The lectionary reading leaves verses 6-8 out of this passage. It’s not unlike the way we try to hide the ugly stories in our history.
Located on the border between Israel and Judah, Jerusalem was a strategic location for David to establish his capital as he united a divided people. The Jebusite residents mocked David by saying that “the blind and lame” could defeat him (CEB), thereby becoming the target of David’s vengeance. The blind and lame were specifically shut out of the city.
Ugly stories of exclusion, racism, injustice, and violence are embedded in the history of every city and nation and continue to infect our lives each day. We all have reasons to repent for the ways we succumb to the worst demons in our sin-infected economic and political systems. But the Lord was with David. Through all the ugly stories in David’s life, God never gave up on him. God’s faithfulness to David gives hope that we may yet rise to the “better angels of our nature.”
Over time, the vision of Mount Zion became more inclusive. Isaiah saw a new Jerusalem in which all people were welcome and whole. (See Isaiah 65:17-25.) Jeremiah included the “blind and the lame” in the return from exile (Jer. 31:8, CEB). Micah said the Lord would “gather those who have been driven away” including “the lame” (Mic. 4:6-7, CEB). In the Gospels, “People who were blind and lame came to Jesus . . . and he healed them” (Matt. 21:14, CEB). John envisions the New Jerusalem where all nations will find healing. (See Revelation 22:1-5.)
Our hope is that when we repent of the ugly stories in our past, God will forgive, heal, and give us a new future.
Give us, O God, the strength to build the city that hath stood too long a dream, whose laws are love, whose crown is servanthood, and where the sun that shineth is God’s grace for human good (UMH, no. 726).
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures this week celebrate Jerusalem, the capital of the great King David, who united the ancient Israelites and built up the city. The psalmist praises Jerusalem using the image of Zion—a name used for earthly Jerusalem but also a gesture toward a future day when God’s people will abide in a heavenly city. In Second Corinthians, Paul explains that even though he is an apostle, he struggles like everyone else. Speculation surrounds the “thorn” that plagued Paul; but his point is that when he is weakest, God is strongest. In Mark, we see God’s power working through Jesus, who sent out others to expand God’s healing work.
Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. What qualities of leadership are important in this reading? How do those qualities square with your experience with those in power?
Read Psalm 48. Bring to mind a place where you experience God’s presence. What is it about that place that makes you especially aware of God’s presence?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. When have you experienced weakness becoming a source of strength and power?
Read Mark 6:1-13. When have you discounted someone because of your assumptions about them?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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