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Bible Study: Pentecost 6 (B) – June 30, 2024

June 30, 2024

RCL: Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Lamentations 3:21-33; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Note: During the 2024 Season after Pentecost, Sermons That Work will use Track 2 readings for sermons and Bible studies. Please consult our archives for many additional Track 1 resources from prior years.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24

Sometimes, it’s easy to inure ourselves to death. In a society that, by and large, has dispensed with communal mourning traditions, we tend to grieve privately and, as a result, quickly. Combine this with long diseases and correspondingly long treatments, and we might be tempted to move on as quickly as possible, lest we be thought of as wallowing. And after all, we all must know by now that death awaits us, right? Maybe it’s best that we get comfortable with it.

But the Wisdom of Solomon reminds us that death is not some kind of goal, but a perversion brought into the world that God designed for us. We are given our faculties and gifts not for a diversion as we march toward the grave, but for abundant, generative life, in the very image of God. Though death, of course, happens, it is an aberration of God’s initial plan.

  • How do you grieve death? Do you have any family or cultural traditions?
  • What might a more traditional kind of mourning look like for you?

Lamentations 3:21-33

“Hope” is repeated often in this lection: Jeremiah suggests that we, too, are to have hope in God, because his mercies never end, because God provides for us, and because it carries us through the most difficult times we can face.

There is a phenomenon in New York City that occurs when there’s an unexpected rain shower around commuting times. As crowds emerge from the subways and people begin walking the few unsheltered blocks to their homes or offices, salesmen pull out tables of cheap, flimsy umbrellas and sell them at huge markups. By the end of the commuting period, though, one can see piles of these subpar umbrellas contorted and broken, sticking out of trashcans along the street. Though it’s a bit of a dramatic illustration, I wonder if this is a microcosm of our modern societies: putting hope in cheap, easily broken things that eventually serve us little, if at all.

  • When have you misplaced hope?
  • When has your hope in God been affirmed?

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Paul challenges the Corinthians to be generous in the community of Christ-followers, as a sign to others. Whether their gifts are large or small, it is the act of sharing abundance that matters. Interestingly, Paul teaches that, at least in the case of meeting immediate needs, it is not the thought that counts. The impulse toward generosity should be acted upon, and quickly! While careful planning is important much of the time, we have to remain open to working quickly when the Holy Spirit presents us with an immediate opportunity to serve.

  • What do you know about fundraising in the wider Episcopal Church? Where can your congregation make an impact in our church family at home and around the world?

Mark 5:21-43

Jesus is in the resurrection business – taking the people who have been impacted by shame, disease, grief, a thousand smaller deaths – and making them whole again by his very being. Here again, we return to the theme of trust: Jairus, his daughter, and the woman suffering from hemorrhages all have no choice but to trust in the power of this wandering teacher, and they are not disappointed.

When the world tells us that we are broken beyond repair, that we are hopeless, that we are bereft, that we are dead, we need only reach out to the one who calls out to us to rise again. Healing and wholeness may not look as we imagine – though perhaps it will! – but trusting in Jesus’ goodness and power and timing, we will see great signs and wonders worked.

  • Where have you seen resurrection happen in your neighborhood?
  • Have you ever participated in a healing service? If so, what was it like?

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Christopher Sikkema


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