Collect for the 16th Sunday after Trinity
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The lessons for the week of the 16th Sunday after Trinity are found on pp. xlii-xliii.
Part 1. The first lesson of Morning Prayer
In the first lesson of Morning Prayer we continue our reading of 1 Kings, chapters 11-17. We concluded our reading last week with Solomon’s fall from grace. The result is that the kingdom is divided upon his death: Rehoboam and Jeroboam. In an attempt to keep his subjects from making the pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem, and losing their allegiance, Jeroboam builds a shrine in Samaria complete with a golden calf. So the Lord sent a prophet to curse the shrine, but warned him not to commune at all with the Samarians, not even to eat or drink while he was in their land. Sadly, he failed to keep his commission and the Lord sent a lion to kill him. In chapter 17 we are introduced to one of the greatest characters in the OT and the Bible: Elijah, “My God is Yahweh” vs. Baal. Declares a drought vs. Ahab. Widow of Zarephath.
Part 2. the second lesson Morning Prayer
In the second lesson Morning Prayer we continue our reading of the Acts of the Apostles, chapters 10-12. Peter goes to the household of Cornelius, preaches, the Holy Spirit is poured out, the household is baptized. Peter returns to Jerusalem and relates what had happened among the Gentiles though the ‘Circumcision Party’ resisted the conclusion that God was including the Gentiles in the Kingdom. The Christians in Jerusalem spread far and wide, even up to Antioch in Turkey. While they preached the message about Jesus’ resurrection to the Jews in the synagogue there, the Gentiles believed the message and many were saved. As a result the leaders of the Church sent Barnabas to encourage them.
Since he had gone north to Antioch he sought out Saul, now Paul, to join him in the ministry. It was there in Antioch that believers were first called Christians. A prophet called Agabus predicted that there would be a famine in the area and the Church decided to take an offering for the Church in Judea. This will be the underlying drama for much of Paul’s journeys across the Mediterranean. In an attempt to gain favor with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Herod Agrippa I killed the apostle James, brother of John, and imprisoned Peter as a prelude to his execution. But the angel of the Lord brought him out of prison in the middle of the night and he was able to escape to safety. In an example of swift divine justice, Agrippa dies an excruciating death, eaten by worms. Barnabas and Saul depart for their first missionary journey to Cyprus and Saul struck a magician blind for opposing them to the governor.
Part 3. The first lesson of Evening Prayer
In the first lesson of Evening Prayer we conclude our reading of Job. At the conclusion of last week’s reading the Lord finally enters the debate and demands that Job account for himself. Who is he to demand anything of God? Was he there when the world was created? Does he know where snow, rain and dew are stored? Does he control the stars in their courses?
Does Job feed all the predators their food when they are hungry? Job acknowledges that he is not great enough to call God into account. God is the greatest, most glorious, most powerful. Job repents of his presumption and worships the majesty. The Lord rebukes Job’s friends for misrepresenting him to Job and demands that they make sacrifice and ask Job to pray for them. God restores Job’s fortunes twice what he had before.
Part 4. the second lesson of Evening Prayer
In the second lesson of Evening Prayer we continue our reading of the Gospel of Mark, chapters 8-10. Our readings begin with Peter’s confession that Jesus is Messiah. While it is most certainly the case that Mark believed Jesus was divine, it is important not to ignore the royal implications of Peter’s declaration: Jesus is the long expected son of David, come to save his people from their enemies. With that in mind the following controversy over Jesus’ impending death comes into focus. What sense does it make that Messiah should die? That would mean that his enemies had been victorious! It can only be true if Jesus is more than Peter’s wildest expectations. It was thru suffering and death upon the cross that God’s Kingdom would come to Earth with power. As confirmation of all this Jesus is transfigured before their eyes and appeared with the representatives of God’s earlier covenants with Israel: Moses and Elijah.
Yet, with all these signs and wonders, the apostles continue to assume their Jewish expectations: if Jesus is Messiah, and is bringing in God’s kingdom, who will get the top jobs when he takes the throne? Jesus reiterates that his kingdom doesn’t work that way. Instead, it is the one who has the faith of a child, and who cares for the weakest that will be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom. It is within this context that we should understand Jesus’ words about divorce: the man had power to arbitrarily dismiss a wife that no longer pleased him, and she was powerless to stop him. But in Jesus’ kingdom the strong must serve the weak.