Wholehearted – a sermon on Mark 6 and 2 Samuel 6 (Year B, Proper 10 / Ordinary 15).
In Mark 6 and 2 Samuel 6, we have images of people joyfully worshipping God.
- In 2 Samuel 6, King David has the Ark, the earthly symbol of God, brought to Jerusalem.
- David has no problem letting God take centre stage in his capital.
- He dances and celebrates with gusto – abandoning his dignity!
- Michal despises David, perhaps seeing her loss rather than her people’s gain.
- In Mark 6 (the almost King) Herod does not want Jesus, the earthly symbol of God, brought to Jerusalem – it was bad enough having him in the country!
- Herod is a puppet King, put there by the Romans, not God. He is insecure.
- He is also a guilty man. Despite himself, he liked listening to John.
- Herod put his own comfort and dignity before justice, before God.
Meaning at the Time
Of course, there are two ‘times’ here – OT and NT.
- When Samuel was written probably already referring to a bygone age:
- A united powerful kingdom, ‘the good old days’.
- Yet not a whitewash of History – David’s evil deeds show through too!
- Lessons from the past, guidance for today and hope for tomorrow.
- Mark’s Gospel was written down much closer to the actual events.
- The early church was still working out what it was, where it was.
- It was growing strongly – not in decline/destroyed like Israel (OT & NT).
- People are shown that Jesus repeats the OT pattern, perfect/completing it.
Meaning for Today
What do these stories tell us about ourselves, our Nation, today?
- What is the context – personal, corporate, national?
- Our church in the UK is in decline, like the UK itself, affecting how we see scripture.
- Worship/Witness/Work: I’m not good at being wholehearted in worship/witness – I like to be in control; work is OK, I can drive myself to do that.
- Tony Blair (former UK Prime Minister) criticised by Anne Widdecombe (former UK politician) for not accepting the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching; he replied ‘I am a modern man’: i.e. ‘my reason alone will decide what I believe’.
- Is our rich western society, that has so much to lose if it were to give up control, afraid of surrendering to God?
- Our church reminds me of working in the declining Ministry of Defence (declining public sector in general?).
- We seemed to have no confidence in ourselves, our judgement. Bewildered!
- Decisions made for jobs, money, etc, not what really needed for defence.
- Our leaders had no belief in us! They were open to outside influence.
- Can you blame them? We were not making decisions on what was needed for our mission, but for temporary, narrow, factional advantage.
- We lost sight of what we should do rather what was expedient to do.
The message from 1,000 years of scripture: let God in! let God rule!
- We, as individuals and an organisation, can surrender to God with complete confidence. Let society turn away if it wants to.
- What difficult things do we need to do to succeed in worship, witness and work?
- Let us wholeheartedly celebrate putting God first, and thus instructed, guided and inspired, wholeheartedly focus on our mission.