By The Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick
When David has assembled the leaders and presented the plans for the Temple to Solomon, he reminds them that the young and inexperienced ruler will need their help to complete this holy project. David now tells of his personal donation and invites them to contribute as well. They rejoice at the great size of the offering, and David reminds them of the source of all blessings in words which have become familiar to us. (verses 11-12, 14) Then David prays for Solomon, and the assembly anointshim again(!) to be their king. David’s reign as a warrior king comes to an unreasonably peaceful end.
Psalm 120 begins a series known as the ‘songs of ascent,’ perhaps composed for use on pilgrimage (up) to Jerusalem. The psalmist is remembering a time when his prayers have been answered, and seeks that consolation once more. He lives, at least figuratively, among barbarous and alien peoples. The journey toward the city of peace is an act which gives him hope.
God’s plan is to save all people, not to condemn the Jews. As Gentiles gain righteousness through faith, the Jews will become ‘jealous’ and willing to believe in Christ rather than law. The metaphor of the olive tree provides an image of removing and grafting branches which works both ways. Branches once grafted onto the tree can be removed, and branches once removed can be re-grafted.No branch need be lost forever, and since all are nourished by the same roots, none has cause to gloat.It is a mystery, this work of God; but Paul is convinced that God can turn the frailty of one to the good of the other, in a dance which makes it possible for all to come to faith.
Do you recall a time when you were certain God answered your prayer?
Stewardship is often thought of as giving over to God some portion of what is ours. How might the perspective in Chronicles enlarge or shift your understanding of stewardship? All that we have – time, gifts, skills, creation, money, relationships, the Good News – all are gifts to us. How can we steward them in ways that would bring us to great rejoicing?
Paul seems to say that God has caused human failing which will then be turned to good for others. Are there other places in Scripture which seem to offer the same message? Do you suppose God causes human failing, or onlymakes use of it when it occurs? What is your own experience?
Most gracious God, in your generosity you desire to graft all to Christ, the tree of life. Give us that same generous spirit, and teach us to be faithful stewards of all your gifts. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick is bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis.