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Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Readings – I Samuel 15: 34-16: 3; Psalm 20; II Corinthians 5: 6-17; Mark 4: 26-34

The theme for today is that God is always seeking a way forward in mission, though the road is always bumpy, the road is always full of twists and turns and potholes. 

In today’s reading we continue the story of Saul, the first king of Israel.  He got off track and so the young, redheaded David, keeper of the sheep, the last of the sons of Jesse, is anointed by the prophet Samuel. 

God is always looking for junior partners, jr. partners, to push forward in mission.  Samuel went through Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and four other unnamed sons until #8, David.  8 is sacred number.  The 8th day is the first day after the seven days of creation.  The 8th day is the day of resurrection.  Most baptismal fonts have eight sides to remind us of the 8th day of creation and the day of resurrection.  So, David is a new start for the ancient kingdom of Israel.

God is seeking a new junior partner, yet as history unfolds, we know he was far from perfect.  David often put his trust, as the Psalmist wrote,

Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses.

And how the road twists and turns. 

We are coming up on the celebration of Juneteenth.  A bit of history. 

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the
pursuit of Happiness. 

In 1820 the Missouri Compromise became law.  Missouri was admitted to the United States of America as a slave state to balance Maine being admitted as a free state.  Also, slavery was to be permitted below the 36th parallel 30th degree, but not above it in the Louisiana Purchase. 

In 1857 the Supreme Court Dred Scott decision ruled that United States citizenship could not be extended to people of Black African descent.  They could not participate in the rights and privileges of the constitution anywhere. 

So, we fought the Civil War that led to the 13th and 14th Amendments outlawing slavery and granting citizenship under the law. 

That is until the shadow of Jim Crow descended in the 1870s at the end of Reconstruction. 

In 1896 the Supreme Count ruled in Plessy vs. Ferguson that “separate but equal” was permitted,

In 1954 the Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Education ended the “separate but equal” standard. 

The road forward in mission was twisted and turning, and filled with many potholes along the way. 

The celebrations on June nineteenth, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas still had a long way to travel through the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. 

God is still seeking junior partners to push forward in mission. 

At our baptism we are washed to begin a new in the eight-sided font, and we are anointed, we are commissioned, to be the new junior partners of God, partners with the Risen Jesus. 

As St. Paul wrote to the small congregation in Corinth, Greece:

we walk by faith… If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation
[there is a new start], [so that] those who live might no longer
live for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 

The leadership needed to move forward on mission on the twisted and turning road filled with potholes is self-giving love by people who live “no longer for themselves, but for him who died and rose again”, for people who live for the Jesus we recognize through the Gospels of St. Mark, St. Matthew, St. Luke and St. John. 

We are to push forward in mission, and we are to plant seeds of God’s love and God’s grace wherever our footsteps take us.  Some seed will be trampled underfoot; some seed will be choked by weeds; and some will fall of good soil and grow, and grow, and grow. 

At each stage of our lives, we are to stretch ourselves to push forward in mission and to sow the seed of God’s love and God’s grace, to live no longer for ourselves but for Jesus who died and who was raised again so that we might see more clearly the way, and so that we might walk beside him as junior partners all the days that are before us.

Amen

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