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Each of the texts this week tell us something about what it might mean to be grounded in Love. While all the passages are familiar, they also serve as a good reminder of what we ought to be about as members of the body of Christ. As we see the rise of fascism around the world, it good for us to be called back to some of the basic tenants of faith.

In 2 Samuel we read how David desired Bathsheba and would go to extremes to secure her for himself. This great King of Israel, this servant of God, put his humanity on display when he let his lust turn him from following God’s commandments. He would have Bathsheba even if it meant committing murder by proxy to free her from her marriage to Uriah. This passage is a good reminder that turning from the ways of Love, can lead us to death – spiritual or physical – for us or for those whose need we fail to take into consideration. It makes me wonder who or what we as church have disregarded in order to achieve, not God’s dream for us, but our own desires…

Psalm 14 describes human foolishness and puts God in the role of Diogenes as God searches for those who are wise amidst the foolishness humanity creates. If God were to search among us now – our congregations, our families, our neighbors, our cities, our countries – would God find more wisdom or more foolishness? How can we do better to embody God’s vision for a future filled with hope and good things?

If you’ve chosen 2 Kings the story tells of God’s unexpected abundance. Elisha tells the one from Baal-shalishah that God will provide all that is needed. Just lay before the people what you have and it will be enough for them to eat and be satisfied for this is what God desires. And the people eat until they are satisfied, and there are leftovers. Do we trust God’s abundance as Elisha did? Do we approach with skepticism? How do we share the abundance God offers us, even if we are reluctant to trust God’s amazing capacity for love and grace?

Palm 145 underscores this message of God’s goodness and greatness. All of Creation praises God for all that God has done. Do our actions, as individuals or as congregations, participate in praising God for all that God has done for us? Do we think of ourselves as having a responsibility to live lives that are praises to God?

The lovely prayer in Ephesians calls us to be “rooted and grounded” in love. How cool would it be if we all sought to live “filled with all the fullness of God”?  How might our relationships with ourselves, our neighbors, Creation, and God change if we were able to live into this prayer that the writer of Ephesians prayed for Christ’s disciples?

Now we arrive at the very familiar feeding of the 5000 and walking on water passage in John. (I wonder why not Mark since we are in Mark, but the lectionary creators often do some strange things…) Here we are reminded that God provides more than we need to love and nurture even the largest gathering of our neighbors. There is no discrimination here. All who were hungry ate and were satisfied. And, fortunately for us, the skepticism of the disciples did not hinder God’s ability to provide what was needed. How can we as congregations live into this abundance that God freely provides? What fears do we need to face and release in order to grasp hold of God’s abundant love for the whole of Creation?

Where is the Spirit leading you with these passages? Please join in the conversation so that we may share the abundant wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Photo: CC0 image by Pietro Annicchiarico


Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com.


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14 thoughts on “RCL: For the Love of God Edition

  1. Thanks for setting this up – helpful to see all these passages bound by love. Early days yet, but on a first reading of John (which I think is John because it sets us up for All the Bread of Life Passages You Could Ever Want and Then Some coming up the next several weeks) I kind of tripped over “they were going to take him by force and make him king.” Wondering – how does that even work? What are we tempted to make God or Christ into that God and Christ do not intend? Are the disciples looking for Jesus when they got in the boat, or had they just figured they were leaving him behind? Why were they (why are WE) afraid even immediately on the heels of a demonstration of the abundance of God?
    So lots of questions and no answers – maybe it’ll be THAT kind of a sermon 🙂

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  2. My imagination is being stirred by the “filled with the fullness of God” idea. Bear with me as I attempt to share a thought process… filled with the fullness made me think of absorbing God. Absorbing God made me think of marinade (it is grilling season, after all). And I got to wondering what flavor/attribute of God we might like to absorb, and then to see what it would be like to live with the fullness of that flavor within us. And, how would it serve to attract others? Lemony, garlicky, sweet and sour, tangy… Random thoughts, early in the week.

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    1. I’m looking for a children’s sermon idea… I like the idea of absorbing God. For the kids, I think using a sponge would be an easier example. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Working with John this week – probably looking at contrasting God’s abundance with the world’s (and the church’s?) fear of scarcity – “We don’t have enough – not even six months’ wages would buy enough food to feed this crowd.

    For fun, I did the math yesterday for the province that I live in – 6 months’ wages at minimum wage (assuming full-time work for all 6 months) would buy enough bread for just over half a loaf per person in that crowd of 5000 people. So Philip’s math wasn’t too far off! (As long as the crowd wasn’t too hungry.)

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  4. I’m thinking about the 23rd Psalm…Jesus has them sit on “a great deal of grass”. The baskets run over with abundance of leftovers. Though they were out on a boat on rough seas, Jesus shows up to comfort them.

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  5. I’ll be using the Gospel text. Feeding a crowd of 5,000+ people – I’ve been thinking about just how it might have happened. And then I started thinking about the story “Stone Soup,” where the actions of the stranger draw out generosity from people who didn’t think they were capable of being generous. I wondered if there might have been some other bags of food in the crowd, but people looked around and decided to keep it for themselves.. Unlike the Old Testament consequences of trying to hoard manna, this time, Jesus turned their fear into generosity. Since it’s my last sermon before a 3-week vacation, I think I’m going to let a reading of the story carry a lot of the burden.

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