July 15, 2012

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 Ephesians 1:3-14 I’ve always liked today’s Old Testament story about David dancing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. I think, at a time in my life, when I was finding traditional Presbyterian worship services rather reserved and focused on the head rather than the heart, the thought of David “dancing before the Lord with all his might” was rather inspiring. It seemed to me that in his dancing, David was worshipping God, not only with his words and his mind, but with his whole self – body, mind, and spirit. And that’s the way that I wanted to worship as well. Of course, when you read the story from the perspective of someone who is longing for freedom in worship, David becomes the obvious hero. He goes to retrieve the Ark from the place of storage where it has been neglected, if not forgotten, for a long time. For tribal Israel, the Ark was the chief symbol of God’s presence in the midst of the people. It was a gilded box made of acacia wood surmounted by winged cherubim, which served as a pedestal for the invisibly enthroned Yahweh. So David returns his attention to God’s presence with him and with his kingdom. He worships God, and celebrates the fact that God is the true ruler of Israel, the one responsible for Israel’s victories, the one who will guide and direct them into a victorious future. And David worships with abandon. He’s not wondering what … Read more »

July 12, 2015

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 Mark 6:14-29 “Playing Politics” On a first reading, it seems like the connection between the Old and New Testament readings this morning is the theme of dancing. We had David dancing the ark of the covenant into the City of David, followed by some scolding from his wife for making a spectacle of himself. And then we had Herod’s daughter dancing for the entertainment of her father and his guests, followed by an unfortunate turn of events resulting in the beheading of John the Baptist. Besides the very fact of the dancing, the stories seem otherwise unrelated. The first one is about victory, about giving the glory to God, and about praising God without reserve in song, and dance, and sacrifices of thanksgiving. The Gospel story is about lavish parties, and young women dancing for the pleasure of old men. It’s about violence and murder, cowardice and injustice. It’s about the sacrifice of an innocent person so that a weak king can save face. Some commentators have pointed out that both kings are playing politics. David is a wise politician, and while the people think well of him, his wife Michal accuses him of false humility. David claims to be dancing for the glory of God, but she suspects that he is putting on a spectacle for his own glory instead. Is the procession really about praise and thanksgiving to God for victory? Or is it a subtle way for David to associate himself with the … Read more »