by Rev Elizabeth Rawlings
It’s the end of the school year, likely the beginning of combining services or declining summer attendance. It’s a tired time of year for everyone. Yet there is a lot going on in the world and these readings offer us a number of different ways of coming at our current political climate, the way we talk about and view bodies, and the thing we all probably need more of right now -- hope.
Genesis 3:8-15: Now, what I want to do here is go off on a long tangent about how this story is quite possibly about the subjugation of a feminine/matriarchal God in the name of a patriarchal God, showing that sin comes into the world through listening to the Goddess (snakes are ancient symbols of the divine feminine), with the patriarchal God punishing the divine feminine for all time. However, that’s more a Bible study kind of thing (but you should totally do this and tell me how it went). Instead, what if we think about how before sin, there was no shame in being naked. Before sin, we were not ashamed of our bodies. There is no body shaming in the Garden of Eden, there is no body shaming in paradise. There is no shame in being naked or showing one's body in the kingdom of God. And, if we are practicing kingdom living on this earth and have been freed from sin by Christ, we might do well to practice loving our bodies and other people’s bodies regardless of their shape or the amount of clothing they wear.
1 Samuel 8-20ish: OMG THIS IS AMAZING. There is so much to preach in here. Israel is asking for a king and God is like, um, guys, do you know what that will look like in reality? This is one of those readings I feel like you could just read and then stand there and let the people soak it in. This is what a king looks like. A king is corrupt. A king will steal from you. A king will send your sons to war. This is a good message for both left and right -- for all of us who (at least from time to time) look to elected officials for salvation, as well as a counter narrative for that whole God appoints kings and kings are always doing God’s work narrative. (cue Derek Webb’s Savior on Capitol Hill).
Mark 3:20-35: You could connect this to the reading from 1 Samuel and talk about kings sewing division and the house divided not being able to stand and then connect that to the fact that Christ calls us to all see one another, our co-workers for the kingdom, as siblings*. You could also use this as a stepping stone to talk about any number of things, but I would encourage you, if this scripture is calling you this week, to take some time to talk about the children being ripped from their parents arms and placed in detention centers even when their parents are following the legal asylum process to enter the country, how we would not let this happen to our siblings, and Christ pretty much tells us these people are our family. This will work especially well if, last week, you talked about how Jesus ignored the Sabbath law for the law of Love.
2 Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1: This is a good one if your people are exhausted and need hope (which is where I am at right now and probably many of you with all of the end of the school year activities).
16So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
5:1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Do not lose heart, dear friends. This journey is long and is filled with many success and failures, many trials and victories. But we are being renewed by the love of God each and every day. Do not lose heart. You’ve got this.
*please try to be aware of our trans and gender non-binary siblings and use words like siblings or cousins instead of binary language -- it’s one of those small things you can do that most people won’t notice, but trans and gender non-binary folx totally will