James Tissot, Detail from The Woman with the Issue of Blood (L’hémorroïsse), ca. 1890. Public Domain.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings
See the texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for these days at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes. Para obtener más recursos leccionario, Estudios Exegético: Homiléticos.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
Lecionário comum revisado (português)
2 Samuel 1:1, 17, 17-27. David leads his troops in a public lament for the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.
Psalm 130 (UMH 848). In response to the cry of national mourning, "Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!" For a hymn setting of the 1535 Coverdale version, see UMH 516. If you plan to chant the psalm, consider using Tone 4 in G minor, page 737.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15. Last week, Paul placed the ball in the Corinthians’ court to restore their relationship. This week, Paul reminds the church to make good on its past promise to provide generous support for his collection for the poor in Jerusalem. At stake, says Paul, is not only their integrity, but their participation in the global body of Christ. He expects them to give all that they can so that the standard of living for Christians around the world would be more balanced.
Mark 5:21-43. Two more illustrations of the power of the Word to bring abundance of life where no life seemed possible: the healing of a woman with an issue of blood (preventing pregnancy) and the raising of Jairus’s daughter, who had died.
Worship Planning Notes
The Season after Pentecost continues to invite us to support disciples as they grow in personal holiness and live out the ministries the Spirit has empowered them to offer.
If you are using the Revised Common Lectionary as the biblical foundation for helping your congregation live out the purpose of this season, you will be in the midst of one of three series at this point. The saga of David focuses on the nature of leadership. The readings from 2 Corinthians focus on dealing with conflict. And the gospel readings from Mark enable us to join Jesus as he disciples his disciples by, and in this case, on the Sea of Galilee.
Youth 2015 concludes today. This major gathering of United Methodist Youth from across the connection this year focused on living the means of grace. Find ways to be in prayer in worship and at other times for the thousands of United Methodist youth who have been attending this event, including those from your congregation, cluster or district, June 24-28, in Orlando.
Independence Day (US) falls on a Saturday this year. You may choose to recognize it in Sunday worship on July 5 or in special worship offered on July 4. The Book of Common Prayer (1979) provides readings for this day. The Revised Common Lectionary and The United Methodist Book of Worship version of the RCL do not.
June 24-28 Youth 2015
July 4 Independence Day (USA)
August 6 Hiroshima Nagasaki Memorial
All Month Season of Creation (global and ecumenical)
September 7 Labor Day (USA)
October 15 Hispanic Heritage Month (USA)
All Month Season of Saints
October 4 World Communion Sunday
October 11 Children’s Sabbath
October 18 Laity Sunday
Old Testament: The David Saga
Week 4: Leading in Lament
From last week to this, our readings in 2 Samuel take us from victory in battle to communal lament. Saul and Jonathan are dead. David now leads the nation in mourning.
It is one thing to be an individual champion. It is another to lead a whole assembly in prayer and daily life. Within the Christian community, as within the kingdom of Israel long ago, we need leaders who can do both, even if they may not co-exist in the same person, as we can see they did in David.
The champion draws attention primarily to himself and the God or group she or he represents. The leader of the assembly focuses on how to engage the whole assembly in common action. Worship leaders should no more be champions, than those functioning in the role of champion should be worship leaders.
He knew their songs. We have no surviving record of the text or tune of “The Song of the Bow” (verse 18). But David knew it. And apparently it was a well-enough known song that it appeared in other annals of the nation.
He customized the song for this occasion. The song for the communal lament as we see it beginning in verse 19 may have been to a familiar tune (“The Song of the Bow”), but its words were specific to this occasion.
He rehearsed a choir to lead it and teach it to others. David gathered the soldiers from the tribe of Judah, the people of the region where the memorial rites would take place, and taught them the whole song. They, in turn, would not only perform it, but set the example for how the whole people could join in on their parts (the refrains, “How the mighty have fallen,” verses 19, 25 and 27).
In the end, choir, king, and the whole gathered assembly were thus enabled to participate fully in appropriate ways in this ritual of communal lament.
In Your Planning Team
What do you learn about what it takes for Christian leaders to lead a whole assembly from the example of David in this story?
Specifically, how do you and your worship leaders follow David’s model from this story? Where do they differ from it? What did David do that you’re not doing? What do you do that David didn’t do?
How might you model worship today in a way that makes conscious use of David’s example of taking a familiar tune, altering its words for a specific community need (lament or otherwise), teaching it to an ensemble, leaving room for a solo part (David himself appears to be the singer of verse 26), and bringing the whole congregation in on refrains?
Epistle: Forging a Way through Conflict
Week 4: A Call to Join in Ministry
Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen Paul make his case for why he and the Christian leaders at Corinth who have rejected him should be reconciled.
In this week’s reading, he goes beyond making such a case to an invitation to join in common ministry, indeed, in a common ministry they had previously agreed to participate in together.
For some time, Paul had been raising funds from across the churches to support the people of the deeply persecuted and impoverished Christians in Jerusalem. It would appear that the church in Corinth had previously agreed to participate in this fund raising project, but that now, as a result of their conflict with Paul, had backed away.
Paul now invites them to make good on their previous commitment. And he invites them to do so in a way that would be quite familiar to those who practice the art of mediation. He notes their participation with him in this project serves their own interests. Doing good for others when they are down may invite a reciprocal response when the shoe is on the other foot (verse 14).
And he makes this invitation both on theological grounds that would appeal to them as Christians (Christ became poor for your sake, verse 9), and on ethical grounds that would especially appeal to them as citizens of Corinth, the busiest trade center in the Mediterranean. That little phrase “a fair balance” (verse 13) spoke worlds in Corinth, quite literally. Everyone in Corinth knew what a “fair balance” was—a reasonable return for the right amount of goods of decent quality. They also knew why it mattered. The fair balance was the guarantee of a profitable business and long-lasting business relationships with traders from all over. Even out your abundance and the extreme poverty of Christian siblings in Jerusalem, Paul says, and everyone can win for a long time to come.
Ultimately, Paul invites them to move from a position of conflict and rivalry with him and back toward a position of co-laborers in the same enterprise.
We do not know and may never know whether or how Paul’s invitation in the midst of conflict was actually answered.
But we do see Paul acting to de-escalate their conflict, their turning away from one another, and inviting the possibility, at least, of one way they may turn back toward each other for their own good and for the good of the wider Christian community worldwide.
In Your Planning Team
As you continue to plan worship during this series, remember this series isn’t about (and these services aren’t about) “7 Easy Steps to Fix Conflicts.”
They are rather invitations to see ways the Holy Spirit has acted in the lives of other Christians and is acting among us to enable us as disciples of Jesus to live as ministers of reconciliation in all of our lives.
And the Spirit has surely been doing such work among not just famous people from the past or present, but among you and the people you know personally as well.
The question is, “What can you as disciples today learn from the witness of the Spirit through all of these lives, voices, and contexts that can help you, in your particular lives, voices, and contexts become more faithful and effective ministers of reconciliation yourselves?”
So as you plan for worship today, have your team discuss these questions:
1. How do you actively teach others to move from conflict to affiliation where you are?
2. Who teaches or models this well?
3. How do people in your congregation or community continue to build affiliation for positive community change where you are, or for others elsewhere?
Most of our congregations will not be celebrating Communion (offering the Great Thanksgiving) on a fourth Sunday. But we are still called in our Basic Pattern of Worship to have a considerable time for giving thanks. Give thanks today, in word or in song, for all the opportunities the Spirit has made possible among us to move from conflict to affiliation in shared ministry, from harmful disunity toward fruitful witness and discipleship to the presence of the Spirit who makes us one body in Christ.
Gospel: Discipleship by the Sea
Week 4: Fruit from the Barren and a Tomb Denied
While much of Jesus’ teaching ministry, as we saw last week, had happened “by the sea,” at a literal shoreline, the healing ministry we see in the two stories we have today occur in the heart of the seaside city of Capernaum. Both of these stories are shoreline stories as well. Healing happens at the turbid meeting place of social convention and physical need, and a little girl crosses the shoreline from sickness and death back to life and strength. The power of death is interrupted by the power of life in the good news of God’s kingdom and its king, Jesus Christ.
The Hemorrhaging Woman
The story of the “woman with the issue of blood” literally interrupts the Jairus story as Mark tells it. She also interrupts social convention by daring to touch a man on purpose. It was one thing for a woman to touch a man in public on purpose at all. That itself simply wasn’t done. It was another entirely for an unclean woman (as her hemorrhaging would have made her) to do this. Somehow, she mustered the determination that the possibility of her healing was more important than any taboos, touched Jesus’ cloak from behind, and then immediately knew in her body that she was made well.
Social taboos can come with social consequences if they are not honored. When Jesus, aware that power had left him, wheeled around to the crowd to ask who touched him, she would have had every reason to expect at least a scolding, if not a stoning, for daring to do what she did. From the position of the keepers of the taboos, what this woman did was tantamount to stealing from and profaning a holy man. This was a spiritual parallel to adultery. But, though cowering and afraid, she owned and confessed her action openly (verse 33). From the position of Jesus, not just her action but her confession was an exercise of faith. He spoke not condemnation, but blessing. “Daughter, your faith has delivered you. Go now in peace, and be healthy, freed from your affliction” (verse 34).
Did you catch what Jesus called her? “Daughter.” She who could bear no children, she who had been unclean, she hears herself addressed as one of the honored women, “daughter of Israel.” Jesus did more than heal her body. In this moment, he healed her entirely—body, soul, spirit—and gave her a name and place among the people again.
When a barren woman dared to interrupt the power of taboo, the power of death and its physical and social barriers were broken, and life came into fullest blossom.
What social conventions or taboos keep people away from the body of Christ where you are? Think about symbols for such conventions or taboos that would be obvious for your congregation, and find ways to include them explicitly in the worship space today as you read or preach this text.
But perhaps more important to consider-- Who is reaching out and receiving power from you, unauthorized? Who is cowering, showing you signs of their fear and expectation to be cursed, but also giving you the opportunity to bless? How do you respond when power flows out of you and starts to heal them? And then, when the healing comes and you know it, how do you offer a name and a blessing that restores them not only in body or mind, but in community as well?
A Synagogue Ruler’s Daughter
There were physical and social barriers for Jesus to reach Jairus’s daughter as well. Physically, there was the crowd that had just witnessed the healing and blessing of the hemorrhaging woman.
And then, when he reached Jairus’s house, there was the thick crowd of mourners.
The “right” thing to do when the mourners come is mourn with them. Everyone knew that. Or at the very least, one might observe reverent silence in their presence. Telling them to stop mourning and then throwing them outside the house were definitely not among the “right” things to do. The healer of a violator of social taboos now broke the social norms dramatically.
Mourners gone, and just the parents and their dead daughter left in the house with him, Jesus took the dead girl’s hand and asked her to get up. And she did. They got her some food, and the family went on with its life. Apparently, Jesus’ command not to tell anyone about this was not followed, else we would not know this story today.
Jesus may have had no idea that he would end up healing and restoring the woman with the hemorrhage. But he had gone to Jairus’s house with a mission of healing Jairus’s daughter. And a tomb was robbed of its potential inhabitant that very hour.
In Your Planning Team
Remember, we read these stories this season not simply to marvel at Jesus and his power—though that we rightly do, and we worship!—but to learn of him what it means to live as his disciples continuing his ministry in his name and the Spirit’s power.
Here, Jesus was on the move to bring life to the daughter of a synagogue official, and on the way unexpectedly gave life to someone else as well.
One of the things we learn from Jesus here is something about being intentional about going to give life to others. The interruption, while another example of Jesus giving life, is also only an interruption. Nothing deters him from reaching his destination. Nor should anything deter us from the efforts we undertake to bring life to others.
The interruption itself offers its own lesson, calling to attention all that must be interrupted at times for life to overcome the power of death. We do not say idly in our baptismal vows that we “accept the freedom and power Christ gives to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever form they present themselves.” This story is case in point of what all must be resisted that Christ’s power and the freedom he brings may be made known through us.
Today’s reading offers a powerful opportunity for the singing of freedom songs from a variety of traditions and the voices of many witnesses of barriers resisted and broken to bring Christ’s freedom and power to others. As you consider how you may do so, you may find this video useful.
And remember, some of those voices may be from your own congregation.
Be sure to include them—and songs that may have inspired them—among the voices of testimony that inform preaching, the response to the word, the Great Thanksgiving (or acts or prayers of thankgiving in the absence of the sacrament) and the sending forth today.
3. Resources in The United Methodist Book of Worship (BOW) with links and other suggestions
Greeting: BOW 327 (2 Samuel, Psalm)
Greeting: BOW 455 (Mark)
Opening Prayer: BOW 464 (Mark)
WORD AND RESPONSE
Canticle: UMH 516, "Canticle of Redemption" (Psalm)
Hymns from The Africana Hymnal:
4047 We Shall Overcome
4051 Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
4052 Go Down, Moses
4055 Lift Every Voice and Sing
4095 When the Waves are Crashing
4155 Never Been Scared
Prayer of Confession: BOW 487 (Psalm, Mark)
Prayer of Confession: BOW 491 (Mark; “We are reluctant…”)
Prayer: UMH 446, "Serving the Poor" (2 Corinthians)
Prayer: UMH 461, "For Those Who Mourn" (2 Samuel)
Prayer: BOW 500, "For Blessing, Mercy, and Courage" (Mark)
Prayers: BOW 545 and 546, "For Those Who Suffer" (2 Samuel, Mark)
Response: BOW 207, "Come, Lord Jesus" (Mark)
Response: UMH 262, stanza 1, "Heal Me, Hands of Jesus" (2 Corinthians, Mark)
Poem: UMH 656, "If Death My Friend and Me Divide" (2 Samuel)
Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Bolivia, Chile, Peru
THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION
Great Thanksgiving: BOW 70-71
Thanksgiving (if no Communion): BOW 150-151 (2 Samuel, Prayer of Thanksgiving about ¾ down), BOW 550 (1st item) or BOW 553 (2 Corinthians, Mark)