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Pentecost 3 Proper 6B June 13, 2021

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
Psalm 20
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17
Mark 4:26-34

Last week we looked on as Samuel anointed Saul the first King of Israel. Things have not gone well. Saul has not been a good king. Our reading tells us that God is sorry that God has made Saul the King. Samuel is devastated over the turn of events.

Now God calls Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint the one God has chosen to be the next king. Samuel is terrified at the prospect. Saul is very protective of his power, and Samuel reminds God that, if Saul finds out Samuel has gone to anoint a new king, Saul will kill Samuel. God instructs Samuel to take a heifer with him and say that he has come to offer a sacrifice to God. Samuel will invite Jesse to the sacrifice and God will take care of the rest.

When Samuel arrives in Bethlehem, the elders are trembling with terror. They, too, are afraid of Saul, who does not hesitate to destroy anyone who challenges his power. Samuel assures them that he comes in peace, which is certainly true. He is trying to carry out the will of God.

I don’t know about you, but I love the next scene. Jesse makes seven of his sons pass before Samuel, Each is a fine young man. But none of them is the one God has chosen. Finally, we discover that the last son is out in the field taking care of the sheep. The youngest of all, the one who is doing the humble work of a shepherd, is the one God has chosen. The spirit of the Lord comes mightily upon David.

One of the great lessons of this passage is what God tells Samuel: “Do not look on his appearance, or on the height of his stature…for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

What good news this is for us. God does not look on the exterior things, what clothes we are wearing, how much money or power we have. No, God looks into our hearts. If we are trying to love God and love our neighbor, God sees that.

And there is another important point in this story. Biblical scholar John Hayes writes, “The lord makes the least expected choice. Expectations are reversed. The last is made the first, and God’s power is to be manifested in weakness. (Hayes, Preaching through the Christian Year B, p. 306.)

In our epistle for today, Paul writes, “We regard no one from a human point of view.” That carries on the idea that God looks upon our hearts. Because we are following Jesus, and because we know that  our Lord is looking into our hearts, and filling us with us love and grace, we look on other people and on the world differently. 

Paul writes, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new.” Because of the love of God, because we have come to know Jesus and to follow him as our Good Shepherd, we see things differently than we did before. We see people and situations through the loving eyes of God.

Every person is our brother or sister, no matter whether they are rich or poor, no matter what race they are or what kind of work they do, no matter how they dress, none of those things matter. Every person is a beloved child of God.

There is a new creation. Everything has become new. Everything is seen in a new light. God’s light. As we are transformed, we look at our brothers and sisters, not through human eyes, but through the loving eyes of God, and we reach out to them with the welcoming arms of Christ. We are the body of Christ sharing his love with all we meet.

Our gospel gives us some parables of the kingdom of God.  It’s like planting seeds and the seeds grow and grow and there is an abundant harvest.

The kingdom, the shalom of God is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of the seeds, yet when you plant it, it grows into a shrub, so that birds can build nests in its branches.

This is one of the greatest gifts our Lord has ever shared with us, the idea that small is beautiful. We live in a beautiful place, a small place, and it is a gift from God. May we cherish that gift.

As the next king, God chose the youngest son, the one too young to come to the sacrifice. God looks into our hearts. God gives us hope. God transforms us through the power of God’s love. We are a new creation. God calls us to see things differently because of our faith. God calls us to look beyond and through the exterior things. 

May we look at others with your loving eyes, O God, and may we love others as you love us. Amen.

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