Revised Common Lectionary Reflection, Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 8, Year B
July 1, 2018
Lessons: Lamentations 3:22-33; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people realize that God is their portion; in this perfect balance they find what they need to love and serve God and others faithfully and fully.
Key Scripture: “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:24
If your heart/soul could be envisioned as a cup, what would it look like? Would it be empty? Half-empty? Partially full? Filled to overflowing? Who (or what) fills your cup? Is that source a reliable one? Are your deepest desires and needs met? What about your hurts and pain? Are they addressed in the filling or emptying of your cup? Sit with this image for a while and ponder it.
In this week’s Old Testament lesson, the writer of Lamentations praises God and says, “The LORD is my portion, therefore I will hope in him.” Oh, that we can be like this writer and allow God to be our portion, to let Jesus fill our cup, and let the Spirit’s breath infuse every molecule of our being!
Now, more than ever, we need to recognize God as our portion, and we need to fill our cups with the goodness, hope, and love of Christ. We need to draw together as Christ’s Body, to build relationships, to worship and pray, and to be equipped and sent into the world with our full portions to be poured out for the sake of others.
Here’s another question worth pondering: Do you believe that we have all we need as the Body of Christ to do God’s work in the world and to help bring healing and hope? If you don’t, can’t, or aren’t sure, are you willing to step out in faith in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, Paul, and centuries of faithful sinner/saints before us? Can you hold that image of cup and portion in your unsure sightlines? We don’t have to have it all right or do this discipleship thing perfectly. No, all we need to do is trust that with God as our portion and our cup filled with the divine presence and will for us to have life abundant, then we have and ARE enough. By the grace of God and the work of the Spirit, we can do the hard things we are called to do.
We may encounter someone who might fall into that “unclean” category or “different from us” designation, like the woman with the hemorrhages. We may be called to do something that pulls us off course or requires a change of direction from our carefully planned day or life. Don’t worry, my friends. We have enough and are enough with God as our portion to do these hard things.
Our cups—our lives—will have room and margin if we trust and respond; in God’s economy there is always enough and then some. So do not be afraid at where you may be called to go, who you might encounter there, and whether you feel equipped for the task. God is your portion. Jesus has been poured out for you. The Holy Spirit breathes within and through you. Have hope. Be of good cheer and courage. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Today is a good day to pray for wholeness and healing of mind, body, and spirit. Consider offering anointing and prayer as part of worship. Invite worshipers to contemplate how they are caring the whole self, the integrated beings that we truly are. You might want to include a copy of the Portico Wholeness Wheel that is used by many Lutheran congregations and individuals to increase resilience and live well.
You might craft a prayer station with cups of many sizes, materials, and varieties as a way of visualizing many members of Christ’s body being filled with God’s portion. Place them around a clear bowl or around your baptismal font. Invite people to fill a cup from pitchers of water—praying as they pour that God will fill them and that they are enough.
Paul’s words to the church at Corinth today remind us of the importance of balance. We are not asked as disciples to give so much of our time, talent, and resources that there is not enough to meet our own needs; rather, we are invited to give from our abundance. With God there is ALWAYS abundance, so we can trust that being generous is a gracious and fair response. Invite youth into a conversation about this topic and how they have or have not seen this work in their lives, in the congregation, and in the lives of leaders and saints they admire.
God is our Portion!
The USDA Team Nutrition promotes MyPlate—a program with teaching resources to promote healthy eating and good nutrition. It’s a wonderful way to learn how to eat well. But what about a discipleship MyPlate or MyPortion? How can we develop healthy spiritual lives with God as our portion?
For this lesson you will need some heavy divided paper plates (Chinet is a good option). If you can’t find divided ones, you can use a Sharpie to make your own divisions. If you use three compartment plates label the big one “Worshiping & Praying.” Label the other two “Learning” and “Serving.” If you divide your own, you can separate worshiping and praying. Have the plates labeled in advance with dark marker. Leave plenty of room for the children to decorate them.
Share a picture of MyPlate with the children and ask them if they have ever seen this way of knowing how to eat well for good health. Entertain their responses. After they are finished ask them if they have any idea how to nourish themselves as God’s children. Share with them Lamentations 3:24. Then bring out a decorated plate that you have completed to show them an illustration of “God’s Portion” and how God nourishes us and our faith through worship, prayer, learning, and service. If your plate has a rim (like a Chinet Plate) you can remind them that all that we do as God’s people is best done in community.
Finish with a simple prayer and encourage them to decorate their God’sPortion plate as they wish.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
As Christians we have God as our portion, and God desires for us lives of balance and harmony, faithfully loving, serving, and trusting that we will have enough and that we are enough. Make this a week to strive for the balance that God desires for you. It’s a part of faithful stewardship of your time, talent, and resources. After all, when our lives are out of balance, it is difficult to serve and love God and others faithfully.
Stewardship at Home
Let this be a week to focus on balance. So often we are pulled in myriad directions with multiple priorities. It’s tough to stay balanced among the needs of work, school, family, our faith community, and other activities and responsibilities. Use the Portico Wholeness Wheel as a discussion starter or guide to contemplation this week. As Paul reminds the congregation at Corinth, “”I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14). Aim this week for better balance, trusting that with God there is always abundance, and with God as your portion, you are always enough.
Here’s a look back at our 2012 Lectionary Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2012/06/the-giving-community/
Here’s a look back at our 2015 lectionary Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2015/06/touching-the-hem-of-the-gods-garment/
Photos: Ashley Van Haeften, Nancy <I’m gonna SNAP!, and Sean Kelly, Creative Commons usage license. Thanks!
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