Weekly Liturgy booklets
Notes on the Service for July 25, 2021
2 Sam. 11:1–14 • Ps. 14 • Eph. 3:14–21 • John 6:1–21
Except in churches named St. James the Greater, the feast of the apostle and martyr is deferred to a later weekday. Today’s collect, from an 8th-century book, asks that we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not things eternal. David should have offered such a prayer.
The epic of David has from shepherd boy to this point recorded almost unbroken success. Now, so secure has he become in his kingship that David no longer goes out to lead his army in battles but rather lies about his palace and dispatches Joab and the ark to fight. Because he sends others on his errands, his adultery with Bathsheba will be known. The account of it leaps from their assignation (right after her period so the child could not be Uriah’s) to her sending word to David that she is pregnant, the only word she speaks in this story. Her husband, a foreigner, is to an almost-comic degree the Loyal Soldier of Israel, whom the King betrays. Ordered to set up the death of Uriah, Joab causes other collateral deaths, the first of many fatal consequences of David’s sin. No judgment is passed, however, in this part of the story. Outrage will be Nathan’s portion next Sunday.
The foolishness of the fool in Psalm 14 is not philosophic error, but rather the moral error of thinking one can sin with impunity. Because Hebrew authors thought in practical, not abstract, terms, atheism was not theoretical denial of God’s existence but evil conduct which defied Divinity, such as David’s adultery and murder. The addition of v 7 widens the psalm’s perspective from a gang of evildoers to all Israel. An almost-identical poem with a different name for God is Psalm 53.
The epistle has been giving thanks for the reconciliation of Gentiles and Jews in Christ. Now kneeling, the author prays for the Ephesians’ ability to grasp the extent of God’s love. He closes with an eloquent doxology.
Gospel readings leave Mark today. Through August they will be instead from John’s long Chapter 6 about the Bread of Life. It opens with John’s report of the one miracle which appears in every Gospel, the feeding of a crowd in the desert. Unique to John’s account are his calling the Sea of Galilee the Sea of Tiberias, the dating the event at a Passover, the singling out Philip and Andrew, the lad with barley loaves, the attempt of the crowd on that occasion to make Jesus a king. When the crowd call Jesus “the prophet which is to come....” they are drawing on a wide-spread expectation that a prophet like Moses would appear. Their expectation was based on Deut. 18 where Moses says, “...God will raise up a prophet like me from among you.” Like Moses, Jesus feeds crowds in the wilderness, speaks from a mountain, and walks through the sea.
—Rev. Stephen Weissman | St. Louis, Missouri
Reprinted with permission.
July 25, 2021