The lectionary texts for this Sunday are all gold mines of inspiration and challenge.
The Old Testament text, 2 Samuel 1:1,16-17, is the song David writes to lament the death of Saul and Jonathan. David was many things in life, but what stand out the most here is his gift with words. He wrote from the heart over the loss of his best friend, Jonathan, and for one of his greatest enemies, Saul. His love for Jonathan and his respect for Saul are captured in his words,
1:23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
1:24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you with crimson, in luxury, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
The text provides the preacher a perfect opportunity to talk about the power of friendship, forgiveness, unconditional love, and grief. David’s character shines through as an enduring example as well.
Psalm 130 is also a great source of help, especially those in our congregations who find themselves waiting on God. The psalmist gives them words to use in prayer for how to wait with hope.
130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
130:6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
130:7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
The words in Lamentations 3:22-33 go along nicely with the Psalm, giving further expression of the significance of waiting on God to do what only God can do.
3:24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
3:26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
The Olympics this summer will provide many a sermon illustration, with athletes, particularly those in track and field, who demonstrate magnificent endurance. The 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 text for this week provides an opportunity to begin a tie in with the Olympics, noting Paul’s words about to the church of Corinth about finishing what they started,
8:10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something–
8:11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.
Just as runners must finish the race they have started, so followers of Jesus must continue what they have started. The church at Corinth began a great work of generous giving, but it was not finished yet. They were to not give up, but to provide an eager offering from their “little.”
The Gospel text, Mark 5:21-43, is special to me. I have preached on it many times, but none more significantly than before and after my daughter’s (Maggie Lee) death. I had preached on it a few weeks before the bus crash, wrote about it while at her side in the hospital, and then returned to the pulpit after her death with another look at it. For this reason, I’ll be preaching from the 2 Corinthian text.
What are you preaching this Sunday?