Three passages invite us to reflect on our “believing.” What inspires belief? What challenges it? What proves it? What disproves it? What, for us, makes it hard to believe the worst of truth or the best of it? What is hard for you to believe about the gospel? If any of those questions caught your attention, jot some responses down now and bring them with you as we consider the readings.
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
David is a popular figure in Hebrew Scripture—a leader among leaders. But today he stoops to an all-time low in a personal abuse of power to appease his jealous lust. How does this story sit with you? How will this story sit with your congregants? What do you (or they) like to believe about David? The phrase “I like to think that…” can reveal that what we “like” as truth is deeply embedded in us. When that truth is revealed as imperfect, it may be hard to believe the hard truth about ourselves or others. It’s interesting that when David understands his place in a wisdom teaching about his actions, he immediately surrenders to the hard truth about himself and his offence to God. How do you respond to this part of the passage? Are there other people important to us about whom you and congregants have been challenged to believe hard truths? How are those people managing truth about themselves?
What does it mean to you to “live a life worthy of the calling?” What does it mean to congregants? What is it that you need to believe about each other as you minister together? What is hard to believe about God’s trust in us? Reflecting back to the story of David, have you ever had to face a “hard to believe” truth about yourself, a colleague, a congregant, or someone else you “liked to believe” was someone living a life worthy of the calling. What were the consequences? What wisdom did you gain?
They came looking for Jesus after their bellies were unexpectantly filled with his signs of God’s provision. They wanted more. Not just food. They wanted more signs. They had an insatiable appetite for signs that would make belief possible, even temporarily. Jesus tried to tell them that they would become the signs that would make belief possible for others if they would believe in him. But no, it was still “hard to believe.” They wanted his latest “signs.” They didn’t seem to believe their own experience with Jesus. Do we have experiences coming close to God in the ministry of Jesus that, looking back, become “hard to believe.” What is hard to believe about our lives and what God has done for us, in us and through us? Are we believing in him and in ourselves as much as God does?
Isn’t it interesting that it can be just as hard to believe wonderful truths as it is to believe hard ones? In your life, is one easier than the other? What are the consequences of not believing?
Diane Strickland is in her 33rd year as an ordained minister now serving in The United Church of Canada as retired clergy. She is a Certified Community and Workplace Traumatologist, Compassion Fatigue Specialist-Therapist, and Critical Incident Responder, author and creator of trauma informed resources.
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3 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Hard to Believe”
Interesting that you should ask this question when I am contemplating a piece of why I believe in God and Jesus Christ. It would be a follow-up to the piece that I posted last week (https://heartontheleft.wordpress.com/2021/07/23/no-one-told-me/).
Why do I believe? Because I see the hand of God in Creation. Because no one, to the best of my knowledge, has explained why the “Big Bang” happened. And that for some two thousand years, people have believed in something they did not see or experience (the Resurrection).
And others, following other paths of faith, believe there is a God. That is why I believe.
I have a different approach to these passages, primarily 2 Samuel and John… about how we see ourselves and the judgements we make: https://beachtheology.com/2021/07/29/mirror-mirror/