Independence in our mutual interdependence.

A sermon for Proper 9: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, Ezekiel 2:1-5, Psalm 48,  Psalm 123, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13

I hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July Celebration. Did you take advantage of one of the many red, white and blue sales? Perhaps you shared hot dogs with family or neighbors. Maybe you fought off the mosquitoes and watched fireworks. Or perhaps you drove to Conway to visit Trey and Benjamin Luke Hauptmann … direct descendants of Samuel Wilson, the upstate New York butcher known locally as Uncle Sam and considered the inspiration for the national symbol. (Roberts)

Whatever, you chose, I hope your celebrations included a commemoration of our Declaration of Independence and the re-founding of our nation in the Constitution.

After David’s lament over Saul and Jonathan, he is anointed as King of Judah, the tribes of the southern half of the promised lands. Saul’s son Ishbaal is made King over Israel, the northern tribes. Immediately they battle at Gibeon; where David’s forces are victorious. It was the first of many battles, with David gaining strength. Ishbaal and his military commander Abner quarrel leading Abner to make a deal with David. However, David’s commander Joab kills him in revenge for his brothers’ death at Abner’s hand at Gibeon. His death rattles Israel, and two military officers assassinate Ishbaal.

The elders of Israel realize they are in a mess. All Saul’s heirs are dead, and there is no obvious successor in Israel. Abner is dead, and there is no obvious military commander to replace him. The Philistines continue to be a threat. So, they approach David about being King of Israel. They appeal to their previous experiences when David led them while Saul was king; that they share bone and flesh, share strength and weakness, ands kinship. (Brueggemann) (Birch) The elders see God’s hand in David’s ascent and seek a mutually beneficial relationship. David agrees and is anointed king over Israel.

To be King, you need a capital city. David seems to know that if he stays where he is, Israel will always be suspicious he favors Judah. If he moves to Israel’s capital, Judah will always be suspicious he favors Israel. It is hard to build mutual interdependence from mutual suspicion. So, David turns to nearby Salem, or Jebus, a Jebusite city (BIRCH) conquers it, makes it his home, his capital, and named it the city of David. Later it will become Jerusalem.

Many years later, Jesus has been round about casting out demons, healing the sick and raising the dead. He decides to visit his hometown. They do not seem to be aware of all his activities. There was no such thing as social media in those days. Perhaps that contributes to his family and friends being so taken aback by his wisdom and teaching.

They know him as Joseph’s son, a carpenter, a mid-level craftsman. They know who he is; and who he is not, an educated elite scholar. They experience him as being uppity. (Perkins) Unlike the hemorrhaging woman, or Jarius whose beliefs lead to healing, Jesus’ hometown folks’ unbelief hampered his efforts, dampened the flow of divine power, divine desire. (Williams), (Ellingsen), (Epperly)

Now I’d likely get all bothered by that and set about reevaluating things. Jesus doubles down, pairs the twelve off, and sends them into the surrounding villages to proclaim repentance, cast out demons and heal the sick. They did. Some observations. Jesus sending them out with so little reminds me of God paring Gideon’s 22 thousand soldiers down to 300 so they will know it is God at work in their victory, and not their prowess. (Judges 7) The stripping away clutter of stuff, (Williams) is perhaps a nudge to also leave behind our spiritual and emotional baggage (Epperly) as we go about God’s work. Jesus instructions, about how to behave when they are not welcome, are grounded in the ancient emphasis on hospitality. Welcoming the stranger, especially holy visitors, is valued. To not offer hospitality is tantamount to refusing to listen to the message. (Harrelson) It is Jesus’ subtle way of telling them, and us, what we are not responsible or, like other’s decisions. We should also be aware, the disciples are not independent of Jesus; they are an extension of Jesus’ ministry. (Perkins) The same is true for us today.

These two stories reveal the social consequences of belief and unbelief. (Black) Our faith affects God’s work. The faith of those we share Jesus’ story with affects God’s work. We should also have more faith in God’s persistence. Time is powerful, the unbelieving members of Jesus family come to believe; his brother James is a leader in the early church in Jerusalem, and Jude is responsible for at least part of an Epistle.  (Perkins)

There is a dynamic within this story of mutual interdependence. The disciples are dependent on Jesus to do the work he has sent them to do. The same is true for us. Jesus and the disciples are dependent on the belief on those in their presence. Unbelief can impede God’s desire. Belief leads to knowing God’s presence. In times of contentious religious debates, it is important to remember we are mutually responsible for and interdependent to each other. All of us are sent to each other. All of us need each other.

I believe our founding fathers were well aware of mutual responsibility and interdependence. They captured it in the preamble to the Constitution,

We the People … justice … common defense … general welfare … liberty for ourselves and our prosperity

All of these phrases are communal, both in beneficiaries and responsibilities. Thus, as preambles are intended to do, all the constitution, including amendments, must reflect our mutual responsibility and interdependence. Whether the founding fathers intended it or not, God’s ways are mysterious, it is of divine intent.

David established his capital such that Judah and Israel can develop mutual responsibility and interdependence. Jesus’ hometown cannot see their mutual responsibility and interdependence with Jesus, and who knows what they missed. Jesus’ disciples’ first mission trip is defined by an ideal of mutual responsibility and interdependence. Our Constitution reflects the virtues of mutual responsibility and interdependence. As we, as individuals, as the church, as a community, and as a county discern our way forward we will find a clearer path and divine powers in mutual responsibility and interdependence. We will know the full grace independence in our mutual interdependence.


BIRCH, BRUCE C. New Interpreters’ Bible; THE FIRST AND SECOND BOOKS OF SAMUEL. Abingdon Press, 2001. CD.

Black, C. Clifton. Commentary on Mark 6:113. 5 7 2015. <;.

Brueggemann, Walter. Interpretation; FIRST AND SECOND SAMUEL. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990. CD.

Ellingsen, Mark. Proper 9 | OT 14, Cycle B. 5 7 2015. <;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 5 7 2015. <;.

Garber Jr., David G. Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. 5 7 2015.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. “Old Testament Lectionary 2 Samuel 5:1-10.” 5 7 2015. Working Preacher.

—. “The Lectionary Gospel Text is: Mark 6:1-13.” 5 7 2015. Center for Excellence in Preaching.

PERKINS, PHEME. THE GOSPEL OF MARK, INTRODUCTION, COMMENTARY, AND REFLECTIONS. Ed. Jr., Patrick D Miller and Paul J. Achtemeier. Vol. 8. Louisville: John Know Press, 1991. 12 vols. disk.

Petersen, David and Roberts Gaventa Beverly. New Interpreters’ Bible, One-Volume Commentary. Nashville TN: Abingdon Press, 2010. ebook.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

Williams, Lamar Jr. Interpretation: A BIBLE COMMENTARY FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING: Mark. Ed. James Luther Mays, Patrick D. Miler and Paul J Achtemeier. Nashville: John Knox Press, 1983.

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