With the weather we've been having it feels like I should be preaching on Noah and the ark, but this week's readings take us in a different direction. In our reading from 1 Kings, Ahab is having a bad day. He wants to buy a vineyard next to his palace, but much to his dismay, the vineyard's owner refuses to sell and gives God as his excuse ("The Lord forbids that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.") Ahab is distraught and Jezebel decides to take matters into her own hands, arranging for the vineyard's owner to be killed. When she is sure that he is dead, Jezebel urges Ahab to take the vineyard for himself. God, however, sends Elijah to meet him, and when Ahab goes to claim the vineyard, Elijah delivers God's message of displeasure at what has taken place. Ahab has sold his soul to obtain the land. Not good.
2 Samuel gives us another story of one acting to get what he wants and displeasing God along the way. The lectionary leaves out the backstory--David sees and desires Bathsheba, and sleeps with her despite knowing that she is married; then he arranges to have Uriah, her husband, killed in battle. After Uriah's death, David takes Bathsheba as his wife. In our reading, Nathan comes and tells David a parable to clue him into the evil he has done. Once again, getting what you want at any cost can have drastic consequences.
Paul's letter to the Galatians provides a more positive text as Paul reminds his audience that they (and we) are in fact saved by faith, not works. Although this message is a familiar one to those in the reformed traditions, it can still be hard to grasp and can seem at odds with Jesus' gospel imperatives. A challenging text to preach...but a good one.
Finally our gospel finds Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, where an uninvited woman anoints his feet with perfume and her tears. The woman's actions provide Jesus an opening to talk about forgiveness of sins, and to highlight his concern not only for sinners but also for those overlooked by society, including women.
Do you have a homiletical direction for the week, or are you still searching? On lectionary or off? Summer series? Narrative lectionary? Wherever you're headed, join the discussion with your questions, inspirations, frustrations, insights, or just to let us know you're here!
Readings found here or here.