3rd Sunday after Pentecost (July 3, 2011)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Zech. 9:9-12; Ps. 145:8-14; Rom. 7:15-25a; Matt. 11:16-19, 25-30
This week we visited MCC partners in Wadi Araba (southern Jordan) and Youbla (northern Jordan).
In Wadi Araba the local community has banned together to build water catchments for collecting spring water for household use and crop irrigation.
In Youbla the community has established an arts program to help children learn social skills and creative expression. The children seemed pleased to share their art, poetry and Depka dancing with us.
In the region this week, a new flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aide is preparing to sail from Greece to Gaza. A boat with U.S. activist on board already has been intercepted by the Greek coast guard. A similar flotilla sailed last year from Turkey and was intercepted by the Israeli navy.
Protesters in Jordan continue to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit and for dissolution of the Lower House of Parliament who, this week, cleared Bakhit from corruption charges.
More than a dozen protesters were killed in Syria as hundreds of thousands gathered across the country to call for the ouster of President Bashar Assad.
The Common Lectionary readings this week couple God’s dominion with God’s humble service on behalf of vulnerable people.
The Old Testament reading says God’s dominion “shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zech. 9:10) And yet this king comes to the people humble and riding on a donkey (v.9) and will set free the prisoners (vv.11-12).
The psalmist declares: “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.” (Ps. 145:13) Still, this king is gracious and merciful (v.8), has compassion over all that he has made (v.9), upholds all who are falling (v.14a) and raises up all who are bowed down (v.14b).
In the Epistle reading, Paul describes the human condition as being trapped by the dominion of sin (Rom. 7:14-23). “Wretched man that I am!” bemoans Paul, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” But all is not hopeless. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” declares Paul (v.25).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes God as “Lord of heaven and earth” – who has handed over all things to Jesus (Matt. 11:25). But Jesus chooses to use his authority to serve rather than to dominate: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” Jesus promises (v.28).
Servant leaders are all too rare. We take comfort in knowing that the Creator of the universe has dominion over all, but chooses not to dominate all.