Proper 6

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Prayer of the Day
God, our maker and redeemer, you have made us a new company of priests to bear witness to the Gospel. Enable us to be faithful to our calling to make known your promises to all the world; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord

2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15
{26} When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. {27} When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD, {12:1} and the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, "There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. {2} The rich man had very many flocks and herds; {3} but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. {4} Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him." {5} Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; {6} he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity." {7} Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; {8} I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. {9} Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. {10} Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife…. {12:13} David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan said to David, "Now the LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die. {14} Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die." {15} Then Nathan went to his house. The LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became very ill.

26. Uriah: Uriah is identified as a Hittite (verse 10). However, his name “is pure Hebrew (Yahweh is my light). ‘Hittite’ may indicate the derivation of his family. In Matt. 1, the genealogy of Jesus, the ‘wife of Uriah’ nevertheless appears among the tribal mothers of pagan origin (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth).”[1]
12:1-6: David is outraged by Nathan’s story and pronounces judgement, "the man who has done this deserves to die."
7-10: Nathan confirms David’s judgment by identifying him as the rich man, "You are the man!" and pronounces Yahweh’s judgement on David, "because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife…the sword shall never depart from your house." This includes the whole sequence of events including Uriah’s death at David’s orders.
13-15: David repents and Nathan pronounces Yahweh’s forgiveness.
14-15. the child that is born to you shall die…The Lord struck the child…and it became very ill: The description of Yahweh in Deuteronomy 5:9: "I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me" (also Exodus 20:5f; 34:7; Numbers 14:18), is the basis for the author of the narrative to interpret the child’s death as retribution for Yahweh’s offended honor. This offends our sense of what is appropriate, and it was also a problem for Moses, who challenged the idea that the whole congregation should be punished for the sin of Korah (Numbers 16:22). In Ezekiel 18:2-4 Yahweh declares to Ezekiel, "Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die…. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).

Psalm 32
{32} Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. {2} Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. {3} While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. {4} For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah {5} Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah {6} Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. {7} You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah {8} I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. {9} Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you. {10} Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD. {11} Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

     "So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin’" (Romans 4:6-8).
1-2. transgression…sin…iniquity: "Three terms for "guilt" are mentioned in vv. 1-2, and they are to be grasped exactly in their semantic character. [pesa‘] is "breaking away from God" (F. Delitzsch), "the revolt of the human will against the divine will" (L. Köhler, OT Theology 170.  [hat’ah] denotes "failure," "miss" (L. Köhler, 169). And [’awen] has the meaning "perversion," "distortion" (F. Delitzsch); it expresses the "attitude that is not in harmony with God’s will" (L. Köhler)." [2]

Galatians 2:15-21
{15} We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; {16} yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. {17} But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! {18} But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. {19} For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; {20} and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. {21} I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

     "The basic quest of religion—here Paul, Luther and Trent are at one—is to be in the right with God. Paul…learned that this justification is something not to be earned but to be received as a gift—through the Christ event…. ‘Justification by faith alone’ is shorthand for ‘Justification by the grace-full act of God in Christ apprehended by man through faith alone.’" [3]

Luke 7:36-8:3
{36} One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. {37} And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. {38} She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. {39} Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him--that she is a sinner." {40} Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "Speak." {41} "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii’s, and the other fifty. {42} When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" {43} Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." {44} Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. {45} You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. {46} You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. {47} Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." {48} Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." {49} But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" {50} And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."… {8:1} Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, {2} as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, {3} and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

36. One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him: The Pharisees were extremely careful about whom they associated with lest they become ritually unclean because of the association. Jesus associated with sinners (Luke 7:34), broke the Sabbath (6:6-11), healed a centurion’s slave (7:1ff.), touched the bier of a dead person (7:14), all acts that made him unclean. Still, Jesus and the Pharisees had many things in common, not least belief in the power of righteousness to overcome the consequences of sin in the world.
took his place at the table: Literally, "he reclined at the table." The diners would lie on their left side facing a low table in the middle of a sort of lop-sided "U."
37. a woman…a sinner: The presence of a woman at a meal attended by men, let alone in a Pharisee’s house is unexpected and unexplained. Somehow she was able to penetrate to the dining room and remain there long enough to carry out her strange anointing. Mary Magdalene is sometimes identified as the woman in 7:37-39. There is nothing in the text to support that identification, though she is named among the women in 8:2-3. In John 12:1-3 Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus of Bethany, anointed Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair.
38. she…began to bathe his feet: The feet of all the guests were pointed out. Their feet were bare because they took off their sandals when they entered the house. The host had not provided water for Jesus to wash his feet (verse 44).
"If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is….": Is it possible that the whole situation was contrived to humiliate and discredit Jesus.? Even if it were not intentional it certainly could have had that effect.
41-43: Jesus tells a parable and puts Simon on the spot. He agrees with Simon’s answer, and then interprets the event in the light of what Simon had said. The greater the debt forgiven the greater the love of the forgiven.
49. Who is this who even forgives sins?: The inference of the question is that he is an unkempt, untutored, bumpkin who should not presume to such authority.
50. Your faith has saved you: "Her ‘faith’ is to be understood as a confidence in God despite her sinful past, which restores a relationship with him that was previously absent or lacking." [4]
8:1-3: These verses are the concluding summary of Luke’s small interpolation into Mark’s outline (Luke 6:20-8:3).

     We are offended by the death of the child of David and Bathsheba, but that is not the last word on the subject of sin and punishment. In the end is it another child, the Son of God, who dies that we may live, not to satisfy God’s honor, but to show God’s love, not out of necessity, but by choice (Romans 5:6-8). So, forgiven much, we are able to love much, even as a sinner-woman of the streets who was also forgiven much.
     Like Nathan, Jesus uses a parable to clarify the relationships between sin, forgiveness, and love. Simon was offended by the behaviour of the sinner-woman, as no doubt we would be in similar circumstances. Jesus described her actions as a demonstration of great love issuing from great forgiveness and implied that Simon and his guests loved God little because they had not been forgiven as much as she had, or we not aware how much they had been forgiven.
     Coming between the first lesson and the Gospel the second lesson contains a classic Pauline statement of justification: "a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ." When I know that, then "it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me." Then we are able to see our righteousness in its true light, and forgive others as we have been forgiven.
     Our prayer "to be faithful to our calling to make known your promises to all the world," is answered by making us fully aware of our own guilt and need for God’s love and forgiveness in Christ, so "we will speak of what we know."

Hymns [5]
With One Voice (e.g. 762v), Hymnal Supplement 1991 (e.g. 725s) and LBW (e.g. 32).
E=Entrance; D=Hymn of the Day; I=First Lesson, P=Psalm; II=Second Lesson; G=Gospel

525 --E--Blessing and Honor
356 --D--O Jesus, Joy
406 --II--Take My Life,
746s --II--Alleluia, Alleluia,

699v --II--Blessed Assurance
299 --G--Dear Christians, One
765s --G--Bread of the
479, 211, 327, 549

Prayers of the People [6]
P or A: Justified by grace through faith, and not by works, we pray to our gracious Lord in humility. We ask God to send his Spirit among us, and respond, "Come, Holy Spirit."
A: For refugees, that we would welcome them to Canada with open arms. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Come...
A: For children who suffer abuse, that the violence with which they live might cease. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness, but rather a God of love. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Come... 
A: For our conduct--that we might, by your grace, think and act righteously, knowing that it is not by our works that we are justified. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Come...
A: For all those who suffer from illness, that they might be restored to health. We pray especially for __________ and for all those whom we name in our hearts. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Come...
A: For the forgiveness of our sins, that we may be cleansed of our misdeeds. As the woman who washed the feet of our Lord with her tears, so move us to worship you for your abounding mercy. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Come...
P: Despite our iniquities, your love enfolds us. Hear us now as we pray to you, O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or [7]

Presider or deacon
As God’s healing and peace spread among us, let us offer prayers for this broken world and for every person and every need.
Deacon or other leader
For this congregation and every holy gathering and for all who enter with faith.
For all nations, peoples, tribes, clans, and families.
For those in positions of public trust.
For those discouraged by failure or disheartened by sin.
For all those in danger and need: the sick and the suffering, the hungry and the oppressed, travellers and prisoners.
For those who have died to life in this world.
For all of us, justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
Lifting our voices with all creation, let us offer ourselves and one another to the living God through Christ.
To you, O Lord.
God who travels and eats with sinners, hear the prayers we offer this day and embrace with love your whole creation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U. S. A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[1] Hans Wilhelm Hertzberg, I & II Samuel: A Commentary. London: SCM Press, 1960, p. 310, note a.
[2] Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1-59: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1988. p.371.
[3] Reginald H. Fuller, Preaching the New Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1974, p. 526.
[4] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke (i-ix): Introduction, Translation and Notes. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1981, p. 692,