Adventurous Lectionary – Second Sunday after Pentecost

Adventurous Lectionary – Second Sunday after Pentecost May 26, 2024

Second Sunday after Pentecost – June 2, 2024

I Samuel 13:1-10; Psalm 139:1-6, 16-20; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12; Mark 2:23-3:6

Today’s scriptures focus on the interplay of theology, mysticism, and healing. Lived theology pushes us beyond rigid structures to alignment with the ever-living, ever moving God. Good theology involves listening for the voice of God and God’s varied movements within our lives. God is constantly speaking in our lives through insights, encounters, synchronous events, hunches, dreams, bursts of energy, and inspirational thoughts. Our calling is to listen to the many voices of God, often hidden in everyday experience, and then follow God’s guidance, shaping our encounters with God in our own unique ways.  We need to be “all sense,” opening to God with our five senses as well as the paranormal or mystical.

The call of Samuel is an invitation to reflect on our own encounters with God. As a child dedicated to God, young Samuel hears a voice in the night. A little groggy from waking up suddenly, he assumes that it’s the voice of his mentor, the high priest Eli. Eli, however, tells Samuel to listen for another’s voice, the voice of the Holy One of Israel. The third time Samuel hears the voice whispering in the darkness, Samuel responds, “Speak, God, your servant is listening.” Samuel’s response serves as a model for our own spiritual formation. In the midst of our busyness and self-interest, our daily prayers should include a plea that we listen God’s whisperings in our lives. God’s voice comes within the many other voices of life and we must pause and focus to hear it. Our prayer is answered by our willingness to pause and be still to heighten our awareness of divine wisdom.

The call of Samuel also reminds us of the importance of spiritual mentoring. While many of us seek the services of professional spiritual directors, we also need to equip church members, youth leaders, and pastoral staff to be spiritual mentors.  The church needs to be a laboratory for spiritual formation, and either individual congregations or groups of congregations should offer classes in Christian meditation, prayer, healing touch, and lectio divina.

Because divine providence is profoundly concrete and historical, listening for God’s voice is also profoundly concrete. God’s creative presence in our lives is related to God’s awareness of our lives. God’s love is creative and it is also responsive.  God influences our lives and God is also influenced by God’s experience of our lives and the world. This is central to the reading from Psalm 139. “Search me and know me,” the Psalmist prays. We are known completely by God. Everything we do matters to God. God’s knowledge is grounded in love, like a good parent or grandparent and their child or grandchild. God’s awareness and God’s creativity are one graceful movement. God has moved through our lives at the cellular and spiritual levels form the moment of conception. Nothing is too small or large for divine awareness and activity. To be known by God is to discover oneself as loved by God. We discover that in spite of our sin, we are accepted by God and the object of divine inspiration. God’s knowledge of us is not threatening but enlightening and transforming.

The majestic God is also intimately personal, and God’s creative love gives birth to our own wondrous creativity.  We are “fearfully (awesomely) and wonderfully made” and are part of a wonderful world.  Radical amazement and gratitude are the appropriate responses to the interplay of divine creativity, infinity, and intimacy. Aware of the wonder of our being, we are called to embrace the wonder of all people, and bring out the holy in those whom we meet and in the political realm.

The passage from Corinthians describes the life giving power of Jesus. God shines in our fallible hearts and fallible doctrines. We have treasures, enough truth and experience, to flourish and trust God’s everlasting fidelity.  Christ gives life in the face of death.  We don’t need to know the whole story of our lives or God’s vision to trust that our lives are in God’s hands and that God is out to love us and not to harm us.  Christ is the face of God and the reality of God.  Christ’s will and God’s will are one and that will is defined by love and active in the healing of our lives.

The Gospel reading describes the Divine Iconoclasm.  God, embodied in the ministry of Jesus, is not hemmed in by any legalistic constraints. God is alive, lively, and constantly breaking down the barriers we have erected to preserve the status quo.  Every day is a day for healing, every day is a day for table fellowship; every day is a day widening the circle of God’s love.  “Stretch out your hand,” is God’s invitation to us. Reach out beyond the familiar. Embrace novelty.  The ever faithful God’s “mercies are new every morning,” and our mercy should be encompassing and welcoming and aimed at healing the earth.  When we stretch out to Jesus, miracles occur and we are restored to wholeness.

God is speaking to us and our congregations.  God has a mission for us, grounded in God’s intimate love.  God’s bias is toward wholeness in every situation even when this means challenging familiar practices.  Where do we need to listen to God’s voice? What situations call us to innovation?  Where do we need to claim God’s treasure humbly yet confidently?


Bruce Epperly is a pastor, professor, and author of over eighty books, “Jesus: Mystic, Healer, and Prophet,” “Process and Politics,” Spirituality, Simplicity, and Service: The Timeless Wisdom of Francis, Clare, and Bonaventure,” and “The Elephant is Running: Process and Open and Relational Theology and Religious Pluralism.” His most recent book is “The God of Tomorrow: Whitehead and Teilhard on Metaphysics, Mysticism, and Mission” and “Head, Heart, and Hands: An Introduction to St. Bonaventure.”



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