Pastor Sherry’s message for July 18,2021
Scriptures: 2 Sam 7:1-17; Ps 89:20-37; Eph 2:1-13; Mk 6:30-34, 53-36
One of my heroes of the faith is Mother Theresa. She was a humble Catholic nun, an Albanian, who went to minister in Calcutta (Kolkata), India, in 1929 at the age of 19. She taught school there for 17 years, until she had an encounter with Christ, in 1946, in which He called her to minister His love, His compassion, to the poor. She began, by herself, to meet the physical needs of sick and dying children left on the streets. The Hindu faith ascribes to the notion of karma or fate. So if you are left to die in the streets, that is your karma and no one is to intervene. But Mother Theresa knew that Jesus would have us treat others—love others–as we do ourselves and not leave the sick and dying to cope on their own. Her “hospice” ministry quickly expanded to sick and dying adults, as well. As other women joined with her, she formed a new order of nuns, the Missionaries of Charity. By the time she died in 1997, she had gathered 4,000 nuns into her order; established hospice and healing centers in 90 different countries; and she had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1979). The Roman Catholic Church elevated her to sainthood in 2006.
Senator Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting her “House of Dying.” There he saw dozens of sick children being cared for in their last days, and witnessed the poor line up by the hundreds, daily, to receive medical attention from her dispensary. Watching her feed and nurse people left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers faced daily. “How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?” he asked. Mother Teresa replied, “My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful.” As this story illustrates, Mother Theresa is best known for her compassion for “the least of these,”and her faithfulness to God.
These are the twin themes of our Scriptures today:
A. 2 Samuel 7:1-17 tells of the time, about 1,000BC, when King David decided to demonstrate His devotion to God by building Him a house (a Temple). He revealed his plan to the prophet, Nathan, who agreed wholeheartedly. But, as Nathan was taking his leave from the king, God grabs ahold of him and says, Go back! Tell David I said “no.” Furthermore, God adds, whoever said I needed a house? For years, God had met with His people in a tent! An advantage of a tent is that it’s mobile. It demonstrated that God is not confined to one geographic area, as were the false gods and idols known to the people surrounding Israel. So, God is essentially saying, While I appreciate the thought, I choose not be contained by humankind. Afterall, He’d appeared to the Children of Israel in a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night as they traveled the Wilderness. It was He who had told them to create the “Tent of Meeting,” in which He was present to them, but never confined. This remained the case until God allows David’s son, Solomon, to build Him a Temple. It also remained true until the Apostle John writes, in John 1:14, that–at the Advent of Jesus–The Word became flesh and dwelt (in the Greek, the word means tented; pitched His tent) among us —a tent of flesh!
God denied the gesture but Honored David’s love and devotion. He gives David more than he could have asked for or imagined. First, He calls David “His Servant.” This is a Biblical term of endearment which implies a special relationship with God. It is used only with regard to some patriarchs, several prophets, the nation of Israel, and Jesus. He says to Nathan, Tell David I will build him a house (a dynasty). David already has a luxurious palace. In the Hebrew, the word House (bayith) has 3 separate meanings: (1) It can mean David’s palace (verses 1-2); (2) Yahweh’s Temple (verses 5-7, 13); or, (3.)David’s dynasty (verses 11, 16, 18, 19, 25, 27, and twice in 29). This is the only royal house or dynasty that the Lord would ever sanction in perpetuity.
Next, God sets out the terms of His Covenant with David, promising:
1.) I will make your name great (famous/renown)
2.) I will provide a place for My people (the present nation of Israel is a partial fulfillment of this; the ultimate fulfillment awaits the end of times);
3.) I will give you rest from your enemies;
4.) I will raise up offspring to succeed you (he did go on to have a number of sons);
5.) I will establish the throne of your kingdom forever. No one will usurp this throne. The dynasty may fade—which it does–but it will not disappear completely.
6.) I will be his Father/He will be My son. This was true of David’s son, Solomon and later, of Jesus.
7.) I will discipline Him…. David’s wicked descendants are later taken out by the Assyrians or the Babylonians. When the sin of us all was laid upon Jesus, He is flogged and crucified.
8.) But I will always love him!
9.) Your throne will be established forever. The gospeler, Dr. Luke, tells us in Luke 1:32 that Gabriel told Mary, He [Jesus] shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give Him the throne of his father David.
Needless to say, 2 Samuel 7 is a very important passage in the Old Testament. It presents the Messianic Hope! Our God is a faithful, promise-keeping God. He predicted that Messiah would arise from the tribe of Judah, David’s tribe, back in Genesis 49:10. This theme of “Messianic Hope” is reiterated 4 times in Isaiah, 3 times in Jeremiah, 2 times in Ezekiel, several times in Daniel, and once each in Hosea, Amos, and Zechariah. Jesus arrives in the New Testament and embodies and fulfills this promise.
B. Psalm 89:20-37 is what is called a maschil, an instructive psalm. The portion appointed for today reviews and commends the Covenant that God made with David (as per our O.T. lesson). King David will have a son (descendant) who will sit on the throne of the Universe! Verses 34-37 contain God’s promise or oath to King David. In other words, Messiah (Jesus) will be a descendant of his. The entire psalm declares God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises 10 times.
C. Our Gospel lesson, Mark 6:30-34, 53-57, emphasizes Jesus’ love and compassion. The point at which we find Him today, both He and His disciples are tired. The disciples have just returned from having been sent out to teach, heal, and cast out demons. They are euphoric. But we all know that euphoria is often followed by exhaustion and a need for sleep. Immediately after being reunited, Jesus however is confronted with crowds of people seeking Him out. So He takes the time to teach and feed 5,000 (probably closer to 15,000, counting women and children). He and the disciples try again to have a respite, a mini-break, a time-out. They even escape to sea and attempt to sail away from the crowds. But the people run around the lake, searching Him out in the seaside towns until they locate Him.
We might say that Jesus was at the “Height of His fame.” Mobs of folks were desperate to find Him in order to be inspired and comforted by His teaching; to experience His healing; and to encounter His love. Verse 34 tells us…He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. God is love, even when He is tired.
D. Finally, in our NT lesson, Ephesians 2:1-13, Paul declares some of the benefits to us of our God’s faithfulness and compassion:
Verses 4-5–But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace that you are saved. God sent Jesus to earth to pay the penalty for our sins. He saved us from the penalty—death—through Jesus’ substituting of Himself on the Cross for us. The Father so loved us that He created and executed the plan to save our spiritual lives. He saved us because we could not save ourselves.
He also (verse 6) …raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus….Because we are in Christ (we have affirmed our faith in Him), we are heirs of heaven.
Our afterlife is assured! Verse 7 goes on to tell us that these two great gifts are not due to us but entirely to God. God has demonstrated His faithfulness to His promises to King David as well as His love and compassion for us.
Now how are we to respond to God’s faithfulness and His compassion? Mother Theresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Most of us are not called to be a Mother Theresa. However, we can each think of some small things we can do for others to demonstrate God’s love. We can send a card, make a phone call, or take a meal to someone who is ill or to their family as they care for the sick one. We can mail a card, place a call, or prepare a meal to take to those who are grieving. Friday, a total stranger paid for my coffee at a hospital coffee shop. I was visiting one of our parishioners and the barista could not make change for my twenty. The guy next to me presented his credit card, saying when I thanked him, “Pay it forward.” We can do kind things like that to pay God’s love forward.
We can also be aware of God’s great faithfulness to us daily. We can and should express our thanks and gratitude to Him everyday. He never leaves or forsakes us. While people may abandon us, God never does! We can tell others about how He has been there for us. This week and always, let us aspire to be known by our compassion and our faithfulness to our faithful and compassionate God.
©️2021 Rev. Dr. Sherry Adams