Watching for the Morning of July 19, 2015
The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 11 / Lectionary 16
Last week we saw the bad shepherd, Herod, whose reign brought shame and death. This Sunday we see the good shepherd who brings healing and life.
Jeremiah proclaims God’s judgment on the leadership of Judah that has led the nation to its destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, but God promises that he will gather his scattered remnant and bring them home, providing new and better kings and priests: “I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.” But this promise is followed by another: the promise of the one king, the “righteous branch,” who will bring justice and righteousness.
The psalm is the familiar declaration that God is our shepherd, our true king, who protects and provides even in the darkest valley. Then the author of Ephesians speaks of Christ our peace who breaks down the dividing wall and gathers all people to himself, reconciling us to God and to one another, a single human community, a holy temple where God shall dwell.
And finally we see Jesus, gathering his followers after their mission but chased by the crowds: Jesus who has compassion for these scattered sheep and meets them with his teaching and healing – God’s promise fulfilled.
The Prayer July 19, 2015
Gracious God, our Good Shepherd, source of all healing and life,
as Jesus looked with compassion on the crowds,
look with compassion upon us,
and touch us with your healing Spirit;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Texts for July 19, 2015
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” – Jeremiah proclaims God’s judgment on the leaders of the nations who have plundered the flock and led it to destruction, and speaks God’s promise to gather the remnant of his scattered people and provide them a true and faithful shepherd.
Psalmody: Psalm 23
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” – The poet affirms that God is the true shepherd/king of the people.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
“He is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” – God’s reconciling work in Christ to gather all people across all barriers, growing into a holy temple where God dwells on earth.
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
“As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” – The twelve return from their mission and go off to a deserted place, but the crowds follow and Jesus has compassion for them. The appointed text skips the feeding of the five thousand (to be taken up the following Sunday) to witness to Jesus as the Good Shepherd who teaches and heals.