main point. God is calling us into relationship with him. He loves us. He wants to heal us amid our suffering and confusion. His call is simple and direct. Come to me, all you are burdened and heavy laden and I will refresh you and you shall find rest for your souls. Even amid chaos and corruption, he is at work, drawing us, leading us, healing us.

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