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Sermon Illustrations for Proper 9 | OT 14 (2021)

Illustration
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Quite naturally on this holiday, we think of leadership of our nation. King David’s actions may be a model for leadership. David recognized that leadership involved partnership with those led (why he entered a covenant with the people [v.3]) and also to operate in a way which makes clear subordination to God. John Wesley regarded this kind of humility as crucial for all citizens, not just our leaders, an awareness that any good accomplished only happens because of God. He wrote:

Deeply conscious, therefore, should every member of this society be of his own foolishness, continually hanging with his whole soul, upon Him Who alone hath wisdom and strength, with an unspeakable conviction that “the help which is done upon earth, God doeth it Himself”; and that it is He alone Who “worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Works, Vol.6, p.161)

Dwight Eisenhower, who certainly knew something about leadership, understood it somewhat along these lines, and since we all engage other people, it is good advice for everyone. He claimed that “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Get other people to want what you want, assist them in doing it, and give God all the glory for it.
Mark E.

* * *

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
The crowning of David as king is an important moment in Israel’s history. David reigned as king for forty years. He was not flawless, he was, after all, human. Jerusalem was renamed and became known as the City of David from this moment and into this day. As I traveled in the holy land, I was awed by the scenes and sights that I had only read about in history and in scripture. I did not feel the presence of King David, but I did feel the presence of God, of Jesus, as I walked in places he would have walked, sat where he had been seated, and prayed where he prayed. David had a huge impact on Israel, but he was, of course, a human being, not God. So, I am not surprised that I felt the presence of God, rather than the presence of David.
Bonnie B.

* * *

2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace.”

We understand that. Chambers is referencing the familiar account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and their trust despite being put in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. The Christian band Mercy Me sings a song called “Little Faith” that speaks to that and other times when God’s answer is different than what we hope. Here are some of the lyrics.

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul


Despite his praying for the thorn in the flesh to be removed, the apostle Paul knew what Mercy Me, Oswald Chambers and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego all knew. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (vs. 9)
Bill T.

* * *

2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Those who speak of near-death experiences often express their feeling that there is no longer, for them, any fear of death. The same is true for those who have had a vison or dream of assurance. Fear is replaced by a sense of purpose and meaning. Paul speaks of the vision of the third heaven he was granted, something both timeless and timely, which fuels his ministry and which he shares with the conviction of one who has experienced the eternal firsthand, with the confession that despite his earnest prayer, his own personal affliction, his thorn in the flesh, will not be taken away. One is reminded of Julian of Norwich, who ardently prayed that her pains would put her more in touch with the heaven, and perhaps for the reader of saints they have known who have borne their afflictions with patience. It is on this basis that Paul assures the Corinthians he looks forward to a third visit, no matter what the experiences before. Paul lays great weight on his weaknesses which demonstrate God’s strength. The gift of being the more practiced, the more experienced Christian, is what he intends to offer.
Frank R.

* * *

Mark 6:1-13
I can remember when I first answered the call to ministry. Some people were incredibly surprised. That wasn’t the way they saw me. They had known me for years and years, just as the people had known Jesus. They didn’t see me as a preacher, teacher and pastor. The people in Jesus’ hometown didn’t see him as prophet or teacher either. They certainly had difficulty seeing him as the Son of God. And yet, this man, this divine man, taught, healed, prophesied, loved, and redeemed us human beings. He sent others forth to do the same. So, my friends, whether people recognize your call from God, please answer it. Please respond to the call of God on your life. For me, and for others, it has made all the difference.
Bonnie B.

* * *

Mark 6:1-13
What with all that has happened in 2021, how can we believe that God is still in control of our nation, of our lives? How can God be in control when Jesus could not do all the miracles he wanted to do?  An ancient theologian, Dionysius of Alexandria, urges us to think of the universe as a vast choir. Choirs need directors who organize everything, pick the music and tempo, but can’t control the performance quality (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.6, pp.88,91). So, in our story, God in Christ could bring everyone together, but bad faith got in the way of the healing performance, but not totally. Just like the choir director ensures that the show goes on, some cures did transpire (v.5). Does this help explain how the tragedies of life could still happen under the rule of our loving God? Garrison Keillor said something remarkably similar to Dionysius’ analogy:

God writes a lot of comedy — the trouble is he’s stuck with so many bad actors who don’t know how to play funny.

Evil is a function of bad actors in God’s planned comedy and fun-time life.
Mark E.
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