Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
July 25, 2021 – 9th Sunday after Pentecost
Words of welcome, announcements
Welcome to our musical guest, Mike McSheffrey
Lighting the Christ Candle
We light this candle as a sign of God’s Spirit which is present in the world. May its flame brighten our spirits. May it ignite our passion, our hope and our joy as we share in God’s mission to brighten the world.
Call To worship
Come, rest your spirits in the Lord. Come, be fed by the gift of God’s word. This is a place of hope, where all may be fed. This is a time of peace, where all may be healed. Come, place your trust in God who is always near you. Open your hearts, for love of God is here. AMEN.
Prayer of Approach
Loving God, you are our Creator and Sustainer. When You open Your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. We look to You whenever we are in need, trusting in your abundant goodness for you do provide everything we need. You once fed the hungry crowds with five loaves and two small fish. We ask that you would again fill those who are empty this day. Pour out your Spirit on all who hunger and thirst. Feed us in this time together.
Hymn Church in The Wildwood
Scripture Reader: Ginette Raaphorst
David & Bathsheba (2nd Samuel Ch.11)
Special Music Leaning On The Everlasting Arms
Homily “Music to Feed the Soul”
Musical Response Will the Circle be Unbroken
We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA during these challenging times. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us. As so many of our traditional fundraisers have had to be put on hold, your donations are vitally important. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.
Hymn I’ll Fly Away
Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn I Hear Them All
You have been given every good gift for proclaiming God’s love. The world is thirsting for this good news. People struggle for words of hope. As you have been blessed, now go to be a blessing in God’s Name. AMEN.
“Music to Feed the Soul” Text: David & Bathsheba (2nd Samuel Ch.11)
By Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, July 25 2021.
The life of King David is the stuff legends are made of. He starts off as the youngest son of a small time sheep farmer in a poor village. While he is barely a teenager he is randomly selected by the prophet Samuel to become the next king of Israel. As a gangly teenager he fights and kills the giant Goliath in a most unconventional battle. He is rewarded for winning the battle by marrying the daughter of King Saul. He becomes a member of the royal court and he quickly becomes best friends with the king’s oldest son. David is such a rising star that Saul becomes jealous of David and tries to have David killed. David escapes to the wilderness where he raises a small army. In the process David becomes a folk hero because he does more to protect the people from invading armies than King Saul does. When King Saul and his son are killed in a battle, the people install David as their king. The first thing David does as king is conquer the city of Jerusalem and make it his capital. He establishes the worship of God and he makes peace with the neighbouring countries.
So David has it all. And then he wants more. He takes another man’s wife and gets her pregnant. He tries and fails to cover up what he has done to Bathsheba. He orders the death of her husband Uriah in a desperate attempt to hide his transgression. In the end he takes Bathsheba as one of his wives. Sadly, their child dies in infancy. After a few years another son is born to them, who quickly becomes his favourite. Such actions pushes one of his older sons to try to take the throne by force. David eventually wins the civil war and regains control of the country. Instead of naming his first born son to be the heir to the throne, David decides to name Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, to be his successor.
What a soap opera his life ends up being. He is seen by many as a godly man who establishes the Jewish religion. Many of the psalms that were used in worship are dedicated to him. David may have even written some of them himself. He is seen as the greatest of kings who extended their borders and brought prosperity to the land. He then uses his political power to take a married woman and impregnate her. He has her husband, who was a loyal soldier, murdered to cover up his dirty deeds. He fights and kills one of his own sons in order to keep the throne. So he is both saint and sinner. He is both a great poet and a dirty adulterer. A wise ruler and a murderer. Try as we might, we can’t separate the one from the other.
As messed up as the life of King David is, God still loves him. God never gives up on David. God sends the prophet Nathan more than once to correct David. God does not look at David in black and white terms. For God looks at this world differently. God can see all we are capable of. For God, no one is ever defined just by the worst thing they have ever done. God knows that we humans are capable of doing horrible things to each other. God also knows that we are just as capable of doing something beautiful in this life. God knows even the worst sinner is capable of doing something good. God also knows the most pious of saints is capable of doing something spectacularly stupid that hurts others.
This is why it is important for us to tell the full, unvarnished story of people like King David. To tell of his great accomplishments alone does a disservice to him and to us. If we fail to tell the truth about ourselves in order to to erase the embarrassing parts of our past, we deprive others of our healing gift. When we conceal our wounds out of a sense of fear or shame, we fail to shine a light on that inner darkness. By failing to address our own darkness, we fail to shine a light for others which can help them see themselves more clearly. To judge a figure like David just for his mistakes causes us to overlook the good he has done for so many. This is why we need to judge others with a sense of mercy. We also need to hold each other accountable for the harm we have done to others. Only then in a spirit of confession and repentance can we find forgiveness and reconciliation. We can’t undo what was done in the past. We can however learn from it so that we do not repeat the same mistakes.
The same holds true for our own heroes and political leaders. There has been a lot of discussion recently of what we should do with historical figures like Sir John A. MacDonald. As Canada’s first Prime Minister, MacDonald’s treatment of indigenous peoples is considered by many to be a genocide. At the time, his Conservative government was accused of trying to protect the native population. The Liberal opposition wanted to use the American approach and simply kill them all off. By today’s standards both of those positions are unacceptable. It is hard for us to judge the actions of the past by the standards of today, because our social values continue to evolve. None of us are perfect, but that should not stop us from trying to do better.
This is why we need the gospel to help us move forward. We are all capable of both good and evil. The founder of the Methodist church John Wesley believed as Christians we should always seek to be holy. But he was clear that sinless perfection is impossible to attain. It is impossible to be perfect, because we are always in the process of becoming something more than what we were in the past.
One of the most powerful ways we can internalize this message is through the power of music. Music is our first language. We humans learned to communicate through music long before we learned how to form words. Music is capable of expressing our deepest emotions. We have long used music to inspire a sense of community. Music has been used to encourage people to go to war. It is no accident that the most popular form of music on the planet is the love song. Love songs offer us a way to share an affectionate connection with others. Gospel music invites us to come together in a spirit of universal bond of love. It connects the needs of the individual with the strength of the community to offer healing. It is music for the soul. Gospel music builds the sense of hope that can see you through some hard times. Such a hope is much deeper than the vapid optimism that all will be well. This is why some of the best gospel music was written by the biggest sinners, because they know all too well the pain that falling away from such a love can bring. Gospel music can guide you from darkness to light. As King David himself writes, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” Gospel tunes don’t hide the darkness. They give us a way to acknowledge the reality that we are not perfect, and that we are capable of something better together. Gospel tunes let us know that standing in need of grace is a good place to be. That turning to a power greater than myself is not a sign of weakness, but is the deepest wisdom we can ever attain. For God’s gift of amazing grace does have the power to save us all. Amen.