O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your lovingkindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
In this story the power dynamics are almost the reverse of those in the area today. The Philistines have a huge giant who whips the Jews at every turn. Israel’s physical force is no match for Goliath.
Yet today, the biggest power base in Israel is that of the Israelis. They have tanks and guns at the state of the art in the world. Much of their arsenal is funded by the largest and most powerful country in the world, the veritable Goliath States of America.
Moreover, U.S. tax-payers are funding Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine with an aid package worth over $5 billion per-year, every dollar of which must be raised through U.S. government borrowing. Total U.S. aid to Israel equals approximately one-third of our foreign aid budget, yet Israel compromises .001 percent of the world's population and has one of the world's higher per capita incomes.
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by former President Jimmy Carter
Much of that money is used to build a huge wall (not a “fence” as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called it) to keep Israel from her Palestinian neighbors -- poor and segregated.
One of the justifications for the wall from the Israeli point of view: “Little boys [Little Davids?] sling rocks at us. They are a threat to our peace and security."
David, who became Israel’s king most beloved of all, lost much of his innocence, and became for some (like Uriah) more fearsome than Saul ever could have been. Small wonder that God warned Israel when they kept asking for a king, kept putting their hope in great shows of power and might.
Look at where we in the United States have put ourselves by trying to rule as the most powerful country in the world. Our economy is almost bankrupt. Banker and stock-broker, once reasonably respectable employee titles, now threaten to rival gangsta and thug
The Romans too once lorded it over all the known world. They built some great roads and aqueducts, but generally terrorized those to whom they claimed to bring a better civilization. Roman law, like U.S. law, often was great in its protection of folks at home, but quite unjust towards those who are not citizens.
How much better the world will be when we in the U.S., like Romans today, are less pretentious -- fat and old eating pizza and offering minimum threat to the peace of those elsewhere.
The Islamic faithful revere Jesus as a prophet and respect their heritage as, like Israel’s, descendants of Abraham. Today’s psalm comes out of a context when the Jews, not the Palestinians, were the underdogs, the persecuted, and it speaks comfortably to the besieged Palestinians.
Keep in mind too that the major Anglican presence in the Holy Land is that of Palestinian Christians, much hit upon by the Israelis who now occupy land that the Palestinians had in most cases held since Rome destroyed the Israeli state in 70AD.
Jesus commands us to love both our Palestinian and Israeli neighbors as we love ourselves. Usually we read the psalms as Jewish documents. Try reading this psalm as a comfort to their Palestinian neighbors:
The Avenger of blood will remember them; *
he will not forget the cry of the afflicted.
Have pity on me, O LORD; *
see the misery I suffer from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gate of death;
So that I may tell of all your praises
and rejoice in your salvation *
in the gates of the city of Zion.
The ungodly have fallen into the pit they dug, *
and in the snare they set is their own foot caught.
The LORD is known by his acts of justice; *
the wicked are trapped in the works of their own hands.
The wicked shall be given over to the grave, *
and also all the peoples that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten, *
and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Rise up, O LORD, let not the ungodly have the upper hand; *
let them be judged before you.
Put fear upon them, O LORD; *
let the ungodly know they are but mortal.
Not every creature can experience empathy -- the ability to get outside one’s own experience and experience, or at least imagine experience, from someone else’s point of view. Jesus commands this discipline and at the same time shows how to do it: “As you would that others should do to you, do also to them.”
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
If you are heterosexual, thank you for reading Queer Eye for the Lectionary. I hope it is a way of aiding your empathy. I don’t live in a world segregated from my heterosexual family, co-workers and friends. Indeed, their world it easily accessible, so much so that before puberty I mistook their world as my own.
At this point, many of you are no doubt becoming skilled to anticipate how the Queer Eye will read a text. That’s certainly not hard to imagine with Saint's comment about himself today: “We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see-- we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
Indeed, I find it hard to imagine how straights qua straights can identify with the “we” in this statement. Neither as white qua white nor as male qua male, can I see myself as the “we” in Saint’s statement. In this time and this place, I have no trouble at all as a gay Christian in seeing myself as part of Saint's “we.”
Yet in a sense basic to my understanding of Christianity, if my brother is poor, I am poor too; if my black brother or sister experiences discrimination, I must empathize. If Palestinians suffer, especially if their suffering is funded by my taxes, I must empathize. For in Christ we are no longer black or white, male or female, straight or gay, Palestinian or Jew or ethnically Christian…..
Master the tempest is raging. We can take our little boats to Anaheim and also surely expect them to encounter a flood of anxiety. So might our enemies. Rebuke the wind. Rebuke our unbelief when we claim we cannot possibly be reconciled. Take us to Anaheim in awe that even the wind and the sea obey you.