13th Sunday After Pentecost, August 23, 2015
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Year B)
Scripture Readings*: 1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11), 22-30, 41-43, Psalm 84, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69
1 Kings 8:[1, 6, 1-11], 22-30, 41-43
All cost and pains are lost on stately structures unless God has been in the work, and if He fails to manifest His glory in them, they are after all but a ruinous heap. A temple without the ark and the glory are like a candlestick without a candle.
Solomon signified the beginning of a new phase in the proceedings by taking up another position, standing before the altar and spreading his hands towards the sky. The introduction to his prayer (22–26) begins by echoing Dt. 7:9, but he speaks of God’s covenant faithfulness specifically in relation to David. Taking up God’s promise that David’s dynasty would never end, he prays that this too would receive fulfillment. At the same time, he acknowledges that the promise is conditional on the conduct of David’s descendants.
Paul made sure believers recognized that as new people who have been granted new life in a new family with new relationships they still would endure spiritual warfare. The closing portion of Paul’s letter explained his account of the Christian’s conflict with evil forces.
Believers must adorn themselves with the armor of God in order to stand against the devil’s schemes. Five defensive weapons are identified: (1) the enabling nature of truth that resists lying and false doctrine; (2) the covering quality of righteousness that resists accusations of conscience and despondency; (3) the stabilizing quality of peace that resists slander and selfishness; (4) the protective ability of faith that resists prayerlessness and doubt; and (5) the encouraging nature of salvation that resists fear and disappointment.
Two offensive weapons are included in the armor of God: (1) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and (2) prayer. It is fitting that this prayerful and meditative letter concludes with an exhortation to prayer and a request for prayer.
Jesus’ dwelling in believers’ means that he identifies himself with them. However, their dwelling in him means that they continue to depend on him. Jesus knew from the beginning which disciple would eventually betray Him. At this point many who had followed Jesus ceased to do so. When Jesus asked the Twelve if they too wished to depart, Peter responded for them all: “Lord, to whom shall we go? We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
After a long, trying day, there’s no better feeling of arriving home safely. Our home provides shelter. Security. A haven. A place where we can be fully ourselves, knowing we are fully accepted and loved. This must describe at least some of how Solomon felt when he saw the Ark of the Covenant – God’s very presence – finally resting in the home he had built. God was home.
Through the work of Jesus Christ, we are now that home for God. Our bodies – all that we have and all that we are – serve as the dwelling place of the Almighty. We eat his flesh and drink his blood. In the process, he cleanses and sanctifies us, making us fit to hold his holiness. Like Peter we echo the words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Prayer for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Holy God, give grace that I may live in you and you in me so that I may show forth your power; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B